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The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) was initiated by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) to organize and manage a global network of permafrost observatories for detecting, monitoring, and predicting climate change.

The network, authorized under the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and its associated organizations, consists of two observational components: the active layer (the surface layer that freezes and thaws annually) and the thermal state of the underlying permafrost.

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) under the Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) have identified Permafrost Thermal State and Permafrost Active Layer as key variables for monitoring the cryosphere. Changes in permafrost temperatures frequently reflect changes in surface climate over time, and therefore serve as a useful indicator of climate change. A globally comprehensive permafrost monitoring network is required in order to detect and monitor spatial and temporal variability changes in active layer and permafrost. At its June 1998 Yellowknife, Canada meetings, the International Permafrost Association (IPA) Council passed two resolutions to facilitate development of a permafrost monitoring network and service. The IPA subsequently prepared strategy and implementation documents consistent with the GCOS monitoring observations. The development of the Global Terrestrial Network-Permafrost (GTN-P) was approved by the GCOS steering committee in February, 1999. Development and implementation of the GTN-P is managed by the International Permafrost Association. Letters of invitation will be sent by the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to participating countries and organizations.

Parts of the GTN-P are already in place through nationally and regionally funded projects. A 12-country, 80-site network presently exists under the IPA's Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) Network. Borehole temperatures are also measured at 33 of these active layer sites. About 200 boreholes of varying depths are potentially available for monitoring permafrost temperature changes. The European Community project, Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE) has begun to instrument a series of nine boreholes in mountains from Spain and Italy to Svalbard. Final selection of borehole sites will be undertaken to ensure sound regional and global coverage, while taking maximum advantage of existing facilities. Site selection guidelines are under development. In addition sites will be selected to meet the GCOS/GTOS hierarchical system for surface observations, or the Global Hierarchical Observing Strategy (GHOST).

Participation in the GCOS/GTOS networks will facilitate use of the data by international organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the upcoming Snow Water Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic assessment (SWIPA) and improve justification for national and multi-national funding. The initial role of the IPA permafrost network is to organize the systematic collection and distribution of standardized data. The Geological Survey of Canada is providing the international data management for the GTN-P borehole temperature monitoring program and maintains the GTN-P web site on its Permafrost web site. Metadata for network sites will be accessible as well as regularly submitted summary data. GTN-P data would be subsequently archived through the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, Boulder, Colorado, as part of the IPA's Global Geocryological Database. Summaries and interpretations of data will be prepared every five years.

The GTN-P Activities are hosted on the GTN-P website: