Arctic PASSION – Pan-Arctic Observing System of Systems

Implementing Observations for Societal Needs

In the Arctic, human-induced global warming already leads to changes that are faster here than anywhere else on our planet. The impacts not only threaten the Arctic ecosystem and the local population and economy but may also have global consequences because of the Arctic’s role in the climate system.
To understand and respond to the changes, it is necessary to create an observing system that allows free and open access to the best available information, for communities, economy, governments, and science.
The key motivation behind the Arctic PASSION project is the co-creation and implementation of such an Arctic observing system: the ‘Pan-Arctic Observing System of Systems’. To this end, both scientific observations of the Arctic and community-based monitoring will be expanded and enhanced with the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge. The project, funded by the European Commission with 15 million Euros, started in July 2021 and will run for four years. Over 50 organizations and indigenous groups located in 17 countries participate in the project as partners and collaborators.


  • Improve and extend the terrestrial, marine and cryospheric in-situ measurements and the community-based monitoring systems
  • Develop services/networks necessary for adaptation to climate change in the region
  • Integrate community-based observations, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge and scientific observations into an integrated sustainable Arctic observing system
  • Make data from an Arctic observing system more easily accessible
  • Make a positive contribution to national, regional, and international decision-making processes and science strategies
  • Support communication between scientists, policymakers, commercial actors, and the local population – reach out to public, science, industry, and policy stakeholders to enable their support for a sustainable Arctic observing system


The project is structured into eleven work packages, each addressing a specific area of research and innovation, for example

  • Establishing an adaptive and more complete Arctic observing system
  • Bringing the Arctic Data System to action
  • Supporting through model-based impact assessment
  • Innovating user-driven Arctic EuroGEO Pilot Services
  • Assessing societal benefits and economic impacts
  • International cooperation and clustering
  • Supporting coherent policy and decision-making
  • Connecting the pan-AOSS society through communication, dissemination, and engagement

Depending on the task, different methods are used in the project, including fieldwork in remote areas of the Arctic to study terrestrial environments, oceanographic campaigns with moorings, CTDs and other ship-based observing systems, numerical modeling studies, integration with satellite data, community-based monitoring, etc.

Responsible person

Dr. Michael J. Karcher
Senior Scientist, Sea Ice section
Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Arctic PASSION Coordinator

Projects we participate in

Arctic PASSION participates in the European Polar Cluster, a network of collaborative polar projects, which are funded by the European Commission merging a broad spectrum of research and coordination activities – ranging from the most up-to-date findings on permafrost and sea ice, from enhancing observation to improving predictions, and from networking research stations to coordinating access to icebreakers.