AOV was born from a recognition that various Arctic Observing networks needed a tool – beyond project tracking systems and data catalogs – to strategically assess status and progress for long-term monitoring programs.  A new, intermediate level of “granularity” (between project-level information and dataset-level information) was needed in a portal that focused on locations, activities, and resources.  These are encapsulated in this mapping application as “data collection sites.”  AOV is evolving and growing, founded on the principle that collaborative information sharing can provide a comprehensive – and therefore useful – perspective.


Arctic Observing – spread as it is among various national and international initiatives – could benefit from an improved cyber-infrastructure that facilitates further integration, discovery, and analysis between funding bodies, PIs, data centers, users, etc.  One piece of that vision is to have an observing activity for the observing program – beyond individual projects, datasets, and individual agency or initiative efforts – to enable strategic assessment. 


Funded initially by the U.S. NSF Arctic Sciences Section, the viewer is becoming broadly interagency for U.S. efforts.  Information exchange with international entities is welcomed. The viewer is circumpolar, and includes sites for marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric observing activities.  AOV is primarily for policy makers, program managers, science planners, logistics planners, and data management specialists.  It also may be of interest to researchers, students, the media, and the public.

For the programmatic and strategic assessment of Arctic Observing efforts, an intermediate level resource is needed.  This should not be a data portal, because details such as sensor names, serial numbers, etc. – and the datasets themselves – are more appropriately maintained at the data archives.  And it should not be a project tracking system, which would lack the “spatial granularity” needed for tracking specific data collection activities.  

Rather, this resource should focus on “data collection sites," with a bare minimum of metadata fields for ease, comprehensiveness, timeliness, and interoperability.  Agencies and organizations tied to Arctic Observing can take advantage of the new application, and can use the collaborative and distributed web services as a tool for their own purposes, to systematically and comprehensively assess progress, to optimize sampling designs, and to know where to invest in new deployments.

Data Collection Sites in AOV

AOV encompasses active or previously deployed cruise tracks, moorings, buoys, towers, boreholes, sampling sites, sensor locations, climate and weather stations, shoreline surveys, repeat vegetation plots, stream gauges, etc.: wherever repeat Arctic Observing data have been collected.

The viewer currently contains thousands of instrumentation and data collection sites, including:

  • 10,800+ sites funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Arctic Observation Network (AON)

  • 5,581 sites from the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX)

  • 1,907 boreholes associated with the international Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP) project

  • 1,067 vegetation plots recovered as part of the NSF-funded Back to the Future (BTF) project to recover and resample old sites dating back to 1964

  • 715 meteorological towers from FluxNet: A Global Network

  • 410 permafrost sites from the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) program

  • 344 geophysical sites from EarthScope

  • 251 locations for mass balance measurements and ice cores from the Seasonal Ice Zone Observing Network (SIZONET)

  • 239 sites associated with the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s (CAFF) Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Program

  • 104 monitoring locations associated with the Circum-Arctic Lakes Observation Network (CALON)

  • 54 measurement sites from SnowNet

  • 39 USGS Permafrost and Climate Monitoring Network sites on Alaska’s North Slope

  • and more, including Arctic-GRO, GLISN, GNET, ICECAPS, and OASIS.

The viewer also displays information for scientific cruises and drifting buoys:

  • Nearly 500 sampling sites from NOAA’s Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA), contributed by AOOS.

  • 234 drifting buoys from the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP)

  • 132 ship tracks dating from 2007 for the Healy, Knorr, Louis S. St-Laurent, Marcus G. Langseth, Thomas G. Thompson, and other research vessels

  • 37 buoy tracks for the NPS Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy program

For each site or track, details include:

  • Project title, funding agency, award number, and contact information

  • Discipline, type of measurement, GCMD keywords, location, start and end dates

  • Links to more information, whether data are archived, and links to datasets and websites

And last, but not least, AOV includes major Arctic research facilities:

  • 44 field stations from the International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT)

  • 40 observatories and facilities from the the International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) initiative


AOV is founded on collaborative efforts among many groups that support information exchange and interoperability.

The AOV database and web map viewer are development efforts shared among: Craig Tweedie, a postdoc, and students at the Systems Ecology Lab at the University of Texas at El Paso; Allison Gaylord with Nuna Technologies; William Manley with the INSTAAR QGIS Laboratory; and Naomi Whitty with CH2M HILL Polar Services. AOV provides a real-world test bed for student-driven cyberinfrastructure activities -- ranging from systems architecture and programming to application design.  

