Arctic Observing Network Report Released

An AON report, "Arctic Observing Network (AON): 2009 Status Report and Key Recommendations" was released in August 2010. The report summarizes discussions from the third AON principal investigators meeting, held in fall 2009, and includes sections on AON accomplishments; network design, gaps, and needs; agency and international coordination; and data management.

AON investigators and the broader scientific community face the challenge of integrating the diverse AON projects into a broader network that is part of an overarching, international observing system. The report identifies four near-term issues that must be addressed to achieve this goal:

  1. Design and optimization efforts should draw from both: (a) bottom-up approaches driven by individual projects and refinement based on data, model results, and local expertise; and (b) top-down efforts driven by rigorous approaches to observing system design and optimization such as Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) and other modeling or synthesis efforts.

  2. Implementation of an effective, sustained observing network may prove challenging for existing support mechanisms that rely solely on peer review of short-duration projects that focus on individual components of the system. AON may need to look towards the methods that other large observing programs have successfully employed to build comprehensive, highly integrated networks. Approaches include reliance on steering committees for additional guidance, strong partnering with government agencies capable of supporting sustained measurements, and development of guidelines and practices that foster coordination.

  3. Given the important role of agencies and other entities (e.g., arctic communities and industry) in sustaining long-term observations, progress needs to be made in developing effective approaches to foster coordination, joint planning, and partnered implementation of arctic observing systems.

  4. At the international level, existing efforts such as coordination through the World Climate Research Program's (WCRP) Climate and the Cryosphere (CliC) program, or the International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) project, may provide important guidance and frameworks for the implementation and optimization of an observing network. In the future, activities undertaken by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC) will help consolidate international observing system efforts.

For more information, see the SEARCH website: or contact Craig Lee, University of Washington (craig [at] apl [dot] washington [dot] edu).