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U.S Arctic Observing Network

Identifying actionable improvements to the national
and pan-Arctic observing system

The United States Arctic Observing Network (US AON) is a collaboration-based initiative that promotes well-defined networks of sustained Arctic observations through partnership development and the advancement of shared planning processes and methods (e.g. Value Tree Analysis, VTA) within NOAA, across US Federal agencies and with other partners, nationally and internationally. The project aims to provide cross-agency coordination for federal efforts related to sustained Arctic observing in order to unify various Arctic observation efforts. This coordination is guided by the US AON Board (Federal-only funders), co-chaired by NOAA, NSF and NASA, with participation from DOI, DOE, EPA and DOD. Organizationally, US AON is the observing focal point of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), which is charged by Congress to coordinate all Federal agencies engaged in Arctic research. This initiative also advances the international Roadmap for Arctic Observing and Data Systems (ROADS) through Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON), and promotes partnership and community building. A fully developed US AON will promote collaborative use of Arctic research and operational products in order to fully understand the Arctic and Earth system in support of discovery and key public services. 
Sandy Starkweather

Principal Investigator

Project Institution: University of Colorado

Partnerships: PSL/CIRES, NSF

Award Period: 01 October 2021 – 30 September 2023

Data & Products Access

Value Tree Analysis (VTA) tool

River Watch VTA Case study

Arctic Report Card 2020 VTA Case study

US AON Report to Congress

SAON ROADS Planning Framework

Publications & References

Chythlook C; Rudolf M; Biermann M; Eicken H; Starkweather S. “Research Networking Activities Support Sustained Coordinated Observations of Arctic Change.” Oceanography. 01 January 2022
Access Link

Starkweather S; Larsen JR; Kruemmel E; Eicken H; Arthurs D; Bradley AC; Carlo N; Christensen T; Daniel R; Danielsen F. “Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks’ (SAON) Roadmap for Arctic Observing and Data Systems (ROADS).” Arctic 74(5). 01 February 2022
Access Link

Short Statement for the Arctic Observing Summit
Access Link

  • NOAA in the Arctic Seminar Series – October 2021
  • US National Committee to SAON – “No network is an island” Arctic Observing Network mapping exercise, May 2022
  • Research Networking Activity for Sustained, Coordinated Observations of Arctic Change (RNA CoObs) Annual PI meeting, September 2022
  • NOAA in the Arctic Seminar Series – October 2021
  • Arctic PASSION General Assembly June 25-29, Denmark – Pilot effort for the SAON ROADS process
  • COP26 US State Department Pavilion
  • Engaging on behalf of SAON in the International Conference on Arctic Research Planning IV, 2025
  • Keynote on SAON ROADS at the Arctic Observing Summit, Tromso, Norway (3/30/2022)
  • Panel discussion on Arctic Observing in Tromso, Norway (3/29/2022)
  • PICES 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting- Sandy Starkweather and Jan Rene Larsen (Access Link)
  • Virtual EU-PolarNet Workshop: Recommendations towards an Integrated Polar Observing System, June, 2022
  • Virtual Polar Data Forum, September 2022 – SAON ROADS and data systems
  • Workshop on UN Decade for Ocean Sciences, ARC GOOS and SAON ROADS – side meeting of Arctic Science Summit Week in Tromso, Norway (3/28/2022)

A sample of a Value Tree Analysis (VTA) for the ARC2020, in support of Fundamental Understanding of Arctic Systems. Observing system value in support of the seven ARC Vital Signs propagates forward (left to right) through observation and model-derived data products, then Vital Signs to societal benefit. Color coding indicates a performance score for nodes (see insert), averaged across all uses; links are weighted (indicated by line thickness) based on their criticality to downstream value. The VTA indicates the Vital Signs were most relevant to the IAOAF Societal Benefit Area (SBA): Fundamental Understanding of Arctic Systems (composite score = 74), but also provided value to SBAs like Environmental Quality (not shown, 59) and Marine and Coastal Ecosystems and Processes