Table of Contents
Argentina (and South American Partners)
The new “Grupo Argentino de Geomorfologos” (GAG) was founded in 1994 and has now affiliated with the International Association of Geomorphologists. The GAG has 13 different research fields, among them Periglacial Geomorphology. The
GAG will organize the First Argentine Meeting of Geomorphology in 1996 in the city of Salta (NOA, Argentine Northwest).
The host will be the National University of Salta (F. Rivelli). The GAG meeting, which coincides with the 6th meeting of the Argentine Association for Permafrost (AAP), will discuss different topics, advance geocryology in Argentina, and address financial problems for research projects, because of the continuing economic difficulties.
D. Trombotto moved from Patagonia to IANIGLA, where he will be in charge of its Geocryology Group and represent the AAP in the IPA. The Mendoza-based group is working on the following topics:
- Fossil cryogenic studies in the Precordillera of Mendoza (A. Corte and E. Buk)
- Fossil permafrost in Patagonia (D. Trombotto)
- Periglacial hydrology (E. Buk)
- Soil studies with seasonal freezing (C. Regairaz)
- Maps of freezing index and frequency
Arturo Corte continues his studies in relation to the deposition of carbonates in cold environments connected with the Lanzhou Institute of China (Chen Xiaobai) and with Strasbourg University, France (Thea Vogt).
Dario Trombotto finished the first short inventory of cryogenic forms and structures in southern South America (in print in Heidelberger Geographische Arbeiten). It includes a chronology of cryogenic events and identifies two important events in southern Argentina (Patagonia). He resumed studies on the behavior of snow patches, which are decreasing at 4300 m a.s.l. in the Cordón del Plata (33°S), Mendoza. He also began new cryogenic studies and inventories in the protected Provincial Natural Area of Laguna del Diamante (34°S).
Enrique Buk marked the new limits of the 0° isotherm at 32°54’s at 3860 m a.s.l. in the Central Andes, Cordón del Plata, the rock glaciers in the Morenas Coloradas, in areas with active rock glaciers at 3600 m a.s.l. He associated the variation with recent climatic changes.
Cecilia Regairaz is working on dating of till deposits up to 2400 m a.s.l. in the Cordillera Frontal, based on soil profile weathering. The Mendoza Group hosted Prof. Kazuo Shimokawa of Sapporo University for a year in Argentina and received a German student, Martin Raithelhuber of Heidelberg University, for three months. Future topics for the Mendoza Group are:
- Remeasuring creep in rock glaciers and solifluction lobes (D. Trombotto and E. Buk)
- New cryogenic studies in the region of the Laguna del Diamante (D. Trombotto)
Among other AAP members, A.-L. Ahumada (National University ofTucuman, NOA) continued her minero-cryogenic research on heavy minerals from the Central Andes and the Antarctic.
A. Igarzabal (Salta University) presented work on cryoplanation surfaces in Puerta de Tastil (Salta). H. Schobinger (Mendoza) finished editing a book with contributions from many authors about the mummy of Aconcagua that was preserved in a cryogenic environment. S. Grosso (La Pampa) is working with fossil features in northern Patagonia. G. Martinez and others of the Centro de Geologia de Costas y del Cuaternario (Mar del Plata) worked on fossil debris slopes of the Sierra de 10s Padres, Tandil and Olavarria (Province of Buenos Aires). The Mendoza group has contributed to IPA working groups on Terminology (A. Corte, D. Trombotto and E. Buk) and Mountain Permafrost (D. Trombotto).
Submitted by Arturo Corte and Dario Trombotto
Report from June 1995
Permafrost and National Defence in Northern Canada
Engineers with the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) have had an interest in permafrost and the special problems it presents ever since their experience with it during World War II. During the war, American army engineers and civilian contractors built the Alaska Highway and CANOL road and pipeline system across northwestern Canada, to ensure a secure supply of fuel and other materiel for Alaska. Canadian military officers were attached to the construction effort, and many got their first exposure to the problems of thaw settlement in disturbed, ice-rich, fine-grained soils at that time (S. Thompson, personal communication, 1973). T. Lloyd provides a description of the problems encountered at the first site of Camp CANOL, across the Mackenzie River, just downstream of Norman Wells (Oil in the Mackenzie. Geographical Review, 34(2): 275-307, 1944). The camp signals area, which was enclosed by a fence and so remained undisturbed, soon developed into an island several feet higher than the surrounding sea of mud (T. Lloyd, personal communication, 1972).
