EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

INTAROS synthesis of gap analysis of the existing Arctic observing systems

Roberta Pirazzini1, Michael Tjernström2, Stein Sandven3, Hanne Sagen3, Torill Hamre3, Carsten Ludwigsen4, Agnieszka Beszczynska-Möller5, David Gustafsson6, Georg Heygster7, Mikael Sejr8, Andreas Ahlstrøm9, Francisco Navarro10, Mathias Goeckede11, Donatella Zona12, Erik Buch13, Mathilde Sorensen14, and Thomas Soltwedel15
Roberta Pirazzini et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Meteorological Research, Helsinki, Finland (
  • 2Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
  • 4Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 5Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Oceanology, Sopot, Poland
  • 6Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden
  • 7University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 8Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 9Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 10Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 11Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 12University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 13European Global Ocean Observing system, Brussels, Belgium
  • 14University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 15Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany

A comprehensive assessment of a substantial subset of Arctic observing systems, data collections and satellite products across scientific disciplines was carried out in INTAROS, also including data repositories and a brief scientific gap analysis. The assessments cover a multitude of aspects such as sustainability, technical maturity and data handling for the entire chain from observation to users, including metadata procedures and availability to data. Community based environment monitoring programs were surveyed and assessed separately; they do not form part of the present assessment.

The assessed observing systems were first ranked according to general sustainability and other aspects, were analyzed subsequently. While the range of sustainability is large, it was found that high scores on all other aspects, such as for data handling and technical maturity, are more likely for systems with high sustainability. Moreover, many systems with high sustainability, as well as advanced systems for data handling and availability in place, resulted from national commitments to international monitoring or infrastructure programs, several of which are not necessarily particular to the Arctic.

Traditionally, terrestrial and atmospheric observation network assessments build on the network concept with a “comprehensive” level including all observations, a “baseline” level of an agreed subset of sustained observations, and a “reference” level, with observations adhering to specific calibrations and traceability criteria. Examples from atmospheric observations are the “comprehensive” global GCOS radiosounding network, the “baseline” GUAN (GCOS Upper Air Network) and “reference” GRUAN (GCOS Reference Upper Air Network) networks. With the lack of in-situ observations especially from the Arctic Ocean and the logistical difficulties to deploy new stations, it was concluded that this concept does not work well in the Arctic.

In summary, we recommend that:

  • advancement in Arctic observing should be done in international global or regional programs with well-established routines and procedures, rather than to invest in new Arctic-specific programs
  • investments in new instruments and techniques be done at already established sites, to benefit interdisciplinary studies and optimize infrastructure costs
  • more observations be based on ships of opportunity and that a subset of ocean, sea-ice and atmosphere observations always be made on all research expeditions, regardless of their scientific aim
  • the funding structures for science expeditions is reviewed to maintain, and preferably increase, the number of expeditions and to safeguard funding for appropriate data handling and storage
  • observing-network concept for the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean is revised, so that coupled reanalyses represent the “comprehensive level”, satellite observations complemented with available in-situ data is the “baseline level”, while scientific expeditions is the “reference level”. This requires substantial improvements in reanalysis, better numerical models and data assimilation, better satellite observations and improved data handling and accessibility for scientific expeditions.

How to cite: Pirazzini, R., Tjernström, M., Sandven, S., Sagen, H., Hamre, T., Ludwigsen, C., Beszczynska-Möller, A., Gustafsson, D., Heygster, G., Sejr, M., Ahlstrøm, A., Navarro, F., Goeckede, M., Zona, D., Buch, E., Sorensen, M., and Soltwedel, T.: INTAROS synthesis of gap analysis of the existing Arctic observing systems, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20091,, 2020


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