Soil System Sciences

Permafrost Young Researchers Network: the study of permafrost in a climate change scenario

Marc Oliva
University of Lisbon, Portugal


The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and the IPCC Working Group 1 (Fourth Assessment Report) recognize the Cryosphere as one of the most significant challenges of climate science and as a major source of uncertainty in global climate projections. While the permafrost carbon feedback has been identified as potentially the largest terrestrial feedback to anthropogenic climate change and the most likely to occur, significant knowledge gaps remain related to the impact of thawing permafrost on the global carbon cycle. This uncertainty includes the magnitude, type, and timing of greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost. Degradation of permafrost also has transformative local impacts on aquatic and terrestrial species and ecosystems. These changes together with the direct effects of permafrost degradation on human infrastructure connect this issue with human population living in the permafrost region and around the globe. WCRP actively promotes targeted research activities aimed at improving our understanding of cryospheric processes and our ability to make quantitative predictions and long term projections to provide better quantitative understanding of processes involved in cryosphere-climate interactions, particularly with respect to terrestrial and sub-sea permafrost.


The PYRN Executive Committee in the Tenth International Conference on Permafrost held in Salekhard (Russia), in 2012.

The Permafrost Young Researchers Network (PYRN) is an international organization that fosters collaboration amongst its members and seeks to recruit, retain, and promote future generations of permafrost researchers. PYRN began as an International Polar Year (IPY) initiative in close collaboration with APECS and with its overarching organization, the International Permafrost Association (IPA). PYRN seeks building interdisciplinary knowledge on how the Arctic and Antarctic permafrost regions play a key role in the Earth System and to give each participant a more overarching view on the regions beyond disciplinary research questions.

Our main goal is to provide a common forum to communicate and exchange ideas related to permafrost science and engineering. This includes coordinating activities such as workshops, meetings, and awards to encourage PYRN members to share knowledge and expertise on permafrost-related topics. PYRN leadership consists of an Executive Committee (led by a President) and a Council. One member from the Executive Committee jointly serves on the APECS Open Council. Last year a memorandum of understanding was signed between APECS, PYRN, and IPA to enhance the close cooperation on aspects of polar research that are of mutual interest in the future.


PYRN members doing research in the Arctic.

This post has been published previously in G-Soil.

Antonio Jordán is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Seville and coordinator of the MED Soil Research Group. Antonio’s research focusses on rainfall-induced soil erosion processes, the effects of wildfires on soil properties and soil degradation in Mediterranean areas. He is an active members of the Soil System Sciences (SSS) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), which coordinates the scientific programme on soil sciences.