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Arctic Observing Summit
Working Towards a Comprehensive and Inclusive Pan-Arctic Observing System


What is the Arctic Observing Summit?

The Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) is a biennial summit that aims to provide guidance based on the best available knowledge for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long-term (decades) operation of an international network of Arctic observing systems. 

The AOS provides a platform to foster international communication and the widespread coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale Arctic change. The AOS is an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among all involved or interested in long-term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps. 

The inaugural AOS was held in Vancouver, Canada, on 29 April to 2 May 2013. Since the second summit in 2014, it has taken place every two years, coinciding with the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW).

The AOS Background and Synthesis of Outcomes 2013–2016 report provides an introduction to the AOS and synthesizes the results of the first three summits.

Procedures and Processes

The process for appointing the governance bodies of the AOS, guidelines for thematic working groups, guidelines for breakout session organization, and the white paper process are described in the Arctic Observing Summit Procedures and Processes document.

Gathering the Arctic observing community together to exchange ideas and develop ways to collaborate, share resources, and improve Arctic observing.

AOS Timeline

Before a Summit

AOS organizers develop the Summit theme and sub-themes. For instance, the theme for AOS 2020 was “Observing for Action.” Working groups are built around sub-themes to start organizing community input and planning for the Summit.

A call for white papers and short statements is the first opportunity for the broader observational community to provide input into the organization in a year’s AOS.

Since 2020, the Roadmap for Arctic Observing and Data Systems (ROADS) has provided an important framework for work at the summit. Learn about ROADS

During a Summit

The AOS fosters communication and collaboration between academia, agencies, Indigenous Peoples, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and others involved or interested in long-term observing activities.

A key goal for Arctic observing is to achieve equity and representation for Indigenous Peoples in arctic research. The great value of the AOS is as a forum that brings these diverse interests together and allows for exchange of ideas.

The AOS sessions include plenary presentations, breakout sessions, and poster presentations.

After a Summit

Following the summit, AOS organizers distill discussions notes, white papers, short statements, and participant feedback into a statement for the Arctic Science Ministerial.

Outcomes from the summit also help the efforts of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks to coordinate Arctic observing.

After select summits, there will be an opportunity to submit full papers for publication – after peer review – in a special issue of the journal Arctic. This is an opportunity for participants to build on their white papers submitted to the summit.

Who Are We?

Planning and development of the Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC), whose International Program Office is located at the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary, Canada.

Our partners include the International Arctic Research Center, International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks Initiative (SAON, Arctic Council).


Maribeth Murray

Maribeth Murray, Ph.D.

Executive Director, ISAC International Program Office
Executive Director, Arctic Institute of North America
Ravi Darwin Sankar

Ravi Darwin Sankar, Ph.D.

Project Manager, ISAC International Program Office
Assistant Professor, Longwood University

AOS Secretariat

An AOS Secretariat is currently being implemented as a collaboration between the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) and the International Arctic Research Center (IARC). The Secretariat will reside at AINA, University of Calgary.

Secretariat contacts:

ISAC and Partners

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Arctic Observing Summit - International Secretariat

Arctic Institute of North America
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4

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