The International Permafrost Association (IPA) and The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) are pleased to announce that the IPA Secretariat will be officially located and hosted at UNIS from 1 December 2016 until 2020. The IPA Secretariat was previously hosted at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, where Karina Schollaen served as Executive Director of the IPA. Professor Hanne Christiansen, Arctic Geology Department Leader at UNIS, became President of the IPA in June this year. Sarah Strand assumes full duties as the Executive Director of the IPA 1 December 2016, though she has been working for the IPA Secretariat at UNIS during the past five months. Her part-time position as Executive Director will be complemented by a PhD position at UNIS from May 2017, focused on permafrost thermal dynamics.
The IPA, founded in 1983, fosters dissemination of knowledge concerning permafrost and promotes cooperation among people and organizations engaged in scientific investigation and engineering pertaining to permafrost. The IPA is run by its Executive Committee and Council consisting of representatives from the 26 Adhering Bodies, which are country members of the IPA. The IPA convenes both regional and international permafrost conferences, and produces permafrost resources such as databases, maps, and glossaries through Standing Committees and Action Groups.
UNIS is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located at 78°N in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. This geographical position provides staff and university level students direct access to the unique Arctic environment for research and education. UNIS is the core institution of the Svalbard Science Centre, which also houses other scientific institutions including The Norwegian Polar Institute and Svalbard Science Forum. UNIS will thus provide a stimulating Arctic environment for the IPA.
The IPA Secretariat’s new location in the Svalbard Science Centre, directly in a permafrost environment, has been made financially possible by the Norwegian Research Council and UNIS. The IPA looks forward to the next four years of growing permafrost research activities with its new Secretariat location in the high Arctic.