Analysis & Opinions - ArcticToday

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Halted Most US Arctic Field Research for 2020

| May 25, 2020

"This will be a massive gap year."

Seasonal scientific field work in the Arctic — from the Toolik Field Station on Alaska's North Slope to ice core drilling in Greenland — is being postponed or cancelled this year because of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers hope that by putting off travel to the region, they will avoid spreading the disease in vulnerable rural communities and in field outposts with close living and working quarters. But the disruption will hinder a wide variety of ongoing studies, including research on ice sheets, glaciers, permafrost, plant and animal habitats, and ocean fisheries — research that underpins human understanding of global climate change and other vital scientific questions in the circumpolar North.

"The biggest impact is certainly the size and scale of projects that have been cancelled in this season," said Simon Stephenson, head of the United States' National Science Foundation Section for Arctic Sciences.

About 90 percent of 150 international Arctic projects funded by his agency, across the spectrum of natural, physical and social sciences, have cancelled their 2020 spring and summer field research expeditions, Stephenson said....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Russell, Cristine.“The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Halted Most US Arctic Field Research for 2020.” ArcticToday, May 25, 2020.