Photos for the banner images are courtesy of Sarah Das (WHOI), Faustine Bernadac (Polar Field Services), Bill Schmoker (PolarTREC 2010; ARCUS), Roy Stehle (SRI), Doug Kane (INE, WERC, UAF), and Chris Larsen (UAF GI).  Thank you.  The icons on the Home page are courtesy of  

This website is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Contract No. NSFDACS11C1675. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Please cite as:

Manley, W.F., Gaylord, A.G., Kassin, A., Cody, R., Vargas, S.A., Barba, M., Dover, M., Escarzaga, S., Habermann, T., Tweedie, C.E., Villarreal, S., and Whitty, N., 2018, Arctic Observing Viewer (AOV): Englewood, Colorado USA, CH2M HILL Polar Services. Digital Media.

See Also


09/2018 - The AOV Team has ramped up collaboration with NOAA across multiple fronts, with demos and progress toward inclusion of additional sites from several NOAA networks.

09/2018 - More than 200 new observing sites have been added to AOV in the latest refresh, with additional buoys and moorings across multiple networks: IABP, DBO, BGEP, NOAA NDBC, NOAA EcoFOCI, and NOAA AOP. Many of these networks are new to AOV.

08/2018 - The AOV Team has started collaboration with NEON to get all of their sites into the Viewer by harvesting from their web service.

08/2018 - The AOV Team has continued to work closely with Isaaffik on interoperability and information exchange.

07/2018 - A big update was made with additional sites for the EarthScope IRIS network.

07/2018 - The “Observatories and Stations” map layers have been greatly expanded to highlight facilities including YOPP, NEON, LTER, an all encompassing “Arctic Research Stations” layer, and a revamped “US Logistics Hubs” layer.

06/2018 – More than 1800 new observing sites have been added to AOV across multiple networks: NEON, YOPP, GLISN, GNET, EarthScope, LTER, RUSALCA, NASA ABoVE, and more.  AOV now contains almost 16,000 data collection sites with related details to better assist network planning and Arctic observing. 

06/2018 – The AOV Team participated in the Arctic Observing Summit 2018.

06/2018 – A new set of overview slides about ARMAP and AOV has been posted to the website.  Take a look!

06/2018 – To assist with sharing of project-level information, an ARMAP Data Dictionary has been released on the AOV Interoperability page, with a listing of relevant fields and their definitions, etc.  Also, the project-level ISO template XML was updated slightly.

05/2018 – Team member Ted Habermann has published an article in a special issue of the journal Geosciences about metadata interoperability, with a focus on the distributed and hierarchical metadata web services for ARMAP and AOV.

05/2018 – The AOV Team participated in the Polar Data Planning Summit.

05/2018 – The AOV Team has submitted an abstract and will present a poster at the Arctic Observing Summit 2018

05/2018 – A new and improved AOV Viewer has been launched!  In particular, the Viewer is five times faster.  Our student developers were able to harness server-side processing through .NET, overcoming speed limitations imposed by >13,000 points and enabling us to again add more networks and sites.  In addition, the Filter tool is more intuitive, and refinements were made to the Draw and Measure tools, site popups, Save Excel tool, Splash Screens, Time Slider, and Tour Slides. The old Viewer has been retired, and the new one will be officially announced after a few more tweaks.  If you haven't tried the Viewer in a while, please give it a spin.

05/2018 – After some app downtime recently, steps have been taken to avoid automated server restarts.  Apologies.  The Viewer should be more stable now.

05/2018 – The AOV Viewer displays new map layers to assist with logistics and coordination:  US Logistics Hubs, Arctic Research Stations, YOPP Supersites, GNET Stations, and GLISN Stations.

05/2018 – The observing sites in AOV are now available as public-facing web services in a variety of formats (WMS, WFS, TXT, KMZ, ArcGIS, ...) to promote open data sharing and for other organizations to incorporate in their own databases and applications.  Check out the new Web Services page and let us know what you think!

05/2018 – As a contribution toward further data sharing and interoperability within the Arctic data community, our Guide to Interoperability includes new annotated ISO XML templates as well as live use case XML's.  These documents can assist other organizations with implementation of interoperable metadata in ISO format.

04/2018 - The AOV Team, through Bill Manley, has joined the Polar Federated Search Working Group, which has a goal of improving data discovery and access across multiple data catalogs.  The Team continues to collaborate and contribute to various other efforts including IARPC, the IASC/SAON ADC, and more.

02/2018 – The AOV Team has begun collaboration with Isaaffik, an app for facilitating scientific collaboration in Greenland, including exchange of metadata records for stations and monitoring sites.

01/2018 – Robbie Score has retired.  Thank you for your dedication and innumerable contributions!!  Naomi Whitty has joined the team as our able and fearless coordinator.

12/2017 – The AOV Team presented a poster at the 2017 Fall AGU meeting.

11/2017 – Several web usability sessions were conducted with key stakeholders to provide feedback on our new prototype viewer.  Many thanks to those that participated!

11/2017 – A new prototype Viewer has been released, with much improved Search and Filter tools.  Please try it out and let us know your thoughts.