Report from the International Permafrost Association


H. Lantuit, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, DE-14473 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail:

Since the publication of the last International Permafrost Association (IPA) report in mid-2011, the IPA has been pursuing a wide range of initiatives outlined in the strategic plan approved by the IPA Council in June 2010.

Individual memberships have been growing steadily and more than 400 people were registered with the IPA as of August 2011. These totals are expected to rise with registration for the Tenth International Conference on Permafrost (TICOP), which will offer a reduced registration fee for IPA individual members.

The IPA has also launched the first application process for Action Groups. These will take advantage of the financial resources set aside by the IPA to support international research projects. The first application round closed in October 2011 and the successful Action Groups will be announced at the end of the year.

The IPA launched a survey of national committees at the start of 2011. The goal of this survey is to gain a comprehensive overview of the institutional ties that the committees have been maintaining with national and international institutions, and to assess the level of interest and financial support available in each member country. The results of this survey will soon be released to the IPA Council members and will serve as a platform for developing new tools to strengthen the national committees.

The IPA has also worked on improving its web presence, and on creating a modern publishing platform for its country reports. These reports are now published online in a searchable and exportable format that is referenced with an ISSN number and fully citeable. Archived reports will progressively be input into the database, but members can already access reports dating back to 1989.

The IPA welcomed two new members in 2010 and 2011. Kyrgyzstan and South Korea became the 25th and 26th members of the IPA. Kyrgyzstan has a long tradition in permafrost research, which relates to the fact that permafrost occurs within approximately 30 per cent of the country's territory and is contiguous with permafrost in Kazakhstan, China and Tajikistan. South Korea has been active in permafrost research for the past 20 years, and the inception of the Korea Polar Institute has given a boost to its community of permafrost scientists who are active in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Kyrgyzstan and South Korea will first sit at the IPA Council during the TICOP in June 2012.

Several members of the IPA were involved in writing Climate Change and the Cryosphere: Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) (Callaghan et al., ). The project aimed to synthesise the recent changes to the cryosphere, and to examine their impacts and implications for northerners and the ecosystem. SWIPA was approved by the Arctic Council in April 2008 as a follow-up to the 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. The project is coordinated by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) in cooperation with International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the World Climate Research Programme/Climate and Cryosphere project, the International Polar Year International Programme Office and the International Arctic Social Sciences Association. The permafrost chapter, with Terry Callaghan and Margareta Johansson as convening lead authors, five lead authors (Oleg Anisimov, Hanne Christiansen, Arne Instanes, Vladimir Romanovsky and Sharon Smith) and 25 contributing authors, is more than 60 pages long in the pre-production proof. The latter as well as an executive summary of the report can be accessed at

The IPA welcomed the release in April 2011 of the State of the Arctic Coast 2010 report (Forbes, 2011). This report, sponsored by the IPA, IASC, AMAP and the Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) project, was a collaborative effort by 47 lead and contributing authors from ten nations including all those bordering the Arctic coast and others with Arctic interests. It grew from a recommendation by the Workshop on Arctic Coastal Zones at Risk, convened in Tromsø, Norway in October 2007 (Forbes, 2011). The report is a milestone in the study of arctic coast. It provides the first comprehensive overview of the physical and social environment of the arctic coastal zone and puts forward recommendations for future studies. The report is available for viewing and download at and is published by Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, LOICZ International Project Office, Institute of Coastal Research, Geesthacht, Germany.

The Task Force established in June 2010 by the IPA Executive Committee to create a Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) is close to completing its task and will release its report before the end of 2011. This plan highlights the need for the GTN-P to professionalise its reporting process and to release results on the state of permafrost and the active layer on a regular basis. The first step in implementing the recommendations put forward in the plan is the organisation of a GTN-P workshop to define data user requirements which was held on 10–11 November 2011 in Potsdam, Germany. This workshop brought together stakeholders from the permafrost monitoring community, but also a wide range of users, to define the needs and formats required to make the GTN-P reporting process relevant and efficient. A document on data user requirements stemming from this workshop will be released in early 2012.

The organisation of the TICOP is now well under way. The conference will be held from 25–29 June 2012 in Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Russia. The core theme of the conference ‒ Resources and risks of permafrost areas in the changing world ‒ relates to changes in the permafrost but also evokes the increasing role of mankind in transforming mountain, arctic and subarctic environments. The conference will feature scientific sessions, plenary lectures, excursions and field trips on permafrost and a series of special events geared toward the participants. The conference will also serve as a venue for meetings of the IPA. More information on the TICOP is available on the conference website


The Permafrost Young Researchers Network (PYRN) selected a new Executive Committee in January 2011 that consists of Erin Trochim (President, University of Alaska Fairbanks), Inga May (University of Munich), Anna Wagner (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Fairbanks) and Julia Khalilova Stanislovskaya (Sergeev Institute of Environmental Geoscience, Russian Academy of Sciences). In May 2011, Li Jing from China (Chinese Academy of Science) joined the Executive Committee.

The PYRN and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists organised a joint workshop which was held on the day preceding the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in 2010. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Alaska, the International Arctic Research Center and the Arctic Research Consortium of the US. Topics such as strategies for success in academic and research careers, funding opportunities, integrating outreach activities into proposals and innovative methods of communicating results were covered by seven mentors who spent the day sharing their experiences with participants.

The three main objectives during the first half of the new Executive Committee term are the renewal of the PYRN Bylaws, planning for the upcoming TICOP in June 2012 and more active involvement of PYRN members.

PYRN participation with the TICOP began in summer 2011 with the application process for stipends and co-chairs of sessions. The PYRN plans to host a one-day workshop for early-career researchers the day prior to the conference where international and Russian colleagues will develop their professional skills under the mentorship of senior scientists. The PYRN will also be organising awards for best oral and best poster presentations during the conference.

The Executive Committee has recently adopted an additional organisational body with the creation of a Council where members are either national representatives or interested self-nominated parties. A new internal mailing list was constructed to facilitate better communication and feedback. The Council's main tasks in the near future include providing feedback on the proposed Constitution and Bylaws, assisting with improvement of the PYRN website and helping to develop a four-year planning document outlining PYRN priorities and goals.