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. 

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.

To increase sustainable maritime activities, timely and reliable weather, ice, and oceanographic forecasts are required. Collaboration between maritime actors, indigenous peoples and research is needed to maximize ground truth availability. Additionally, good communication ensures that the need for improved Arctic monitoring can translate into policy-related actions.

This session highlights the importance of understanding user needs to ensure that monitoring and forecasting capabilities remain relevant and effective in addressing future Arctic maritime challenges.


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.

Photo Credit: Vidar Nordli Mathisen,

Session Committee:

  • William Copeland, Meteorological Institute of Norway
  • Benjamin Strong, Arctic Council Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Search and Rescue Expert Group (EPPR)
  • 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.

Photo Credit: Willian Justen de Vasconello,

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

The Arctic Ocean, sea ice and atmosphere are intricately linked with each other, and to other processes in the Arctic. Climate change is leading to amplified atmospheric temperature increase, sea-ice retreat, surface albedo changes, increased glacier loss, altered CO2 uptake, ocean acidification, 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 discusses interactions and changes in the Arctic Ocean and Arctic cryosphere, with a focus on observation systems.

Climate change, the green transition debate fuelling resource extraction and nature protection challenges spur new discussions on the strength of the democratic institutions. 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. 

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.

In this session discussions will focus on new experiences regarding participation connected to climate mitigation, climate adaptation, green energy and protection vs industrial development. 

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

Photo Credit: Chris Yucb,

Session Committee:

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

Photo Credit: Erling Svensen

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 which aims to support management systems at international and national levels of governance to provide a framework for decision-making.

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 needs new methods of assessing multiple pressures on ecosystem components and deliver management advice on an integrated holistic understanding of the ecosystem’s condition. 

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. 

Important issues in the Arctic 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.

We need to assess renewable energy resources and their impacts on the health and wellbeing of the people, the built and the natural environments of the Arctic.

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.


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

Photo Credit: NASA

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

Photo Credit: iStock

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.

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.

Furthermore, advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and supercomputing 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 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.

Almost all glaciers in the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas are retreating, and the ice sheets of both Greenland and Antarctica are melting at a record rate. The impacts of retreating glaciers on coastal hydrography, the marine carbon cycle and ecosystem structure have only recently emerged.

Run-off from glaciers delivers large amounts of meltwater and associated dissolved and particulate constituents to coastal areas. In glacial fjords, this modulates circulation patterns, light regime and biogeochemical cycling which has consequences for the 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. This session will focus on the interactions between retreating glaciers and fjord and coastal processes.

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 (UiT)
  • Pedro Duarte, Norwegian Polar Institute

What next?

The abstract submission period is now closed. Your abstract is being reviewed by the session committee members. You will be informed of the outcome in late 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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