Introduction to the GTN-P

About GTN-P

The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN‐P) is the primary international programme concerned with monitoring permafrost parameters. GTN‐P was developed in the 1990s by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) under the Global Climate observing System (GCOS) and the Global Terrestrial Observing Network (GTOS), with the longterm goal of obtaining a comprehensive view of the spatial structure, trends and variability of changes in the active layer thickness and permafrost temperature.


GCOS and GTOS established 50 Essential ClimateVariables (ECVs), of which one is permafrost. Within the GTN-P, involving the senior and young permafrost scientific community, two permafrost key variables have been identified as ECV's:

    • the Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP), which is permafrost temperature, longterm monitored  by an extensive borehole network
    • the Active Layer Thickness (ALT), which is the annual thaw depth of permafrost, mostly refering to the monitoring network of Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM)

Permanent monitoring in GTN-P have been coordinated by the IPA since their establishment. TSP was originally based at the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa (GSC), Canada. The TSP observatories in the United States and Russia have been supported by the US National Science Foundation as well as managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Permafrost temperature data from these observatories are freely available at the dedicated US-Russian TSP website ( and from the Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS). The latter is a joint effort of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the UNIDATA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to provide data archival, preservation and access for all projects, funded by NSF's Arctic Science Program. The CALM program was initially affiliated with and supported by the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) in 1991. CALM has had operational bases at Rutgers University (1991-94), the State University of New York (1994-97), the University of Cincinnati (1998-2003), the University of Delaware (2003-09) and is currently headquartered at George Washington University. Longterm support for data collection in Alaska and Russia has been provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and data from all CALM sites are available through a dedicated CALM web site and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Download Strategy and Implementation Plan 2012-2016


GTN P structure

Framework of GTN-P Management Structure by GTN-P Strategy and Implementation Plan 2012-2016


Governance Structure - Terms of References

created by the Secretariat and the Steering Commitee, 19.09.2015


The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) governance structure aims to coordinate, manage, support and promote the GCOS and IPA initiative to monitor the thermal state of permafrost, which currently includes the active layer thickness and ground temperature in all permafrost regions of the Earth. GTN-P frames and adapts the best monitoring strategies and standards for permafrost monitoring in the context of existing and new developments in nature, science and technology. Members of the GTN-P governing board represent a wide palette of specialties involved in permafrost observation as well as specialists of data management.


The GTN-P governing board consists of the Steering Committee, the Advisory Board and the Secretariat.

Meetings of the full GTN-P governing board may be called if:

a) Requested by the Executive Committee, or

b) Requested by a majority of Advisory Board members, or

c) Requested by the Secretariat.


GTN P governingboard new
Governance Structure


GTN-P Steering Committee

• the Steering Committee (SC) is the Governing body of GTN-P

• the Steering Committee consists of not more than six members which are jointly nominated by leading GCOS, IPA and GTN-P representatives and the scientific community

• members of the SC are renewed every four years; re-election is possible

• activities of the SC are managed by the SC Chair, which is elected by the SC

• the SC meets approximately annually to assess the state of the international monitoring of permafrost

• the SC reviles the issues and establishes the agenda about which the Advisory Board shall be consulted

• the SC reports approximately annually on the GTN-P activities to the funding agencies and umbrella organizations of the GCOS and the IPA

GTN-P Advisory Board

• the Advisory Board is the body that provides non-binding strategic advice and scientific expertise to the management of GTN-P

• representatives to the Board are jointly nominated by the GTN-P Steering Committee, the IPA Steering Committee and the GTN-P Secretariat

• it will serve for four-year renewable terms, and will normally communicate electronically

• the Advisory Board advises the GTN-P, GCOS and IPA initiatives concerning present practice and future developments of the monitoring of permafrost, and also on the delivery of datasets to the wider permafrost community

• it periodically evaluates the work of the GTN-P Steering Committee and the GTN-P Secretariat in approximately four-year interval


GTN-P Secretariat

• the Secretariat is the executing body that is managing the current business of the GTN-P

• the Secretariat is nominated by the GTN-P Steering Committee

• members of the Secretariat are renewed every four years; re-election is possible

• the Secretariat is responsible for the dialogue and linkages with other organizations, the periodic reporting and release of products for GTN-P and the financial management including fundraising

• it is responsible for the data management including integration, standardization, quality control, formatting, archiving and publishing of the GTN-P data

• activities are coordinated by the Director

• the Technical Director is responsible for the data management system

• the Secretariat coordinates the cooperation between the umbrella organizations of the GCOS and the IPA (led by the network coordinator)

• members communicate electronically on a regular basis

• members support the GTN-P Database and maintain the Data Management System

• it communicates with and supports the National Correspondents of GTN-P to facilitate the upload and quality control of TSP and CALM data to the GTN-P Database

• it reports annually to the Steering Committee and the Advisory Board about the status of the GTN-P Database and produce policy-relevant bulletins on GTN-P outputs


GTN-P National Correspondents

• National Correspondents (NC) are proposed by the IPA national Adhering Bodies

• NC foster the implementation of the GTN-P strategy in their country

• NC are responsible for stimulating and coordinating the collection of data, quality control, and reporting by the individual investigators

• NC maintain close contacts with relevant institutions and funding agencies in their country and the IPA national Adhering Bodies