The Arctic and Northern Ocean Forum, held in Sep 2019 in Helsinki, covered updates from researchers across the world on Arctic research.
14 Aug 2020
The Arctic and Northern Ocean Forum (ANOF) was held from September 2 to 4, 2019, at the Meteorological Institute (FMI) in Helsinki, Finland.
The conference was started in 2017 by the Initiative on North and South Pole, supported by IEEE Technical Activities. The first instance of this forum was held in South Australia in 2017 and 2018, named as the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Forum.
In 2019 the event moved to the city of Helsinki, Finland. This reflects the growing importance of studying and understanding the Arctic. The Arctic is exhibiting sudden changes in response to global warming, and all the continents that were kept apart by a sea of ice are now becoming connected through waters that are now becoming more navigable . For this reason, an international forum was held to merge engineering, science and technology to address the challenges of the changing Arctic and Northern oceans. The forum is sponsored by the IEEE Oceanic Engineering society (OES), specifically the Polar Oceans Technology committee, and the Geosciences and Remote sensing society (GRSS).
Watch the full-video highlights below for a summary of the conference including technical and social sessions, and a personal take from some of the conference attendees - Dr. William Kirkwood (from MBARI) representing OES, Adrian Campos representing GRSS, and one of the authors who presented at the conference.
The ANOF held sessions on topics such as:
- Arctic ecosystems under change
- Observation technologies (including autonomous systems)
- Applied data science
- Sustained Arctic observations
It also focused on technologies to help collect and analyze data on changes in marine productivity. This was in support of the ‘Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing on the High Seas in the Central Arctic Ocean’, which was signed by nine countries and the European Union .
The sessions and conference talks were attended and delivered by researchers from different parts of the world. The conference had participants from countries such as Finland, France, Spain, Australia, China, the United States, Canada and Colombia.On the first day, the forum kicked off with lectures explaining the history of the ANOG and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Forum (ASOF), the FMI perspective, the development of autonomous underwater vehicles under ice, on-site observation technologies, and observations with autonomous vehicles in extreme environments.
On the second day, the conference sessions focused on the research on the measurement of Arctic ice,. It covered different methods such as: high-resolution microwaves and probes, observation and remote sensing techniques, observations of the polar regions by satellites, and ended with a workshop on ‘Future needs for Applied Data Science for Arctic Ecosystems Under Change’. In the evening, a special dinner was held in the city center where all the participants were able to socialize and share a good moment together.
On the third day, the sessions focusing on sustained Arctic observations were held. In addition, a workshop was held to share ideas with all the participants of the forum focused on in-situ observations and remote measurement. This ended with a panel session on ‘The Role of IEEE in the North and South Poles’, where the progress that had been made was reviewed, and objectives were established, for the following years.
International conferences and fora such as ANOF encourage free flow of ideas and research knowledge between different countries, research centers and institutions around the world, spanning academia, industry and policy-makers. This could be vital for generating ideas and projects to tackle problems that the world is facing such as climate change. Thus, the role of such initiatives by IEEE technical societies in helping humanity advance through technology should be appreciated.
 Miller, A. W., and Ruiz, G. M. (2014). "Arctic shipping and marine invaders," Nature Climate Change 4(6), 413-416, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2244.
 International Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean, Government of Canada, https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/international/arctic-arctique-eng.htm, Accessed 23 July 2020.