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USNA Polar Science & Technology Program
Polar Science Technology

Polar Science & Technology Program

Polar Science is an integrated sub-discipline of Earth Science that is of growing interest to the scientific research community and the U. S. Navy.  Consequently there is a need to enhance education and experience in Polar Science for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and future Naval Officers who may have to operate in the Polar region in the future. Through support from the Office of Naval Research Code 32 (ONR 32) Arctic & Global Prediction Program, the Oceanography Department at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) has established a multi-disciplinary, undergraduate, field research-based Polar Science and Technology (S&T) program (USNA-PS&TP).  The goals of USNA-PS&TP are to: 1) Develop faculty-led undergraduate Midshipmen research and engineering Capstone projects targeted towards specific S&T objectives/needs of the U.S. Navy; 2) Enhance course development and materials for Midshipman education in Polar Science; and 3) Provide a faculty and Midshipman S&T work force with experience in conducting research in Polar environments for collaboration and partnership with the Naval Research Enterprise (NRE) and the greater Polar S&T community on field-oriented S&T projects.   

Ongoing Projects (2019-2022):


Regional changes in climate are impacting Arctic watershed landscapes through enhanced permafrost thaw and degradation and alteration of hydrologic processes. Many changes are occurring during the open water seasons from early summer-to-fall. Interseasonal-to-interannual variability of surface water biogeochemistry in and constituent fluxes through small river systems on the North Slope of Alaska can be used as an indicator of landscape change.

Technical Objective:

Quantify variability of surface water chemistry in and constituent fluxes through small river systems on the North Slope of Alaska from early summer to late fall in response to landscape-specific source contributions related to permafrost thaw and changes in freshwater discharge


Smith, J.P., Gallaher, S.G., Douglas, T.A., Barker, A.J., Doyle, E.J., O’Banion, M.S., Oxendine, C.E., Vas, D.A., and Sweet, C. R. (2020), Variability in Dissolved Carbon and Iron in Surface Waters of Rivers on the North Slope of Alaska Over a Summer Thaw Season. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences (submitted).

Click for access to data for Smith et al. (2020; submitted)


Click on links below for info on other past USNA PS&TP Projects:

U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Polar Science & Technology Program (USNA PS&TP) – Factors Influencing Spatial Variability in Late Summer Methane Fluxes from the North Slope of Alaska

U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Polar Science & Technology Program (USNA PS&TP) – NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB) Ice Experiment (ICEX-2017), 09-16 March 2017

USNA-PS&TP participation in the March 2016 U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL 7420) Sea Ice Physics field experiment, Barrow, AK

Exploring the use of Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Unmanned Quadcopters to Identify and Characterize Ice Surface Features

Contact USNA-PS&TP:

CDR Shawn Gallaher (USN)

Dr. Joseph P. Smith


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