Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Navigating the New Arctic (NNA): Co-production of shorefast ice knowledge in Uummannaq Bay, Greenland (Award# 1836473)

PI: Ryan, Jonathan Charles (
Phone: (401) 863.3493 
Institute/Department: Brown University, Institute at Brown for Environment and Society 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\AON
Program Manager: Dr. Roberto Delgado (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere | Meteorology and Climate | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
Shorefast ice (also known as landfast ice) is sea-ice that is attached to the coastline. Since it does not drift with the winds and currents, shorefast ice forms an important habitat for wildlife and a platform for human subsistence food production and transport in the Arctic. As the climate warms, residents local to the Arctic report that it is breaking up earlier in the year and is thinner than it was a few decades ago. These environmental changes threaten the sustainability of wildlife and traditional human activities that depend on shorefast ice. Despite its significance, a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment of shorefast ice has yet to be made in Greenland. This project therefore seeks to understand how shorefast ice has responded to atmospheric and oceanic warming, and how these changes have affected livelihoods in communities local to the Uummannaq region of West Greenland. The results will improve institutional knowledge of environmental change in the Arctic and prediction of its associated impacts, as well as strengthen US relations in an area of, potentially global, strategic and economic importance. The project will co-produce shorefast ice knowledge by leveraging large satellite remote sensing datasets, community-based monitoring and local and Indigenous knowledge. First, observations from high-resolution optical satellite sensors will be supplemented with knowledge gathered from local residents. A community-based monitoring program will then be initiated using small multi-rotor UAVs to document key shorefast ice processes (e.g. formation and break-up) as they happen. The quantitative and qualitative shorefast ice knowledge generated by these two activities will be used to understand not only how the shorefast ice has changed but how these changes matter to individuals and communities in the Uummannaq region. The involvement of residents and institutions in Uummannaq at all stages of the project, in combination with ongoing observations, will lay the foundations for ongoing community support and enable new insights into the complex social, cultural and economic changes caused by rapid environmental change. The findings will also enhance the ability of local residents and institutions to make informed and embedded choices concerning natural resource governance and management, as well as choices about individual and collective trajectories towards a desirable and sustainable future. This award is co-funded by the Office of International Science & Engineering.

Logistics Summary:
This project seeks to co-produce salient, timely and credible knowledge about shorefast ice in the Uummannaq region of West Greenland. In the first year, before the initial field site visit, the PI’s will utilize optical remote sensing platforms including the Landsat archive (which extends back to 1984) and MODIS archive (which extends back to 2000) to document historical changes in shorefast ice in Uummannaq Bay, Greenland. The PI’s will then make annual spring/summer visits to Uummannaq to conduct interviews and workshops with local residents to contextualize the results of the satellite remote sensing. Additionally, the project aims to establish a community-based monitoring initiative in an attempt to achieve regular UAV monitoring coordinated by community members year-round. After intensive training with willing local community participants, the project will leave two UAV’s on-site to accomplish this. The project will deploy three to five personnel to Uummannaq, traveling through Kangerlussuaq via the Air National Guard, in 2019 through 2021. Each visit will be about three to four weeks. Via NSF Supplement 1914427, the project has been awarded two additional personnel.

CPS will provide Air National Guard (ANG) coordination for pax and minimal cargo between New York and Kangerlussuaq, sat phone, medical kit/medical support. All other support will be arranged by the PIs and paid for from grant funds.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2019Greenland - Ilulissat04 / 25 / 2019 05 / 07 / 20194
2019Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 23 / 2019 05 / 09 / 20194
2019Greenland - Uummannaq04 / 26 / 2019 05 / 06 / 20194
2020Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 11 / 2020 05 / 15 / 20203
2020Greenland - Uummannaq04 / 13 / 2020 05 / 13 / 20203
2021Greenland - Kangerlussuaq5
2021Greenland - Uummannaq5

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1836473", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1