The initial idea behind the network came from Chris Swanston, Rich Birdsey, and Jen Harden, who recognized a need for better communication and resource- and data-sharing between the many scientific communities interested in soil carbon. What then began as the (U.S.) National Soil Carbon Network in 2009 was later transformed into the International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN) in 2012 with a unanimous vote by the Scientific Steering Group. The mission and goals were preserved for this transition and were expanded in order to gain a global perspective.
Support for the National Soil Carbon Network included : USDA-NIFA (an AFRI NEE grant for developing the database and hosting workshops), Microsoft Research (in-kind contribution of programmer time for developing the SQL database), USDA-FS (salary and workshop support), USGS (postdoctoral salary for data contributions to the database), and significant time rendered from scientists contributing data, sharing information, and supporting science activities related to soil carbon.
Leadership was provided by Chris Swanston (USDA Forest Service), who chaired the Scientific Steering Group, and Luke Nave (University of Michigan), who served as network coordinator. Kris Johnson coordinated the early dataset contributions and initiated NSCN with its first NSCN workshop.
Services provided included a Microsoft-based platform for soil data, including carbon, nitrogen, and variety of soil attributes in support of understanding soil carbon budgets; job postings related to soil; communication platforms via list-serves; annual meeting information updates.
Support for ISCN has included USDA-FS (continued support for web, database, and Coordinator salary through 2016); Stanford University (2016 workshop, 2016 annual meeting); Stockholm University (2016, 2017 annual meetings, publications); Univ. Alaska Fairbanks (2017 hackathon, 2017 annual meeting) and significant time rendered from scientists.
Leadership after Dec 2015 was provided by Jennifer Harden (Stanford University and USGS emeritus), Chairing the Scientific Steering Group; Gustaf Hugelius (Stockholm University), co-chairing the Science Steering Group; Kathe Todd-Brown (University of Florida), Avni Malhotra (Stanford University) and Eric Slessarev (Lawrence Livermore National Lab) co-coordinating the network. Services provided include Microsoft-based ISCN3 database; GIT repositories for accessing ISCN3 data plus ISCN4 datasets; GIT repositories for accessing specific new datasets in terminologies similar to ISCN3.
In 2020, Ben Bond-Lamberty (Pacific Northwest National Lab) took on the co-chair position after Gustaf Hugelius stepped down.