One of the main themes at the 2016 Arctic Science Ministerial was Strengthening and Integrating Arctic Observations and Data Sharing. The ministers committed to the “shared development of a science-driven, integrated Arctic-observing system” and saw “a critical role for the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) initiative”. 

As a response to this, the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) and SAON published the International Arctic Observations Assessment Framework, defining 12 Social Benefit Areas (SBAs) that rely on Arctic observations:

  1. Disaster Preparedness
  2. Environmental Quality
  3. Food Security
  4. Fundamental Understanding of Arctic Systems
  5. Human Health
  6. Infrastructure and Operations
  7. Marine and Coastal Ecosystems and Processes
  8. Natural Resources
  9. Resilient Communities
  10. Sociocultural Services
  11. Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems and Processes
  12. Weather and Climate

“The Arctic is a particularly important location to understand and conduct observations“, says the chair of SAON, Christine Daae Olseng: “This work can form the basis for prioritizing future observational efforts”

The Framework was developed in January 2017 as STPI and SAON co-hosted a workshop, convening experts from international, state, and local governments; industry; academia; and non-governmental organizations to review and revise a framework for assessing the societal benefits derived from Arctic observations. The methodology involved a review of international Arctic strategies for common objectives that rely on Earth observations. The resulting international Arctic Observations Assessment Framework will provide the foundation and justification for future international efforts to assess the value of Arctic observations and to structure a pan-Arctic observing system.

The report is available here

The EU-Canada-USA "Arctic Workshop" was held in Brussels, Belgium, on 29-30 March 2017. The workshop was organized by the Arctic Working Group of the EU-Canada-USA Transatlantic Ocean Research Alliance, which was created in May 2013.  The report is available, together with the keynote talks and the slides of the many workshop presenters, at

Arctic observing and data sharing were one of the topics of the "Arctic Workshop". Thus, that part of the report is a direct contribution to the White House Arctic Science Ministerial theme of "Strengthening and Integrating Arctic Observations and Data Sharing".

The other workshop topic was "Strategies and Mechanisms to Facilitate International Arctic Science Cooperation". That too is a contribution to the White House Arctic Science Ministerial insofar as the overarching goal of the Ministerial was to enhance international Arctic science collaboration.

Comments or questions to the workshop and/or the report, contact Alain LeClair (), Andrea Tilche (), Attilio Gambardella () or Martin Jeffries ().


The Arctic 100 Expedition is an international expedition in Arctic waters on board a Finnish icebreaker: Invitation

During its Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Finland will propose that the Arctic Council includes both meteorological and oceanographic observations as one of the scopes in its working groups.

Objective: Provide a synopsis of the results (the shortcomings and needs of Arctic observation activities as well as the added value of intensified observations) from currently ongoing activities and bring this up for discussion within the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). The main sources of information are the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON), the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme’s integrated Arctic observation system (INTAROS) and the WMO’s Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP).


"IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice.

Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) -- in orbit since 2003 -- and ICESat-2, planned for 2018. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations. 

IceBridge will use airborne instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year. IceBridge flights are conducted in March-May over Greenland and in October-November over Antarctica. Other smaller  airborne surveys around the world are also part of the IceBridge campaign.."

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