Arctic Underground II

When: March 2021 (online) | Where: Lisbon, Portugal


When: ongoing, in–person meeting postponed till 2022  | Where: TBC

Cross-Cutting Activities

Please visit the Cross-Cutting Activities page for more information on upcoming activities co-sponsored by the Terrestrial Working Group.



Arctic Underground

When: March 2020 | Where: Online
Contact: Rebecca Eliza Hewitt

Belowground ecosystem properties are likely one of the most important drivers of Arctic ecosystem response to climate change. At our first meeting during ASSW2020 we introduced the four themes and formed working groups for each area. Our plan coming out of the workshop is to synthesize the state of knowledge and future research directions for each of the four themes. The product of this meeting with be a perspectives piece to be submitted to New Phytologist as a Viewpoint article, which provides a roadmap for future research. We plan for each working group to meet regularly along with meetings of the full network as we work on the perspectives piece and continue our dialogue about future synthesis products. Our workshop was supported by the IASC Terrestrial Working Group and fostered the participation of many early career researchers.


AVA - Arctic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

When: May 2019 | Where: Arkhangelsk (Russia)
Contact: Gabriela Schaepman-Strub

The AVA initiative is encouraging each Arctic nation to assemble its own archive with common protocols that will later allow the databases to be united into a single circumpolar AVA. Over 30 scientists attended the AVA IASC workshop in Arkhangelsk. Oral and poster presentations discussed progress of the national data bases, with a focus on Russian data, and potential applications of AVA data. Several hours were reserved to discuss special topics in smaller groups, including 1) practical questions of data integration into AVA (with a focus on Russian territories), 2) methods and standardization for vegetation classification, 3) strategies of how to move forward with the with Arctic vegetation work in international programmes, and 4) to collect materials for a central website linking to national data bases. During a half-day training, interested participants learned how to use Turboveg, the standard software to enter data into AVA. This training led to discussions on how to make Turboveg more user-friendly, how to technically align the different national data sets to make them ready for circumpolar integration, and on common species lists for vascular plants, mosses, and lichens. A half-day wrap-up and synthesis meeting concluded the extended Arctic vegetation meeting on 23 May 2019.

Herbivory Network

When: 19 - 21 September 2019 | Where: Yamal-Nemets Autonomous District (Russia)
Contact: Isabel C Barrio

Interactions between herbivores and plants are a fundamental component of Arctic ecosystems. These interactions can modulate the responses of tundra ecosystems to ongoing environmental changes; for example, through their impacts on the structure of vegetation, herbivores can influence patterns of snow cover and albedo, with large-scale consequences to the climate system. As well, many herbivores are important to the livelihoods of peoples in the Arctic. The Herbivory Network (HN; http://herbivory.lbhi.is) was initiated in 2014 with the support of IASC. HN has continued to develop as a growing international network of researchers investigating the role of herbivores in the tundra. The last five years of collaboration have been very fruitful and have resulted already in 6 scientific publications and 17 presentations at conferences and scientific meetings. But there is still a long way ahead!

The last HN meeting was held 19-24 September 2019 in Labytnangi, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous region, Russia. Meeting participants were warmly welcomed to the town of Labytnangi, in beautiful autumn colours. The meeting was hosted at the newly built research facilities at the Arctic Research Station of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences. A total of 20 researchers (including 8 Early Career Scientists) from 8 countries participated in the meeting, which was organized as a series of parallel smaller hands-on workshop sessions. During the meeting we made substantial progress on some of the ongoing HN projects and new ideas for future collaboration projects were developed.


Permafrost Carbon Network

When: 9 December 2018 | Where: Washington (US)
Contact: Christina Schädel

The latest and greatest on permafrost carbon science was presented in 18 science speed-talks to an audience of 120 scientists at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Permafrost Carbon Network. Many of these brief presentations laid the foundation for nine breakouts in the afternoon during which details for data collection, spatial data representation, analysis procedures, people to involve, and timelines were discussed.

For each of the breakout topics, we will provide a summary and timeline for members of the Permafrost Carbon Network, and we will host follow-up discussions via web-communication over the course of 2019 to ensure synthesis progress. During the meeting, we also highlighted the contribution and role of the Permafrost Carbon Network to the upcoming 2019 ‘Arctic Futures 2050’ conference that will identify needs of scientists and decision-makers and improve the dialogue between science and policy.

