Arctic Observation Network Social Indicator Project

The Arctic Observation Network Social Indicator Project (AON-SIP) was supported byf the National Science Foundation (Grant Number OPP0638408) from 2007 to 2011. This website is maintained to offer access to data compiled by the AON-SIP by researchers and policy makers. These data will also be linked with the central repository for AON data, the Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (CADIS). This project was part of the Arctic Observation Network (AON). This project was also part of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change, or SEARCH. NSF is not responsible for any of the contents of this website.

What the AON-Social Indicator Project was About

The goal of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change, or SEARCH, is understand the nature, extent and future development of the system-scale changes presently seen in the Arctic. SEARCH is focused on climate change in the context of other global changes underway. SEARCH is a program of research intended to identify knowledge that will help people respond to environmental change. The SEARCH Implementation Plan identifies initial priorities of SEARCH. Among these priorities are the following:

  1. Develop an integrated pan-Arctic human dimension observation system based on existing data;

  2. Develop stakeholder networks to identify relevant observations and predictions, and to help understand the dynamics of the Arctic system; and,

  3. Develop and apply models to a pan-Arctic database to advance our understanding of environmental change and to identify data gaps that could be filled in a Phase Two human-dimensions observation system.

As part of SEARCH, the AON-SIP project was intended to contribute to the long term goal of identifying adaptive strategies based on an understanding of the dynamics of change in the Arctic. A top SEARCH priority is to ensure that the Arctic Observation Network (AON) includes the measures necessary to an analysis of Arctic change. This project was a first step. We compiled existing data for components of the Arctic system that are likely to involve climate-human interactions. Our objectives were to assess the adequacy of existing data and to recommend additions to the Arctic observation network where necessary to fill critical gaps.


The following are final publications from the project shared here for research purposes only:



Building on the recommendations of the SEARCH Responding to Change Panel, the AON-SIP team compiled data for four  "arenas" where climate change and people are likely to interact. By "arenas" we mean parts of the arctic system involving people. The four arenas chosen for this project were: (1) marine mammal hunting; (2) oil, gas, mining and marine transportation; (3) commercial fisheries; and, (4) tourism.


Project Arenas of Climate Interactions with People in the Arctic

In addition to the above four arenas, the AON-SIP project compiled data on social indicators. Arctic Social Indicators (ASI), is an initiative of the Arctic Council and a follow-up to the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR). The goal of ASI has been to recommend a small set of social indicators that can be used to monitor change in the Arctic. In 2010 ASI issued its first report, Arctic Social Indicators. ASI organized its recommendations around six domains of well-being: (1)material success; (2) health; (3) education (4) fate control (5) ties with nature; and, cultural continuity. The AON-SIP team organized its work on social indicators using the six ASI domains.

The AON-SIP team also coordinated its activities with the developers of ArcticStat. ArcticStat is a single web portal providing access to web pages with links to data produced by the national statistical agencies of arctic countries. Thousands of web pages accessed through ArcticStat were downloaded and converted to SPSS database files by AON-SIP team members. These data files constitute all the social indicator data made available through this website for Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. Social indicator data for Alaska was separately compiled from databases at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The following are links to AON-SIP compiled datasets:

In the interests of promoting further research contributing to the goals of SEARCH and AON, please see the following legacy website page: Project Background.