The USCG contributes to ocean and sea ice observa¬tions through a number of activities. First, USCG supports Arctic research through its icebreaking operations. Assets include three polar class icebreak¬ers, of which HEALY operates in the Arctic, POLAR SEA has recently completed drydock work, and POLAR STAR is in caretaker status pending an Administration decision on how the US can best meet polar icebreaking requirements. USCG carries out the annual International Ice Patrol (IIP). The activities of the IIP are governed by treaty and US law to encompass only those ice regions of the North Atlantic Ocean through which the major trans-Atlantic shipping lanes pass. There remain other areas of ice danger where shipping must exercise extreme caution. Information concerning ice conditions is collected primarily by air surveillance flights and from ships operating in the ice area. All iceberg data, together with ocean current and wind data, are entered into a computer model that predicts iceberg drift. Every 12 hours, the predicted iceberg locations are used to estimate the limit of all known ice. This limit, along with a few of the more critical predicted iceberg locations, is broadcast as an “Ice Bulletin” from radio stations around the US, Canada, Europe and over the Worldwide Web for the benefit of all vessels crossing the north Atlantic. In addition to the Ice Bulletin, a radio facsimile chart of the area, depicting the limits of all known ice, is broadcast twice daily. USCG has begun the Arctic Domain Awareness (ADA) program to prepare for increased maritime activity as climate changes provide greater access to the Arctic. Understanding the Arctic Maritime Do¬main is part of a DOD and DHS effort to improve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) by developing an effective understanding of the global maritime domain and supporting effective decision-making as outlined in the National Strategy for Maritime Security. MDA includes both environmental condi¬tions and human activities that could affect maritime safety, security, the economy or environment. As MDA is expanded to the Arctic, there are likely overlaps in resource needs and sensors that could apply to both MDA/ADA and AON, and coordina¬tion of their activities will be mutually beneficial. The IIP works closely with the National Ice Center (NIC), a multi-agency operational center operated by the US Navy, NASA, NOAA and the USCG. The NIC mission is to provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of Federal agencies. The NIC also coordinates and represents the many funding agencies and partners of the US Interagency Arctic Buoy Program (IABP). NIC also funds the coordinator of the program, and NSF supports IABP data management and coordination at the University of Washington. US buoy contributions to the IABP are funded by NOAA and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). NSF supports the fabrication and deployment of drifting ice mass balance buoys by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), US Army Corps of Engineers.
US Coast Guard (USCG)