The Arctic Ocean's role in global climate—while now widely appreciated—remains poorly understood. Lack of information about key processes within the oceanic, cryospheric, biologic, atmospheric, and geologic disciplines will continue to impede physical understanding, model validation, and climate prediction until a practical observing system is designed and implemented.
A review of recently observed changes in the physical and biological state of the Arctic and a justification for future Arctic observations are contained in the supporting document of the U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) “Study of Environmental Arctic Change” program (SEARCH, http://psc.apl.washington.edu/search/). Comparable Arctic study programs have been conceived as an international contribution to the proposed International Polar Year 2007–2008 (http://www.aosb.org/ipyhtml). Future directions in instrument development for Arctic studies were also considered at a workshop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in October 2002 (http://www.mbari.org/rd/ArcticInstrumentationWorkshop).