Meetings >> Report of CEON Planning meeting >> Network Partners

Section 4.3: Potential network partners of CEON

CEON has been endorsed by FARO and IASC, in part, to 'encompass and build on the strengths of existing stations and environmental observatory networks active in the Arctic'. Established programs, networks, sites and collaborations are the starting points for the development and implementation of CEON. Not only do these established platforms provide a monitoring infrastructure and an observational legacy, they also contain a 'corporate memory' and expertise base that can greatly facilitate the successful and efficient development of CEON. Some of these existing observational platforms are listed above. This session provided a broad overview of the range of regional and disciplinary based networks, research stations and community monitoring programs active in the Arctic.

Terry Callaghan and Margareta Johansson presented the Scandinavian North European Network of Terrestrial Field Bases (SCANNET). SCANNET consists of nine terrestrial research stations in northern Europe and is funded from February 2001 to January 2004. SCANNET has multiple local, regional and global linkages and is founded on the following rationale:

  • The Arctic has been subject to recent large-scale climate change.
  • Climate scenarios predict the most prominent changes to occur at high latitudes.
  • Concurrently, other environmental factors such as land use, UV- B radiation and atmospheric CO2 concentration are changing in the North and confound our independent predictions of system responses to climate change.
  • Valuable long term information from observations and experiments based at research facilities within the north-east Atlantic region are underused and are sometimes inaccessible.
  • Facility managers have stability and the potential to develop and sustain new collaborative and standardized activities. SCANNET's principal objectives are to:
  • Establish a network of existing field sites, spanning the dominant environmental conditions in northern Europe.
  • Compile and compare existing data and information from field sites.
  • Improve comparability and coverage of long-term observations and experiments within the network.
  • Improve access and relevance of data to researchers and to international organisations such as GTOS, AMAP, CAFF, and ACIA.

Network coordination includes production of newsletters, submission of reports to Brussels (the European Union), organising station manager's forum meetings, organising research user and base managers meetings and forming linkages to other networks and users. SCANNET includes six work packages: Database construction, management and standardization of observation protocols; reviewing the spatial and temporal patterns and variation in Biodiversity; increasing access to data on climate variability; reviewing climate scenarios for the region; identifying land use and societal interactions; and reviewing species performance and phenology. SCANNET is an extremely successful network initiative that has produced several products and implemented several standardized monitoring tools including a digital camera network, which can facilitate the assessment of spatio-temporal patterns of snow cover dynamics. Despite the successes of SCANNET, the network faces increasingly limited funding opportunities and is reinforcing linkages to other networks and partners in order to be self-sustaining. SCANNET partners consider the potential partnership to CEON benefiting the connectivity of SCANNET at a circum-arctic scale whilst strengthening the regional focus and autonomy it has developed over the past three years.

Jon Borre Orbaek presented the European Network for Arctic-Alpine Multidisciplinary Environmental Research (ENVINET). ENVINET has recently completed its first funding cycle and despite the successes of the network, funding has not been renewed to support its ongoing monitoring and coordination activities. ENVINET was originally funded under the European Union Human Potential Program and included a network of 17 research infrastructures in Europe ranging from the Arctic to the Alps and included participants spanning station operators, external and internal users and other stakeholders. ENVINET I focused on multidisciplinary environmental research under the fields of atmospheric chemistry and physics, and marine and terrestrial biology. The ENVINET II proposal focused on expansion of the network infrastructure and disciplinary base. ENVINET partners are supportive of CEON and some collaborations borne out of ENVINET I will continue in a scaled down fashion. ENVINET has several products such as a project database that could benefit the development of CEON.

Wojtek Dobinski presented a history and overview of facilities, monitoring and research activities at the Polish research Station at Hornsund on Svalbard. This station was established in 1957 and has an extensive research history spanning such disciplines as glaciology, meteorology, geography and biology. Long term datasets from this station could be made available to international researchers through CEON. The station has the potential to join and duplicate measurements conducted at other stations on Svalbard to expand a local longitudinal and altitudinal monitoring network.

