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Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)

Tim Pangburn adds his portrait to the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) Gallery of Distinguished Employees in Hanover, N.H., Dec. 3, 2002. Panburn started working for CRREL in 1978 as a civil engineering technician, until his retirement in 2017 as a director for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Remote Sensing/Geographic Information Systems Center of Expertise. The CRREL Gallery of Distinguished Employees was established in 1986 as part of the laboratory’s Silver Jubilee Year. The first distinguished employee recognized in the gallery is W. Keith Boyd, the first CRREL technical director. Boyd facilitated the 1961 establishment of CRREL in Hanover, and his leadership enhanced CRREL’s stature and reputation as a leader in cold regions research throughout the world. (U.S. Army Photo by David Marquis)
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), along with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New England District broke ground together for CRREL’s new Climatic Chamber Building Oct. 16 at the Hanover, New Hampshire, campus. The Climatic Chamber Building will serve as a Material Evaluation Facility. The facility will provide a critical means to examine and test extreme cold-weather environments to develop and validate Army field materiel, which is required for Soldier and unit readiness.
In the 1960s during the Cold War, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) designed a device, commonly referred to as a Rodriguez well, or Rodwell, to harvest water under the ice in Greenland and Antarctica to sustain U.S. facilities by providing water for drinking, hygiene and other needs. Presently, NASA is working with CRREL to assess whether that same technology can provide water for human-inhabited research stations on Mars.
The U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) collaborated with the U.S. Navy during the annual Sea Ice Dynamics Experiment (SIDEx) from February through March 2020 by predicting potential breaks in sea ice. The experiment is centered around a temporary ice camp – Camp Seadragon – that the U.S. Navy established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean. The camp serves as a temporary command center for conducting submarine operations and under-ice navigation exercises. While there are numerous dangers involved with having a training camp set up in the freezing cold, a major concern for the Navy is cracks in the sea ice.
Inventors at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) recently received a patent for sensor planning software tools designed to assist the U.S. Soldiers’ need to identify effective placement locations for sensors to accomplish their mission. Led by Research Physical Scientist Dr. David “Keith” Wilson, the research team, consisting of CRREL’s Signature Physics Branch, received the patent for their “System for Modeling Intelligent Sensor Selection and Placement” in July 2019.
In late March 2020, Army 1st Lt. Eoghan Matthews, a Soldier assigned to the U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), received a call. The instructions were cryptic but direct: “Pack a bag, and be ready to go somewhere in the Northeast.” After earning a degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Military Academy in 2017 and a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army, Matthews started working for CRREL in January 2020 as a research associate. Within a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic required him to start teleworking. Following that phone call and a Monday snowstorm, Matthews started driving March 24 from northern New Hampshire to New York City, which was a “hot spot” in the news for COVID-19 cases.Matthews was activated to assist the USACE New York District with completing site assessments, which are provided to local, state and federal partners, so that decisions can be made about where and when alternate care facilities are constructed as additional support to hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the forests of Fox, Alaska, carved into a frozen hillside is a unique manmade 350-meter long research tunnel. Situated on a 16-acre parcel near the confluence of Goldstream and Glenn Creeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory’s Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility was excavated deep into a large block of discontinuous permafrost that has been going through several recent periods of expansion. The expansion project began back in 2011, taking advantage of the digging seasons when the ground is at its coldest, with an overall project goal of expanding the tunnel facility to better support ongoing and growing research and engineering needs. The most recent expansion effort, this year, has added 300-feet of new tunnel, improved 200 feet of the existing tunnel and added links between the old and new tunnel sections at several locations, to include at an interface between subsurface bedrock and overlying gravels.
Embark on the largest polar expedition in history: in September 2019, the German research icebreaker Polarstern will set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean - trapped in ice. The goal of the MOSAiC expedition is to take the closest look ever at the Arctic as the epicenter of global warming and to gain fundamental insights that are key to better understand global climate change. Hundreds of researchers from 19 countries take part in this exceptional endeavour.
Lester Holt, anchor of "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt," toured the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility in Fox, Alaska, Sept. 14, 2019. The veteran journalist talked to ERDC's Dr. Tom Douglas about key tunnel features and the science of climate change. Douglas is an Alaska-based research chemist assigned to our Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, based in Hanover, New Hampshire. Tune in to NBC Nightly News TONIGHT to see Holt's report that features the tunnel and other Alaska climate change experts and locales. Check your local listings for the broadcast time in your area.
A tour group puts on safety equipment before entering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permafrost Tunnel on Sept. 12. Robert Tanner, a safety specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Alaska, Fort Wainwright Safety Office, conducted an annual courtesy safety inspection during the tour to ensure all safety processes and procedures provide guests with a safe and healthy visit to the one-of-a-kind tunnel. (Photo by Daniel Nelson, USAG Alaska, Fort Wainwright Public Affairs)


ERDC honors Holocaust Remembrance Day with virtual event
An employee with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor spoke at a virtual event April 8 to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. Ross...
RD20 fosters collaboration
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ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory breaks ground for climatic chamber building
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), along with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)...

Research Areas

CRREL solves interdisciplinary, strategically important problems for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and the Nation by advancing and applying science and engineering to complex environments, materials, and processes in all seasons and climates, with unique core competencies related to the Earth’s cold regions. Polar science and engineering continues to be a core research area as we foster partnerships across government agencies, academia and industry to solve complex problems in the following areas of focus:


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Addressing public needs and military readiness under all of Earth's environmental and terrain state conditions by understanding the impact of biochemical interactions of natural and anthropogenic substances.

ERB delivers engineering solutions to our Warfighters and the Nation involving systems design and development, pavements and materials RDTE, and the use of environmentally controlled facilities to test, evaluate, and improve infrastructure and equipment for use in cold regions.
To provide solutions toward sustaining operations at remote installations by understanding the impacts of extreme and austere environmental conditions on maneuver support, materiel, tactics, and military procedures in polar regions.
Efforts providing a quick capability for research and development to meet joint operational needs of combatant commanders
Efforts focused on designing and proving concepts for, and unique engineering solutions to, operational problems in the Polar Regions
Expertise providing research and development support to the USACE for flood risk communication, levee inspection, floodplain management and risk assessment

Signature Physics provides the warfighter with solutions to understand complex operational environments and the role of terrain and weather on signals across the electromagnetic and mechanical spectrum. 

We're focused on: Signature Integration; Sub-surface Wave; and Near-surface Signatures

Core Competencies: Seismic/Acoustic sensing in complex environments; Sensor performance modeling, decision making and uncertainty analyses; Sensor based security; Unexploded ordnance discrimination and assessment; All-Season near surface phenomenology

Research Tools: Ground penetrating radar; Electromagnetic induction techniques; Seismic and acoustic real-time data collection; Intrusion detection systems; High-performance computing capability; Stochastic modeling of nonlinear effects


Work assessing the state of snowpacks in major snow-impacted watersheds to support combatant commands


Fact Sheet

Dining, lodging, etc...
Fairbanks | Hanover | White River Junction

Driving directions  (Hanover)
Fairbanks  |  Hanover

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Engineer Research & Development Center
Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab
72 Lyme Road, Hanover, NH 03755-1290