For decades several attempts were made by the former International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI) to promote all Cryospheric Sciences and to elevate the study of the Cryosphere to a more prominent position within the International Union of Geology and Geophysics (IUGG), from a Commission within IAHS to a separate Association under IUGG. In the last year we have met strong support and encouragement from the IUGG itself as well as from its Associations, particularly from IAHS. This enabled the bureau of ICSI to put forward a proposal to the IUGG board during its Boulder meeting in 2004 for why the formation of a new association for the Cryospheric Sciences should be formed. This work was lead by the now Past-President Gerry Jones and the current President Georg Kaser with much help from the entire ICSI bureau as well as from the secretary of the IUGG, JoAnn Jocelyn and the NSIDC director Roger Barry. Our efforts resulted in a strong vote within the IUGG governing body to consider a new Association by 2007, in conjunction with the IUGG Assembly in Perugia . In the mean time it was decided that a new commission called the Union Commission for the Cryospheric Sciences (UCCS) should be formed. The UCCS formally replaced ICSI and was organized directly under IUGG. At the IUGG General Assembly in Perugia, Italy, 2007, the IUGG Council voted for establishing an eighth Association under IUGG, the International Association for Cryospheric Sciences, IACS; was born. To further the close and natural contacts that exist between the Cryospheric Sciences and the IAHS, a new commission has formed under IAHS called the Commission for Snow and Ice Hydrology (ICSIH). IACS will of course maintain the god and productive relations with the suster-Associations through e.g. joint assemblies and collabration during Scientific and General assemblies as well as through joint working groups.
The objectives of IACS
– to promote studies of cryospheric subsystems of the Earth solar systems
– to encourage research in the above subjects by members of the cryospheric community, national and international institutions and programmes, and individual countries through collaboration and international co-ordination
– to provide an opportunity on an international basis for discussion and publication of the results of the above research
– to promote education and public awareness on the cryosphere
– to facilitate the standardisation of measurement or collection of data on cryospheric systems and of the analysis, archiving and publication of such data.
We encourage all members of the cryospheric community to contribute towards these goals.
The Officers of IACS provide expert advice on cryospheric issues to governmental and non-governmental organisations. IACS is particularly interested in the transfer of cryospheric research methods and results between different parts of the world. Although IACS supports collaborative studies, workshop discussions and symposia as important means of stimulating ideas and research into the nature of snow and ice and their role in the dynamics of the biosphere, the Union Commission particularly favours the exploration of new avenues in cryospheric science through the formation of working groups. Each working group is devoted to a theme or subject and is composed of experts in the particular field of study. The life of a group is normally four years, at the end of which a published work on the state-of-the science of the WG subject matter is usually produced. IACS working groups often establish links with other organisations and research programmes with interests in the fields of snow and ice e.g. IBP, IHP and GEWEX.
The current working groups represent an avenues of research and development which IACS considers to be of integral importance in its vision of the course that the sciences of snow and ice will take in the near future. The WG for the Snow Models Inter-comparison Project (SNOWMIP) will compare the structure and functioning of existing snow models to achieve a greater understanding of the capabilities and potential applications of the models to climate change research. The comparison will be of great interest for the design of future GCM snow parameter selection and complementary research into snow physics. The WG on Snow and Climate (SCWG) is examining the relationships between snow, ice, atmosphere and climate on a global scale with a view to identify those large-scale feedback processes which influence climate-change direction. The WG on River and Lake Ice (RLIWG) and the WG on Snow-Vegetation Interactions (SVIWG) are two groups that reflect a recent preoccupation of ICSI with the role of snow and ice in the ecology of snow and ice-covered systems. RLIWG not only aims to identify and quantify physical and chemical processes in ice-covered freshwater basins but also to relate these processes to the ecology of the systems themselves (e.g. life cycles of fish). SVIWG sets out to define the nature of snow-vegetation interactions in various biomes, the role of vegetation change and management on snow and hydrological regimes and the manner in which global change will cause concomitant changes in snow-vegetation feedback relationships and water cycles.
The WG on Andean Glaciology and WG on Himalayan Glaciology have drawn together leading experts on the glaciers of these two important mountain ranges and stimulated exchange of expertise by organising conferences and workshops. The WG on Mass Balance Techniques has also played a significant part in defining new methods which can be applied to monitor glaciers throughout the world. IACS is responsible for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), one of the Permanent Services of the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Services (FAGS) funded by the United Nations Environment Programme. The Director of WGMS is Dr Wilfried Haeberli (University of Zürich, Switzerland) who works closely with the ICSU World Data Centres for Glaciology.
A history of the commission, from its roots as the International Commission on Glaciers, founded in 1894, through the merger with the International Commission on Snow in 1939, to the present day, has been published by Dr Uwe Radok (Hydrological Sciences Journal 42(2) 1997) and by Dr H. Gerald Jones (Annals of Glaciology 48 2008).