Science Themes 2024

At Arctic Frontiers 2024: Actions & Reactions, there will be seven science themes. These represent the latest developments in Arctic research and span the physical and social sciences, as well as technological developments and innovative methods.

Each theme is co-organised by a session committee and led by scientists from our partner organisations. The call for abstracts will be open from 1. August to 25. September 2023. 

Two men stand beside a scientific poster. The photo is shot from behind them. The man on the left points at something on the poster.

The Arctic’s most sensitive climate indicator is the sea ice cover, and while older ice is disappearing, even conservative forecasts show residual patches remaining at the end of summer. These represent the greatest hazard to maritime activity when incorporated into the seasonal refreeze.


For an increase in maritime activities to be sustainable in an environmentally safe and green way, timely and reliable weather, ice, and oceanographic forecasts and information are needed at spatial and temporal scales that support all types of users. Monitoring and modelling must be sufficiently detailed so that specific features can be tracked, and processes better understood which will allow for early warning systems for maritime activity. All these aspects require improved satellite observations and other remote sensing observations of the cryosphere. To achieve this, in situ observations, both in and on the ocean, coupled with digital twin-like simulations, are required.


Collaboration between maritime actors, indigenous peoples and research is needed to maximize ground truth availability. Additionally, good communication of the monitoring is required, and how it links to mid-latitude [meteorological] events, to ensure that reactions to the need for improved Arctic monitoring are able to translate into policy-related actions. This session highlights the importance of understanding user needs in order to ensure that our monitoring and forecasting capabilities remain relevant and effective in addressing future Arctic maritime challenges.


Abstracts including the following aspects are recommended for this session:

  • Innovations and research developments in shipping, transport and maritime activities
  • Industry applications and developments in sustainable maritime developments
  • Modelling and observations of sea-ice and maritime events (oil spills, ship tracking etc)
  • Forecasting and modelling weather and sea-ice interactions
  • Search and rescue policies, developments and research applications
A cruise ship in the background, floating in a fjord. In the foreground, a hut with snow on the roof and sea ice in the fjord.

Session Committee:

  • William Copeland, Meteorological Institute of Norway
  • Benjamin Strong, Arctic Council Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Search and Rescue Expert Group
  • Penny Wagner, Meteorological Institute of Norway
  • Malin Johansson, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø (UiT)
  • Ed Blockley, UK Met Office
  • Martin Skedsmo, KSAT
sea ice and ice bergs float in a dark blue ocean. Cloudy sky above.

Session Committee:

  • Laura de Steur, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Sebastian Gerland, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Are Olsen, University of Bergen
  • Katrine Husum, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Agnieszka Beszczynska-Moeller, Institute of Oceanology of Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN)
  • Signe Aaboe, Meteorological Institute of Norway
  • Agneta Fransson, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Pauline Snoeijs Leijonmalm, Stockholm University
  • Gunnar Spreen, University of Bremen

Ocean and sea ice are two key components of the Arctic system. They are intricately linked with each other, and to other processes in the Arctic and beyond. Climate change is warming the Earth, which is leading to amplified atmospheric temperature increase, sea-ice retreat, surface albedo changes, increased glacier loss, altered CO2 uptake, ocean acidification, and changes in ocean and atmosphere circulation and changes in nutrient content and ecosystems.

Observations from in-situ measurements, remote sensing, and marine geological archives reveal the existence of changes from regional to pan-Arctic scales, and from interannual to centennial scales. In order to enable decision makers to prepare sufficient actions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, it is crucial to quantify how climate change has developed during modern (i.e. last decades) and historic times across temporal and spatial scales, and how changes in different parts of the system affect and interact with each other – both geographically and component-wise. 

This session invites contributions on observed interactions and changes in the Arctic Ocean and Arctic cryosphere from all observational platforms.

We welcome contributions on:

  • physical, chemical, biogeochemical and biological aspects
  • impacts and interconnectivity
  • uncertainties and needs for filling existing data- and knowledge gaps
  • presentations on recent developments in remote sensing, airborne surveys, autonomous setups (e.g. buoys) and in-situ observations

There is an ongoing debate regarding the potential of citizen participation and co-creation in climate mitigation and green transition in industries and public sectors. This development is partly driven by researchers but also international organizations, like OECD, promote experiments for inclusion and participation of citizens.

Climate change, the green transition debate fuelling resource extraction and nature protection challenges spur new debates on the strength of the democratic institutions. Existing democratic institutions are challenged from different angles, among other from techno-managerial environmentalism (Fischer 2017). Involvement of all citizens to decision-making, planning and other societal activities is nowadays recognized as an important part of democracy. The Arctic has its own specific challenges in this regard related to long distances and sparse population but also to the fact that the decisions concerning Arctic are often made outside the area.

