Arctic, Climate, and Earthquakes (ACE): Seismic Resilience and Adaptation of Arctic Infrastructure and Social Systems amid Changing Climate


The state of Alaska and many other areas of the Arctic are seismically active, experiencing thousands of earthquakes with different magnitudes every year. Given the vulnerability of the Artic to earthquakes and the accelerating environmental and social changes, it is critical to evaluate the resiliency of the region’s infrastructure to seismic events in the context of the natural environment, built environment, and social systems and understand how these changes interact and impact the region’s preparedness and response to earthquakes. The overarching goals of this NNA Collaborative Research project are to: 1) Improve the fundamental understanding of the impact of Arctic changes on the region’s preparedness and response to future earthquakes through seismic monitoring/modeling, community engagement, and targeted investigations of the interactions between the relevant components of the natural environment, built environment, and social systems; and 2) Enhance the seismic resilience of Arctic communities by providing them with the necessary training and tools to manage future earthquake-related disasters including planning, preparedness, mitigation, and recovery. The project research and education activities will include targeted research studies, workshops, and workforce development including the training and mentoring of three graduate students at the University of New Hampshire, one graduate student and an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia, one graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, one graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and one graduate student at the University of Virginia.

This NNA Collaborative Research project builds upon the results of a planning grant and a workshop with significant community input that identified six major community concerns and high priority research topics regarding the seismic challenges facing the new Arctic and the region’s preparedness and resilience to manage future earthquake-related disasters. To address these challenges, the Principal Investigators (PIs) of this NNA Collaborative Research project propose to carry out a convergent research and education program structured around four strategic pillars and objectives. The specific objectives of the research include 1) Infrastructure seismic response assessment under climate-driven changes of the Arctic ground through the monitoring of key infrastructure systems in Alaska in combination with centrifuge physical modeling to simulate and evaluate the impact of permafrost thawing on soils and building/infrastructure foundations, 2) Co-development of equitable seismic resilience capacities for local communities through surveys, interviews, and participatory mapping workshops, 3) Seismic resilience modeling and assessment through systems dynamics modeling, review of seismic design/planning strategies, and climate adaptation planning at community and state levels, and 4) Outreach and education through ACE youth training camps, STEM research experience for Indigenous youth, and an international workshop on Arctic seismic resilience and adaptation. The successful completion of this project has the potential for transformative impact by seeding and catalyzing research that could lead to breakthroughs in fundamental science and engineering, informed by community participation and Indigenous knowledge, to address seismic challenges facing the new Arctic and improve the region’s preparedness and response to future earthquake-related disasters.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Project PI(s)
Project Start Date
Jan 2023
Award Year