International Arctic Science Committee


Type of Structure: organisation / agency
Regional Scope: global
Parent Organisations:
Child Organisations: SKP
Duration : 1990 to present
Contact Address: Secretariat
Telegrafenberg A43
DE-14473 Potsdam
Phone: +49 (0) 331 288 2214
FAX: +49 (0) 331 288 2215
URL: http://www.iasc.info/

holding an official function in IASC

General information and objectives

The IASC is a circumarctic non-governmental organization that was formed in 1990 to encourage and facilitate cooperation in all aspects of arctic research, in all countries engaged in arctic research and in all areas of the arctic region. The IASC member organizations are national science organizations covering all fields of arctic research. The Swiss Polar Research Commission (SKP) became the 15th member of the IASC Council in 1994.

The mission of IASC is to promote basic and applied interdisciplinary research in or concerned with the Arctic at a circumarctic or international level and to provide scientific advice on arctic issues. One of the main tasks of the IASC is international science planning. The IASC published a Scientific Plan for a Regional Program in the Arctic on Global Change in April 1994 (IASC, 1994a) and an updated Science Agenda in December 1994 (IASC, 1994b). The science priorities of the IASC are (IASC, 1994b; IASC, 1995; Rogne, 1996):

Impacts of Global Changes on the Arctic Region and its Peoples
  • Effects of increased UV radiation
    IASC tasked the SAC of SCOPE/IUPAB to work out a report summarizing present knowledge of the effects of increased UV radiation on humans, terestrial and marine ecosystems and on northern societies and settlements, and to draft a science plan. Based on this work, an Implementation Plan for the necessary research was prepared.
  • Regional cumulative impacts
    Regional impact studies cover physical, biological and socio-economic impacts of global change. The Mackenzie Basin Impact Study (MBIS) is the only such major study in the Arctic. Using MBIS as a model, IASC will initiate two other studies: the Barents Sea Impact Study (BASIS) and the Bering Sea Impact Study (BESIS). The objectives of these studies are to: (i) assess the likely magnitude of global changes and their sub-regional manifestations; (ii) assess the consequences of these changes for the biosphere and major socio-economic units, in particular interactions between these components; (iii) determine cumulative impacts; (iv) develop scenarios for climate change impacts and possibile strategies to minimize economic losses for specific economic sectors; investigate policies to mitigate the most severe impacts.
    Artic Processes of Relevance to Global Systems
  • Mass balance of glaciers and ice sheets (MAGICS)
    The objectives of this project are to: (i) predict changes in ice volume of arctic glaciers and ice sheets as a result of future climate change on a timescale of decades to centuries; (ii) assess likely future sea level fluctuations caused by mass balance changes of arctic glaciers and ice sheets; (iii) measure and predict the input of freshwater as a result of ablation from arctic glaciers and ice sheets; (iv) validate and provide data for global circulation models on the basis of paleo-climate data from arctic ice cores; (v) reconstruct variations of Holocene climate in the Arctic.
  • Feedbacks and arctic terrestrial ecology (FATE)
    This program seeks to: (i) understand, quantify and predict patterns of response of arctic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems to global changes and feedbacks from the ecosystem to the climate system; (ii) understand the environmental and biological controls on spatial and temporal variability (surface energy and mass balances, consequences for ecosystem structure and the cycling of carbon and nutrients, trace gas fluxes, redistribution of species and ecotones and changes in biodiversity).

    Natural Processes within the Arctic
  • Arctic marine / coastal / riverine systems
    This projects will: (i) assess the links between land and sea in the Arctic (natural processes, continental margin); (ii) assess the impacts of climate change on the sea ice regime on the Siberian shelves; (iii) determine the extent and magnitude of past sea level changes on the arctic continental margin and the extent of Eurasian ice sheets in order to gain an understanding of possible future changes; (iv) assess the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to anthropogenic disturbances; (v) determine the conditions for a sustainable and integrated management system for Arctic coastal regions.
  • Disturbance and recovery of Arctic terrestrial ecosystems
    No information on this project was available at the time that this report went to press.
    Sustainable Development in the Arctic
  • Dynamics of Arctic populations and ecosystems
    This project will re-examine standard assumptions about diversity, productivity, fragility and regenerative capacity at the genetic, species, system and landscape levels; evaluate the relative significance of human and natural drivers of population and system dynamics; and integrate traditional environmental knowledge into research in this field.
  • Sustainable use of living resources of high value to Arctic residents
    Research will focus on the social driving forces and sources of variance (incl. institutions, ideas/norms and material conditions) and the detriments to sustainability and social equity in the consumption of renewable resources.
  • Environmental and social impacts of industrialization on the Arctic
    This research will address the driving forces and sources (e.g., large-scale extractive industries in the Arctic, long-range transport of air- and waterborne pollutants), the impacts (environmental/social impacts, resiliency) and feedbacks of change on the sources of global change. It will also address possible responses to adapt to or mitigate detrimental changes.

    IASC is an associate organization of ICSU and has close links to SCAR, several IGBP Core Projects and a number of other international organizations. The possibility of designating the IASC Arctic Centre as a START Regional Research Center is under consideration. It is forseen that IASC will take on an advisory role to the Actic Council.

    For further details, link to the IASC Home Page

    Last update: 10/18/10
    Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)

    Go Back
  • ProClimSearch

    Who is who ?


    ProClim Office
    House of Academies
    Laupenstrasse 7
    P.O. Box
    3001 Berne
    +41 (0) 31 306 93 50


    Registration for Research InfoSystem



    Mobile phones

    Access on mobile phones