Sergey Priamikov provided an overview of Russian arctic research highlighting a range of international collaborative efforts that includes the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the United States. An impressive set of maps were used to highlight active research stations, stations that are prioritized for renovation and stations that have been prioritized for rebuilding. Priamikov also highlighted the broad disciplinary base covered by the stations and the potential for connecting a terrestrial observation network to a marine network. CEON could play a role in facilitating the refurbishment and rebuilding of stations and science infrastructures in Russia.

Patrick Webber described a short history of arctic research conducted by the United States in Alaska and in several other arctic countries. There are no comprehensive multidisciplinary Arctic networks in the US. Most research effort over the past four decades has been directed to campaign driven process-based research with little standardization of methods, approaches and instrumentation. This, however, should not preclude the involvement of the US in CEON considering measurements are site based, are in some cases long term, and could in many cases be re-instrumented/occupied where observations have been discontinued. Webber described the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the principal sponsor of arctic terrestrial research in the US and outlined several ongoing research endeavors sponsored by NSF. One of these includes the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) initiative, through which US participation in CEON could be aligned and sponsored. US sites that could partner to CEON include the Barrow Environmental Observatory, Toolik Lake field station (a Long-Term Ecological Research site - LTER) and Greenland Summit. Webber highlighted the importance that CEON could have in terms of breaking the campaign driven approach of US arctic research initiatives by providing stronger justification for continuation of environmental observation and measurement programs at the Barrow and Toolik sites in particular.

Joan Eamer presented an overview of the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network for Northern Canada (EMAN-North) and several other disciplinary based networks within which she is involved, including CANTTEX (the Canadian International Tundra and Taiga Experiment), Plant watch-North, the Circumpolar Monitoring of Reindeer and Caribou program sponsored by CAFF and the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. There are three components to EMAN-North:

  • Reporting on status and trends in northern ecosystems through an on-line information centre and syntheses of knowledge about impacts of climate change on tundra ecosystems (CANTTEX).
  • Capacity-building via the production of the CANTTEX manual, plain language water manual and provision of usable datasets to scientists.
  • Networking and Coordination through annual meetings, a steering committee, sub-groups, assistance with preparation of interdisciplinary proposals and projects, initiatives/ coordination with EMAN national.

EMAN-North considers their potential involvement and partnership to CEON as being mutually beneficial to CEON and EMAN-North. Eamer identified other disciplinary based networks active throughout Canada highlighting the potential benefits of their involvement in CEON also. Eamer also stressed the importance of involving local peoples in monitoring efforts and illustrated the success of the Circumpolar Monitoring of Reindeer and Caribou program sponsored by CAFF and the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op, which is now in its 8th year of operation. These programs could have a significant contribution to CEON and could be used as models for establishing a broader involvement of indigenous peoples monitoring networks in the Arctic.

Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson gave an overview of the IASC funded Tundra-Taiga Interface (TTI) working group, which he now chairs. The Arctic is delimited by a southern transition zone between tundra and taiga, which can move with changes in climate, affecting the spatial extent of these two vegetation types. TTI is examining the response of this transition zone. Although TTI receives funding support for meetings, it is primarily a program that succeeds through the collaboration of separately funded projects. TTI has formed several significant linkages with other networks and has produced several significant products including a special issue of Ambio. An international meeting in Anchorage, Alaska is planned for early 2004. The following information is of interest to TTI:

  • Describing the structure of the tundra-taiga interface (e.g. species density, height, age composition).
  • Detection of the location of the TTI.
  • Description of the conditions across the interface (e.g. climate and soil chemistry).
  • Controls on the location of the interface (e.g. phenology, pathology, ecosystem and ecophysiological processes)
  • Human and animal interactions (forestry, agriculture, browsing etc.) Subsequently, TTI have identified the following research priorities
  • Assessment spanning community/habitat/physiognomic interfaces (e.g. north - south transects).
  • Assessment of different types of tundra-taiga interfaces (e.g. wide vs. sharp, impacted vs. pristine, clumpy vs. even).
  • The need for standardization of approach and techniques both longitudinally and latitudinally.

