Cryosphere Working Group
Photo: Hugues Lantuit


The scientific scope of the Cryosphere Working Group shall include any scientific or engineering research relating to the Arctic and sub-Arctic cryosphere, including its interactions (past, present, and future) with the climate, oceans, and biosphere. It shall also include the promotion of sound practices for the management of scientific data relating to the Arctic cryosphere and its interactions with other components of the Arctic system.

The geographic scope of the Cryosphere Working Group shall be those areas of the Arctic and contiguous areas of the sub-Arctic where one or more element of the cryosphere (including the Greenland ice sheet, mountain glaciers, ice caps, icebergs, sea ice, snow cover and snowfall, permafrost and seasonally frozen ground, and lake- or river-ice) plays an important role in surface-climate interactions and/or the fresh water budget. It will normally include the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas (including the Baltic), Alaska, Canada’s northern Territories, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard and the Russian Arctic archipelagos, and parts of Canada, Scandinavia, and northern Russia that lie polewards of the southern limit of discontinuous permafrost.

Contact: IASC Secretariat


Work Plan

Each Working Group has published a work plan to concisely articulate (with scientifically-driven high-level specifics, not programmatic detail) how they will achieve IASC’s vision over 5 years. These plans are meant to help Arctic scientists get involved in IASC activities, and it is expected that they will evolve in the coming years as the Working Groups continue with their work. The 2017-2022 Cryosphere Working Group Work Plan is available here.


Scientific Foci

  • Atmosphere-glacier-ocean interactions: implications on the pan-Arctic glacier mass budget: The aim is to improve the estimates of the pan-Arctic glacier mass budget for past, present, and future projections (according to RCPs) and to increase understanding of the impacts of atmosphere-glacier-ocean interactions.
  • Extreme Cryospheric Events: In addition to an overall change of cryospheric conditions, climate warming is expected to impact also on the frequency and/or intensity of cryospheric extremes like heavy snow falls, icing, avalanches, glacier outburst floods (jökulhlaups), thawing season of permafrost and permafrost coastal erosion, and sea ice motion, compression and ridging. We aim to enhance our understanding of these phenomena.
  • Cutting Barriers in Snow Knowledge: Snow is a key element of the arctic regions. The overarching goal of this topic is to establish an improved common knowledge of snow-related processes by linking snow-interested specialists in different fields.


Terms of Reference Cryosphere Working Group