About Us

Infographic showing the relationship between the US AON and other subcomittees
This image shows the interconnected bodies that link into the US Arctic Observing Network (US AON), including the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and the international Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) group. Background photo: Christopher Cox.

Science technician Marci Beitch prepares to launch a weather balloon from Summit Station, Greenland.
Science technician Marci Beitch prepares to launch a weather balloon from Summit Station, Greenland. Photo credit: media.arcus.org

Goals and Processes

The goal of the US AON is to improve the integrated performance of Arctic-wide observing and data management activities by fostering strategic planning and implementation partnerships across observing efforts and data systems. The US AON is committed to facilitating the inclusion of Arctic Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Arctic residents in observing activities, following guidelines like the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic and models for the Co-Production of Knowledge.

The Arctic environment is shifting rapidly with catastrophic consequences for Arctic and global society. In order to understand and respond to these changes, we need to measure and monitor environmental and social conditions. However, Arctic observing faces an array of challenges, including:

  • extreme physical conditions.
  • dated or lacking regional infrastructure.
  • a patchwork of approaches across federal agencies, eight Arctic nations, and other observing partners.


These challenges and imperatives gave rise to the vision of an internationally coordinated Arctic Observing Network (AON). The network brings together sustained observations targeting and linking the most critical aspects of a rapidly changing Arctic, in support of research, products, and public services. To better coordinate U.S. efforts in support of this vision, federal agencies initiated the U.S. Arctic Observing Network (US AON).

The US AON, a recognized sub-body of IARPC, fosters partnerships through four parallel efforts.

  1. The US AON Board is composed of representatives from a variety of federal agencies with significant investments linked to sustained or networked observations. US AON Board fosters interagency partnerships.
  2. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) Observations Community of Practice is a broad federal and non-federal body. It convenes researchers, knowledge holders, and end users of scientific observations. The community of practice hosts open discussions around improving the observing network, including innovative uses of existing observations and strategically critical observing system gaps.
  3. The US AON Partnerships focus on a specific need to improve the observing system, either through dialogue to advance community practices or through systematic evaluation of a specific product or service. For more information, see the Community Building and Gaps Evaluation sections of the website. 
  4. The US Committee to SAON links efforts within the US to international coordination through Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON). This group, which includes strong links to the US data management community, hosts biannual meetings through IARPC Collaborations.