ARM Scales Back in Atqasuk, Alaska

Published: 13 January 2011
Beginning operations in 1999, the ARM site in Atqasuk, Alaska, obtained more than a decade of data for climate research from its inland Arctic location.

Upon completing its primary science mission, the ARM North Slope of Alaska site in Atqasuk will cease baseline measurement operations in 2011. The shutdown will occur in phases over the next few months, starting with termination of site data system communications on January 16, 2011, when the contract with the internet provider expires. Operations at the Barrow site will continue, and baseline measurements there will soon be enhanced with the addition of new instruments funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The decision to cease operations in Atqasuk follows feedback from the ARM Sunset Committee in 2007. Responsible for reviewing the entire lifecycle of ARM instruments and facilities, the group recommended the Atqasuk site be scaled back once a ten-year record of data was collected and archived. Additionally, the expansion of instrumentation from Recovery Act investments throughout the user facility will require increased funds to ensure adequate site operations.

“This was a very tough decision, but with so many competing priorities we need to be extremely effective in how we allocate our resources, and that means both people and equipment,” said Mark Ivey, site manager for ARM’s North Slope of Alaska locale. “I am really thankful for the data we were able to collect in Atqasuk, and I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the folks – especially Doug Whiteman – that went above and beyond to help maintain that site.”

Disposition of the site instruments and operations shelters will take place in the following months. Instruments will be turned off and shipped to Barrow or other ARM sites while instrument mentors begin terminating the relevant datastreams. The instrument shelters at Atqasuk will be kept in place and connection to the Atqasuk electrical utility will be preserved in a state of low energy use for the immediate future.

The Atqasuk site will be available for investigators funded by ARM or by other agencies for field campaigns or stand-alone measurements, using the normal request process. Options for collaborative partnering with other agencies or research institutions will be explored for future operations in Atqasuk.