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OPP Office Advisory Committee

XXXVI Meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Office of Polar Programs

May 20-21, 2010 Arlington, VA

Members Present: 

Eric Saltzman (Chair), Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
Peter Cornillon, Oceanography, University of Rhode Island
Mark Fahnestock, Complex Systems, University of New Hampshire
Ben Fitzhugh, Anthropology, University of Washington
Anne Henshaw, Environmental Program, Oak Foundation
Marika Holland, Oceanography, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Bernice Joseph, Education, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Paula Kankaanpää (Special Participant), Arctic Centre, Finland
John Kovac, Physics, Mathematics & Astronomy, California Institute of Technology
Marigold Linton (CEOSE Representative), University of Kansas
Kevin Speer, Oceanography, Florida State University
Terry Wilson, Geological Sciences, The Ohio State University

OPP Senior Staff Present: 

Karl Erb, Director
Sue LaFratta, Executive Officer (Acting)
Scott Borg, Director, Division of Antarctic Sciences
Simon Stephenson, Director, Division of Arctic Sciences
Will Colston, Director, Division of Antarctic Infrastructure & Logistics
Mike Van Woert, Head (Acting), Office of Polar Environment, Health & Safety


The Spring meeting of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) Advisory Committee (AC) was held at the National Science Foundation (NSF) on May 20-21, 2010.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Drs. Karl Erb and Eric Saltzman opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and thanking them for their participation.  Introductions were made, followed by approval of the minutes from the Fall meeting and a briefing on the Conflict of Interests rules.

OPP Director’s Report

Erb provided the AC with updates on significant activities since the Fall meeting, providing information on the FY 2011 budget request and the FY 2012 budget outlook, including continuing and emerging directions in Climate Research Investments and a proposed program on Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES). Energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Arctic and Antarctic regions were also described.  Erb described some recent and planned International Polar Year (IPY) conferences and meetings, and several international arrangements such as Memoranda of Understanding with France and Canada, Science & Technology agreements with Greenland, New Zealand, Denmark and Finland, and an agreement with Norway for Svalbard.  Erb also updated the AC on personnel changes within OPP, including the selection of Dr. Mike Van Woert as the Executive Officer of the National Science Board.  Responding to questions regarding Climate Research Investments and SEES, Erb explained that NSF is in the process of formulating SEES for FY 2011, and that feedback from the community is being sought on how to implement SEES.

NSF Draft Strategic Plan and the Strategic Planning Process

On behalf of the agency working group charged with updating NSF’s strategic plan, Van Woert provided the Committee with information on strategic planning in the government, including how the plan is used and the requirements of a strategic plan.  Development of the strategic plan is guided by legislation that requires a five-year plan that is updated every three years.  NSF’s current plan covers 2006-2011, and the new plan will govern 2010-2015.  Van Woert outlined the components of the new strategic plan and the differences between the current and new plans.  He described the inputs NSF used to develop the draft plan and the outreach that has been conducted to-date.  The new plan’s goals – Transform the Frontiers, Innovate for Society, and Perform as a Model Organization – were described, as were the performance goals associated with each.  Dr. Terry Wilson led the AC’s discussion.  Members of the Committee expressed concern over the staff time that reporting on the performance goals might require, suggesting that a goal of the plan might be to reduce the amount of resources needed to perform the assessment and to ensure that NSF’s systems have the ability to capture the required data.

NSF Data Policy Development

Dr. Ed Seidel, Assistant Director (Acting) for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, described the efforts of an NSF Data Working Group that was formed to update and implement NSF’s data policy.  The draft policy requires all proposals to have a data management plan, in the form of a two-page supplementary document, which will be subject to merit review.  Dr. Peter Cornillon led the AC’s discussion.  Members of the Committee questioned the extent of data that the policy would cover, cautioning that it should not expand the definition of data and also that instructions to researchers should be explicit regarding what to include in the management plan.  Seidel explained that NSF plans to issue FAQs to accompany the policy when it is released, but that many details are going to be specific to directorates/offices and divisions/programs and thus they will decide what data should be provided, the embargo period, standards, format, repository, etc.   For example, OPP has polar-specific requirements.  Saltzman added that the policy does not indicate that NSF has a responsibility to ensure the infrastructure exists.  Seidel noted that researchers could include funds to implement their data management plans. 

