On the 12th of October 2015, Akureyri, Iceland‘s second city, has hosted the last General Assembly of the European Commission‘s FP7 programme (EC-FP7) project: Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century (Page21). Participants have engaged and secured future initiatives and challenges for permafrost disciplines.

Understanding the dynamics of the permafrost carbon and nitrogen pools and their vulnerability to climate change, producing and assessing high-quality datasets, improving models and reducing uncertainties, disseminating widespread results and discussing scenarios are work in progress. The Page21‘s successes laid the basis of a continuous integration of the network, while connecting international programmes and projects, and involving the best people and resources in the discipline. The General Assembly was followed soon after by the Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik. On the 18th October, a plenary session: „Permafrost in the 21st Century“ was organized by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI).

Over the year 2015, Arctic Portal (AP) has continued its efforts toward developing the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost Data Management System (GTN-P DMS). The official release of the system took place in September 2015 and numerous outcomes were achieved this year. A new interface using OpenLayer replaced the Google Maps which was not accessible in some countries. This generalizes the use of Open Source technologies within the system. On-the-fly visualization of active layer thickness grid measurements was updated in order to meet the requirements of the scientists (Figure 1). All functions and algorithms aggregating the data and computing the trends of the time series have been implemented, achieving the primary purpose of GTN-P, which is to establish an early warning system for the consequences of climate change in permafrost regions. A first range of Web Services are distributed, enabling dissemination of the GTN-P DMS over several remote catalogues and Earth Sciences platforms. Data dissemination of Permafrost temperature and Active layer thickness data toward World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is in progress for these Essential Climate variables (ECVs). Several products have been formatted in NetCDF 4 by the Arctic Portal and the Alfred Wegener Institute. Discussions are undertaken with the Obs4MIPs group in order to register our variables to a data node as well as to standardize our products in compliance with the Climate and Forecast convention (CF 1.7). Due to the great heterogeneity of the data, Data Quality Assurance and Control (QA/QC) parameters are of foremost importance in order to describe our resources. An IPA Action Group on data quality was created for the 2-year period, 2015-2016. The group establishes these quality parameters for Permafrost temperature and active layer thawing variables, building a standard reference for the discipline. Flags will be implemented into the GTN-P DMS and distributed along with the global products.

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Figure 1. GTN-P DMS visualization of Active layer thickness with IDW interpolation.


A close work between AP and the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) allowed the retrieval of, in a bulk submission, Russian Historical time series on ground temperature from 103 boreholes. The data range from 1913 to 1990 (Figure 2). Several other rounds of bulk submissions will take place in the years to come. All data are available for free download. Visit also our website in order to be updated about GTN-P: www.gtnp.org

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Figure 2. GTN-P DMS visualization of ground temperature from Russian Historical data (Bayandai borehole: http://gtnpdatabase.org/boreholes/view/1674).

Furthermore, the book from Arnalds Olafur The Soils of Iceland has been published this year, and it is the only comprehensive book about Icelandic soils currently available. Very few updates about permafrost in Iceland have been made recently but we inserted into the GTN-P DMS permafrost temperature time series from the four Icelandic boreholes, parts of the Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP) and of the GTN-P. They will be included as parts of the global products distributed to the Climate modellers community.

Report prepared by Jean-Pierre Lanckman (jean@arcticportal.org)