Arctic PASSION seeks to improve observing systems

16 June 2021

WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch community is supporting a new international project to strengthen observing systems in the Arctic in the face of rapid climate and environmental change.

WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch community is supporting a new international project to strengthen observing systems in the Arctic in the face of rapid climate and environmental change.

The European Union will provide 15 million euros from the Horizon 2020 Programme to fund the Arctic PASSION project for the period 2021 to 2025. Under the leadership of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, a consortium of 35 partners from 17 countries will promote the integration of international environmental observing systems for the Arctic and improve the tailoring of these systems to user needs.

Although there have been advances in recent years, the various components of current Arctic observation systems remain fragmented. The data are, in part, difficult to access and often not tailored to the needs of the users.

In recognition of the challenges, the Year of Polar Prediction, spearheaded by WMO (2017-2019) sought to improve predictions of weather, climate and ice conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic to try close the current gaps in polar forecasting capacity.

WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) is one of the partners in the new initiative, which is in line with its mandate to foster international coordination between scientific and operational communities to improve authoritative data, information, and analyses on the state of the cryosphere (frozen water).

Arctic PASSION aims to develop an integrated ‘pan-Arctic Observing System of Systems’ (pan-AOSS) via international collaboration.

  • Arctic PASSION will expand and better coordinate the Arctic Earth observation capacity and capabilities for the land, ocean, atmosphere, and cryosphere; this will be done through additional measurements and better integration at the international level. For example, the project will establish an international oceanic monitoring network in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic and connect it with a similar existing system in the Pacific sector.
  • Measurements from observing programmes that reach back more than a few decades are scarce in the Arctic. Those that date back further, are based on observations by Indigenous communities and few national monitoring programs. To better understand local change, Arctic PASSION will compile those and analyse them jointly with our Indigenous partners.
  • To better adapt the observing system to the needs of the people living in the Arctic, Arctic PASSION will extend it by including Indigenous and local knowledge. For example, through a series of panel meetings with local and Indigenous communities, scientists, and political and commercial actors, it will define which data are needed and in what form, with the goal to have them routinely collected.
  • Together with local people, from Indigenous communities and Arctic cities alike, as well as local and national decision-makers, Arctic PASSION will combine data from the European and international Earth observation programmes to provide eight new information services. Concrete examples include a forecasting system for air pollution; integrated fire protection management in the Arctic; and improved permafrost monitoring.

The Arctic PASSION project will officially start on 1 July. The name stands for ‘Pan-Arctic observing System of Systems: Implementing Observations for societal Needs.

The participation of GCW in the Arctic Passion project is an opportunity to foster improving the availability of Earth system data from the Arctic in the framework of the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), the WMO Information System (WIS), in support of regional and global applications, and to enable a stronger collaboration between the active communities operating in the Arctic and the WMO community.

More details are here

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