Department of Defense

The Department of Defense continues to operate and maintain facilities in the Arctic. To support these operations, the DOD conducts a broad- based Arctic research program. The Arctic program is conducted by all three services and extends from the ocean floor to the magnetosphere.

Although overall funding for Arctic research within the Department of Defense (DoD) has decreased since the end of the Cold War, the Department still has active interest in the Arctic. Specific DoD objectives for Arctic research include (but are not limited to):

Although the DoD program is reviewed as a whole during the annual Technology Area Review and Assessment (TARA), the three military services actually conduct research to meet their specific objectives. Consequently each service's major accomplishments will be reported separately.

Air Force

The Air Force conducts research in upper atmosphere and ionospheric physics, primarily by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, Battlespace Environment Division (formerly the Phillips Laboratory) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). These offices coordinate their effort to understand the effects of space weather. This research is primarily conducted in the Arctic "polar cap." The goal of the research is to understand the basic physical and chemical processes and dynamics of the polar ionosphere, with the main objectives to specify, predict and mitigate disruptions to DoD communications, navigation and surveillance systems. To actively pursue and maintain a well-rounded program, the research effort combines experimental measurements to determine specific physical processes, first-principles numerical modeling efforts, and a strong connection to ongoing theoretical research.


FY 96 FY 97

Arctic Engineering 2,369 2,892
Permafrost/Frozen Ground 1,562 565
Snow and Ice Hydrology 1,910 3,646
Oceanography 8,988 11,631
Lower Atmosphere 168 314
Upper Atmosphere 2,000 3,777
High-Freq Active Auroral Program 13,000 7,500
Medical and Human Engineering 489 720
Total 30,486 31,045

The Air Force maintains a wide range of ground-based radio, radar and optical diagnostics to perform the needed measurements. These are conducted from Nord, Qaanaq, Thule, Sondrestrom and Narssarssuaq, Greenland (in cooperation with the Danish Meteorological Institute); Ny Alesund, Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen) and Tromso, Norway (in cooperation with the University of Oslo, Norway); and Goose Bay, Labrador (Canada). The ground-based measurements are often complemented by measurements from instruments on sounding rockets and polar-orbiting satellites. From this understanding, numerical models to specify and ultimately predict the behavior of this complex region are being developed. This research and model development are needed for real-time support to DoD communications, navigation and surveillance systems.

Dayside Auroral Studies at Svalbard
Major experimental campaigns were conducted at Ny Alesund, Svalbard (Norway), in January 1997 (following initial experiments in 1993) to investigate the structure and dynamics of the dayside auroral cusp region. Because of the high latitude of Svalbard (79N), this is an ideal location to conduct sensitive optical observations of the aurora near noon. Both campaigns included optical, radio and radar measurements in cooperation with the University of Oslo. During January 1997, measurements from the NASA FAST satellite were coordinated with the ground-based optical images. These higher-resolution satellite particle and field measurements will be used to attempt to distinguish temporal and spatial variations within the cusp region.

High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (see note 7)
The Air Force-Navy High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) consists of a high-power, high-frequency (HF: 2.8-10 MHz) ionospheric heating facility that has been under construction since 1994 in Gakona, Alaska. Initial field experiments were conducted in 1997. A development prototype version currently operates, with plans for the facility to be completed by early in the next century. When finally completed, the facility promises to provide the world's most powerful HF transmission capabilities, combined with unparalleled frequency agility and beam-steering agility. Recent completion of the prototype made it possible to conduct preliminary investigations of HF-induced phenomena with the HAARP facility in a March 1997 campaign. Although the prototype produced relatively low power output in the 3- to 4-MHz frequency range (effective radiated power of approximately 5 MW), the full-frequency agility capability was available. In the current effort the prototype was used to investigate stimulated electromagnetic emissions and artificial periodic inhomogeneities, as well as to modulate the polar electrojet to produce extremely low frequencies, phenomena that can be excited with modest power levels.

Portion of the 48-tower developmental prototype antenna array at Gakona, Alaska.


The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), with offices in Hanover, New Hampshire, and Fairbanks, Alaska, is the center of engineering expertise for cold regions and winter conditions for the Corps of Engineers, the Army and DoD. CRREL is the only Federal laboratory that focuses solely on Arctic and cold regions problems and is internationally recognized as a center of excellence in Arctic research.

The U.S. Army Research Office (ARO), located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, has a mission to support basic research that leads to an increase in fundamental knowledge that may have short- or long-range impacts on Army capabilities. ARO is involved in Arctic research and development largely through the sponsorship of extramural basic research directed toward the topics of environmental quality and the properties and processes of snow, ice and frozen ground.

The United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), located in Natick, Massachusetts, conducts research to sustain and enhance the health and performance of military personnel in cold environments, including Arctic areas, through basic and applied biological and biophysical research. Researchers employ human, animal, tissue, cellular and mathematical models using multidisciplinary team approaches. A principal research goal is to define complex interactions of climatic stress (heat, cold and altitude) and the body's physiologic defense mechanisms.

The following are objectives and accomplishments for FY 96 and 97 in the program areas of Arctic Engineering, Permafrost and Frozen Ground; Snow and Ice Hydrology; Oceanography; and Medical and Human Engineering.

