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Antarctic Permafrost And Soils (ANTPAS)

The combined IPA working group on Antarctic Permafrost and SCAR expert group on Antarctic Soils, Permafrost and Periglacial Environments, in close working relationship with the IUSS cryosols group, have launched the ANTPAS project to address some of the current shortcomings and research needs. The overall aim is to develop an internationally coordinated, web-accessible database and monitoring system on Antarctic permafrost and soils.

Launched as an IPY activity, the database and monitoring project will continue as an ongoing activity of the supporting associations. For further details see the ANTPAS website.

Permafrost in the Antarctic is widespread in the ice-free areas and a key variable for ecosystems, hydrology and geomorphological dynamics. It was only in the last decade that it was possible to have a more accurate overview of the thermal state of permafrost and active layer dynamics in the Antarctic. This followed the installation of new GTN-P (Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost) boreholes and Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring sites (CALM) within IPY projects ANTPAS and TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost). However, there is still a lot to be understood about Antarctic permafrost and active layer and mainly on their relationships to other environmental variables. Even in cold permafrost areas, extreme warm events can induce significant modifications in the active layer dynamics as has been shown in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Other areas of the Antarctic show warm permafrost and several sites suggest that it is thawing fast due following climate change, such as the South Shetlands and Northwest Antarctic Peninsula region. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to fully unravel consequences of this changes in the highly sensitive Antarctic environments.

The Antarctic Permafrost, Soils and Periglacial Environment (ANTPAS) Expert Group aims at promoting international collaboration towards the development and consolidation of Antarctic permafrost research. Such is done through annual organization of workshops and conference sessions, dissemination of an annual newsletter on member activities and promotion of discussion of needs for Antarctic permafrost research. As such and following the IPY approach, ANTPAS promotes the main science guidelines for international cooperation on hot topics in permafrost science in key areas of the Antarctic.

ANTPAS links with other SCAR bodies on advisory issues related to permafrost, as well as with other associations, such as the IPA.

Terms of Reference

Specific objectives for ANTPAS are:

  • A common, web-accessible repository for permafrost and soils data.
  • The production of thematic maps on Antarctic permafrost and soils.
  • A system of boreholes providing data on permafrost and soils properties, records of past environmental change, and recording permafrost responses to climate change.
  • A well-designed monitoring system recording active layer and periglacial process responses to climate change along selected environmental gradients.