Meetings >> Report of CEON Planning meeting >> CEON History

Section 2: The Initiation and Background of CEON

The concept of initiating a CEON was first raised at a meeting of the Forum of Arctic research Operators (FARO) at Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in 2000 by Tom Pyle (US representative to FARO). FARO is an international governmental organization that provides information and a forum for discussion, review and exchange of operational information and experience to the Arctic science community to seek solutions to common operational problems. FARO encourages, facilitates and optimizes logistics and operational support for scientific research in the Arctic through international collaboration. Members of FARO endorsed the CEON concept specifying that CEON promote environmental observations in the Arctic and dissemination of these to Arctic researchers whilst encompassing and building on the strengths of existing stations and environmental observatory networks active in the Arctic.

In June 2002 Tom Pyle, head of Arctic Section of the Office of Polar Programs within National Science Foundation of the United States tasked Patrick Webber (President of the International Arctic Science Committee - IASC) and Craig Tweedie at Michigan State University with scoping and developing the concept of CEON. The initial development of CEON has been based on the notion that early successes will be met by facilitating the activities of existing environmental sites and networks active in the Arctic and increasing the potential for integration and syntheses between sites. Specifically, this entails promoting increased transfer of knowledge and standardization of research methods between networks and sites, and increasing accessibility to data and linkages to multidisciplinary and international programs.

Accordingly, presentations on the CEON concept have been made at numerous meetings of organizations/research programs active in the Arctic over a short period of time in order to establish an initial momentum for the development of CEON. Presentations have focused on the necessity for the CEON initiative to meet the needs of the participating research community, science administrators, policy makers, industry, education and indigenous communities whilst providing linkages between disciplines and existing networks and connectivity spanning regional to circumarctic and global scales. Deliberately, presentations of the CEON concept have made no mention or suggestion of measurements or processes that should or could be made or investigated. Instead, observers have been asked to introduce their own bias into the development of CEON by providing feedback to the following question: "What would you do if you had the opportunity to conduct/maintain standardized and integrated time series observations across multiple research stations and networks in the Arctic?" This 'bottom-up' approach has facilitated the development and scoping of CEON based on the experience, needs and future directions envisaged by a broad range of potential CEON stakeholder and user groups.

The rationale that has emerged for CEON based on this initial scoping and development includes the following:

  • Relative to other regions on the globe, the Arctic is experiencing dramatic changes in climate and patterns of human land use. Environmental and socio-economic drivers associated with these changes originate both within and outside of the Arctic system.
  • Change detection & predictive power of these changes are low and are limited/ threatened by the loss of sustained environmental observation time series in northern high latitudes.
  • A circum-arctic environmental observatories network that can provide adequate, diverse and sustained time series observations has the potential to dramatically improve our understanding of the Arctic system and how it may continue to respond to a variety of environmental and societal changes forecast for the region.
  • There is a well-established science infrastructure and a tremendous amount of research and monitoring ongoing in the Arctic. Generally, the broader international and multidisciplinary impacts of these efforts are not fully tapped due to limitations associated with research exposure, communication, data availability and differences in technologies and sampling methods between sites. Reinforcing and improving the broader impacts of this existing and ongoing effort should be the primary starting point for CEON.
At Arctic Science Summit Week convened in Kiruna, Sweden during April 2003, CEON presentations were made during Science Day and to both FARO and IASC. FARO and IASC endorsed the concept of CEON and encouraged further development and reporting of these developments at ASSW 2004 (21-28th April, Reykjavik, Iceland). In May 2003, an interim CEON planning group was formed. This consists of Terry Callaghan, Craig Tweedie (Co-Chairs), Bill Heal, Patrick Webber and Margareta Johansson. Based on a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States, Webber and Tweedie were awarded funds that have continued the development of CEON, including substantial financial support for this meeting. Additional financial support for this meeting was provided by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' Abisko Scientific Research Station, The Scandinavian-North European Network of Terrestrial Field Bases (SCANNET), and a grant to Abisko Scientific Research Station from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for its participation in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). Many participants also generously provided whole or partial funding to support their attendance at this meeting.