Founded in 2008, the Cooperative Institute for Alaska Research (CIFAR) conducts ecosystem and environmental research related to Alaska and its associated Arctic regions, including the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Chukchi/Beaufort Seas, and Arctic Ocean. CIFAR continues to facilitate the developed long-term collaboration between NOAA and the University of Alaska begun under the Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research in 1994, within which targeted research, technology, education and outreach can be developed and sustained. CIFAR plays a central role in communication and coordination between NOAA, researchers, management agencies, non-governmental organizations, Alaska communities, and the general public in collaborative research, education, and outreach efforts.
CIFAR conducts research in three thematic areas: 1) Ecosystem Function – Gain sufficient knowledge of Alaskan ecosystems to forecast their response to both natural and anthropogenic change; 2) Coastal Hazards – Improve understanding of coastal hazards, storms, and tsunamis that affect Alaska’s population, ecosystems and coast to improve weather forecast and warning accuracy; and 3) Climate Change and Variability – Foster climate research targeted at societal needs and advance Arctic climate research to improve predictive capacity of climate variations affecting coastal regions and ecosystems.
CIFAR's research activities assist NOAA in four of its Mission Goals: (1) Protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to management; 2) Understand climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond; (3) Serve society's needs for weather and water information; and (4) Support the Nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation.
University of Alaska Fairbanks Ph.D. student Tim Bartholomaus, recipient of a Global Change Student Research Grant funded by CIFAR, prepares to lower an instrument for measuring water properties into Icy Bay, Alaska. This work is part of a project to measure ocean heat transport to the terminus of the nearby ocean-terminating Yahtse Glacier. Photo by Nathan Rice.