The Committee discussed several aspects of the data policy, including how to treat “value-added” data and whether NSF will attempt to homogenize how meta data are structured and accessed.  Seidel explained that NSF will allow proposers to self-identify.  A member pointed out that without a framework, the data could be formatted in different ways and not consistent even within a community. 

Dr. Paula Kankaanpää described similar issues in Finland, noting that the community sees the benefits of sharing data and is willing to do so, but as competition for funding increases, the willingness to share data decreases.  Seidel says NSF is mindful that with international collaborations there may be different cultures and laws for data sharing and that is why NSF is adopting the method of allowing PIs to define the process in their data management plan.  Erb closed this session by noting that this is a work in progress within NSF and that the National Science Board has final approval authority for the policy.

Meeting with NSF Director and Deputy Director

The AC was joined by NSF Director, Dr. Arden Bement, and Deputy Director (Acting), Dr. Cora Marrett.  Bement recognized Van Woert for his performance as Executive Officer and Head (Acting), Office of Polar Environment, Health & Safety in OPP, noting that he will be a very important connection between NSF and the Board.  Erb advised the AC that Bement would be leaving NSF to rejoin Purdue University, and thanked him for his leadership. 

Bement and Marrett engaged with the AC on topics such as the balance between research and infrastructure/instrumentation, and the infrastructure/instrumentation needed for transformative and global research.  On transformative research, TR, Bement was asked for his perspective on whether it has been institutionalized at NSF.  Bement said every directorate has an approach to supporting TR and that while in the past NSF had been rightly criticized for not supporting this type of research, it is now actively engaged in funding TR.  As examples, he described a new portal for submitting inter/multidisciplinary proposals and explained that each research division at NSF is setting aside funding specifically for TR.  Bement noted that NSF also has to pay attention to reviewers who often downgrade proposals that have an element of risk.

Referring to the data policy discussion of that morning, an AC member asked about the appropriate level of investment by NSF in archiving and dissemination tools.  Bement explained that the NSF working group would be examining the issue of how much NSF should invest and how the process should be managed.  Marrett added that NSF is working in collaboration with its community to define these roles and responsibilities.

A member alerted Bement and Marrett to a planned discussion topic involving the interface between science and policy, and asked them for their perspective on the appropriate role for NSF.  Bement responded that scientists need to be careful to avoid becoming advocates, instead identifying viable options, evaluating options, and providing policy and decision-makers with the information they need.  Erb asked whether he could conceive of a formal interaction in which policymakers ask NSF to develop options, or whether instead the policymakers ask NSF to evaluate options they have developed.  Bement responded that both were plausible, but that decision-making should be scientifically informed and not scientifically developed. 

2010 Climate Change Research and Education Initiatives

In a session led by Dr. Mark Fahnestock, Drs. Roberta Marinelli, Erika Key and Lisa Clough described OPP’s participation in NSF’s 2010 Climate Change Research and Education Initiatives.  OPP is participating in four of the five themes:  Ocean Acidification, Decadal and Regional Scale Prediction using Earth System Models, Dimensions of Biodiversity, and Climate Change Education.  Each of the solicitations requires a Letter of Intent and an emphasis on interdisciplinary partnership and research integration.  Development of research themes is expected through full proposals, exploratory proposals, and community/capacity building efforts.  The status and timetable of each competition was also presented. A member asked whether any thought had been given to the burden that the modeling competition could put on computation resources at, for example, the Department of Energy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Key explained that had been identified as an issue prior to releasing the solicitation and that discussions would continue.

SEES – Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability:  Proposed NSF-wide 2011 Initiative

Mr. Simon Stephenson presented an overview of the Agency’s proposed program for SEES.  The goal of the program is to generate the discoveries and capabilities needed to inform societal actions that lead to environmental and economic sustainability.  The program will be multi-scale and multi-year and will involve a set of flagship activities.  NSF will need to build a community, internally and externally.  Erb added that SEES emerged after the President made his speech about re-energizing America and coming to grips with climate change.  NSF is now determining how to implement its vision for linking or synthesizing the many different disciplinary approaches and contributions. 

A member pointed out that unlike the 2010 Climate Change Research Initiative, SEES talks about inter-directorate partnerships but not interactions with other agencies.  Erb answered that where the agenda can be moved “better, faster and cheaper” through collaborations with other agencies, those partnerships will be developed.  Another member added that most young climate scientists have never encountered an urban planner or a storm water run-off engineer, and a program that would put young climate scientists in contact with those that influence the infrastructure would be very valuable.  Stephenson described NSF’s research coordination networks which provide funding for groups that do not normally work together in order to network across various areas of research.  Erb added there is a need to build a community that thinks about infrastructure at the same time they are thinking about thawing permafrost, for example. The Committee discussed the use of the Arctic and Antarctic as models, the use of case studies, and building long-term partnerships with a community dealing with climate change.  From her experiences in Finland, Kankaanpää recommended including scientists who are trained and connected to outreach. 

