COVID-19 Guidance
Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines updated on March 1, 2024, the Arctic Sciences Section and most of its support providers are treating all upper respiratory infections in a similar way. At remote field stations, protocols are still in place to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak that would interfere with research and operations. Vaccinations, testing, and other mitigation measures are in place for travelers going through the logistics hub of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland or to NSF Summit Station or Raven Camp and travelers going to NSF Toolik Field Station in Alaska. COVID-19 protocols for the field season are available on the Battelle Arctic Research Operations (Battelle ARO) website.

Projects are responsible for costs associated with recovering from COVID-19 or other illness or injury, including hotel, per diem, commercial flights, or other disruptions to research projects. NSF has no obligation to provide additional field time to make up work missed due to illness or injury or other issues that prevent the project from accomplishing its goals. Field teams should carefully plan risk mitigation measures to ensure the best outcome for their field season.

Harassment Prevention and Response
NSF is committed to implementing strategies to promote a safe and inclusive field environment and to improve the response capability in the event of any harassment (including sexual harassment), bullying, or assault during fieldwork. Fieldwork should be an enriching experience for everyone involved. NSF Arctic program participants are expected to comply with the Polar Code of Conduct. Projects are expected to have a Safe and Inclusive Fieldwork (SAIF) plan if they are funded by an NSF solicitation in the pilot effort to introduce the requirement for SAIF plans, such as the 2023 Arctic Research Opportunities solicitation, or to have similar strategies in place as part of the 2023 institutional certification for safe and inclusive working environments off-campus or off-site (PAPPG Chapter II.E.9). Please see this FAQ if you have questions or talk to your program officer.

Battelle ARO has taken the following steps to prevent and respond to harassment: 1) Consider harassment to be a safety emergency that requires immediate response, 2) Provide pathways for anyone observing or experiencing harassment to report the issues, 3) Utilize third-party contractors, who are experts, to intake information about incidents and to investigate allegations while preserving anonymity, and 4) Provide training aimed at creating safe and inclusive field environments. The intent is to provide careful, professional, rapid, and thorough handling of any allegations of harassment in the program and foremost, to create fieldwork environments where harassing behaviors are not acceptable.

Anyone who experiences or observes harassment, bullying, or sexual harassment should reach out for aid to resolve the situation through any of the means available, which include the Battelle ARO system and anonymous reporting process, the NSF resources highlighted below, your employer, your university/institution Title IX office or equivalent, your NSF program officer or RSL program officer, the Arctic Sciences Section Head, and the Safety Officer for the Office of Polar Programs. All crimes, including assault, will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Battelle ARO Code of Conduct Reporting Pathway

NSF Resources for Stopping Harassment and Assault

With the risk of encountering bears and other wildlife in remote locations, firearms are often a necessary mitigation tool for program participants in the Arctic. The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for ensuring that institutional policies regarding firearms are followed for situations that warrant possession or access to a firearm in the field.

Firearms are required by the Government of Greenland within the Greenland National Park as a condition of the Expedition Permit. Summit Station is within the National Park and complies with the firearms requirement. Science teams that travel away from the core of the station or outside of the area allotment boundary at Summit Station are required to obtain a separate expedition permit and meet firearm-related permit requirements. For teams bringing firearms to Greenland, transportation and storage logistics should be coordinated with Battelle ARO or other cognizant organizations far in advance and in accordance with applicable guidelines and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations.

The NSF requires that all program participants, including direct bill and interagency project personnel, who take firearms into the field, or may have to use a firearm in the field, complete a firearms safety training class provided by a qualified, recognized organization or through local law enforcement. Firearm training specific to bear safety is preferred. Firearms shall remain in locked storage separate from ammunition unless personnel are granted approval by the appropriate authority for use against wildlife or there is an emergency situation requiring firearm use for protection against wildlife.

Expectations of PIs Receiving Field Support

Timeline for Fieldwork from the Proposal Stage
Proposals requesting support from the Arctic Research Support and Logistics (RSL) program should not expect to go to the field sooner than one year from the time of award. Projects requiring icebreaker or Academic Research Fleet assets should not expect to go to the field sooner than 18 months from the time of award. Projects with complex logistical requirements may take an additional year to plan with readiness reviews or other tools to help ensure success. These expectations are outlined in the revised Arctic Research Opportunities solicitation. This timeline enables the program to plan the support and budget for the support once a project is awarded.

