Terrestrial working group
Photo: Torsten Sachs


The scientific scope of the Terrestrial Working Group shall include any scientific research on Arctic terrestrial and freshwater environments, landscapes and biota, and their responses to, and interactions with, other components of the Earth system. The remit encompasses the dynamics of the Arctic system; past, present and future.

Geographically, the main area of interest of the IASC Terrestrial Working Group encompasses lands and fresh water within the area north of the latitudinal treeline with Arctic climate and Arctic vegetation. Several adjacent areas are included where highly relevant for certain disciplines and projects (a) boreal oceanic tundra (e.g. the Aleutian Islands, North Atlantic islands), (b) alpine tundra that is continuous with the Arctic tundra (e.g. the central highlands of Iceland, the Scandes Mountains, the Polar Urals), (c) the forest tundra, and (d) drainage basins to the south that connect with freshwater and marine areas of the Arctic.

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 Terrestrial Working Group Work Plan is available here.


Scientific Foci

  • Improving knowledge at multiple spatial scales of the current state of Arctic terrestrial geosystems and ecosystems
  • Determining the net effect of the terrestrial and freshwater environmental and biosphere’s processes that amplify or moderate climate warming
  • Developing unifying concepts, fundamental theories and computer models of the interactions among species, interactions between species and their environment, and the biology of life in extreme environments
  • Estimating past changes in arctic geo- and biodiversity, measuring current change and predicting future changes
  • Developing high spatial resolution models of terrestrial geosystem and ecosystem change, and other tools that can be used by arctic stakeholders for adaptation strategies and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystem services
  • Determining the role of connectivity in the functioning of arctic terrestrial systems, including connections within the arctic and the global system


Understanding the major issues within the wide disciplinary and geographical scope of the Terrestrial Working Group requires interaction with other Working Groups. The initial priority activities developed by the Terrestrial Working Group would benefit form interactions with all the Working Groups


Terms of Reference Terrestrial Working Group