Tatiana Vlassova demonstrated how traditional knowledge and science could be integrated into CEON using several of her experiences in Russia with the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples Of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON) and the affiliated project Russian Climate and Environment Network of Indigenous Peoples (RUCENIP). Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is increasingly being recognized for its scientific merit and can complement science-based research and monitoring efforts. Until relatively recently, however, the value of TEK was largely ignored by research scientists. In order to gain a comprehensive picture of environmental change and the socio-economic and physical environmental impacts and drivers of these changes, partnership with local peoples must be formed and traditional knowledge must be incorporated. A bottom-up approach works well for such initiatives and could initially involve locally oriented structured and non-structured interviews with indigenous populations, the scientific community, teachers, students, local administrations, non-government and community based organizations throughout the Arctic. Environmental and social changes are influencing the well-being of northern peoples who are concerned for their future. Northern peoples, including indigenous peoples should be considered stakeholders within CEON.

Keith Finlayson and Ian Brown presented the relatively new Northern View program funded by the European Union. Finlayson opened by pointing to the differences between knowledge and decision based technologies and emphasized that if CEON wants to collect information that could affect policy and management then, it needs to pay explicit attention to the uncertainty associated with measurements and trends detected and, with respect to policy development, acknowledge the various valutation technologies that can help to determine the best course of action from multiple options. Northern View is partnered to the Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) program of the European Space Agency ( and the European Commission. Northern View aims to make Earth Observation (EO) services from satellite remote sensing more accessible and affordable to anyone interested in the North. The short term goal of Northern View is to use remote sensing to monitor events such as oil spills and features such as ice bergs that affect management and policy development. Over a longer term Northern View are working with probable end users to fulfill their needs for northern remote sensing information. Finlayson referred to the ECORA project in Russia and GLOBIO assessment as examples to highlight the potential applications of remote sensing technologies to assist policy and management. CEON could benefit from partnering to Northern View as an end user and could also provide a platform for the collection of ground data suitable for ground control and validation of remote sensing-derived products.

Bill Heal made a presentation of the University of the Arctic (UArctic). UArctic is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to higher education in and about the Circumpolar North. It functions as a decentralized university without walls that mounts programs of higher education and research, builds local and regional educational capacity, and stimulates co-operation among participating institutions. UArctic has established programs for student exchange, which has direct importance and relevance to CEON. Potentially, UArctic could provide the basis of a significant educational and outreach component to CEON, which in turn could provide a platform of field sites, research activities and expertise that could significantly enhance the UArctic education and exchange program.

Joao Morais described the past successes and future plans of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). The objectives of IGBP are to describe and understand the dynamics of the Earth System by focusing on interactive biological, chemical and physical processes, the changes that are occurring in these and the role of human activities in these changes. IGBP is an international scientific research program that coordinates global change research, designs and implements international research frameworks agreed to by the scientific community and leads integration and synthesis, interdisciplinary work and international networking. The first phase of IGBP between 1999 and 2003 focused on integration and synthesis. The second phase of IGBP between 2004 and 2012 will focus on new scientific questions and develop a new internal structure and approach. This structure includes a focus of research on land, atmosphere and ocean processes as well as linkages between these whilst maintaining a strong emphasis on Earth System Integration, which aims to understand the past, present and future state of the Earth system. IGBP is part of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), which also includes the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), Diversitas and the International Human Dimension Program (IHDP). The ESSP has two primary foci; the Joint Projects on Global Sustainability and the Integrated Regional Studies (IRS), which could include an Arctic - Northern Eurasian component through the START program (Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training). START's mission is to:

  • To develop a system of regional networks of collaborating scientists and institutions.
  • To enhance scientific capacity in developing countries - by strengthening and connecting existing institutions, training global change scientists and improving their access to data and results.
  • To help mobilise the resources required to augment existing global change scientific capabilities, infrastructure and activities in developing countries.
The developing IRS aims to assess the influence of regional processes on Earth System functioning (and vice-versa), be integrative (natural and social sciences, all components of the Earth System, planning to synthesis), contribute sound scientific understanding in support of sustainable development in the region, and be scientifically-driven by scientists in the region, whilst fostering global collaboration. An example of an IRS is the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA).