50th Anniversary of the First International Conference on Permafrost

Brown_PPP_2013_logo_page_Page_1The year 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the First International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP), held at Purdue University’s School of Civil Engineering in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, 11–15 November 1963. The conference was a historic event in that it brought together, for the first time, leading researchers and practitioners from North America and other countries with diverse interests and activities in the study and applications of perennially frozen ground, cold regions engineering and related laboratory investigations. Some 285 registered engineers, researchers, manufacturers and builders participated representing Argentina, Austria, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Norway, Poland, Sweden,Switzerland, the USA and the USSR. This was the first post-World War II major contact with a group of senior Soviet frozen ground researchers. The Proceedings is considered to be the first multi-national, English-language collection of papers devoted entirely to permafrost topics. Since 1963, nine additional international conferences have been held: two more in the United States (Fairbanks 1983, 2008), two in the Soviet Union and Russia (Yakutsk 1973, Salekhard 2012), two in Canada (Edmonton 1978, Yellow-knife 1998), and one in Trondheim, Norway (1988), Beijing, China (1993), and Zurich, Switzerland (2003). The International Permafrost Association (IPA) was formed in 1983 and subsequent conferences were under the IPA auspices.

Jerry Brown, Past IPA President (2003-2008), wrote a Guest Editorial in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes that can be downloaded here: PDF (377 KB) and together with Julia Stanilovskaya a chapter in the book "Engineering Geology for Society and Territory – Volume 7; Education, Professional Ethics and Public Recognition of Engineering Geology" that can be downloaded here: PDF (376 KB).

25th Anniversary of the IPA

IPA Booklet cover

The Booklet on the 25 years of the International Permafrost Association entitled "International Permafrost Association:History and Accomplishments, 1983–2008" was published for the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost (NICOP) and is available as a pdf file:

IPA 25th Anniversary Booklet (14.4 MB)

The following text is an excerpt from  this booklet. This text was compiled by:


  • Jerry Brown, Past President, International Permafrost Association,Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA
  • Hugh French, Professor Emeritus, Departments of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada and Past President, International Permafrost Association


The First International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP), held at Purdue University, Indiana, in 1963, was an initiative to promote communication and understanding between Soviet and North American permafrost scientists and engineers. This was the first major contact between Russian and western scientists (Brown and Walker 2007). The Second ICOP was held in Yakutsk, Siberia, in 1973, where it was mutually agreed that further conferences would be advantageous to all concerned. At the Third ICOP in Edmonton, Canada, in 1978, the desirability of establishing an organizational structure that would ensure the continuation of these conferences was discussed. Accordingly, the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC), through its Bureau of International Relations and the Division of Building Research (DBR), established a task force in 1981 to draft a set of organizational rules. This was chaired by Lorne Gold, Head of the DBR, NRCC, and the members were Fred Roots, Science Advisor, Environment Canada, John Fyles, Head of the Division of Terrain Sciences, Geological Survey of Canada, and Hugh French, Chairman, Permafrost Subcommittee, and the NRCC Associate Committee on Geotechnical Research (ACGR). Representatives of the Bureau of International Relations, NRCC, provided advice at meetings of the group.

At the Fourth ICOP in 1983, held at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska, Hugh French, leader of the Canadian delegation, convened a special meeting of the leaders of the official delegations from the USA, USSR and China. Professor Troy L. Péwé (USA), Academician P. I. Melnikov (USSR), and Professor Shi Yafeng (China) attended this meeting together with advisors. Unofficially, these four countries subsequently became known as the ‘Big Four’. It was agreed to form an international association.

The primary mandate of the newly-formed Association was to organize and promote international conferences on permafrost at regular five-year intervals. A secondary role was to encourage and facilitate the international exchange of scientific information among permafrost scientists and engineers. Three of the first acts of the Association in Fairbanks were to: (1) modify the constitution to allow for a Second Vice-President, and (2) appoint a Nominations Committee in order to allow a new Executive to be elected at the 1988 Conference, and (3) plan to seek affiliation with other international scientific bodies. The Executive Committee consisted of Academician Melnikov, President, Professor Péwé, Vice-President, and Professor J. Ross Mackay, Secretary-General. The terms of office were for five years. Dr. Kaare Flaate (Norway) was elected to the Executive Committee as a second Vice-President and Norway agreed to host the Fifth ICOP in Trondheim in 1988.

The agreement to form the Association was announced at the closing ceremony. The creation of the IPA Council was also announced and countries wishing to join the Association were asked to name an organization or representative. It was clear that, in addition to four founding members, a number of other countries were interested in becoming members of the IPA. The Council was to meet at regular intervals, minimally at the beginning and end of each international conference on permafrost. The NRCC, through its Bureau of International Relations, had agreed to provide funding to support the activities of the Secretary-General.

The detailed history of the IPA is chronicled in its News Bulletin Frozen Ground, which started as informal notes by the Secretary General in 1986, and became a formal publication starting in 1989. All 35 issues are found on the IPA web site www.ipa-permafrost.org. Hereafter, specific issues of Frozen Ground are cross referenced, for example as [FG 30]. The following sections report on the development and accomplishments of the Association and is largely based on the paper in the NICOP proceedings (Brown, French and Cheng 2008). We present both administrative details and some of the major accomplishments of the IPA since its formation in 1983.

Administrative Activities

{moshide hidden [Council, Executive Committee and Secretariat]|[Council, Executive Committee and Secretariat]}

Membership on Council is through adhering national or multinational organizations as full voting members or as non-voting associates or individuals in countries where no Adhering Body exists. The IPA is governed by its Council and elected Executive Committee officers. Membership on past and current Executive Committees is presented in the table on the page referring to IPA officers. The Council currently consists of representatives from 26 Adhering Bodies having an interest in any aspect of theoretical, basic and applied frozen ground research, including permafrost, seasonal frost, artificial freezing and periglacial phenomena. The first Council meeting was in 1987 in Ottawa, Canada, during the XII International Union of Quaternary Research (INQUA) Congress. Subsequent meetings took place at each ICOP and at several other international conferences. Attendance at the first Council meeting on August 5, 1987, included 15 Adhering Bodies together with representatives from France (joined 1988) and Sweden (joined 1990) as observers. Other members soon followed: Denmark (1989), Spain and Southern Africa (1993), Mongolia and Kazakhstan (1995), Austria (1998), Iceland (2003) and New Zealand (2005). Portugal and Romania were approved as members in 2008. In 2011 South Korea and Kyrgyzstan joint the IPA as full adhering bodies.

The Constitution and By-laws were adopted at the first Council meeting. Since then, six modifications were approved (December 1992, June 1998, March 2003, June 2005, May 2006, and June 2010). These largely involved membership and working party activities.

The Council elects the Executive Committee through a formal nomination process, approves the formation and review activities of Committees, Working Groups, and Task Forces. It also approves the venue for each ICOP. Each National Adhering Body pays an annual membership fee established by Council.

Starting in 1990, the Council issued a series of recommendations that include specific activities and topics of international scope (see summaries in Council meeting reports in Frozen Ground). These included statements on mapping, long-term monitoring, modeling, climate change, data acquisition and archiving, terminology, coordination with other international organizations and programs including both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, and mid- and low-latitude mountains and plateau regions.

The Executive Committee was elected by the Council every five years. Starting in 2008 the terms are for four years and the officers are selected by the members of the Committee. Although members do not represent their own country, the four countries with significant areas of permafrost have always been represented on the Committee. A representative from the forthcoming international conference is also a member. A geographic and disciplinary balance of membership is also maintained. The first formal meeting of the Executive Committee took place in Oslo in September 1985 and it has met formally over 35 times.

The Secretary General first resided at the University of British Columbia, Canada (J. Ross Mackay, 1983-1993) and then in Washington DC, USA (Jerry Brown, 1993-1999). In 1998 the position of Secretary General was replaced by a Secretariat. This was initially located at the Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1999-2001) and then resided at the University Centre on Svalbard (UNIS), Norway (2001-2008). Hanne H. Christiansen was responsible for the Secretariat during that latter period. In all locations, national research agencies and/or institutions have provided financial and in-kind support. Major responsibilities include preparation and distribution of Frozen Ground, maintenance of the IPA webpage, coordination of administrative, Executive Committee and Council affairs, and international representation. The Secretariat is now located at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany) and was led during the last four years by Hugues Lantuit. Based on a new structure of the IPA in 2010 the Secretariat will be strengthened to take on more responsibilities in the management of the association and the secretariat leader became the title of Executive Director. Since 2012 Inga May is holding this position. The IPA web was hosted by the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo and now resides at the Secretariat location, in a cooperation with the Arctic Portal (Iceland).