NeAT ‐ Network for Arthropods of the Tundra (2)

When: 9 - 11 October 2018 & 19 - 23 June 2018 | Where: Rovaniemi (Finland) & Davos (Switzerland) | More information
Contact: Toke Thomas Høye

The support from IASC has made it possible to strengthen the Network for Arthropods of the Tundra (NeAT) network through sessions at two major international conferences and a workshop. The workshop's goal was to plan the development of research protocols to stimulate further research activities of relevance to the IASC Terrestrial Working Group. The session at the Polar2018 conference resulted in critical connections to research groups working in Antarctica and thus strengthened this element of NeAT. It also facilitated an application for funding from UArctic for further network activities within NeAT – a proposal, which was granted in fall 2018 partly due to the activities supported by IASC.

The main activity supported by IASC was the organization of a workshop during the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Congress in Rovaniemi, Finland 8-11 October 2018. The participants of the workshop designed three protocols (related to monitoring insect herbivory, image-based monitoring of tundra arthropods, and functional traits of predatory arthropods), and these will be further developed as part of the new funding from UArctic. NeAT also managed to liaise with Arctic freshwater ecologists, to form a stronger connection to this group, which is critical since many arthropod species have aquatic larval stages. In sum, the IASC support will have positive effects on the strength and activities of NeAT in the years to come.

Polar Wildlife

When: 19 - 23 June 2018 | Where: Davos (Switzerland)
Contact: Thierry Boulinier

Wildlife species are of critical ecological and socio-economic and importance in Polar Regions, yet in the current context of global change they are experiencing increasing health challenges and the persistence of many species is uncertain. A better understanding of wildlife health status, including the diversity of pathogens and ecology of infectious and non-infectious diseases (e.g., toxins, immunity, and stress), is critical in order to anticipate, manage, and mitigate wildlife health issues at the poles. This workshop aimed to identify key scientific knowledge gaps in wildlife health and disease and to foster new research initiatives and collaborations at the interface between ecology and diseases in Polar Regions.

The importance of setting up carefully designed monitoring programs and of studies focusing on wild animal systems of particular relevance in the context of global change was identified. In this context, some particularities of polar host-parasite systems were outlined, such as the relatively simple species composition of their communities, their strong spatial structure and seasonality, and the fact that they are the subject of dramatic climate change effects. Issues linked to human health and human activities at the interface with wildlife were also identified as a future priority. It was decided to pursue interactions on these topics by the future organization of a workshop in 2020 and the writing up of a synthesis paper on the topic.



When: 11 - 15 December 2017 | Where: Québec (Canada) | More information
Contacts: João Canário, Warwick Vincent,

T-MOSAiC (Terrestrial – Multidisciplinary distributed Observatories for the Study of Arctic Climate) is the result of Working Group discussions at the IASC Arctic Science Summit Week in Prague (April 2017). T-MOSAiC aims to reinforce and extend the success of the IASC program MOSAiC by taking a land-based perspective on human systems, geosystems and ecosystems, and their responses to sea-ice, oceanographic and climate change in the Arctic Ocean.

The main goal of the workshop was to scope out a Science Plan and to begin the preparation of an Implementation Plan, to be discussed in its final form during the Davos IASC T-MOSAiC workshop in June 2018.  As discussed and planned at the Quebec City workshop, the secretariat for T-MOSAiC was opened  at the University of Lisbon in February 2018, with an associated  website.

The Frozen-Ground Cartoon

When: 11 December 2017 | Where: Québec (Canada) | Contacts: Frédéric Bouchard, Michael Fritz

How does a reindeer experience climate change? Can a turkey melt? And why is research in the Arctic better than holidays on the beach? Two artists and twelve scientists provide a completely new perspective on the Arctic.

The Frozen-Ground Cartoon is a series of brand-new comics about permafrost, funded by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) with additional support from IASC (Terrestrial and Cryosphere WGs). The project has so far produced 22 pages of comics through an iterative process of exchanging ideas between two artists and thirteen scientists. The comics are available for free download through the project web page The Frozen-Ground Cartoon, in English and Swedish, and printed copies have so far been handed out to school kids and general public in Europe and North America.

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.

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


For previous activities, please visit the IASC News Archive or browse our online collection of yearbooks, the IASC Bulletin.