Major research grants will help WHRC study arctic rivers and train future scientists

The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) has recently been awarded two major arctic research grants to be led by Senior Scientist R. Max Holmes.

Both awards are from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Arctic Great Rivers Observatory is a collaborative project that began in 2002 to study the chemical discharges of six major arctic rivers. The latest award from NSF’s Arctic Observing Network program will allow that work to continue by more closely examining changes in pan-arctic river discharge and chemistry, which can be powerful indicators of the effects of climate change on these large watersheds. The project will be led by WHRC’s Dr. Holmes and includes scientists from the University of Texas, the University of New Hampshire, Florida State University, the University of Calgary, and elsewhere.

The second NSF grant is for Polaris-Yukon, which builds on two previous Polaris projects that provided undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to be involved in hands-on science in the Siberian Arctic. The work of Polaris-Yukon will take place in the Alaska’s Yukon River Delta and focus on “changing the face of arctic science” by engaging visiting faculty and undergraduate students who thus far have had little involvement in this area of study. As well as Dr. Holmes, the investigators include WHRC’s Dr. Susan Natali.

“I want to congratulate Woods Hole Research Center on these two grants,” said U.S. Representative Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts). “Continued research into climate change is critical to our continued survival, and allowing students to participate in that work will be life-changing for them and will provide ongoing benefits for our environment. We know that the more we invest in science-based training and opportunities for our younger generations, the better off we will be in the future.”

One Polaris Project alumnus, Nigel Golden, recently wrote that “as an undergrad, I was fortunate to take part in WHRC’s Polaris Project in the Siberian Arctic. This experience greatly helped me to develop as a scientist and has lead me closer to reaching my dreams. Now as a doctoral student, I have no doubts that without the Polaris Project I would be on a completely different academic track.” Mr. Golden is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“I am extremely gratified that both of these proposals were successful,” said Dr. Holmes. “The Arctic Great Rivers Observatory (Arctic-GRO) will continue to generate river chemistry data from the Arctic’s largest rivers, providing essential information for understanding the current state of the Arctic and predicting how it will change in the future.” In addition, he said, “Polaris-Yukon will train the next generation of arctic scientists, while simultaneously advancing understanding of the arctic system and engaging public audiences with the excitement and importance of arctic research.”


Woods Hole Research Center is an independent research institute where scientists investigate the causes and effects of climate change to identify and implement opportunities for conservation, restoration and economic development around the world.