U.S. Antarctic Program Review

Erb advised the AC that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) asked for a review of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) similar to a review that was conducted in the 1990s, although the current review would not question need for presence in Antarctica.  The question is what are the logistics and infrastructure issues that need to be addressed over the next several decades in order to be positioned to support the science to come.  A Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) will be chartered that will report on logistics and infrastructure needs and make recommendations for addressing those needs by next spring, in time to influence budget decisions for 2013.  The BRP study will be driven by an earlier study that will identify the science drivers – the broad themes and thrusts that the science community will want to study in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.  The group identifying the science drivers will be composed of people knowledgeable about the scientific opportunities and they will mine existing information – for example Academy reports, conclusions from International Polar Year, and activities that come out of AC discussions. 

Advisory Committee/Polar Research Board

The AC participated in a telephone conference with the Polar Research Board (PRB) that was holding its meeting in Alaska.  Erb updated the PRB on AC agenda items and briefly described the USAP Review.  He added that the AC had been asked to identify relevant science drivers, and it would be useful if the PRB would do the same.  The PRB noted that input from the Academy would be very useful, either in populating the BRP or in providing independent advice and assessment.  Erb agreed, noting that decisions on who would conduct the review had not yet been finalized but that the Sciences Academy or the Engineering Academy may have a role to play.  The PRB offered its help, noting that research in Antarctica is absolutely critical and important. 

Erb also described the AC subcommittee’s efforts to develop an OPP strategic plan, coincident with NSF’s own effort to update its strategic plan.  Saltzman added that the AC wants to produce a brief overview of OPP that captures where it is and in a broad sense where it is going over the next decade.  The current expectation is that the document will be brief and will serve as a companion piece to NSF’s strategic plan. The PRB offered its assistance and Erb added that a draft would be posted for comment. 

Erb provided information on another discussion topic, From Understanding to Action, and the role the science community, particularly NSF-supported scientists, can most usefully play along that spectrum.  The polar community is at the forefront in wondering how the science community can be more helpful in advising policymakers and in bringing the best information available to the table as policy decisions are being debated.  This discussion will continue for many months to come, culminating at an IPY “From Knowledge to Action” conference to be held in Montreal in 2012.  Dr. Chris Elfring, PRB Director, noted that the PRB will sponsor a session at the American Geophysical Union meeting on IPY follow-up and asked OPP and the AC for input on what should be included in the session. 

Elfring next described the goals of the PRB meeting.  An external review of the PRB had just been completed and the PRB is reviewing the report and establishing an action group to respond to comments.  Since it is meeting in Alaska, the PRB will do outreach and hold discussions with local people on the ocean policy task force, on interactions and the relationship between science, academia and industry, and about Arctic civil infrastructure and adaptation to climate change.

Committee of Visitors Reports

Saltzman reminded members that the COV reports were amended following discussion at the Fall meeting, and Erb explained that the next step was for the AC to decide whether to approve the reports and forward them to OPP for a formal response or, if the AC did not approve the reports, to either reconstitute the existing COVs or convene new COVs.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the reports and transmit them to OPP and, with none opposed, the motion passed.  Dr. Ben Fitzhugh presented a summary of recommendations from the three reports. Following a short discussion, Erb thanked the AC, noting that the recommendations are valuable management tools and that the reports validate that OPP is meeting the community’s needs. 

Potentially Transformative Research

2010 Experiment.  Dr. Linda Slakey from NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources provided context for the 2010 Experiment, starting with National Science Board concerns and, following the FacTIR (Facilitating Transformative and Interdisciplinary Research) Committee’s report, the addition of "potentially transformational" to the intellectual merit criterion.  The experiment requires each research division to set aside $2 million to fund transformative research, and to allocate the funds using innovative processes for identifying transformative research such as special solicitations/competitions and increased use of specialized funding mechanisms.  The AC’s discussion emphasized the challenges inherent in trying to define what TR is and how one might recognize it ahead of time.  One AC member noted that some transformational things needed several steps, sometimes seemingly mundane, to enable something that is later deemed to be transformative.  Slakey noted that much of NSF’s work focuses on raising awareness and maintaining an on-going dialog about the issue since there are no easy answers.  As a result of the lively discussion, Slakey suggested that the AC might want to invite Dr. Julia Lane from the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate to talk about NSF’s SciSIP program.  SciSIP, or the Science & Innovation Policy program, supports research designed to advance the scientific basis of science and innovation policy.  Research funded by the program develops, improves and expands models, analytical tools, data and metrics that can be applied in the science and science policy decision-making process.     

