The Arctic Observing Summit 2013 (AOS) is the first in a planned series of high-level, biennial international meetings that aims to provide science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long-term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic environmental observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing, including cooperative science and technology. It will foster international communicatio n and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be a forum for optimizing resource allocation and developing long-term relationships that will facilitate coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in arctic observing activities. The AOS will identify observing network issues that require the attention of the Arctic Council Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON ) initiative. The AOS will enable the US Navy to develop and maintain connections within the international scientific community in key areas of interest, including technology development, domain awareness and predictability of the Arctic ocean-ice-atmosph ere system.