Introduction to SAON and Worlshop objectives - David Hik, Co-Chair of SAON SG and Vice President of ISAC

Review of Previous SAON Workshops - John Calder, Co-Chair of SAON SG

Examples of pan-Arctic data integration for AMAP's scientific assessments - Lars-Otto Reiersen, AMAP Executive Secretary

Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing Systems (SIOS) - Dr. Karin Refsnes, Research Council of Norway

SCANNET, A Circumarctic Network fo Terrestial Field Bases - Terry Callaghan and Margareta Johansson

World Meteorological Organization; 60 Years of successful Scientific Collaboration on Weather, Climate and Water - David Grimes, WMO EC Polar Observations, WMO Representative of SAON SG and Assistant-Deputy Minister of Meteorological Service of Canada

Experiences from the European Environment Agency



The vision of Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) is to facilitate enhanced Arctic long-term observing that will make data and information freely and openly available in a timely fashion to realize Arctic and global value-added services and societal benefits. The need for enhanced observing capabilities has never been greater in the Arctic, where system-wide environmental change is occurring at a greater rate and magnitude than elsewhere on Earth. For example, the scientific community needs observations to support modeling for understanding and projecting change, and resource management and service agencies need observations and scientific findings to support their objectives and priorities. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a forum for an international, inter-agency discussion of the role of the agencies in the development of SAON.

Historically, most in situ observing activities in the Arctic are financed and/or conducted by a national government agency working alone, and by one or a small number of scientists working alone. The implementation of the International Polar Year encouraged a more international approach and many scientists responded by creating informal associations or networks to undertake scientific work that couldn't be accomplished individually. These voluntary partnerships have resulted in a number of pan-Arctic or regional research questions, data sets, and multidisciplinary investigations that will reveal new relationships between, for example, the physical environment and the Arctic biosphere, and new ways of bringing information together, such as the Sea Ice Outlook.

Creation of these voluntary partnerships required scientists to weave together resources from a variety of sources and participate in a variety of decision processes that were uncoordinated in time and had differing selection criteria. Naturally the outcomes were imperfect from a scientific perspective.

This workshop has the overall objective of seeking the inputs from the funding agencies on feasible mechanisms for harmonizing actions involving priority-setting, decision-making, and implementation regarding long-term observing activities in the Arctic. It is explicitly recognized that agencies have their own missions, accountabilities and constraints and that these are not easily altered. Yet, agencies do have some flexibilities and it is these that we wish to explore. Just as the scientists have found new opportunities and strengths through increased partnering, it should be possible for the agencies to do the same. All agencies have the goal of obtaining the best possible return on the resources they administer. This workshop could identify opportunities for agencies to obtain more value for the resources available, and achieve outcomes not likely to emerge through continuation of current approaches. Specifically for long-term observing in the Arctic, there seems no alternative but a harmonized international approach to achieve the aims stated in several science plans and agency missions.


The workshop will be held on the afternoon of Thursday March 18 and the morning of March 19 at the Miami Convention Center.

The workshop will begin with a set of plenary talks to set the stage for the workshop and focus on examples of successful international collaborations that might serve as examples for SAON to consider.

Plenary speakers as of December 4:

  1. David Hik – History and organization of SAON and objectives of the workshop
  2. John Calder – Review of key statements from previous SAON workshops
  3. Barbara Clark – the European EIONET as a an example of a multi-national observing activity
  4. Terry Callaghan – SCANNET, a circum-Arctic, multi-national observing network for terrestrial observations
  5. Lars-Otto Reiersen – Examples of pan-Arctic data integration for AMAP's scientific assessments
  6. Paul Egerton – The EU PolarCLIMATE call for proposals, an example of multinational funding to support a common set of objectives
  7. Louis Fortier – ArcticNet, a Canadian network of experts that partners with international opportunities and with industry and Inuit organizations.
  8. Alexander Frolov – JCOMM: Elaboration of Integrated Marine Observing, Data Management and Services System

Following the plenary talks, there will be two sets of breakout groups.



Four groups will be organized to focus on observations required for:

  • Human health and well-being and economic development;
  • Oceans and marine resources;
  • Land surface, land use, and terrestrial resource management; and
  • Climate, weather, and extreme events.

If a given agency has strong interests in more than one, hopefully there are enough attendees from that agency to join all relevant groups. Each breakout group will be chaired by a member of the SAON SG or invited expert. Topics to be considered by each breakout group are: (We might prearrange to have certain agencies offer to initiate the discussion on each topic.)

  1. Agency experiences with effective international collaboration
  2. Agency experiences with data management, including building data sets across agencies and across borders
  3. Agency experiences in supporting international observing networks
  4. Agency perspectives on potential value of increased partnering, data sharing, and integrated product preparation

Agency participants will be asked to prepare in advance of the meeting a brief statement dealing with these points that can be shared during the meeting.


Two groups will be organized by "granting" agencies and "operating agencies" (that may also contain a granting function). Each breakout group will be chaired by a member of the SAON Steering Group or invited expert. Topics to be considered by each breakout group are: (We might prearrange to have certain agencies initiate the discussion on each topic.)

  1. Agency perspectives on feasible approaches for improving cross-border partnering regarding observational activities
  2. Agency perspectives on developing Arctic-wide data sets
  3. Agency views on near-term opportunities for partnering to improve sustainability of Arctic observing
  4. Agency views on the longer term approach

For clarification or additional information, please contact the co-chairs of the SAON Steering Group John Calder or David Hik

or Odd Rogne at the SAON Secretariat


This SAON Agency Officials Meeting is held as a side meeting at the State of the Arctic Conference. Registration information can be found in theState of the Arctic - SAON Side Meeting webpage

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