Map of Current Mission Threats

ESTCP has funded the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) to lead the Alaska Innovation Landscape Network (AILN) with a focus on resilience. Depicted in the map on the right are the known accelerated ecological changes occurring in Alaska. Alaska is experiencing and is projected to increasingly experience impacts from permafrost thaw, sea level rise, and wildfire.

Ecosystem transformations are occurring faster than most federal agencies can currently manage and adapt. Although mission planners, engineers, and natural resource managers of military lands have identified needs to adapt to ecosystem change, no formal process for continual needs assessment and technology development exists to accelerate adaptation. This slows the development of innovation that responds to management and operational needs. The National Innovation Landscape Network (NILN) aims to bridge this gap and sustain co-production between the researchers producing new science/technology and the natural resource managers responsible for implementing adaptation techniques.


Looking down the first corridor near the entrance into the USACE-CRREL Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility. Pictured on the right side of the tunnel is a prominent ice lens. Photo Credit: Michelle Michaels, SERDP & ESTCP

Our Approach

DoD maintains a strong presence in Alaska and is focused on improving Arctic capabilities to deter conflict and protect national interests. The AILN is transitioning a suite of SERDP and ESTCP projects focused on terrestrial Arctic research and technologies. The goal is to develop mission critical data and tools on built and natural infrastructure based on permafrost thawing dynamics and projected climate.

The AILN is a network of interagency and academic partners that seeks to facilitate rapid technology transfer to installation planners, natural resource managers, engineers, and designers. The network bridges the gap between the installation community and technologies that are ready to be demonstrated and scaled. Co-production is the core of the AILN, which means the installation community informs and refines current technologies during all stages of research, innovation, and application. The focus of this initiative is technologies related to the effect of permafrost thaw on built and natural infrastructure.

SERDP and ESTCP have eleven completed projects and eight in-progress projects that encompass their Arctic portfolio, totaling a current investment of $28M. The projects have focused on understanding how the Arctic landscape is changing, developing engineering solutions for resilient infrastructure, and analyzing the impact of fire disturbance and permafrost thaw on installations. AILN will leverage tools from SERDP, ESTCP, and other research organizations and scale them for use across DoD installations and communities. 

In August 2023, the AILN hosted a kickoff workshop in Fairbanks, Alaska. Researchers briefed attendees on current tools and technologies under development, and installation managers from Eielson Air Force Base, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Fort Greely, and Fort Wainwright provided crucial insights about the operational challenges they face. Learn more about the event here.





For more information on the AILN, please contact Michelle Michaels at