An Arctic Vegetation Archive (AVA)

When: 30-31 March 2017 | Where: Prague (Czech Republic) | Contact: Skip Walker

An Arctic Vegetation Archive (AVA) is needed to develop an effective Arctic terrestrial monitoring program and provide a standardized vegetation framework and data for an Arctic Vegetation Classification (AVC), land-cover mapping, ecological experiments, modeling, and biodiversity studies. Insufficient and non-standardized Arctic vegetation plot data are available to accomplish this task. The recently launched AVA and AVC aim to fill this knowledge gap.

The AVA and AVC would cover the entire Arctic tundra biome, the first for any of the world’s major biomes. This is achievable because the Arctic is the only biome that has its entire list of known vascular plants, mosses and lichens documented in up-to-date flora checklists developed by taxonomists within the CAFF Flora Group. Also the amount of vegetation plot data from the Arctic is still relatively modest compared to other biomes (approximately 31,000 plots). A large body of international experience and collaboration with database experts in other regions will also help to make the Arctic task feasible.

Scientific Highlights

• An Arctic Vegetation Archive is an essential first step for developing an Arctic Vegetation Classification, monitoring change in terrestrial ecosystems, and developing a circumpolar framework for studying and modeling changes to the Arctic.

• Major progress on the AVA was achieved since the first AVA workshop in Krakow, including completion of the Alaska Arctic Vegetation Archive, and recent efforts toward using this in developing an Arctic Vegetation Classification.

• Many of the legacy data in the AVA were collected using non-standardized protocols. Going forward, new datasets should incorporate standardized methodologies for surveys, archiving, and analysis of Arctic plot data; workshops to develop these protocols should probably be proposed as part of the Arctic Observing Network activities.

Circum-polar Arctic Flux Workshop

When: 6-9 February 2017 | Where: Hyytiala (Finland) | Contacts: Eugenie Euskirchen, Sandy Starkweather

Detailed observations of energetic, hydrological and chemical fluxes at the surface-atmosphere interface are necessary to understand and model coupling within the Arctic climate system. Global and regional models may represent Arctic state variables with relative accuracy, but it has been observed that they consistently fail to represent the observed magnitude and direction of energetic fluxes within the Arctic system. Some results of this failure are highly uncertain projections about the future state of the Arctic cryosphere and biosphere and high uncertainty about the fate of cryospheric carbon in the global atmosphere. To address these poorly constrained processes, coupling between the Arctic atmosphere, land surface and subsurface must be evaluated as an integrated system of energy, moisture and chemical exchange – each with unique observational challenges and process complexities in extreme Arctic environments.

Workshop Report


Herbivory Network Meeting

When: 15-17 September 2016 | Where: Reykjavik (Iceland)

The Herbivory Network is a collaborative research initiative that investigates the role of herbivory in Arctic and alpine ecosystems (http://herbivory.biology.ualberta.ca).  We propose a 1.5-day meeting to form strategies for steering and research collaboration within the network, launch new collaborative projects and strengthen ongoing ones.
As the first global initiative to start coordinated research on the topic, the Herbivory Network was established in 2014 with support of the Terrestrial Working Group of IASC.  The goal of the Herbivory Network is to foster collaborations within and across disciplines that facilitate multi-site comparisons, to assist in understanding the complexity and variability of responses of tundra ecosystems to herbivory.  One of the main priorities of the network is to harmonize research efforts and adopt methods that allow for generalization across sites and plant-herbivore systems for selected research questions.
An upcoming Herbivory Network meeting will consolidate what has started as a grass-roots initiative, and establish strategies for steering and research collaboration within the network.  The meeting will discuss priorities and define new initiatives (e.g. coordinated data collection, future meta-analyses at circumpolar scale and grant proposals towards coordinated experiments).The meeting is planned for September 2016 in Reykjavik (Iceland), linked to  a conference on grazing in Nordic countries (www.nordicgrazing2016.org).


Isabel C Barrio,

Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting

When: 19 June 2016 I Where: Potsdam (Germany)

Announcement and Invitation for a Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting prior to ICOP 2016:

An informal Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) meeting prior to the 11th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) will take place on Sunday, 13:00 - 15:00, 19 June 2016, Telegrafenberg, A 43.14473 Potsdam, Room A43-KR.



Permafrost Carbon Network

When: 14-16 December 2015 | Where: San Francisco (USA)

The IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report highlighted the cryosphere as a major source of uncertainty in global climate projections. One of the most significant knowledge gaps related to cryosphere is the impact of thawing permafrost on the global carbon cycle. The magnitude and timing of the positive feedback between the warming climate and additional emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from natural sources and particularly from thawing permafrost is unknown. The Permafrost Carbon Network framework organized a series of meetings and workshops that bring together scientists from the international permafrost science community to synthesize data on permafrost carbon.
This meeting brought together network participants that have been leading syntheses in the last four years and continue to be engaged in new synthesis activities planned over the next couple of years. This workshop was also a key event in engaging new participants to start new synthesis activities that have been identified in previous meetings based on missing gaps and important research areas.
The new research areas focussed around a) analysis of permafrost carbon feedback and permafrost physical representation in the context of CMIP6 activities, b) carbon pool estimates in Yedoma, c) radiocarbon dating and carbon cycling in permafrost, and d) methane hydrates in permafrost regions.
This meeting took place during the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December.


Ted Schuur,  

Scientific Highlights

• Discuss circumpolar datasets that link terrestrial ecosystems (boreal forest, tundra, peatlands) with the cryosphere.

• Advance model development by exploring possible benchmarking tools (e.g. planning of possible proposals) that can be provided by field and lab based scientists and finalizing model output from the Permafrost Carbon Model Intercomparison Project that estimates the permafrost carbon climate feedback for this century and beyond.

Catalysts for Treeline Expansion under Global Change Workshop

When: 9-12 October 2015 | Where: Perth (Australia)

Predicting the distribution of future species under climate change is one of the greatest scientific challenges we currently face. Often, scientists try to address this challenge by looking at the direct links between climate and species distributions; however, the effects of non-climatic factors, such as disturbance and species interactions, can sometimes override climate effects. Recent studies have shown mixed responses of treeline ecosystems to global climate change. Along with treeline advance with warmer temperatures, treeline retractions or no response have also been detected. In the latter two cases, non-climatic factors or indirect climate effects (such as disturbance) likely outweigh the direct effects of climate change on tree species distributions. The main goal of this workshop is to collate common datasets and integrate current findings with the established scientific literature in order to address the question of disturbance as a catalyst of global change impacts in treeline ecosystems. This workshop will be held in October 9-12 in Perth, Scotland.

Scientific Highlights

• Synthesize the current state of knowledge on disturbance as a catalyst for treeline ecosystem change

• Synthesize and summarize data collected through the Global Treeline Range Expansion Experiment (G-TREE).

•Identify the next research priorities and form a research framework for future initiatives in treeline ecosystem research.

2nd GTN-P National Correspondents Workshop

When: 19-20 September 2015 | Where: Quebec (Canada)

The Global Terrestrial Network on Permafrost (GTN-P) is the observing network for permafrost sponsored by GCOS and GTOS and managed by the IPA. It monitors the two Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) permafrost temperature and active layer thickness through more than 1000 boreholes and nearly 240 active layer grids globally located in all permafrost regions. GTN-P has gained considerable visibility in the broad science community in providing the baseline against which models are validated globally and incorporated in climate assessments.

The 2nd GTN-P workshop was held on September 19-20, as part of the 7th Canadian Permafrost Conference 2015 in Quebec, with the workshop’s main focus on the GTN-P data quality control and the development of a specific plan to prepare the first GTN-P bi-annual report on the thermal state and the international monitoring quality of the Earth’s permafrost areas. Further, the workshop addressed the meaning and role of GTN-P at the 11th International Conference on Permafrost that will be held in Potsdam, Germany in June, 2016.

