AOS 2016 Theme descriptions

The following themes have been developed for AOS 2016. The AOS Executive Organizing Committee is working with experts from diverse sectors to develop these themes so that important advancements, gaps, and opportunities can be discussed at AOS.


> To contact AOS Thematic Working Group Co-leads, please email:

> Information on AOS Executive Organizing Committee members: here

Theme 1: International and national strategies for sustained support of long-term Arctic observing

A successful Arctic Observing System that will deliver significant and long-lived benefits for the Arctic environment and communities has to be based on a solid innovative design and implementation plan developed with active participation of relevant stakeholders and indigenous representatives. Such a system can only be built around a commitment to long-term support at national and international scales, by Arctic and non-Arctic nations, where the role of institutional (e.g. funding agencies, public administrations) and non-institutional (e.g. private sector) actors is clearly identified and coordinated.  We invite discussion at AOS 2016 on sustained support and funding strategies that will enable the development of an integrated plan for Arctic observation. White papers may address questions such as:  Which elements of an Arctic Observing System require sustained and stable support? How can research-oriented observations move to operational ones? How can non-institutional funds be secured? How to build a plan in which both national and international initiatives can efficiently share resources, which is supported by innovative funding mechanisms that deliver sustainability, integration and excellence?

Co-leads: Dr. Andrea Tilche (European Commission); Dr. Jeremy Mathis (NOAA)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Dr. Brendan Kelly (Monterey Bay Aquarium; SEARCH, Study of Environmental Arctic Change); Renuka Badhe (European Polar Board); other contributions from representatives of international organizations and programs, Arctic Council working groups, funding agencies, and others.

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Hajo Eicken; Dr. Jane Wolken; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi; Dr. Larry Hinzman


Theme 2: Technology and Innovation for sustained Arctic observations

A modern pan-Arctic Observing System relies on technical innovation to achieve the appropriate spatial and temporal resolution. Key needs include improved interoperability and sensor development and the ability to generate accurate and continuous data records. These needs have already been discussed during previous Summits but further enhancement and discussion of the topic is needed. During the AOS 2016, topics for discussion include the utility of drones (UAVs, Unmanned Aircraft Systems or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) and their role in remotely sensing the atmosphere, operation across national borders, and exploration of the use of modern technology for community-based observations. Advances in other technologies that may support sustained Arctic observations (such as unmanned underwater vehicles, AUVs and unmanned surface vehicles, USVs) may also be discussed.

Co-leads: Cliff Sweatte (ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization, USA); Dr. Rune Storvold (NORUT, Norway)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Alice Bradley (University of Colorado; APECS USA); other contributions from representatives of AMAP, SAON, and other groups (remote sensing, unmanned aircraft technology and applications, and others) 

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Olivia Lee; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi; Dr. Jan René Larsen


Theme 3: Contributions of the Private Sector and Industry to sustained Arctic observations

Decreasing sea ice extent coupled with an increasing interest in natural resource development are driving increased private sector activity in the Arctic, including oil and gas, shipping, fishing, tourism, and mining - along with associated port and coastal infrastructure development. There is a need for better Arctic information to support safe, responsible and effective industry operations. This information could be provided by an Arctic observing system involving the research community, governments, and industry. In particular, there is a need and opportunity for industry data collection and sharing, e.g. in relation to the World Ocean Council program on "Smart Ocean-Smart Industries". This AOS 2016 theme will address the following questions: What information does industry need?  What data does, and can, industry collect and share? What assets and resources can industry offer to help sustain Arctic observations by industry and others?  What is the value proposition for industry? How can cooperation between industry and the research community be best coordinated?  What are the impediments to cooperation?

Co-leads: Paul Holthus (World Ocean Council, USA); Dr. David Arthurs (Polar View Earth Observation Limited, Canadian Office)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Elena Kuznetsova (APECS; IASC Fellow, Cryosphere Working Group); contributions from other members in the private sector (resources, shipping, energy, logistics, and communications)

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Hajo Eicken; Dr. Olivia Lee; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi


Theme 4: Actor and Stakeholder engagement and needs in sustained Arctic observations

