Synoptic Arctic Survey 2020-2022

During August-September 2021, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat plans to conduct the Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS) expedition in the Arctic Ocean with the Swedish icebreaker Oden. It is part of an international expedition where Oden is one of twelve research vessels that will map the Arctic Ocean in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The researchers’ coordinated field efforts are made to study the status and change of the Arctic ecosystem. Together, the measurements will lead to a better understanding of how variations in the Arctic Ocean are interconnected, how the carbon and ecosystems respond to climate change, and how chemical and biological disturbances in one region can spread to another. When scientific studies are conducted across several Arctic regions simultaneously, researchers can gain an understanding of the systems’ basic structures and functions.


The SAS is organized around three major research areas: (1) Physical drivers of importance to the ecosystem and carbon cycle, (2) the ecosystem response, and (3) the carbon cycle and ocean acidification.
The effort is focused on a single, overarching question: What are the present state and major ongoing transformations of the Arctic marine system?

More information about the international Synoptic Arctic Survey, and the science and implementation plan, can be found here:

The rationale behind the expedition

The Arctic is the part of our planet that is currently most affected by global warming, which makes it an important region to map. Changes in the Arctic will affect humans, animals and plants in the area, but it will also affect our entire planet. The Arctic Ocean is the least studied ocean at the same time as it is of great importance for the Earth’s climate.

SAS will enable both theoretical and quantified forecasts by the researchers modeling physical, biological and chemical data. This will form an important basis in future climate models and an increased understanding of currently relatively unknown processes in an Arctic that is constantly changing. The data collected under SAS will provide a unique point of reference that will allow researchers to track climate change and its effects in the Arctic in the coming years, decades and centuries. Both future generations of polar researchers and decision-makers will benefit from such a point of reference.

Time plan

The expedition with the icebreaker Oden will be tentatively completed for six weeks between the end of July 2021 and the beginning of September 2021.

Expedition route

The map shows the planned survey area for Oden’s part of the Synoptic Arctic Survey expedition with eight stages (leg 1-8).

SAS cruise plan map

Research participants

The Swedish SAS program consists of 16 different research projects (work packages) where all projects contribute to different parts of the international SAS program. A total of 39 researchers will be on board Oden, in addition, a number of land-based researchers will participate in the project. Maria Samuelsson,, will be the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat’s expedition leader on board.

Chief Scientist

Pauline Snoeijs Leijonmalm, Professor in Marine Ecology at Stockholm University., phone: +46 8 16 42 46.


Last modified: 16 September 2020