Another aspect is the well-known confrontation between participative, action-oriented initiatives and the institutions of the representative democracy. In the wake of these challenges and debates, new forms and new perspectives on participation develop. There is a need to understand how different arrangements work and why they fail, particularly in the Arctic context with dramatic effects of climate change and a need for swift transition to renewable energy.

In this session we invite presentations that bring new experiences regarding participation connected to climate mitigation, climate adaptation, green energy and protection vs industrial development. The experiences may come in the form of empirical findings on participation within the themes sketched above, or in the form of theoretical perspectives on participation related to them. Specifics may include the Public Participation Geographic Information System (PPGIS) for land-use planning, the Social License to Operate and negotiation tools such as JUSTscore, as well as DPSIR to foster participation in environmental assessments. The session will present the development work of these innovations and invites presentations of other developments in participation.  

Wooden colourful shops on tromsø high street during a cloudy wet day. People walking past.

Session Committee:

  • Torill Nyseth, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Vigdis Nygaard, NORCE
  • Corine Wood-Donnelly, Nord University
  • Toyah Rodhouse, Technical University of Delft
  • Toril Ringholm, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Katrine Eriksen, NOFIMA
  • Helge Flick, NORCE
  • Tanja Joona, University of Lapland
Colourful fish and seaweed interacting on the sea floor.

Session Committee:

  • Igor Eulaers, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Katherine Dunlop, Institute for Marine Research
  • Lis Jørgensen, Institute for Marine Research
  • Malin Johansen, Norwegian Polar Institute

Ecosystem Health is a concept for the management of natural resources, which integrates natural habitat conditions with the impacts of anthropogenic activities. It is a fast-growing concept intersecting science and management and aims to support management systems at international and national levels of governance to provide a framework for knowledge- and system-based decision-making, and a tool for adaptive management.
Arctic coasts and oceans and their natural resources are facing pressure from multiple human activities in addition to climate change, while green transition and nature conservation goals have been set to achieve sustainable development and conserve biodiversity.

Achieving these sustainable development goals requires new scientific approaches to add to current methods of assessing singular pressures on individual ecosystem components and deliver management advice on an integrated holistic understanding of the ecosystem’s condition. Moreover, there is growing interest in using indicators for Ecosystem Health that both accommodate science and management concepts. Indicators include the Ecosystem Approach, the Precautionary Approach, Ecosystem Goods and Services, Human Wellbeing, Good Ecological Status and Sustainable Development Goals.

This session aims to describe the current state of the Ecosystem Health concept to support adaptive management and sustainable development of marine and coastal Arctic ecosystems. We welcome contributions on the understanding of singular and cumulative human pressures and impacts on marine and coastal Arctic ecosystems. Also approaches and studies that lead to management measures that improve co-existence between human activities and nature conservation, integrated ecosystem monitoring and assessment strategies and Ecosystem Health indicators.

There are urgent needs to push for interrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3 – Health and Wellbeing, SDG-7 Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG-11 Sustainable communities; SDG-13 Climate Actions). The science community must contribute to improving environmental quality, health and wellbeing, zero emission and clean energy goals. Smart cities must ensure environmentally sustainable lives for everyone. The Arctic region is vulnerable and under pressure of amplified and accelerated climate change, and therefore smart city actions here are urgent. To be able to achieve the SDGs, we need a fundamental rethink of our environment, society, economy and behaviour.

Energy, environmental quality, and the people’s wellbeing nexus is in focus in many parts of the world. Important issues are related to energy security, the cost of energy, and the access to renewable forms of energy which may affect people’s livelihood and cultural values. Energy sources can also affect our health and wellbeing and the climate through air pollution and urban heat islands amongst others. There is a need to assess renewable energy resources and approaches and their impacts on the health and wellbeing of the people, the built and the natural environments.

This session aims to support and promote health and wellbeing and smart energy solutions through novel technological solutions and digital technologies. Innovative technologies to gather data about renewable energy resources, e.g. such as the use of satellite remote sensing, and to analyse, visualise and understand the data are of interest to this session. Similarly, emerging technologies such as Digital Twins and Extended Reality are seen as promising solutions to facilitate proactive action towards sustainable futures. The session will focus on the intersection across the thematic areas: health and wellbeing, smart energy solutions, the built environment and digital technologies.

 This session aims to contribute to initiating and promoting inter-disciplinary discussions, to motivate and engage all stakeholders that can contribute to better health and wellbeing and smart energy solutions in the Arctic region.

Satellite image of earth during the night. Light pollution in the cities is highlighted in yellow colour.