{moshide hidden [International affiliations]|[International affiliations]}

The IPA became an Affiliated Organization of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) in July 1989. IPA provides an annual report to IUGS and participates in the International Geological Congress every four years. In 1996 the IPA and the International Geographical Union (IGU) signed an agreement that formalized a joint Periglacial Commission. This agreement recognized the long-time relationships between periglacial and permafrost researchers, the foundations of which have been recorded in the pages of the Polish journal Builetyn Peryglacjalny. The IGU-IPA agreement was modified in 2004 with the formation of the new Commission on Cold Regions Environments.

Agreements also exist to share joint working groups, committees, or projects with the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS), the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). A joint Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the two latter organisations (March 2009). A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2004 between IPA and the World Climate Research Programme project ‘Climate and Cryosphere’ (CliC). Although no formal agreement exists with the International Union of Quaternary Research (INQUA), close working relations are maintained with the Quaternary communities. Similarly, ties are maintained with the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and the recently formed International Association of Cryospheric Sciences. In 2012 a MoU with the Association of Polar Earlier Career Scientist (APECS) and the Permafost Young Researchers Network (PYRN) was signed as well as with the Univserity of the Arctic (UaA). The IPA also closely collaborate with International Association of Engineering Geologists (IAEG). The common task force groups work in structures of IPA and IAEG. They are focused on the problems of Engineering geology of permafrost regions.


Technical Activities

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Starting in 1983, the International Permafrost Association assumed responsibility for scheduling the ICOP meetings at five-year intervals. A written invitation for the proposed conference is required for IPA Council approval. The out-going and in-coming IPA Presidents formally convenes the opening and closing sessions of each conference, respectively. In 1998 an International Advisory Committee for ICOP was formed to facilitate continuity in the planning of conferences. The host country is responsible for the financial support, technical organization, and publications. Field trips in or to permafrost areas are required as part of the program. The host country is responsible for the organization and financing of the conferences. The tenth international conferences to date have been held in seven countries.

Over the span of these forty years approximately 3000 individuals from 35 countries have participated in the ten conferences. Short reports on each conference, including numbers of attendees, papers in proceedings, field trips, and related publications for the first eight conferences are presented in the online booklet and in Brown and Walker (2007). A CD containing more than 2000 papers from the nine conferences was distributed at the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost and available online here. In addition a honor roll, provided by Jerry Brown, listing all participants who attended conference one - nine can be found here.

From 2008 onwards, conferences will take place on a four-year cycle with an official intervening regional conference. During the Eighth ICOP, the Troy L. Péwé Award was established to recognize the best presentation by a young researcher. Starting in 2008 a second award is presented in honor of P.I. Melnikov for the best engineering report. Additional awards are presented annually at national and regional conferences by the recently organized Permafrost Young Researchers Network (PYRN).

The IPA has also sponsored a number of regional permafrost conferences. These include the Fourth Canadian Permafrost Conference (Québec, 1990), three European permafrost conferences (Rome, 2001; Potsdam, 2005; Longyearbyen, 2010) and the First Asian Conference on Permafrost (Lanzhou, 2006). In addition, the annual Russian geocryology conferences (e.g. Pushchino; Tyumen, Salekhard), and several cryopedology and soils meetings (e.g. Copenhagen, Syktyvkar, Madison, Arkhangelsk) have been sponsored by the IPA.

Workshops also play an important role in implementing IPA-related projects. The following are the major such meetings; results are reported in Frozen Ground:

  • November 1994: Oslo, Norway, GGD data workshop
  • December 1995, Hanover, New Hampshire, International workshop on processes and ability to detect change
  • August 1997: Bologna, Italy, 4th IAG M-4: Mountain permafrost and monitoring
  • November 1999: Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • October 2000: St. Petersburg, Russia, Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • 2000: Fairbanks, Alaska, International workshop on permafrost monitoring and databases
  • September 2001: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, International symposium on mountain and arid land permafrost
  • November 2001: Potsdam, Germany, Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • November 2002: Lewes, Delaware, CALM workshop
  • December 2002: Oslo, Norway, 3rd Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • November 2003: St. Petersburg, Russia, 4th Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • October 2004: Montreal, Canada, 5th Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • September 2004: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, PACE21 workshop
  • November 2004: Madison, Wisconsin, Antarctic workshop
  • August 2006: Lanzhou, China, Asian permafrost mapping workshop
  • October 2006: Groningen, Netherlands, 6th Arctic Coastal Dynamics workshop
  • August 2007: Santa Barbara, California, Antarctic workshop
  • October 2008: Abisko, Sweden, workshop on permafrost and Climate
  • June 2009: Stockholm, Sweden,workshop on Carbon Pools in Permafrost Regions
  • November 2009: Vienna, Austria, workshop on glacier and permafrost hazards
  • November 2010: Potsdam, Germany; MicroPerm workshop
  • November 2011: Potsdam, Germany; GTN-P workshop


{moshide hidden [Working Parties]|[Working Parties]}

Since 1988 many of the IPA activities between conferences have been undertaken by committees, working groups and task forces (collectively referred to as working parties). Annual reports of working parties are published in Frozen Ground and archived on the IPA website. At the 1988 Council meeting in Trondheim, three standing committees and six working groups were established:

Standing Committees: Advisory Committee on Working Groups; Editorial Committee; Finance Committee

Working Groups: Mountain Permafrost; Permafrost Terminology; Foundations; Present Global Change and Permafrost; Periglacial Environments; Permafrost Data

New working groups were added and some goals modified
prior to or at the 1993 Council meeting:

Cryosols; Seasonal Freezing and Thawing of Permafrost Areas; Periglacial Processes and Environments

During the intervening years and at the 1998 Yellowknife Council meetings, major revisions were made to theorganization of working parties. New guidelines were developed and included the formation of task forces [see FG 22].

Standing Committees: Data, Information, and Communication; International Advisory Committee for International Permafrost Conferences

Working Groups (added or changed scope): Global Change and Permafrost; Southern Hemisphere Permafrost and Periglacial; Environments
Coastal and Offshore Permafrost

Task Forces: Rock Glacier Dynamics; Mapping and Distribution Modelling of Mountain Permafrost; Isotope/Geochemisty of Permafrost

During the 2003 Council meeting several task forces became working groups and existing working groups were redefined. A total of ten working groups, several with subgroups, are presently active and are joint with other international organizations:

Standing Committees
Data, Information and Communication; International Advisory Committee for International Permafrost Conferences

Working Groups

Antarctic Permafrost and Periglacial Environments (SCAR); Coastal and Offshore Permafrost (IASC and LOICZ); Cryosols (IUSS); Glaciers and Permafrost Hazards in High; Mountains (IACS); Isotopes and Geochemistry of Permafrost; Mapping and Modeling of Mountain Permafrost; Periglacial Landforms, Processes and Climate (IGU); Permafrost and Climate (IGU); Permafrost Astrobiology; Permafrost Engineering (ISSMFE)

Since 1998, working party reports covering the previous five years were published as part of the ICOP program and abstract book. In 2007 a review was undertaken by an ad hoc committee on working parties to provide recommendations on the present activities and future directions.

In 2010 the association decided to dedicate a large part of its funds to the newly established Action Groups. These groups will be funded, have limited terms, and will need to focus on the production of clearly defined research outputs. An application process will be publicized soon through the Permalist mailing list. An implicit consequence of the formation of Action Groups is the transformation of Working Groups into Interest Groups. These groups will retain the same mandate than the working groups and will be eligible to form action groups to fund targeted initiatives. Information about past and recent Action groups can be found a the action group section on the IPA website.


Major Accomplishments

By 1988 the IPA was serving as a catalyst and organizer of several major international activities.

{moshide hidden [Database]|[Database]}

A common challenge facing many field-oriented disciplines is access to international data sets and the subsequent preservation or archiving of these data. The lack of readily available, international permafrost-related data sets was recognized by the IPA prior to, and during, the 1988 Trondheim conference. A Working Group on Permafrost Data was formed and an international data workshop was subsequently convened in 1994 in Olso. The result was development of the Global Geocryological Database (GGD), the basis of which is identification and description of data sets beginning in a metadata format. The National Snow and Ice Data Center took the lead in populating the GGD with both metadata and data. For the 1998 and 2003 conferences, the compilations of the GGD were provided on CD Roms entitled Circumpolar Active-Layer Permafrost System (Barry et al. 1995; NSIDC 1998; IPA SCDIC 2003; Parsons et al. 2008). The CAPS/GGD products are available on line at the NSIDC Frozen Ground Data Center.


