NOSB 2010 Research Project

Problems facing Alaska coastal communities as a direct result of a retreating and thinning Arctic ice cap.

2010 student research papers

The Research Project

This project will count as 50 percent of the 2010 Alaska Region NOSB competition. The document will be worth 25 percent and the oral presentation of the project will count as 25 percent toward the 50-percent total.

Final papers are due 1 December 2009.

The research project is optional. Teams can compete in the quiz bowl portion of the Tsunami Bowl without doing a project, but since the project is responsible for half of a team's total score, a team not doing the project has no chance of being the overall winner and progressing to the national competition in April 2010.

See the document preparation guidelines for deadlines and instructions on how to prepare the research paper.

The Topic

The research project for the 2010 Tsunami Bowl will be to

Determine the most important aspect facing your coastal community (or any defined Alaska coastal community that your team chooses) as a direct result of a retreating and thinning Arctic ice cap, and propose policy changes or actions that can be taken to deal with that specific problem.

Teams must define a marine-related problem that is directly related to the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap. They must consider the interactions among the atmosphere, ice, ocean, and land, and suggest what feedback loops may be responsible for the observed changes in their marine ecosystem. They must focus upon impacts to their community.

Teams should propose policy changes or actions that can be taken now (both locally and internationally) to deal with the specific problem that the team has identified as most critical. Perhaps an engineering project may be developed to offset potential impacts. As part of their discussion, teams should consider how and why this problem is significant to their community as well as the rest of the world (community outreach is important).


Researchers have known for years that the ice covering the Arctic Sea has been shrinking in areal coverage. Recently, evidence of the decade-long trend of shrinking sea ice extent in the Arctic has been compounded with new evidence for thinning ice as well. These findings are important because thicker ice is more resilient and can last from summer to summer. Without ice cover and with loss of multiyear ice, the Arctic Sea's ability to absorb the sun's heat more readily—instead of reflecting it as the light-colored ice does—will exacerbate the heating effect. Arctic ice is a major factor in both global climate and weather patterns. The difference between the cool air at the poles and the warm air around the equator drives both atmospheric and oceanic currents, which includes the jet stream.

The relevance of such a research topic and potential avenues of investigation have been nicely outlined by Ben Carney (Juneau-Douglas High School) as follows:

Biological/Ecosystem Changes

Social Aspects






General writing, research, and presentation resources

Mailing and physical addresses for submitting

Mailing address

Dean Stockwell
Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 757220
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220


Physical address

Dean Stockwell
234 Irving II Building
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220.