Requests for Additional Logistics Support
The RSL budget is highly constrained. Projects should expect to receive only the support that was requested and budgeted for during the proposal and award stage. Requests for additional field support or changes in the logistics scope or logistics budget for field support are likely to be declined. In unusual circumstances, rare exceptions may occur. PIs requesting additional resources should prepare a justification for any request beyond what was specified in the proposal and send it to their science Program Manager and copy the regional RSL program manager (see below) and their Battelle ARO project manager to initiate the discussion with NSF. NSF will consider the justification, cost, and other factors to decide if the request can be accommodated. The RSL program will make every effort to enable projects to be successful but does not guarantee that all field goals will be met, which is the nature of fieldwork.

Timeline for Field Deployment Details and Arrangements
For researchers with active awards and contractor-supported fieldwork in 2024, please work with Battelle ARO early to ensure that the specific details of logistical support are in place for your upcoming field season. All support for 2024 was planned in fall 2023 and budgeted for prior to the start of the field season. Detailed planning of exact field dates needs to happen on or before this timeline:

  • Greenland and other International – Finalize plans eight weeks prior to deployment
  • Alaska – Finalize plans six weeks prior to deployment
  • Air Charters – Finalize plans ten weeks prior to deployment (see below)

Vendor and inventory shortages have impacted projects in recent years and early coordination is the best insurance against these disruptions to fieldwork. Battelle ARO staff will make their best effort to meet NSF-approved requests, but resources cannot be guaranteed, especially if they are submitted outside of this timeline. Staff in the field are not authorized to support project changes without NSF approval. Coordinate all requests with your Battelle ARO Project Manager.

Air Charters
NSF reviews all Battelle ARO air charter subcontracts prior to award. Submit your detailed air charter requirements to your Battelle ARO project manager no later than ten weeks prior to deployment. Details include locations/coordinates, schedule, cargo and passenger requirements, and special needs (sling loads, special door size or specific aircraft, mounting of instrumentation, etc.). Researchers can coordinate their specific activities with the aircraft vendor within the scope of the air contract but need to reach out to their Battelle ARO project manager if requests are outside of the air contract scope.

In-field communications
Battelle ARO is in place to support research, but this should take place during regular business hours. Please communicate with the assigned Battelle ARO project manager during business hours Monday through Friday or scheduled project check-ins. The program is not staffed for round-the-clock coordination with projects. The 24/7 phone lines provided in the Season Plan document should only be used in an emergency, not for the convenience of making changes to existing plans.

Support Staff for Remote Camps
Most field projects do not have paid camp staff present. NSF is scrutinizing requests to have camp managers or cooks and is reducing personnel allocated to projects. Projects that do not have staff budgeted should not expect support staff to be present.

Grantee Risk Management and Emergency Response
NSF awardees and their institutions are responsible for the safety of project participants during fieldwork. In the event of an emergency during fieldwork, the institution is responsible for the coordination of a response and the associated costs. PIs and collaborators should work with their institutional Risk Management/Health and Safety representatives to develop an Emergency Response Plan (EAP) that addresses all science team participants and institutions. Researchers may reach out to Kim Derry, NSF Field Safety Manager (contractor) to coordinate with institutional risk management offices (

Projects should utilize the risk management services provided by NSF through the Battelle ARO contract, including pre-deployment trainings, risk identification/mitigation consultations, access to telemedicine, allocation of safety gear, satellite imagery analysis for hazards, field check-in calls, pre-deployment medical screening, and other resources. Science teams should consult their Battelle ARO project manager regarding these and other resources for risk management.

Battelle ARO Resources for Risk Management

Cognizant RSL Program Managers:

Renee Crain ( – NSF Summit Station, Greenland

Frank Rack ( – North Slope of Alaska (Toolik Field Station, Utqiaġvik), icebreakers/other vessels

Al Riera ( – Facilities & Maintenance

Kate Ruck ( – Alaska, Greenland, Other International