{moshide hidden [Terminology]|[Terminology]}

By the time the IPA was established it was clear that the major terminological problem associated with permafrost, as defined in North America, Russia, and China, arose from the fact that ground at or below O°C may, or may not, be frozen. Put simply, permafrost is not necessarily frozen because soil and rock, for a variety of reasons (salts, pressure, etc.), may exist in an unfrozen state at temperatures below O°C. This prompted the Permafrost Subcommittee of the Associate Committee on Geotechnical Research, NRCC, to establish a terminology working group in 1985. In its report (ACGR, 1988) ‘cryotic’ terminology was re-introducedin an attempt to accommodate the unfrozen nature of certain permafrost situations. The IPA Council approved a Working Group on Permafrost Terminology in 1988 and encouraged production of a multi-language glossary of permafrost and related ground ice terms (van Everdingen, 1998). Although this glossary did not resolve the problem, the permafrost community has, for the first time in its history, a working document that describes permafrost terminology in twelve languages. This represents a major achievement.


{moshide hidden [International permaforst map]|[International permafrost map]}

Prior to 1983, the mapping of permafrost had been undertaken using different classifications by different national organizations. The need existed for a circum-arctic map based on a common classification. An informal group representing members of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Geological Survey of Canada, and the Institute for Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology (VSEGINGEO), Russia, was spearheaded by the IPA Secretary General (J. Brown) and started work in the early 1990s. A generalized legend based on permafrost continuity, ground ice content, and physiography was applied to existing permafrost maps and, after several meetings and numerous editorial discussions by the authors and the USGS cartographers, a map at 1:10,000,000 was finalized and published (Brown et al., 1997).It was subsequently digitized and made available in ArcInfo (available here). The digitized product has been used extensively by the modeling communities and others involved in climate research. Building on this existing map, a new international map based on spatial and temperature variations of permafrost terrain is a logical next step.

In 2012 Gruber published a new permafrost map, with a resoultion of 30 arc-seconds (<1km) on a WGS84 lat/lon grid.

During the next four years it is plannend to develop new innovative and accurate maps of permafrost for use by multiple audiences.


{moshide hidden [Observational networks]|[Observational networks]}

The IPA has taken the leadership in initiating and coordinating several international, long-term monitoring networks and related data acquisition programs. The IPA entered into a cooperative partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to facilitate development and coordination of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (Burgess et al. 2000). The GTN-P consists of two components: the borehole measurements or Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP) and the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) network. Both TSP and CALM are included in the IPA coordinated International Polar Year (IPY) Project 50 ‘Permafrost Observatory Project: A Contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost’. This currently consists of 165 CALM sites (Nelson et al. 2004; Shiklomanov et al., 2008) and approximately 500 boreholes temperature sites in both hemispheres. Also included are the boreholes developed under the PACE program (Harris 2008) and the Norwegian TSP boreholes. At least 15 countries are participating in GTN-P, primarily with national funding.

A second major network exists in the Arctic Coastal Dynamics (ACD) program. Following a 1999 workshop, a science plan under the Working Group on Coastal and Offshore Permafrost was developed and project status was approved by the International Arctic Science Committee. There are approximately 30 key coastal sites located around the Arctic Oceans. ACD developed a database of several thousand coastal segments.


{moshide hidden [Publications]|[Publications]}


In addition to those previously mentioned, numerous publications have arisen from IPA working parties, projects and related activities. Some of these include:

  • Bibliographies of published literature (e.g. Brennan 1983, 1988, 1993, Mullins 2003)
  • An annotated bibliography on climate change (Koster et al. 1994)
  • Soil carbon map (Tarnocai et al. 2003)
  • Periglacial manual (IPA web accessible)

