The Cryosphere Working Group (CWG) supports and promotes all scientific or engineering research related to the Arctic and subarctic cryosphere, including glaciers, sea ice, snow, permafrost, seasonally frozen ground, and lake and river ice. It encompasses cryospheric interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and terrestrial systems in the past, present and future, and the cryosphere’s role in climate and human society.


Scientific Foci

  • Improve knowledge of the past, current, and future state of the Arctic cryosphere across wide-ranging spatial and temporal scales using innovative methods including in-situ observations, remotely sensed measurements, models, citizen science, and participatory research.
  • Advance understanding of melt and thaw processes, ice and snow dynamics, and complex cryospheric interactions with atmosphere, terrestrial, ocean, and biological systems.
  • Quantify and project cryospheric change and the frequency and intensity of extreme cryospheric events such as: heavy snowfalls, icing, avalanches and rockfalls, glacial lake outburst floods, glacier surges, abrupt permafrost thaw, permafrost coastal erosion, events resulting from sea ice dynamics, intrusion of warm air masses from outside the Arctic, and seasonal climate anomalies.
  • Improve understanding of interactions between the cryosphere and human society, especially impacts of cryospheric change on humans, anthropogenic impacts on the cryosphere, and the contribution of local and indigenous communities to cryospheric knowledge.


Cross-cutting Approach

Achieving the CWG scientific foci requires interdisciplinary research and collaboration with other working groups and local communities, where applicable. Our approach emphasizes open and collaborative science; ethical, sustainable, and responsible science practices; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and using cryospheric knowledge to support society.


Work Plan

The CWG Work Plan concisely articulates how it will achieve IASC’s vision over five years. This plan is meant to help Arctic scientists be involved in IASC activities and is expected to evolve in the coming years as the CWG continues to evaluate and address ongoing and emerging needs.




  • Cross-Cutting Activities
  • Atmosphere Working Group
  • Cryosphere Working Group
  • Marine Working Group
  • Social & Human Working Group
  • Terrestrial Working Group


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