EAGER and RAPID.  Dr. Scott Borg reviewed NSF’s guidelines for EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) and Rapid Response Grants (RAPID), contrasting them with the predecessor SGER (Small Grants for Exploratory Research) program.  In the last five years, OPP funded 42 SGER, EAGER and RAPID awards, representing approximately three percent of program budgets.

Ship Support for Polar Research:  Planning for a Polar Research Vessel (PRV)

Drs. Alex Isern, Hedy Edmonds and Lisa Clough presented information on past planning and future steps for a Polar Research Vessel.  Information on a previous study that identified science themes and science requirements was provided.  Dr. Kevin Speer moderated the discussion, opening it up with questions such as is a new vessel needed?  what is the cost compared to comparable UNOLS vessels?  why do OPP vessels have so much more technical support than UNOLS vessels?  can OPP afford to operate the vessel?  He noted that the community does not question the need for a ship or the importance of working in the Southern Ocean and its value to science, but the questions of scope and mission need additional consideration.  An AC member wondered why, if science requirements had already been gathered, there is a need to revisit the requirements.  Erb noted that since this is a polar research vessel, consultation is required with the Arctic community and with UNOLS and that these discussions would help to answer the questions raised by Speer.  Saltzman said that from a science perspective, everything he has heard says global class vessels are needed and since UNOLS is moving away from this type of vessel, this is the right path to be on and OPP should proceed. Members recommended putting emphasis on designing a ship that OPP can afford to operate and on how it will be operated, and that OPP should consider the size and capability of the polar research vessel in the context of the world’s fleet.


There being no further business, the meeting adjourned for the day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

NSF and From Understanding to Action

Dr. Marika Holland led a continuation of the discussion focusing on bridging the gap between developing scientific understanding and participating in policy decisions concerning environmental and climate change.  A committee member stated that NSF provides funds to train graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to do research but not to do “action”, and that alternative mechanisms need to be put in place that will allow young scientists to incorporate some aspect of societal relevance into their programs if they are expected to be educated in this area.  Another member described his own efforts to build a bottoms-up organization through investments in interdisciplinary workshops that include researchers as well as policy-makers, adding that perhaps NSF’s role is to facilitate these broader societal interactions.  Agreeing, another member added that we have to build a community that is facile in these discussions and that requires not only workshops between decision-makers and scientists but other approaches as well.  For example, through its broader impacts requirement NSF could encourage researchers to build relationships with science writers.  Erb noted that in building a sustainability science community, NSF will want to think about the fundamental scholarly outlines of that science, and suggested that this be a topic for a future meeting.


Polar Post Doc Panel Results.  Dr. Hedy Edmonds provided the AC with information on the FY 2010 Polar Post Doc panel results. Out of 28 proposals received, seven were funded and of these, three are new to polar research.  There is gender balance and balance between Arctic and Antarctic.  In the discussion led by Dr. Bernice Joseph, an AC member expressed surprise that the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) had not brought in more applicants, and it was thought that this may be because they are currently at the graduate student level.  Erb noted that it will be important to maintain the link to SACNAS.  He also reminded the AC that one purpose of the Polar Post Doc program is to bring new researchers to polar science, and with nearly half of the awards going to new researchers it is clear that this is working.  Edmonds also noted that of 10 fellowships awarded in FY 2009, two awardees are beginning faculty positions this year. 

NSF, Denmark, Greenland Science Education Collaboration.  Ms. Marti Canipe provided an overview of the fourth education tour that brings together students, educators and scientists from the U.S., Denmark and Greenland.  Last year and this year, the focus is on high school students that have at least one year of high school left so that they can bring back what they have learned to their classrooms.  At the conclusion of this tour, there will be a cohort of approximately 20 teachers that have participated in the collaboration, and Canipe plans to organize a method for them to continue to communicate.  Erb added that the program is part of the Science & Technology agreement, intended to build connections between the U.S., Denmark and Greenland at the level of teachers and students, and that it also has some science diplomacy aspects.  Canipe also introduced National Lab Day, a web site that serves as a connector for scientists and teachers who separately advertise their interests, and she encouraged AC members to explore the site for teachers who might be in need of their expertise. 

