Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks’ (SAON) Roadmap for Arctic Observing and Data Systems (ROADS)

Michael.Karcher [ at ]


Arctic observing and data systems have been widely recognized as critical infrastructures to support decision making and understanding across sectors in the Arctic and globally. Yet due to broad and persistent issues related to coordination, deployment infrastructure and technology gaps, the Arctic remains among the most poorly observed regions on the planet from the standpoint of conventional observing systems. Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) was initiated in 2011 to address the persistent shortcomings in the coordination of Arctic observations that are maintained by its many national and organizational partners. SAON set forth a bold vision in its 2018 – 28 strategic plan to develop a roadmap for Arctic observing and data systems (ROADS) to specifically address a key gap in coordination efforts—the current lack of a systematic planning mechanism to develop and link observing and data system requirements and implementation strategies in the Arctic region. This coordination gap has hampered partnership development and investments toward improved observing and data systems. ROADS seeks to address this shortcoming through generating a systems-level view of observing requirements and implementation strategies across SAON’s many partners through its roadmap. A critical success factor for ROADS is equitable participation of Arctic Indigenous Peoples in the design and development process, starting at the process design stage to build needed equity. ROADS is both a comprehensive concept, building from a societal benefit assessment approach, and one that can proceed step-wise so that the most imperative Arctic observations—here described as shared Arctic variables (SAVs)—can be rapidly improved. SAVs will be identified through rigorous assessment at the beginning of the ROADS process, with an emphasis in that assessment on increasing shared benefit of proposed system improvements across a range of partnerships from local to global scales. The success of the ROADS process will ultimately be measured by the realization of concrete investments in and well-structured partnerships for the improved sustainment of Arctic observing and data systems in support of societal benefit.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.14430/arctic74330

Cite as
Starkweather, S. , Larsen, J. R. , Kruemmel, E. , Eicken, H. , Arthurs, D. , Bradley, A. C. , Carlo, N. , Christensen, T. , Daniel, R. , Danielsen, F. , Kalhok, S. , Karcher, M. , Johansson, M. , Jóhannsson, H. , Kodama, Y. , Lund, S. , Murray, M. S. , Petäjä, T. , Pulsifer, P. L. , Sandven, S. , Sankar, R. D. , Strahlendorff, M. and Wilkinson, J. (2022): Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks’ (SAON) Roadmap for Arctic Observing and Data Systems (ROADS) , ARCTIC, 74 (5), pp. 56-68 . doi: 10.14430/arctic74330

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