During ice-free periods, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) could be an attractive shipping route. The decline in Arctic sea-ice extent, however, could be associated with an increase in the frequency of the causes of severe weather phenomena, and high wind-driven waves and the advection of sea ice could make ship navigation along the NSR difficult. Accurate forecasts of weather and sea ice are desirable for safe navigation, but large uncertainties exist in current forecasts, partly owing to the sparse observational network over the Arctic Ocean. Here, we show that the incorporation of additional Arctic observations improves the initial analysis and enhances the skill of weather and sea-ice forecasts, the application of which has socioeconomic benefits. Comparison of 63-member ensemble atmospheric forecasts, using different initial data sets, revealed that additional Arctic radiosonde observations were useful for predicting a persistent strong wind event. The sea-ice forecast, initialised by the wind fields that included the effects of the observations, skilfully predicted rapid wind-driven sea-ice advection along the NSR.