Arctic Observing Network (AON)

Updated 2012-07-25

The overall goal of AON is to obtain data that will support scientific investigations of Arctic environmental system change. The observing objectives are to: 1. Maintain science-driven observations of environmental system changes that are already underway; 2. Deploy new, science-driven observing systems and be prepared for detection of future environmental system change; 3. Develop observing data sets that will contribute to (a) the understanding of Arctic environmental system change (via analysis, synthesis and modelling) and its connections to the global system, and (b) improved prediction of future Arctic environmental system change and its connections to the global system. Main gaps: Understanding Change and Responding to Change panels, has formed an AON Design and Implementation (ADI) Task Force. Composed of Arctic and non-Arctic scientists with experience and expertise in scientific observing and observing system operation and design, the goal of the task force is to provide advice to the scientific community and NSF on observing system/network design options that are available for identifying gaps that hinder scientific understanding of Arctic environmental system change. The task force will hold two workshops and address two main objectives: (1) evaluate the current SEARCH science questions and observing priorities, and recommend new priorities in the light of the environmental system changes that have occurred since 2005; and (2) evaluate observing system/network design methods, including pilot projects and small-scale tests. A publicly available report will be released in summer 2010. It is anticipated that the report will be of interest to the broader Arctic science community, the governments of the Arctic countries and other countries, NGOs and numerous stakeholders.

Time frame

Project time span
1999 -
Data collection
1999 -
Data processing
1999 -
Data reporting
1999 -

Contact information

Contact person
- -
Simon Stephenson, Director, Division of Arctic Sciences

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Human media
Seawater/suspended particulate matter


Regions studied
Arctic, Circumpolar

Data availability

Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

The following list is not exhaustive. Rather, it intended to give a good sense of the broad scope of the multi-disciplinary observing activities. - Atmosphere: e.g., air temperature (suface, atmospheric profiles), snow depth, snow and atmospheric chemistry, cloud cover, cloud properties, radiation balance including UV. - Terrestrial ecosystem: e.g., carbon/water/energy balance, plant phenology, plant community composition and abundance, stable isotopes and nutrients. - Ocean: e.g., temperature/salinity/density, heat/salt/momentum fluxes, stable isotopes and nutrients, sea ice temperature and thickness, snow depth on ice, sea ice drift. - Cryosphere and hydrology: e.g., active layer thickness and temperature, permafrost temperature, snow depth and density, river chemistry/isotopes/nutrients/discharge. - Human & socio-economic: e.g., fisheries, marine mammal hunting, tourism, oil/gas/mining and marine transportation, community social indicators.

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (CADIS), Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA), Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies (DAMOCLES), ArcticNet- a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada (ArcticNet)

Indigenous AND traditional knowledge used in this project

AON includes some community-based observing, particularly in the Bering Sea region.

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