The International Permafrost Association’s (IPA) main contribution to International Polar Year was the development of a spatially distributed set of observations on past and present status of permafrost temperatures and active layer thicknesses. Emphasis is on permafrost temperatures since there is currently no global database that defines the thermal state of permafrost (TSP) for a specific time period (snapshot).
The TSP data set will serve as a baseline for the assessment of the rate of change of permafrost temperatures and permafrost distribution, to validate climate model scenarios, and to support process research in order to improve our understanding of permafrost dynamics. TSP measurements, a field component of the WMO/GCOS Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), address questions related to climate warming and the attendant environmental and societal issues in the cold regions of Planet Earth (both polar regions and mid-and lower-latitude mountains and plateaus). These observations serve as a lead element for the development of an International Network of Permafrost Observatories (INPO).