Permafrost Research Priorities: A Roadmap for the Future

At the time, no consensus documents existed at the international level to identify forward-looking priorities in permafrost research. The IPA partnered with Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) to seize the opportunity offered by the 2015 International Conference on Arctic Research Planning III (ICARP III) and the SCAR Horizon Scan to frame a consultative process that would result in the formulation of such permafrost priorities. Permafrost Research Priorities (PRP) focused on all permafrost regions, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and mountain permafrost around the globe in order to accurately represent the level of overlap in scientific challenges in all three domains.

The product stemming from the effort would consist of a high level, but short publication in a high-profile journal listing and putting into context permafrost research priorities. The document aimed to become the benchmark against which permafrost research should be gauged starting in 2015.

The core group consisted of the following individuals representing the diversity of permafrost research and its applications:

  • Hugues Lantuit (AWI, Germany, Chair)
  • Michel Allard (Universit√© Laval, Canada)
  • Mauro Guglielmin (Insubria University, Italy)
  • Margareta Johansson (Lund University, Sweden)
  • Gleb Kraev (Centre for Forest Ecology and Productivity, Russian Federation)
  • Michael Krautblatter (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
  • Gerhard Krinner (LGGE Grenoble, France)
  • Edward A. G. Schuur (University of Florida, USA)
  • Jenny Baeseman (CliC, Director, Ex-Officio)
  • Karina Schollaen (IPA, Executive Director, Ex-Officio)
  • Ylva Sj√∂berg (University of Stockholm, Sweden, CliC Fellow)

PRP summary:

  • Phase 1 (May-June 2014): collect research questions from the community
  • Phase 2 (Fall 2014): rank the research questions
  • A fully transparent process based on online submissions and voting
  • An output consisting of a short publication highlighting the top 10 research priorities and a longer academic paper describing the entire process (2015)

Community Input:
The ICARP III Permafrost research priorities were defined based on input from the permafrost community at large. To do so, the core group collected information through an online submission and commenting process and through the organization of consultation meetings at relevant conferences and meetings.

Participation to the online questionnaire was open to all. The audiences targeted in the process were engaged through mailing lists, as well as targeted searches in bibliographic databases.

Internet consultation process:
An online home was set up jointly with the partners involved in the process (e.g. IPA, CliC, IASC) and was used to collect input from the community at large. The community was informed through mailing lists, word of mouth, newsletters, etc. and were invited to provide targeted comments on the definition of research priorities. The process was inspired by the one organized for the elaboration of the Future Earth project of ICSU and by the Horizon Scanning of SCAR.

Consultation meetings:
Several meetings were organized during or around other major events to maximize awareness about the project and collect additional input from the community. In some cases (e.g. EGU, EUCOP4), the core group organized events targeted to early career researchers and encouraged participation in the process. The Asian and southern hemisphere communities were reached out to by the core group to ensure participation in some of these meeting.

Contact: Hugues Lantuit (

Report: Frozen Ground 38 p. 4