Rapid Arctic change is impacting a range of stakeholders at regional and global scales. Arctic observing systems hence need to serve a dual function, providing critical information to actors and stakeholders (interested in or impacted by Arctic change, or interested in learning about change and taking action), and supporting scientific research. Such hybrid observing system approaches require the empowerment and involvement of actors and stakeholders at all stages of system design and operation, including capacity-building and taking action. The role of knowledge and observing needs is critical as an integral part and prerequisite of all of the stages. White papers that address capacity building or development of observing systems that can support community emergency response plans and adaptation are particularly encouraged. These may address different models of community engagement, and data and information transfer approaches meant to serve the knowledge needs for communities faced with threats from climate change, coastal erosion and other emergencies. Adaptation and long-range planning are critical components in community survival, especially when faced with short or long-term natural disasters or natural changes that are difficult to deal with. The long-term well-being and sustainability of Arctic communities and the resilience of the environment depend on dialogue and solutions-based approaches which pivot on strong partnerships, trust, respect and open communication.

Co-leads: Craig Fleener (Office of the Governor, Cabinet Office, Alaska); Dr. Martin Sommerkorn (WWF Global Arctic Program, Norway office)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Malgorzata Smieszek (APECS; IASC Fellow, Social and Human Sciences Working Group); Dr. Peter Pulsifer (National Snow and Ice Data Center); Mary S. Stapleton (Arctic Cultural Gateway; Arctic Institute of North America); Sandy Starkweather (NOAA)

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Olivia Lee; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi; Dr. Maribeth Murray


Theme 5: Arctic Observations in the Context of Global Observing Initiatives

The Arctic is an integral part of the global system. Thus, observations conducted in the Arctic have to be synchronized with existing and emerging global observing systems such as the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). During AOS 2016, this theme will include consideration of physical, natural, environmental, social, economic, and cultural relationships between Arctic and non-Arctic regions with special focus on the link of Arctic and global observations in the areas of sensor technologies, observing platforms, observation frequency and spatial resolution, and data repositories. In addition, as the Arctic is part of global feedbacks and linkages which in turn influence many facets of ecosystem health, Arctic economies and livelihoods, and community well-being, consideration and discussion of observing systems within and beyond the Arctic must include some tracking of ecosystem components, drivers and stressors related to these linkages.

Co-leads: Dr. Hiroyuki Enomoto (National Institute of Polar Research, Japan); Dr. Dominique Berod (GEO Secretariat, Switzerland)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Emily Choy (APECS; IASC Fellow, Marine Working Group); Dr. Seong-Joong Kim (KOPRI); Joseph Nolan (GEO Secretariat); Dr. Thomas Jung (AWI)

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Jane Wolken; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi; Dr. Peter Schlosser


Theme 6: Interfacing Indigenous Knowledge, Community-based Monitoring and Scientific Methods for sustained Arctic observations

Indigenous and local knowledge play a key role in identifying the scope, interconnectedness and impacts of rapid Arctic environmental change. It is now broadly recognized that community-based observations and Indigenous Knowledge are important elements of scientific observing systems. Nevertheless, we are still lacking interfaces, methodologies and frameworks that allow for effective and culturally appropriate exchange and analysis of ideas, expertise and information between the environmental sciences and Indigenous Knowledge. AOS 2016 will review current best practices and explore different models of how to better utilize Indigenous Knowledge and community-based observations in Arctic observing systems. These efforts will inform specific next steps towards overarching efforts and demonstration projects that will be discussed and developed as part of the AOS 2016 process.

Co-leads: Raychelle Aluaq Daniel (Arctic Conservation Science Team, Pew Charitable Trusts); Lene Kielsen Holm (Greenland Climate Research Center, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources); Rodd Laing (Nunatsiavut Government)

Other Thematic Working Group full-term members: Robert Way (APECS; IASC Fellow, Cryosphere Working Group); Carolina Behe (ICC Alaska); Shari Gearheard (NSIDC); Julie Raymond-Yakoubian (Kawerak, Inc.); Lilian Alessa (IARC); Eduar Zdor (UAF); Dr. Lize-Marie van der Watt (Umea University); Lisa Loseto (Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada); Douglas Nakashima (UNESCO LINKS - Indigenous Knowledge Systems); with contributions from Marie Roué, CNRS, France; Dr. Else Grete Broderstad, Saami Institute; Gunn Britt Retter, Saami Council; Kelly Eningowuk, ICC Alaska; and others.

Other supporting members (AOS Executive Organizing Committee): Dr. Eva Kruemmel; Dr. Jane Wolken; Dr. Gabriela Ibarguchi