Program Focus 2: Extending Arctic Baselines

What keeps coming up in our discussions about the Arctic is the need for sound baseline information about the Arctic environment. How can we take ‘snapshots’ of key dimensions and make sense of them in the larger context – then move toward a system level understanding? Time and again what we come up against are the limits to making observations and measurements in the region. Global Oceans has developed a modular operational approach with MARV that could have a significant impact on our ability to collect the data we need.

“A key objective is to develop improved models of physical and biological systems of the Arctic. Collaboration with groups like Global Oceans to couple data collection strategies with optimal modeling design, aligned with geospatial deployment of appropriately equipped MARVs, would represent a breakthrough approach that may provide a more reliable basis for making important decisions about sustainable management in this region.

Charles Vörösmarty, Ph.D., Director, CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative, Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), City University of New York, New York; Co-Chair of the Arctic Futures Initiative Advisory Group (USA); Distinguished Scientist, NOAA-CREST (Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology)

Global Oceans has developed an infrastructure support model utilizing private-sector supply partners which, if successfully brought on line, could significantly expand our ability to get into the field. This is an emerging solution that will help Arctic scientists do more with limited resources.

Jacqueline Grebmeier, Ph.D., Professor, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science; Former Chair, Pacific Arctic Group (PAG)


Global Oceans’ Arctic priority is to engage with the global Arctic scientific community to explore specific opportunities to align the ability to configure and operate polar-adapted MARV (PolarMARV) platforms with critical research, observation and monitoring strategies in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding regions.

Global Oceans’ strategy for contributing to this process in the Arctic is linked to the scope, resolution and frequency of the data that is necessary to fully leverage current modeling capacity. The challenge of obtaining sufficient baselines and on-going environmental data from the Arctic is well documented – activity is constrained by limited infrastructure and cost of access to the region. We are exploring ways of engaging with the Arctic research community to utilize PolarMARV platforms for extending geospatial reach across the Arctic Ocean, and to enable greater use of technologies from both the academic and private sectors.

The Arctic marine environment is one of the least understood regions of the Earth, especially in the high Arctic. There is a critical lack of essential data and scientific understanding necessary to improve the planning and implementation of biodiversity conservation or monitoring strategies in the Arctic…Change cannot be measured without a baseline. For many species and ecosystem processes, that baseline of knowledge does not exist.

“Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: Status and trends in Arctic biodiversity”, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), Arctic Council, 2013