The US Department of Defense (DoD) maintains infrastructure necessary for the strategic defense of the Arctic region including buildings, roads, bridges, runways, harbors, and communications and power systems. It is critically important to ensure that existing and future DoD infrastructure is functional under a wide variety of scenarios – including changing environmental conditions. Standards and codes used by DoD, other state and federal agencies, and industry to guide design decisions in Alaska and the broader Arctic require data that is more sophisticated and robust than currently existing information. Current design decisions rely on data that is outdated, sparse, and does not include state-of-the-science future projections. The research team intends to refine and link web-based technologies to provide an Arctic-focused engineering design support system – the Arctic Environmental and Engineering Data and Design Support System (Arctic-EDS). Arctic environmental data represent core information needs that guide infrastructure design specifications at high latitudes, where rapid environmental changes and the widespread presence of permafrost and floating ice represent significant challenges for engineering design. This project focuses on decision support technologies, vetted Arctic-focused data, and decades of Arctic expertise and innovation to bridge those challenges and provide robust current and future design criteria.

Technology Description

The research team will refine, further develop, and deploy a suite of online technologies that curate and dynamically update relevant Arctic environmental data for use in web-based maps, modules, and notebooks. Our technical approach consists of data ingest adaptors, a geospatial data server and Application Programming Interface (API), client web maps and modules, and interactive engineering notebooks (i.e., web applications for creating and sharing code). The critical pieces of this technology are two open-source data management tools, GeoServer and Postgres. GeoServer is a geospatial publishing platform widely used in industry and civil applications. Postgres is a general database server that works in concert with its geospatial extension (PostGIS) to support large-scale geospatial data warehousing and publishing with GeoServer. The Arctic-EDS will replace the Environmental Atlas of Alaska (last revised in 1984) from a hardcopy Atlas to a modern web-based, dynamic platform with multiple opportunities for users to access, analyze, and export data. This contemporary implementation will provide up-to-date data collated by a number of different state and federal agencies. The Arctic-EDS will transform the outdated hardcopy Atlas into a sustainable technology where best-available data curated for engineering design needs are combined into a single online hub.


Government engineers and scientists working in all regions of the Arctic require easily obtainable engineering and environmental data. In particular, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the primary design and contracting entity for 90% of DoD infrastructure projects, and many other Federal agencies as well. Often these Arctic DoD infrastructure projects require the varied engineering and science specialties which exist within USACE, but are located elsewhere in the continental U.S. and personnel may not be familiar with the available Arctic data and their sources. The Arctic-EDS system will provide a central repository for this fundamental data and promote constancy of data usage. The broader engineering and scientific community also will benefit from this Arctic-EDS development.