Arctic Engineering, Permafrost and Frozen Ground
The current CRREL program reflects recent world events. The engineering emphasis has shifted to technologies needed to support forces in underdeveloped theaters of operation, rehabilitate and more efficiently operate an aging military infrastructure, assess and clean up contamination from past activities, and extend the capability of existing equipment to function more effectively in a broader range of operating conditions.

Together with the National Concrete Masonry Association, CRREL completed a Construction Productivity Advancement Research study to find ways to minimize thermal protection requirements for cold-weather masonry construction. Although current guidance requires mortar to be heated to 50C, a finding of the study is that mortar need not be heated above 20C. Additionally, the study showed that antifreeze chemicals can eliminate the need for thermal protection altogether without causing detrimental side effects to the masonry. These findings promise to take a huge bite out of the estimated $325 million annual surcharge that cold weather inflicts on masonry construction activities.

CRREL also conducted extensive research in ground-penetrating radar in FY 96 and 97. Radar maps of the total thickness of permafrost have been developed, with confirmation from the extensive drilling necessary to map the subsurface extents of contamination. Additionally, the radar is being used to detect buried metallic objects such as containers of toxic waste and ordnance.

The Army Research Office (ARO) sponsored two major efforts over the period. The first is Constitutive Behavior of Frozen Soils at Small Strains. Charles Ladd of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is engaged in a laboratory study of frozen soil deformation at small strain rates. Triaxial compression tests are being conducted to provide axial stress-strain and volumetric strain characterization of a frozen sand as a function of relative density, confining stress, strain rate and temperature. The second ARO-sponsored effort is Solute Mobility in Frozen Porous Media, by Bernard Hallet of the University of Washington. Through a program of laboratory experiments, this effort studies the fundamental processes that govern the transport of chemical constituents in frozen porous media. The experimental data obtained will elucidate primary mechanisms and rates of solute movement in frozen porous media, as well as examine the potential for electrical field generation during freezing and the tendency for chemicals in frozen ground to concentrate at freezing fronts.

Snow and Ice Hydrology
CRREL and ARO also conduct research in mapping snow extent using remote sensors. This research supports hydrologic and climatic models in both temperate and Arctic regions. The Remote Sensing/Geographic Information Systems Center located at CRREL developed and tested an automated snow mapper for use with Landsat imagery. This algorithm rapidly finds the fraction of snow, or materials with snow-like properties, based on an idealized spectral mixture model.

CRREL conducted long over-snow traverses in the Kuparuk Basin on the North Slope of Alaska in collaboration with the University of Alaska and Colorado State University. The traverses were conducted to collect snow depth and snow property data over a wide area in order to develop and test models of snow distribution. These models can be used in the prediction of over-snow trafficability and meltwater runoff, scene prediction, and climate studies. During the traverses, more than 1000 km were covered using a small-unit support vehicle towing special research sleds built by CRREL. Over 250,000 depth measurements were taken at temperatures as low as -40C. From these measurements, trends in snow depth have been identified. Preliminary model results predict the correct snow depths over more than 70% of the modeled area.

ARO sponsored several studies in snow and ice hydrology in 1997, including Meltwater Flow Through Snow from Plot to Basin Scale, by Mark Williams of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who is studying the spatial and temporal variation of water flow through a melting snowpack in a research project that is jointly funded with the National Science Foundation. Another project, Study of Ice Adhesion with Scanning Force Microscopy and Electromagnetic Spectroscopy, by Victor Petrenko of Dartmouth College, is undertaking a fundamental study that is aimed at acquiring an in-depth understanding of the nature of the strong and universal adhesion of ice to most solid material based on new knowledge of both the microstructure and the physical properties of the ice/solid interface. The long-term goal of this research is the purposeful development of durable, ice-phobic coatings by means of molecular engineering.

Understanding the interaction of solar radiation with the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean is critical to the heat and mass balance of the Arctic ice pack and its effect on climate. Data on the surface state were obtained from helicopter photography missions made during the height of the melt season. CRREL analyzed photomicrographs of ice thin sections using a PC-based image processing system to determine the number of inclusions and statistics for brine pockets in young ice and first-year ice and for air bubbles in a multi-year hummock. Quantifying these inclusions is critical for both interpreting and modeling the electromagnetic properties of sea ice.

Two icebreaking ships carrying six scientists from CRREL and more than 50 other scientists representing various universities and agencies such as NASA and the Department of Energy (along with researchers from Japan, Canada and the Netherlands) established an ice station for the SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic) experiment. One of the icebreakers will remain frozen into the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean and drift as a floating science platform for 13 months. This experiment will provide a better understanding of the climate of the Arctic; this knowledge will improve global-scale weather and climate models.

Medical and Human Engineering
USARIEM studied the heat transfer properties of cold-stressed fingertips during cold-induced vasodilatation (CIVD). A novel manner of characterizing the CIVD effect is by ascribing a factor called heat loss efficiency. A weak linear relationship between the heat loss efficiency and the duration of CIVD was revealed. The intensity and the incidence of occurrence of heat deficits were found to be more prevalent in the first CIVD waves in both test conditions. Subsequently the heat deficit of the fingertip decreased while heat storage intensified. This technique should lead to a unique way to characterize a population susceptible to non-freezing cold injury.

