Cryosol Working Group


The Cryosol Working Group (CWG) is a community of researchers studying soils underlain by permafrost in cold environments of both polar regions and high mountains. Possible presence of ground ice, permanent subzero temperatures at some depth, and seasonal freezing–thawing cycles in the soil body contribute to the specific features of the functioning and morphology of these soils that cannot be understood without due consideration for the diverse cryogenic phenomena. Cryosols store up to 50% of the world soil organic carbon pool and are highly sensitive to global climate change.


The key aim of the CWG is to facilitate communication between cryosol researchers via meetings, and to encourage other collaborative activities. Ongoing field projects contributed to by our members include: the circumpolar active-layer monitoring project (CALM) and studying and modeling soil and permafrost temperature conditions, greenhouse gas fluxes, distribution of organic carbon in soil and deep frozen subsoil layers, search for the most ancient permafrost preserving viable biota of the past, metagenomics of Cryosols, surface stability and geomorphic processes in Cryosol areas, indigenous and modern approaches to the management and conservation of Cryosols, specific features of hydrological cycle in these soils, and many other “hot issues” in Cryosol research.

The Soils of Antarctica monograph edited by J. Bockheim, and published by Springer is currently in press and should be available soon.

An illustrated Cryosol Calendar 2015 has been prepared by the CWG to celebrate International Year of Soils. A pdf can be downloaded at

When & Where

International conference Genesis, Geography and Ecology of Soils in Cold Regions, Ulan-Ude (Buryat Republic, Russia), August 31–September 9 2015 (with pre-and post-conference tours to Transbaikal steppes, Lake Baikal, and East Sayan Mountains);

International conference Permafrost in XXI Century: Basic and Applied Researches, Pushchino (Russia), September 27–October 1, 2015 with a special session devoted to Cryosols.

The 11th International Conference on Permafrost in Potsdam, Germany (June 20–24, 2016).

We hope to hold the 7th International Conference on Cryopedology – yet to be organized, possibly in Canada, in 2017.

Cryosol session at IUSS Meeting in Brazil in 2018.

Soil message

Soils of cold environments with permafrost and ground ice are particularly sensitive to global changes. Occupying about 13% of terrestrial surface, they store up to 50% of the world soil organic carbon pool and play an important role in the global carbon cycle. In-depth study of Cryosols and their biota may offer the key to the mechanisms of the long-term survival of life under harsh conditions and give us hints on security of interplanetary voyages and on the very first stages of biotic colonization of lifeless substrates! Cryosol environments are highly diverse: from virtually lifeless severe rocky and ice-covered deserts to immense boggy polygonal tundra with ice wedges and more hospitable and productive taiga and steppes. Cryosols are dynamic soils requiring special care in our dramatically dynamic world. It is probable that the extent of Cryosols narrows on a warmer planet, whereas the range of problems associated with these soils and their potential degradation and disappearance becomes wider. Cryosol Working Group is in search for broadening its horizons!

Russia is known for its by far the largest permafrost area, so it is not surprising that Russia hosts many events related to Cryosol research. Two important conferences are planned for 2015: an International Conference on the Genesis, Geography and Ecology of Soils in Cold Regions devoted to the centennial anniversary of the birth of one of the founders of Russian cryopedology O.V. Makeev and a traditional international conference on permafrost research in Pushchino.

Key contacts:
Dr Dmitry Konyushkov (Russia)

Dr Megan Balks (New Zealand)

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Page created: 12.03.2015 | Page updated: 04.04.2021

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