Status Report

Toward an Integrated Arctic Observing Network

By SpaceRef Editor
March 17, 2006
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Toward an Integrated Arctic Observing Network

Committee on Designing an Arctic Observing Network, National Research Council

Full Report


Observable changes, many of which have regional and global implications, are underway across the Arctic. Although the Arctic is not the only region on Earth affected by environmental change, it poses special problems and concerns. It is a region with a limited record of observations—low density, and with limited duration and coordination—and yet, despite these constraints, rapid and systemic changes have clearly been identified. The interconnectedness of physical, biological, chemical, and human components, together with the high amplitude of projected changes, make a compelling argument for an improved observation infrastructure that delivers a coherent set of panarctic, long-term, multidisciplinary observations. Without such observations, it is very difficult to describe current conditions in the Arctic, let alone understand the changes that are underway or their connections to the rest of the Earth system. Without such observations, society’s responses to these ongoing changes and its capability to anticipate, predict, and respond to future changes that affect physical processes, ecosystems, and arctic and global residents are limited.

This report outlines the potential scope, composition, and implementation strategy for an arctic observing network (AON). Such a network would build on and enhance existing national and international efforts and deliver easily accessible, complete, reliable, timely, long-term, pan-arctic observations. The goal is a system that can detect conditions and fundamental variations in the arctic system, provide data that are easily compared and analyzed, and help improve understanding of how the arctic system functions and changes. The network would serve both scientific and operational needs.

SpaceRef staff editor.