USARIEM continues to study the effects of cold stress on military women's thermoregulatory responses. A study was completed comparing model and experimental results with protective clothing for cold stress impact on women. Previously USARIEM examined the magnitude of shivering thermogenesis and internal body temperature response in women exposed to cold wearing protective clothing during resting activities at various stages of the menstrual cycle. It was found that shivering thermogenesis was highly correlated with mean weighted skin temperature.

USARIEM also developed an uncomplicated approach for estimating heat loss during cold exposure. The current equation may be used to generate predictions that incorporate clothing insulation for the U.S. Army Standard Extended Cold Weather Clothing System and cold ambients down to -20F (-28.9C). USARIEM also initiated a study to determine the efficacy of phase-change (PC) materials incorporated into various boots used in cold regions. PC boots have a proprietary exothermic substance in a given boot that is purported to release heat upon exposure to extreme cold. Various prototype PC boots, in combination with a prototype Marine sock and current-issue sock, are being studied on USARIEM's regionally heated copper foot while exposed to a cold ramp down to -5C (23F). Finally, USARIEM published a study of the effect of cold water immersion at different depths on metabolic and thermal responses. Experiments were conducted in a laboratory with subjects immersed to different depths and exercising at a range of metabolic rates. The study showed that water levels above the knee at 15C and above the hip at 25C depressed the core temperature.

USARIEM traveled to Alaska to support an international mountaineering expedition to Mt. Sanford (altitude 16,237 ft) starting from a base camp on Sheep Glacier (altitude 6,500 ft). The expedition consisted of 12 climbers with an objective to demonstrate the practicality of physiologic monitoring in harsh climatic conditions. Five of the twelve climbers reached the summit. Overall, physiological status monitoring appeared to demonstrate outstanding potential to manage activity levels and identify sick soldiers during military operations in harsh climates.


The Office of Naval Research's High Latitude Program investigates processes (physical, biological, chemical and geological) active in all polar oceanic areas, with special emphasis given to high-latitude marginal seas. The goals of the program are to improve the Navy's understanding of air-sea-ice exchange processes, mechanisms of cross-shelf transport, and the process of deep ocean convection and to incorporate the improved dynamical understanding of these processes into new environmental models that can better support fleet activities in the next decade and beyond. These program goals are being addressed partially through participation in the joint NSF/ONR/Japan/Canada Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) experiment and the ongoing ONR/NSF-sponsored Science Submarine Cruise (SCICEX) program.

All ONR Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Department-funded programs receive an annual summary report from each principal investigator. These summaries document each task's objectives, accomplishments and publications during the past year. In 1998, ONR(see note 8) will be providing these annual summary reports as a CD-ROM with selected reports on the World Wide Web. In the future these collections will provide an easy-to-use compendium of accomplishments. In the interim a few significant highlights are summarized below.

The Navy continues to fund substantial research into the dynamics of sea ice surfaces. Sea ice provides a superb platform for studying the upper ocean without the complicating effect of surface waves. The long-term goals are to understand the turbulent transfer of momentum, heat, salt and other contaminants in naturally occurring boundary layers of the ocean and to apply this knowledge to understanding air-ice-ocean interaction in polar regions and the impact of this transfer on the large-scale coupled atmosphere-ocean dynamic system. In 1997 the Navy funded a large series of experiments to directly measure the transport of heat and salinity. The data have been used to develop relatively simple conceptual models for eddy exchange, which have been incorporated into numerical ocean circulation models with applications ranging from modeling strong heat flux in the Weddell Sea to sediment transport in the Kara Sea. In 1997 the researchers (primarily Miles McPhee, University of Washington) directly measured such diverse elements as circulation, wind and sea velocity, and heat transport. The goal was to parameterize these complex factors into a simple form to be used in operational weather and climate models. One final result is that the parameterized mixing length should be smaller than previously thought, reducing the turbulent exchange of heat and momentum flux from air to sea in the Arctic region. This work also has direct application for modeling pollutant dispersal over the Arctic.

A second major accomplishment came during the summer 1996 and 1997 SCICEX cruises. These cruises, aboard the USS Pogey and Archerfish, respectively, had clearly defined scientific goals. The primary goal of this research was to improve the understanding of those processes in the upper Arctic Ocean that influence the heat balance and sustain the ice cover. This goal encompasses the upper halocline and includes mesoscale features including their origins, prevalence, dynamics and influence on heat transport. A secondary role of this program is to participate in assessing the potential utility of submarines as research platforms. To meet these goals the Navy sponsored research into continuously measuring the vertical distribution of horizontal currents, temperature and salinity in the upper Arctic Ocean from a submarine. These measurements were taken under the ice pack in some instances and provided a first-time characterization of the upper-ocean mesoscale (small-scale) features. Analyses of the summer 1996 SCICEX data are still in their early stages. The current data proved to be of high quality and clearly show a complex dynamic ocean structure.