spectrum of users ranging from those who build and deploy instruments that collect data for a specific purpose to those who intend only to examine data or value-added data and information products. Accommodating all of these users will require building a data management system that is independent of nation, language, background, expertise, or scientific interest—no small feat—but the successful completion of this task is the most significant contribution necessary to create a truly integrated network. Such a data management system would need to provide for data standards, metadata, dataset documentation, discovery (the ability to find data), data rescue, access, preservation, and value-added products.2

Recommendation 3.3: A data management system initially built on existing data centers and resources must be designed and implemented immediately by an Arctic Observing Network data management committee to support major functions of the network. This system should be accessible through a single portal that connects data across disciplines and themes and should seamlessly link information from arctic sensors, historical datasets, and researchers and other users across space and time.

Network Maintenance and Sustainability

The current problems with lack of complete spatial and temporal coverage of observations have arisen in part because of a general lack of sustained support for long-term observations, networks, and data systems by regional, national, and international funding entities. Enhancing the AON requires dedicated and long-term resources for sustaining observing platforms, for providing incentives for observatories to contribute data to the network, and for network coordination and integration, communication, and human resource development. The AON needs to be founded on interagency and organizational support at the international level, including an international, multiparticipant structure that takes responsibility for the AON.

Recommendation 3.4a: For the Arctic Observing Network to realize its potential, long-term, coordinated international resources and efforts should be dedicated to sustaining observing platforms, providing incentives for contributions to the network, network coordination and integration, communication, and human resource development.

Human dimensions research and local and traditional knowledge (LTK) play important roles in the AON and the AON can be an important resource for arctic residents. The Committee recognizes that a key to the success of the AON will be building strong partnerships among physical, natural, and social scientists, human dimensions researchers, and arctic residents. Additionally, collaboration with local communities and incorporation of LTK will take significant investment of time and resources and careful consideration of proper communication, data collection methods, and access and control of information. The role that LTK will play in the AON will need to be defined by early and ongoing dialog with representatives from local and indigenous communities. Enhancing cooperation among all the diverse contributors and users of the AON will require a commitment to communication and a willingness to understand and accept the various and evolving needs and perspectives from around the Arctic that will drive the AON.

Recommendation 3.4b: Arctic residents must be meaningfully involved in the design and development of all stages of the Arctic Observing Network. From the outset, the system design assessment should cultivate, incorporate, and build on the perspectives of human dimensions research and arctic residents. The Arctic Observing Network must learn what is needed to facilitate the involvement of local communities and create an observing network that is useful to them as well as to scientists and other users.


The Committee has drawn on many perspectives from within and outside the Arctic to formulate general and specific ideas about the design of an AON that evolves efficiently from the existing, somewhat disconnected and incomplete building blocks of networks, observatories, observers, data centers, etc., toward an integrated and complete network with intimate ties to global networks. The report presents many ideas in the hope that the arctic observation community and its stakeholders (i.e., data users) will begin to discuss these details and identify existing entities or consortia to refine and implement them. Some areas of the Arctic have more developed monitoring and information systems than others and for this reason it is critical to engage all arctic nations from the outset. The foundations of an AON already exist. The need to characterize the state of the Arctic and to identify, attribute, and respond to arctic change is acute. The time is right for major progress.


See Chapter 4 for implementation ideas on these topics.

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