Session Committee:

  • Igor Ezau, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø (UiT)
  • Sobah Abbas Petersen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • Lasse H. Pettersson, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre (NERSC)
  • Alexander Mahura, University of Helsinki
  • Vera Kuklina, George Washington University
  • Alenka Temeljotov-Salaj, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • Monica Lillefjell, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • Ruca Elisa Katrin Maass, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
A finger reaches to touch a spinning atom

Session Committee:

  • Rune Storvold, NORCE
  • Eirik Malnes, NORCE
  • Katalin Blix, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø (UiT)
  • Hanne H. Christiansen, The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
  • Jan Rene Larsen, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) & Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) Working Groups
  • Ryan Weber, NORCE
  • Lauren Decker, PolArctic LLC

There is a great opportunity to develop and apply innovative solutions to observe, model and communicate environmental changes in the Arctic. These solutions can provide a clearer and more open understanding of physical climate impacts and the consequential impacts on societies, economies, and the environment.

Much of the work in this field centres around the concept of Digital Twins, which are virtual representations of a real-world system. A fully functional Digital Twin of the Arctic can provide consistent, high resolution, and near real-time description of the physical, chemical, biological, and socio-economical dimensions influencing climate change in the Arctic. What´s more, advancements in AI, machine learning and supercomputing mean that continuous real-time data fed by sensors can be coupled with historical observations and advanced modelling to provide future scenarios of the Arctic environment. This will provide an entirely new platform for designing the most effective ways to restore and protect the Arctic while also taking advantage of green and blue development opportunities.

This session will build off of a number of exciting Digital Twin initiatives relating to climate and environmental research, including the European Digital Twin of the Ocean, the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS) and the Future Polar Ocean Initiative. We will explore AI-driven innovations – and innovation gaps – relating to the Arctic observation and modelling processes and the impacts this can have on a research and innovation value chain:

  • How to evolve from existing legacy observation practices (e.g. aircraft, vessels) to improve the efficiency of observation processes 
  • How to best make use of new technologies 
  • Collecting and processing of observations in real time. 
  • Optimising data and modelling through AI-driven optimisation loops 
  • Developing a scalable pilot for a Digital Twin of the Arctic 

This session welcomes contributions from researchers, engineers, industry experts and policy makers on data collection, use and innovation.

One of the most evident consequences of long-term climate warming is the retreat of glaciers. Almost all glaciers in the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas are retreating, and the ice sheet of both Greenland and Antarctica is melting at a record rate. While the consequences of retreating glaciers and ice sheets on sea-level rise are well-known, the impact on coastal hydrography, the marine carbon cycle and ecosystem structure has only relatively recently emerged. Run-off from glaciers delivers large amounts of meltwater and associated dissolved and particulate constituents to fjords and coastal areas during the melt season. In glacial fjords, this modulates circulation patterns, light regime, biogeochemical cycling of e.g. nutrients and contaminants with subsequent consequences for fjord productivity and ecosystem structure. As fjords and coastal waters are among the most productive in the Arctic, this has important management implications because they provide valuable ecosystem services based on food webs supporting top trophic levels with associated tourism industry, fisheries and indigenous livelihoods and play an important role for carbon sequestration.

This session welcomes abstracts focusing on:

  • The impacts of ongoing glacier retreat on functioning of Arctic fjords and coastal areas,
  • observations of glacier retreat at the coasts and margins of ice sheets,
  • interdisciplinary research addressing cryosphere-ocean interactions,
  • biogeochemical cycling across the glacier-fjord interface,
  • marine ecosystem responses from microbes to top trophic levels,
  • observational, experimental and modelling studies,
  • polar comparisons with similar systems (i.e. fjords and coastal areas) in Antarctica, Patagonia and other glacierised areas.
Two glaciers meet a fjord. Cloudy skies with sunshine.

Session Committee:

  • Philipp Assmy, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Haakon Hop, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Laura Halbach, Aarhus University
  • Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Jemma Wadham, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Pedro Duarte, Norwegian Polar Institute

What next?

On August 1st, you can submit an abstract to a session(s) of interest. The deadline for this is September 15th. Once this has been submitted, your abstract will be reviewed by the session committee members. You will be informed of the outcome in October.

A female scientist stands in front of her poster talking to two people about her work.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a short description of what you will present at the conference. It should include the motivation of your study – why are you asking the scientific question? Some background information about your study location, method or results can put it into context. Are you investigating glaciers in Greenland? Why? Is it because of sea level rise, freshwater input to the ocean, or loss of clean water? You should let the audience know why your science is necessary.

You should include key results and conclusions in your abstract. Abstracts are normally submitted a few months ahead of the conference, which means you may not yet have your results. Don’t worry, you can include the likely conclusions or outcome of your study, as well as any preliminary results. If your work focuses more on method development or a new technology or technique, then you should describe why it is needed and what it will achieve.

Abstracts are roughly 2-3 paragraphs and a maximum of 500 words for the Arctic Frontiers 2024 conference. If you are from industry or applied science and technology and haven’t written an abstract before, don’t panic. It is important that you make it clear to the session committee what you will talk about and why you fit into their session. The abstract will be reviewed by the session committees, and you will be informed whether you have been assigned an oral or poster presentation. In very few cases, your abstract may be rejected or moved to a different session if it doesn’t fit into the session you chose. 

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