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The Arctic Long Term Ecological Research (ARC LTER) site is part of a network of sites established by the National Science Foundation to support long-term ecological research in the United States. Our research site is located in the foothills region of the Brooks Range, North Slope of Alaska (68° 38'N, 149° 43'W, elevation 760 m) and is based out of the University of Alaska's Toolik Field Station.


The Arctic LTER project's goal is to understand and predict the effects of environmental change on arctic landscapes, both natural and anthropogenic. We use long-term monitoring and surveys of natural variation of ecosystem characteristics, experimental manipulation of ecosystems (years to decades) and modeling at ecosystem and watershed scales to gain an understanding of the controls of ecosystem structure and function. Through this understanding we hope to addresses an important societal goal of predicting the response of arctic ecosystems to environmental changes.  The data and insights gained are provided to federal, Alaska state and North Slope Borough officials who regulate the lands on the North Slope and through this web site.

Key Research Findings

Food Sources

ARC scientists have determined that fish in arctic lakes depend on benthic (bottom-dwelling) plants and algae for food since phytoplankton growth is so low in most of these ecosystems.

Process Discovery

ARC scientists discovered that high concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane dissolved in groundwater are transported to arctic streams and rivers and released to the atmosphere.

Linked Cycles

ARC LTER research over several decades has revealed strong linkages between carbon and nitrogen cycling through organic matter. This linkage is key to understanding and predicting changes in the arctic carbon cycle

Arctic Warming

Research at the Arctic LTER site is transforming scientific understanding of how the arctic landscape will respond to climate change. Warming of the Arctic is thawing previously frozen ground (permafrost) and in some places,

Cascade Effect

The experimental addition of low levels of phosphorus (P) to an arctic stream created a gradual transformation of the tundra stream ecosystem from a cobble-bottom stream covered with diatom-dominated biofilm to a moss-dominated bottom

Tracer Techniques

A tracer approach to investigation of the nitrogen (N) cycle of streams, first developed at the Arctic LTER, has transformed scientific understanding of the nitrogen cycle and food web structure in flowing waters.

Arctic LTER News

Land of Extremes: A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska (Huryn, A. and J.E. Hobbie.  2012. Univ of Alaska Press, 311 pp.) is an official LTER book. The book is written for...

A Changing Arctic: Ecological Consequences for Tundra, Streams, and Lakes. edited by John E. Hobbie and George W. Kling has been summitted to Oxford University Press.

This book in the...