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Polar Programs

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This federal aid program is managed by:



To strengthen and enhance the national scientific enterprise through the expansion of fundamental knowledge and increased understanding of the polar regions. To encourage and support basic research in the Arctic and Antarctic focused on the solid earth, glacial and sea ice, terrestrial ecosystems, the oceans, the atmosphere and beyond. Major objectives include understanding of the natural phenomena and processes in the Antarctic and Arctic regions and their role in global systems. To provide postdoctoral fellowships for the development and training of new investigators in polar regions research with goals to support innovative research in emerging areas, encourage interdisciplinary research, foster activities that create broader impacts for science and society, and to increase the participation of underrepresented groups. Support is also provided for science and technology centers, undergraduate student research, facility enhancement, instrumentation, and laboratory equipment; and for research opportunities for women, minority, and disabled scientists and engineers.

Funding obligations:

(Grants) FY 07 $145,920,000; FY 08 est $151,200,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Uses and Use Restrictions:

Grant funds may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies such as salaries and wages, permanent equipment and supplies, computer services, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs. Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the principal investigator is responsible for the scientific work. Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.

Examples of Funded Projects:

Polar Sciences: Investigations of atmospheric, earth, biological and ocean sciences, glaciology in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and of social sciences in the Arctic.

Program Accomplishments:

In fiscal year 2007, 1,202 proposals were received and 372 awards were made. In fiscal year 2008, it is anticipated that approximately 1,230 proposals will be received and approximately 396 awards will be made.

Types of Assistance:

Project Grants.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:

$1,000 to $5,000,000; $180,500.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:

Normally 1 to 3 years.

Applicant Eligibility:

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances. See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility:

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Award Procedure:

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals usually with the assistance and advice of other qualified scientists, and other appropriate persons, who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Awards are made in order of merit and program relevance to the extent permitted by available funds. States will be notified of Federal assistance awards through the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS).

Contact Info for Headquarters Office:

National Science Foundation; 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. Arctic Sciences: Dr. Michael Van Woert, Acting; Telephone: (703) 292-8029; Fax: (703) 292-9082; Antarctic Sciences: Dr. Scott Borg; Telephone: (703) 292-8033; Fax: (703) 292-9079; Polar Research Support: Mr. Erick Chiang; Telephone: (703) 292-8032; Fax: (703) 292-9080; Environment, Safety and Health: Dr. Michael Montopoli; Telephone: (703) 292-8031; Fax: (703) 292-9079. NSF World Wide Web site URL:

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