The Department of Defense (DoD) operates significant and strategically important installations in the Arctic and sub-Arctic domain. Geopolitical, economic, and climatic changes are requiring an upgraded ability to rapidly project and sustain forces into Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. The current and relevant infrastructure engineering guidance to support these efforts consists of the Unified Facility Criteria – Arctic and sub-Arctic Construction (UFC 3-130) (U.S Army, 1987), a seven volume series. The series is currently ‘inactive’, with no updates having been performed since before 1990, and therefore detrimentally out-of-date and in large part not pertaining to contemporary protocols. Some of the volumes are direct copies of Army Engineering Manual TM 5-852, Arctic and Sub-Arctic Construction, dated October 1954 and 1966. Designers are resorting to methods that may not be to the military standard, cannot be referenced, and potentially not documentable. This not only causes concern for the project design teams, but causes great concern at the Command level, those who rely on the infrastructure for mission success and life safety in these very remote and austere locations. Infrastructure owners and operators should feel confident the project design teams utilized proper and up-to-date specification. Additionally, these volumes were created when climate warming was not a critical factor for Arctic construction, therefore this series does not include information on how a designer should forecast critical permafrost temperatures to the long term. Permafrost temperature, or ground ice temperature, is very important for design of foundations on permafrost, and engineers are in need of a consistent and reference able method which allows forecast of ground temperature beyond the expected life of the structure.

Technology Description

This project will update the existing and outdated engineering guidance, and will include the most state of the art design concepts, methods, and innovative tools utilized today for Arctic and sub-Arctic design and construction. Essentially this is a technology transfer project, revising and updating the appropriate UFC’s for ready access by engineers, architects and planners when planning or designing DoD infrastructure. The revisions will re-designate the status of these documents from ‘in-active’ to ‘active’, removing ambiguity that state-of-the-art design practices were utilized, and will be available in electronic copy online, and hard copy by request.


These revisions will provide highly needed updates to engineering guidance for Arctic and sub-Arctic infrastructure, and fill gaps currently not supported by other engineering guidance documents. The lack of guidance and specification promotes the use of non-standard protocols, and can lead to over-design. This results in high costs to DoD for initial construction, and high costs for maintenance and operation. The project team anticipates that providing updated standard protocols more efficient and cost effective construction will occur. By leveraging with the Arctic Environmental and Engineering Data and Design Support System proposal (University of Alaska) on this same call, this UFC revision will also create guidance for engineers on how to estimate long term permafrost temperature, and will provide reference for a consistent method of the permafrost temperature forecast tool. This is crucial information necessary to better characterize infrastructure sites, and more fully inform designs for a warming Arctic.

  • Permafrost ,

  • Arctic