In addition, the Wiley-Blackwell journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes (PPP) has published a number of special issues on mountain permafrost (PPP3); climate change (PPP4); grèzes litées (PPP6); frozen ground (PPP7); cryostratigraphy (PPP9); cryosols (PPP10); PACE (PPP12); hydrology, climate and ecosystems (PPP14); periglacial processes and instrumentation (PPP14); CALM (PPP15); PACE21: mountain permafrost (PPP15); a special issue for Hugh M. French (PPP16) and a special issue in honor of J. Ross Mackay at the time of his 90th birthday (PPP18); NICOp (PPP19); PYRN (PPP20); Permafrost in the McKenzie Delta (PPP20); IPY (PPP21); Stable Isotops (PPP22); and in honor of Charles Harris (PPP22).
Several other journals serve the international geocryology communities. For example, since 2002, the Reports on Polar Research of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Bremerhaven, Germany) have contained an annual issue devoted to the results of the ACD workshops. Other
journals have also devoted special issues to IPA-sponsored activities: these include the Norwegian Journal of Geography, Polar Geography and Geology, Southern African Journal of Science, Global and Planetary Change, Cold Regions Science and Technology, and Journal of Geophysical Research.


IPA and the International Polar Year (2007–2009)

Four core coordinated projects were proposed by the IPA and endorsed by the IPY Joint Committee:

  • Project 50: Permafrost Observatory Project: A Contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP)
  • Project 33: Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Permafrost, Periglacial and Soil Environments (ANTPAS)
  • Project 90: Arctic Circumpolar Coastal Observatory Network (ACCO-Net)
  • Project 373: Carbon Pools in Permafrost Regions (CAPP)

Approximately 50 individual national projects were taking part in these core projects. The overall goals and objectives of IPY-IPA programme were:

  • Obtain standardized permafrost temperature and active layer measurements across all permafrost regions (snapshot) and develop a retrospective database (TSP, ANTPAS)
  • Revise estimates and assess the lability of carbon pools in permafrost regions (CAPP, ANTPAS)
  • Expand and intensify coastal monitoring programmes (ACCO-Net)
  • Improve regional permafrost and soil mapping in the Antarctic, Arctic, Subarctic and mountainous regions (ANTPAS, CAPP, TSP)
  • Establish a periglacial monitoring network (TSP and ANTPAS)
  • Develop and promote permafrost information and educational activities
  • Promote the development of a new generation of permafrost researchers (PYRN, IUCP)

As part of the IPA-IPY education and outreach activities, the web-based catalog of International University Courses on Permafrost (IUCP) was developed and contains about 140 courses in ca 20 countries related to permafrost and periglacial topics (Christiansen, Prick and Lantuit, 2007). These include a number of field courses.
Initial results from many of the IPA-IPY projects are being reported at the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost and in its Proceedings.

Permafrost Young Researchers Network

The Permafrost Young Researchers Network (PYRN) was established within the IPA framework in order to create and maintain communications among young researchers involved in permafrost and related research activities. The objectives of the network are to facilitate and strengthen contacts among young scientists in the permafrost community and to provide an integrated single source of information of interest to young researchers (fellowships, conference travel funding, position opportunities, etc.). In addition, the International Polar Year prompted the need for a visible representation of the young permafrost community at the newly formed Youth Steering Committee of the IPY. A PYRN organizational meeting of national representatives was held at Abisko in February 2007. The PYRN website reports on conferences, events, job and graduate positions, research and other topics related to permafrost activities and distributes an electronic newsletter to the young researchers and other readers. See pyrn.ways.org for details.
Several on-going projects include a bibliography of student dissertations, a global list of senior researchers involved in permafrost research, and a permafrost drilling and temperature monitoring program based on the IPA TSP protocol. The PYRN Outstanding Presentation Awards are presented at permafrost conferences. Members of PYRN were eligible for NICOP stipends based on senior authored papers and extended abstracts. A total of 81 awards were made. Current PYRN membership (no fee required) is over 2000 from more than 35 countries.


The International Permafrost Association has established itself as a productive international organization. Geocryology is now recognized as a cold-climate discipline that integrates permafrost science and permafrost engineering. Permafrost is recognized as an important component of the cryosphere.
Specific achievements under the IPA included the production of a multi-language glossary, publication of a digitized, circum-arctic map of permafrost and related ground ice conditions, and the establishment of the global geocryological database system and several monitoring networks.
The IPA legacy that is resulting from both the IPY and existing activities includes: (i) establishment of long-term networks of active layer and permafrost temperature observatories, (ii) development of a sustainable geocryological database, and (iii) fostering a new generation of geocryologists through the
activities of the Permafrost Young Researchers Network. These collective activities will further develop and sustain international activities, particularly those related to the state and fate of permafrost in relation to a changing climate.