Boris K. Biskaborn,
Vladimir E. Romanovsky,
GTN-P Website: http://gtnp.arcticportal.org/
Info Page for Workshop: http://gtnp.arcticportal.org/index.php/8-news/115-news-gtnp-workshop

Scientific Highlights

• An international body of experts involved in permafrost research from the GTN-P EC and Data Management Group with the National Correspondents of GTN-P assessed the international monitoring quality of the Earth’s permafrost areas by addressing the GTN-P data quality control and the spatial site-distribution on the planet.

• The workshop clearly defined (1) a specific plan of the first GTN-P bi-annual report on the thermal state and (2) the international monitoring quality of the Earth’s permafrost areas as well as (3) the meaning and role of GTN-P.

6th International Conference on Polar & Alpine Microbiology

When: 6-9 September 2015 | Where: Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic)

Climate changes that were observed and documented over the last decades brought polar and alpine areas to the center of attention of the general public and international science community, including microbiologists. Understanding the processes occurring across polar and alpine environments requires a coordinated effort over space and time to capture the naturally high variability associated with Polar and Alpine Regions.
Continuing the series of highly successful meetings previously held in Rovaniemi 2004 (Finland), Innsbruck 2006 (Austria), Banff 2008 (Canada), Ljubljana 2011 (Slovenia) and Big Sky 2013 (USA), the 6th international conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology was held in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic from September 6-9, bringing together the scientific community for discourse on the latest in all aspects of cold-living microorganisms and their role in polar and alpine environments.). It was also an opportunity to share ideas and build research collaborations addressing the latest developments in microbiology in polar and alpine habitats.

Josef Elster,

Scientific Highlights

• A study conducted field and laboratory experiments in soils from Raisduoddar, Norway and furthered understanding of the links between grazers and microbial responses to global change. The results indicated that reindeer mediated changes in the soil chemical composition and microclimate have a profound influence on the structure and functional adaptation of soil microbial communities. This role of large grazers may be a key mechanism determining the impact of warming in carbon fluxes in the tundra.

• One study showed a clear succession of microbial communities with age where communities in soils previously overridden by the ice (strongly represented by members of the Betaproteobacteria such as the genus Thiobacillus) are important colonizers of new exposed soils up to 5 years after glacier retreat. Thereafter, presence of typical soil communities such as Acidobacteria and certain members of Actinobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria (e.g. Sphingopyxis) become more prevalent.

Arctic Freshwater Ecosystems Workshop

When: 23-30 April 2015 | Where: Toyama (Japan)

Climate change and variability are affecting freshwater systems within the Arctic and subarctic. As water integrates and propagates effects across the Arctic, these transformations will have a profound effect on both society and environment, also beyond the Arctic.
Held on April 28th in Toyama, Japan during the 3rd International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) (April 23-30), “Arctic Freshwater Ecosystems” workshop was a contribution to the Arctic Freshwater Synthesis (AFS), a joint project between the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP) Climate and the Cryosphere Project (CliC), the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), and the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP).
This symposium-workshop focused on how major Arctic freshwater sources, fluxes and storage components are being modified, including: atmospheric and river transport, precipitation-evaporation-permafrost/soil moisture regimes, glacier and ice cap mass balances, sea-ice formation and dynamics, and marine exchanges including oceanic storage and release of low-salinity water.
The session included a broad range of topics, including biogeochemical processes, water and nutrient fluxes, and biotic communities. The session underscored the importance of Arctic lakes and rivers as integrators of atmospheric and terrestrial processes, as conduits to the near-shore marine environments under a changing climate, and as vital resources for northern communities.

Vincent F. Warwick,

Scientific Highlights

• This workshop allowed the exchange of key results concerning the Arctic freshwater system, and collated information on current studies on the biodiversity and ecosystem function of Arctic and sub-arctic freshwater ecosystems.
• Identified the need for multi-component numerical models to predict changes in freshwater ecosystems under future climate scenarios and the ability to predict and understand natural variability as distinct from that induced by climate change.

• Identified and discussed the importance of accurate predictions of future changes in freshwater quantity and quality for water resource managers in northern communities and also effects on infrastructure and hydrohazards.