High-latitude Satellite Communications:  Status and Opportunities

Mr. Pat Smith provided the AC with an update on the status of South Pole Station communications, a description of science drivers for South Pole, and long-range planning efforts. 

Recent changes at the Station include the October 2009 decommissioning of NASA’s TDRS F1. This satellite had been providing six contiguous hours per day of one-way bulk file transfer capability up to 240 GB/day and two-way Internet service at 5 Mb/s.  The data requirement forecast for science, such as the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and the 10-meter Telescope, and operations indicates that bulk file transfer demand will exceed capability by 2012. Service demands for Internet have already saturated capacity during the austral summer months.  Alternatives for the future include a continued process of “dumpster diving” for end-of-life satellites, a new satellite that might be NSF-owned or leased or done in partnership with other agencies or industry, and commercial opportunities.  SKYNET-4C is an example of an existing satellite that might be available. Feasibility was verified in a test and plans are underway that will allow acquisition of this satellite for 5.5 hours per day by 2012.  The Canadian Space Agency has proposed the launch of two satellites, each in a 12-hour “Molniya” orbit.  These satellites would be available for Arctic communications beginning in 2017 but would have no visibility from South Pole and only 30 minutes over Antarctica per orbit.  A Southern Hemisphere Molniya-orbiting satellite system could provide 20 hours per day coverage for South Pole.  This possibility will be considered under the new satellite option.  Erb added that the Canadian government has invited the U.S. to partner with Canada so as to take advantage of unused capacity on the Northern Hemisphere satellites if they are launched, and that NOAA and NASA are participating.  An AC member suggested holding a requirements workshop and that it consider both field and large science.  Erb asked the AC whether there is any indication that important science is not being done due to a lack of bandwidth.  In the case of one data-intensive project, the data output is captured by physically taking it out of Antarctica, a solution that is not sustainable indefinitely; also, many things are under-observed in Antarctica.  Erb indicated that the USAP Review would take a whole system look at these issues and would provide advice on the right mix of trade-offs.

Antarctic Station Resupply

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Policy.  Mr. Will Colston described a MARPOL (marine pollution) amendment for the Antarctic that has been adopted by the IMO and will go into effect in August 2011.  The amendment restricts the use and carriage of Heavy Gas Oil in Antarctic waters.  The vessels used to resupply the U.S. Antarctic Program use Heavy Gas Oil.  Military Sealift Command (MSC), providers of the resupply vessels, is soliciting bids for a compliant tanker and cargo vessel and hopes to have the vessels under charter by December 2011.  If no such vessels are available, MSC is prepared to investigate other options to assure Antarctic resupply.    If the current vessels need to be converted to use a lighter fuel there may be additional costs to the program, and the lighter fuel is more expensive than heavy fuel.  Another issue that OPP is participating in is development of a mandatory Polar Code. The Polar Code will define design, engineering, and operating standards that will be used worldwide for ships that sail in polar waters.  A framework is under development, and the next steps will be to develop the philosophies and functional requirements of the new code.  OPP needs to understand the impacts so it can be prepared to address them. 

McMurdo Improvements.  Mr. George Blaisdell described progress on a project to consolidate McMurdo’s three airfields into one in order to save fuel and make cargo and personnel movements more efficient.  By the 2011-2012 operating season, all aircraft will operate from the Pegasus site.  An AC member asked whether OPP had considered the impact on science and aircrew that would result from a consolidated airfield because of the distance involved.   Blaisdell described transportation solutions such as low ground pressure tire vans.  Using these vans, the average transport time to Pegasus is 35 minutes, compared to approximately 30 minutes for the trip to Williams Field.

Blaisdell also provided the AC with an update on the ground traverse, describing how the traverse has been used in recent years and plans for an expanded traverse fleet.  The traverse can deliver approximately nine times as much as an LC-130 for approximately the same cost.  Mr. Brian Stone added that one reason the capability was created was to free up the LC-13 aircraft for the science that can only be done using them – with each traverse saving 60 missions, more flights would be available to support deep field science.

Strategic Planning

Saltzman provided the AC with a draft format for the Strategic Plan that was developed by the AC’s strategic planning subcommittee (Saltzman, Hofmann, Joseph and Kovac) following discussions at the November meeting and input from program staff.  He explained that the draft includes a mission and a vision and begins to identify challenges and how the challenges might be addressed. He walked the AC through the structure of the plan, indicating he would circulate it for comments so that it could be presented for discussion with OPP at the next AC meeting. 

The Arctic Centre, Finland

Erb introduced Dr. Paula Kankaanpää, Director of the Arctic Centre in Finland, noting that under her leadership, the Centre is having an influence on Arctic issues across the European Arctic community.   Kankaanpää thanked the AC for inviting her to participate, noting that she learned a lot from the discussions that she will bring back to Finland.  Finland is an Arctic country, with Arctic territory but no coastline.  The Arctic Centre is an institute at the University of Lapland studying (1) global change; (2) climate change research; and (3) sustainable development.  There are currently 25 PhD students in the arctic education and arctic studies programs.  The Arctic Centre aims to be the communicator – providing web sites, a library, conferences and a science centre that hosts 90,000 guests a year.  At its 20th anniversary in 2009, the Centre announced plans to prepare a Finnish Arctic Strategy. 

Medical Panel Advice and Deployment Guidelines

Van Woert described the purpose of the Medical Panel.  Every year, a panel of eight physicians, most with wilderness and remote medicine experience, provide advice and assistance to OPP.  The Panel reviews existing medical care in the USAP, comments on its adequacy in meeting the medical care needs of participants, and provides recommendations for improving the system.  At its recent meeting, the Panel was asked to review the guidelines and prepare recommendations related to pregnancy.  The U.S. Coast Guard allows women to go to sea while pregnant but there are constraints depending upon location and time of pregnancy.  The New Zealand, Australian, French and British Antarctic programs all consider pregnancy to be a disqualifier.  Although the USAP also considers pregnancy to be a disqualifier, the guidelines do not currently require testing either before a summer deployment or prior to closing the stations for the winter.  The Panel recommended that current pregnancy continue to be a disqualifier and that an education program be put in place to educate men and women as to the risks of pregnancy while deployed due to an inability to deal with medical complications.  The Panel also recommended that pregnancy tests be administered prior to closing the stations for the winter.  Erb noted that OPP would be instituting the recommendation, and had wanted the AC to be aware of the coming change.

The Medical Panel was also asked to review the guidelines as they relate to cancer, and recommended that additional factors such as location, duration and purpose of deployment as well as the presence or need for devices such as catheters, ports or defibrillators be considered in determining suitability to deploy.  Erb added that he will be meeting with the Chair of the Medical Panel to develop an effective framework for the process of revisiting the guidelines and recasting them in terms of a risk-based system.

Benchmarking and Reducing Carbon Footprint in Remote Operations and Coping with Fuel Cost Fluctuations and Increases

Stephenson described a systems review in Greenland and initiatives to reduce fuel usage such as a traverse to reduce the use of LC-130s, improvements in prop technology for the LC-130 aircraft, and introduction of renewable energies at Summit Station.  These initiatives are estimated to save over 100,000 gallons of fuel per year.  Colston next described energy management strategies for the Antarctic research stations.  He described sources of energy, such as small and large wind turbines, solar panels and fossil fuel, as well as fuel used by various sectors of the program (aircraft, ships, power and heat, research) and energy management efforts that have led to reductions in fuel usage.  Dr. Anne Henshaw led the AC’s discussion.  An AC member noted that in a system review the system is normally studied end-to-end, and that it appeared that OPP is not including science use in the system.  Erb noted that while researchers will not be required to optimize their own projects, it is important to consider all energy usage and agreed that getting researchers involved early in the process would be beneficial. An AC member recommended establishing a policy that addresses how to use the flights or the money that is being saved and that includes reinvestment of a percentage of savings.


Saltzman and Erb recognized outgoing members Drs. Cornillon, Holland, Henshaw and Engebretson and thanked them for their service on the AC. 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.


Acronyms used throughout this meeting:

Acronym Title
AC Advisory Committee
COV Committee of Visitors
EAGER EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research
LC-130 Ski-equipped, military transport plane
MSC Military Sealft Command
NSF National Science Foundation
OPP Office of Polar Programs
PI Principal Investigator
PRB Polar Research Board (National Academy of Scinece)
PRV Polar Research Vessel
RAPID Rapid Response Grants
SACNAS Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
UNOLS University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System