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Responsibility: Boris K. Biskaborn (Director of GTN-P Secretariat, contact: gtnpdatabase(at)arcticportal.org)

Permafrost temperature reflects integrated changes in ground surface energy balance, in turn reflecting possible climate change.

Permafrost refers to earth materials that remain at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost regions occupy approximately 23 million km². These areas include large regions of Canada, China, Mongolia, Russia and Alaska, and smaller permafrost areas at higher elevations in mountain chains of many other countries at both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The thickness of permafrost can exceed 600 m in the high latitudes. Southward, permafrost thins and becomes discontinuous. Unlike snow and ice covers, permafrost is not easily observed remotely and requires in situ observations to define its extent and properties.

Monitoring of permafrost and active layer

Permafrost monitoring is conducted mainly through ground-based, point measurements. Permafrost thermal state (i.e. ground temperature) and active layer thickness are the key permafrost variables identified as Essential Climate Variables (ECV) for monitoring under the GCOS/GTOS programmes. The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), approved in 1999 and coordinated by the International Permafrost Association (IPA), comprises two international monitoring networks: Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP) and Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM). More than 20 countries participate in these networks.


GTN-P database

Data of borehole temperature and active layer thickness are gathered by the GTN-Database which provides quality checked data with detailed metadata, web services and tools as well as standards and procedures. All data are available for downloading. The GTN-P database is hosted at the Arctic Portal in Akureyri, Iceland. It is managed in close cooperation with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, which is also coordinator of the PAGE21 project within EU 7th framework program, main sponsor for this database. The PAGE21 data management work package (WP8) implements recommendations from the GTN-P Strategy and Implementation Plan 2012-2016 to build up a permanent Data Management System for global permafrost data.

GTN-P is supported by theNational Snow and Ice Data Centre and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

The GTN-P Secretariat manages the GTN-P Database, which operates as a web-based resource for the ECV’s, aiming to enable the assessment of the relation between ground temperature, gas fluxes and the Earth’s climate system. Participation in the GCOS/GTOS networks will facilitate use of the data by international organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Artic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

Additional information

For more information please refer to: