Research Categories / Arctic

Research to Support Analysis of Oil Spill Response Plans for Spills on Snow and Solid Ice

This project will develop a calculator tool to facilitate assessment of an operator's oil spill response plan for a well blowout, tank failure, pipeline leak, or other spill that occurs during winter months and results in recovery operations on snow and solid ice using "yellow gear" equipment as described in the Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) Tactics Manual. Further, it will provide recommendations for further research and/or testing that should be conducted to reassess, verify, and potentially update the formulas incorporated into the calculator tool.

Arctic 2019-20 Freeze-up / 2020 Break-up Study of Arctic Sea Ice on the US Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

The purpose of this research is to build upon the knowledge gained from freeze-up studies conducted since 2009 and to build upon the information acquired during the 2017 break-up study, which BSEE will make publicly available.

An Adaptable Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) Radar For Unmanned Aerial Systems To Detect Oil In Sea Ice

As Arctic ice has receded, exploration and development of oil reserves have increased, thereby requiring an effective strategy to mitigate oil spills. PNNL proposes demonstrating oil detection in and under sea ice via FMCW radar by leveraging recent advancements in commercial subcomponents and systems. Utilizing Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware will address hardware reliability issues and focus work on implementation challenges.


This project will study and test the Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT) sensor to detect oil in/under ice. For oil detection and thickness estimation under/in ice, where the access to the imaged region is limited to above its surface, AUB proposes a planar sensor design where the electrodes are mounted on a single plane and placed at a relatively close distance above the ice surface. 

Recovery of Oil under Solid Ice

This project will develop a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) mounted tooling skid to detect, inspect, and recover pockets of oil under solid ice, and to scrape and remove oil-laden ice crystals formed on the underside of the ice. The tooling skid will consist of a pumping system, a manipulator arm with a collection nozzle and scraping tool, navigation, and lighting to allow differentiation of oil, water, and ice. It will have a standardized “plug and play” power and data protocol such that it can be used with any qualified ROV.

Ice Management for Vessel Oil Recovery Systems

This project supported the design, construction, and testing of an ice deflection system called BOWHEAD. The system can be deployed on the side of a vessel with an existing skimmer system. This project built upon previous work conducted under a Joint Industry Project that developed the MORICE system (BSEE project 310.) The project enhanced the MORICE system based on recommendations made in the MORICE final report. The BOWHEAD focuses on simplicity, scalability, ease of operation, and deployability, and can be paired with multiple commercially available skimming systems.

Suitability of Source Control Containment Equipment versus Same Season Relief Well in the Alaska OCS Region

The proposed study is to provide a description of the Alaskan Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)meteorological/ oceanography (metocean) and operational conditions which, in the event of a loss-of-well-control situation, shall: preclude the safe deployment of Source Control and Containment Equipment (SCCE); preclude the operator from safely drilling a relief well; allow one method, but preclude the other and; provide historical statistical analysis of the Alaskan Arctic OCS drilling season, over the past 5 years, in which metocean additionally, provide the BSEE Alaska Region with a histori

Circumpolar Oil Spill Response Viability Analysis

The purpose of this circumpolar Arctic response viability analysis was to better understand the potential for different oil spill response systems to operate in the Arctic marine environment. There is increasing concern about the risk of oil spills as human activity increases in the Arctic. The Arctic Council’s Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (EPPR) Working Group commissioned this study of oil spill response viability for the circumpolar Arctic region, co-sponsored by Norway, the United States, and Denmark.

Arctic Spill Response Database

This project developed the Arctic Spill Response Database Query Tool. This tool is designed to assist spill reponse planning by gathering reliable data on response equipement and geographical reach, from the eight member nations of Arctic Council. The extent of damage resulting from an oil spill can be mitigated when the availability of resources is known, logistics channels are clear, and contingency plans are in place.