Sea-Ice System Services: A Framework to Help Identify and Meet Information Needs Relevant for Arctic Observing Networks


  • Hajo Eicken
  • Amy Lauren Lovecraft
  • Matthew L. Druckenmiller



sea ice, Arctic ecosystems, Arctic Alaska, climate change, Arctic observing system, Arctic policy, community-based observations, adaptation, Alaska Eskimo whaling communities, local knowledge


The need for data from an Arctic observing network to help stakeholders with planning and action is generally recognized. Two key research concerns arise: (1) potential contrasts between fundamental and applied science in the design of an observing system, and (2) development of best practices to ensure that stakeholder needs both inform and can be met from such an observing system. We propose a framework based on the concept of sea-ice system services (SISS) to meet these challenges and categorize the ways in which stakeholders perceive, measure, and use sea ice. Principal service categories are (1) climate regulator, marine hazard, and coastal buffer; (2) transportation and use as a platform; (3) cultural services obtained from the “icescape”; and (4) support of food webs and biological diversity. Our research focuses on cases of ice as platform and marine hazard in Arctic Alaska. We identify the information for each SISS category that users need to track, forecast, and adapt to changes. The resulting framework can address multiple information needs and priorities, integrate information over the relevant spatio-temporal scales, and provide an interface with local knowledge. To plan for an integrated Arctic Observing Network, we recommend a consortium-based approach with the academic community as an impartial intermediary that uses the SISS concept to identify common priorities across the range of sea-ice users.