AOS 2020 Theme and Sub-Themes

Arctic Observing Summit 2020

Akureyri, Iceland

March 31 - April 02, 2020



Theme: Observing for Action


The Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) is an international biennial forum that aims to provide knowledge-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and operation of a sustained, long-term international network of Arctic observing systems. It is a task of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) initiative and supports key elements of SAON, such as its Roadmap for Arctic Observing.

The 5th biennial AOS will be held in 2020 in Akureyri, Iceland (31 March - 2 April) as part of ASSW 2020 (27 March – 2 April) ( The overarching theme of the 2020 Summit is "Observing for Action". Based on recommendations and priorities identified at previous Summits (AOS 2018 report), AOS2020 will be structured along the following sub-themes. 

Sub-Theme 1: Design, Optimization and Implementation of the Observing System

Sub-Theme 2: Observing in Support of Adaptation and Mitigation

Sub-Theme 3: Observing in Support of Indigenous Food Security and Related Needs 

Sub-Theme 4: Data Interoperability and Federated Search 

Sub-Theme 5: Arctic Observations in the context of Global Observing initiatives   

In the Fall of 2020, Japan and Iceland will cohost the third Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting (ASM3) in Tokyo. AOS 2020 will provide an opportunity to collect inputs from the Arctic observing community, Indigenous organizations, local Arctic communities, the private sector and others to prepare the ASM3 Joint Statement. 



Call for Community White Papers and Statements

 The design, development, implementation and sustained operation of an adaptive, relevant and responsive Arctic Observing System of Systems requires the expertise and input from everyone affected by, engaged or interested in observing activities, applications and derived products. Diverse and inclusive representation as well as perspectives from all sectors is fundamental for success. 


Community input is invited in the form of white papers and short statements that will serve to highlight important needs or gaps, explore emerging opportunities, address current and future challenges, present new initiatives or technology that can contribute to Arctic observing (including global programs), or review on-going observing activities or issues. White papers and short statements that are linked to the six themes identified above will inform the Summit agenda but white papers/short statements on topics relevant to Arctic observing are encouraged.


The white papers and statements from the AOS 2013, 2014, and 2016 helped guide the development of recommendations and inform the planning of AOS 2020 including the thematic framework and topics. White papers from the 2013 and 2016 Summits that were submitted for publication in two special issues of the journal Arctic are also available online (AOS Special Issue 2016; AOS Special Issue 2013).



Anticipated Use and Publication of Contributions

White papers and statements will be received by the AOS Committees and the Thematic Working Groups. For each theme, a synthesis document for each theme will be prepared to (i) call out the priorities from individual contributions, (ii) develop an agenda for the Summit, and (iii) prepare recommendations and implementation documents for discussion in Akureyri. We encourage authors to prepare white papers for peer review with the intent to publish a selection as one or more special journal issues in a peer reviewed journal. Short statements will not be published in this special issue, but will be considered in preparing the thematic working group agendas and synthesis documents. 



Format guidelines

White papers should be 5000 words or less (approximately 10 pages of text), list all coauthors and their institutions and contact information for the lead author, and should include 3 or fewer figures, a descriptive title, an abstract (300 words maximum), and references as appropriate. Formatting of the document and references should follow the style guidelines of the journal Arctic (Guide for Authors).


Short statements should be less than 800 words in length and may include up to one figure and references as appropriate, listing all coauthors and their institutions, and contact information for the lead author. A short abstract is recommended if the first paragraph of the text is not descriptive enough to indicate the objective or topic of the short statement. Formatting of the document and references should follow the style guidelines of the journal Arctic (Guide for Authors).


All contributions should be in pdf format and submitted online via this link


The deadline for submitting white papers and short statements was November 15, 2019 (12 pm PT).


For information on AOS paper submissions please send a message to






About the Arctic Observing Summit 

The AOS fosters communication, international collaboration and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding of and response to system-scale Arctic change. The AOS is an international forum for optimizing resource allocation, and minimizing gaps and duplication, through coordination of and exchange among researchers, agencies, Indigenous Peoples, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and others involved or interested in long-term observing activities. The AOS serves as a platform to identify and address societal and scientific needs and priorities, minimize gaps in data and information, reduce duplication, improve coverage and breadth, and contribute to solution-based applications and knowledge sharing. 

Rapid and unprecedented system-scale environmental change in polar regions, and other sensitive areas globally, requires adaptation, forecasting, planning and the development of mitigation strategies, all dependent on a timely, accurate, and integrated network of Arctic observing systems. The AOS provides opportunities to make tangible contributions and progress towards the development and operation of such a system of systems spanning all Arctic components, and including consideration of community needs, international cooperation, opportunities, and challenges, and from decision-makers to community members.






"The Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance 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 address urgent and broadly recognized needs of Arctic observing across all components of the Arctic system, including the human component. It fosters international communication and the widespread coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale Arctic change."