Data & Collections

Explore Arctic publications, research, archives, artwork, and special collections through our digital service ADA: Arctic Discovery & Access

ADA: Arctic Discovery & Access

ADA: Arctic Discovery & Access is a digital educational service that provides access to scientific research publications, research projects derived from license and permit information, K–12 educational resources, data management resources for researchers, virtual exhibits, and the Arctic Institute of North America's online archives and special collections.

ADA also maintains project portals about specific regions and project partners, such as those for: 

Ada the Snowy Owl is ADA's mascot.

Ada the Snowy Owl is ADA's mascot.

Artwork by Alexandra Tremblay

North Coast of Spitzbergen, Red-Cliff Sound by Rear-Admiral Frederick William Beechey, F.R.S., P.R.G.S. (1796-1856).

AINA Collection

AINA is home to a large and unique collection of more than 60,000 items, including:

  • Books, publications, maps, and audio files 
  • Art and artefacts – paintings, sculptures, furs and Indigenous clothing
  • Photographs – more than 4000, dating from the late 1800s through the 1900s 
  • Oil, gas and engineering reports

Selections from the collection are usually on public display at the Institute (10th floor of the Earth Sciences Building, University of Calgary main campus).

Part of AINA's extensive collection has been digitized and is available through the University of Calgary's Libraries and Cultural Resources. These items can be viewed online for personal, educational and research purposes.

A selection of artworks, maps, letters, and manuscripts form the Arctic and Northern Studies digital collection, while more than 4000 photographs form the Arctic Institute of North America's Photographic Archive.

Art and Artefacts

The AINA collection consists of a wide variety of art pertaining to early and contemporary imagery of the polar regions. The major groups are listed below.

  • Maps of the northern world, including five dated prior to 1800.
  • 12 Theodore De Bry black and white engravings from the journal of Willem Barents in India Orientalis, 1599 edition.
  • 13 black and white portfolio engravings from the Russian Polar Expedition 1785-1794.
  • 10 George Back black and white engravings from his 1833-1835 Arctic Expedition, 1836.
  • 19 steel engravings from Elisha Kent Kane's narrative Arctic Explorations in the Years 1853, 54, 55, vol.1. Many by James Hamilton based on E.K. Kane's own on-the-spot sketches.
  • 6 Robert Flaherty copper plate engravings from his film Nanook of the North, 1920-1921.
  • 13 Walter W. May coloured lithographs from Series of Fourteen Sketches Made During the Voyage up Wellington Channel in Search of John Franklin, 1850-51, published 1855.
  • 8 lithographs from Edward Wilson's watercolours made on-the-spot during Robert Falcon Scott's fatal expedition to the South Pole, 1910-1912. The originals are housed at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England, published c. 1930.
  • 20 Frederick William Beechey sketch sheets with original drawings and watercolours from Arctic Expeditions 1818 and 1819-1820.
  • 200 J. Dewey Soper watercolours based on Soper's time on Baffin Island in search of the nesting grounds of the blue goose, 1923-1931. Rendered 1970s.
  • 1 Lorraine Cormac, oil, Kluane Lake, Yukon, 1995.
  • 1 Ken Christopher, oil, Vuntut National Park, 1995.
  • 1 Aaron Shikler, oil, Walter Wood: Portrait of Man in Front of Glacier, 1978.
  • 1 Artist unknown, oil, Admiral Ross, c. 1830’s.
  • Graphics from Sir George Nares' Arctic expedition, 1875-76: 10 sheets from The Arctic No. of the Graphic, 1876; 3 sheets from Harper's Weekly, 1875-76; and 9 sheets from the Illustrated London News, 1875-76.
  • 7 C.W. Jefferys' black and white book illustrations for a variety of Imperial Oil Review articles on northern exploration from 1660 - 1903.
  • 8 Ron Silvers, giclée prints, Ellesmere Island, Lincoln Sea, Kluane Lake, January 1, 2000.
  • 5 Greenland Tupilaks ivory sculptures. C. 1930’s.
  • 95 Russian bone and ivory carvings depicting traditional northern subjects, such as aboriginal peoples, reindeer and dog sledging, 1960s.
  • 13 Inuit hand embroidered tapestry chairs.

Sketch by Rear-Admiral Frederick William Beechey, F.R.S., P.R.G.S. (1796-1856), "The Expedition Driven into the Ice, July 30th, 1818".

Watercolour and ink painting by J. Dewey Soper, "A Huge Iceberg Lying at the Entrance of Cumberland Sound, 1923".

Map by Cartographer Gerard Mercator, dated [1595-1699?], "Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio".


Since its creation, the Arctic Institute has published many books on the North. These reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the Institute, which is mandated to collect and disseminate information from the natural and social sciences and humanities.


The DCASS: Documents on Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security series was created to disseminate core documents on Canadian Arctic sovereignty and security for use by the academic community, students, and policy makers.

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Northern Lights Series

The Northern Lights Series publishes works of a nontechnical nature from all areas of northern scholarship.

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Annual Reports

Every year AINA publishes a report of its activities. 

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Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability

Founded in 2015, the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability (CCADI) is a collaboration among Canadian Arctic data centres with the common goal of providing ethically open, accessible, and comprehensive digital resources to the broadest possible audience of data users. 

In 2018, CCADI received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to develop an Arctic Research Data Infrastructure (ARDI). The ARDI is an integrated Canadian Arctic data management system that facilitates information discovery, establishes sharing standards, enables interoperability among existing data infrastructures, and that is co-designed with, and accessible to, a broad user base.

CCADI logo


In 2014, the Arctic Institute of North America and the University of Calgary’s Department of Geomatics Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering received funding from CANARIE to launch ArcticConnect, a network-enabled platform for realizing geospatial referencing of information about the arctic system derived from research, education, and private sector activities in the arctic and subarctic.

Launching to the public in mid-2015, ArcticConnect is an innovative platform for Arctic research and information sharing. ArcticConnect captures biological, ecological, technological, and social data at multiple scales generated from a host of sensors, from human observers, from field experiments and research stations, from satellites and from publications, reports, photographs and even artwork. It enables networking and interoperability of disparate datasets, and makes information available across multiple applications and devices.