After the end of the war, the Cold War and Canadian commitments to NATO resulted in the construction of a number of facilities and installations for the defence and security of North America. Most were constructed and operated jointly with the United States. In recent years, many have been decommissioned, as a result of obsolescence and the lessening of international tension. Given Canada’s northern location, and the Cold War preoccupation with Asia, many of these facilities were built in the permafrost region. The problems faced by the military engineers responsible for their construction were the same as those that face all engineering projects in permafrost areas. These included questions of location (controlled by the purpose of the specific facility), site selection, foundation conditions, sources of construction materials, water supply and waste disposal. In the early years, however, they were exacerbated by a poorly developed supply and transportation system. Each of the major facilities had to include an airstrip in addition to the living quarters and operational structures.
These defence installations in the north comprised four main components: 1) Joint Arctic Weather Stations, built in the 1950s; 2) Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radar stations, also built in the 1950s; 3) Short Range Radar Stations, built in the 1980s; and 4) the current Forward Operating Locations program, of upgrading selected arctic airstrips for potential military use.
When the Arctic Weather Stations and the DEW Line sites were being designed and built, it was thought urgent to get them completed quickly. Thus the approach to their design and construction planning was one of “overdesign and overbuild” as a way of coping with the possible foundation problems presented by permafrost. Thus more piles than may have been necessary were placed under the buildings and thick pads of gravel were laid down for the airstrips and roadways.
In the 1980s, when the Short Range Radar Sites were being built, however, there was less pressure for a quick completion and much more was known about design and construction in permafrost terrain. Like the original DEW Line construction, much of the work on site selection and investigation, design and construction was done by civilian contractors. More attention was therefore paid to optimizing pile design, for example, and research on pile design for specific permafrost conditions was undertaken (K.W. Biggar and D.C. Sego, Field pile load tests in saline permafrost. I. Test procedures and results. II. Analysis of results. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 30(1): 34-59, 1993).
The current program of airstrip upgrading began in the late 1980s. A major concern is the possible effects of global warming on permafrost stability and on the performance of the airstrips and associated buildings and, in particular, the possible effects of differential thaw settlement of runways on the safety of jet aircraft. Jets land and take off at relatively high speeds and differential settlements of as little as 5-10 an over a horizontal distance of 60 m are considered excessive by aircraft manufacturers. Thus research into the extent of permafrost and of ground ice and their seasonal variation in the soils beneath runways has been undertaken, principally at Inuvik and Rankin Inlet, NWT (A.S. Judge, C.M. Tucker, J.A. Pilon and B.J. Moorman, Remote sensing of permafrost by ground-penetrating radar at two airports in Arctic Canada. Arctic, 44(1): 40-48, 1991). At Rankin Inlet, because of the high costs associated with mobilization and construction at this relatively inaccessible location, the runway and building foundations have been deliberately overdesigned, so as to accommodate a potential warming of the permafrost by 1-2°C over the next few decades.
Prepared by J.A. Heginbottom
with the assistance of C.M. Tucker, June 1995
Report from December 1995
The Canadian National Committee (CNC) for the IPA held its annual meeting in Ottawa, at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), on 24 June 1995. The business of the meeting was devoted largely to the planning of the 7th International
Conference on Permafrost, to be held in Canada in June 1998. In particular, the committee completed a thorough review of the decision to hold the conference in Yellowknife, NWT. Concern had been expressed over the high cost of travel to Yellowknife and over the implications of cutbacks in the federal and territorial governments for the success of this conference. The CNC heard strong statements of support from the GSC and from the representative of the Science Institute of the NWT/Aurora College. In conclusion, the CNC confirmed that Yellowknife is indeed an appropriate place to hold the conference, and that there is a strong local commitment to its success, by all sectors of the community. In response to institutional changes within the federal public service, the Science Institute of the NWT has resumed the lead role in supporting the conference Local Arrangements Committee, replacing the Yellowknife office of the GSC (scheduled to close in December 1995). The Technical Program Committee is now in place and the Field Trips Plan is well on its way to completion.
The Canadian Geotechnical Society’s 48th annual conference, held in Vancouver in September, included a session on Permafrost/Engineering Geology, organized by the Cold Regions Division. The papers presented addressed such diverse topics as natural piping failures in permafrost; effects of forest fires on ice-rich, fine-grained permafrost slopes; use of georadar for geotechnid study of insulated permafrost slopes; modeling of diesel he1 leaks in permafrost; and creep deformation of massive ground ice. Dr. Elisabeth Hivon, of EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd, Edmonton, will take over the
chair of the Cold Regions Division in January 1996; the three other members of the division’s executive will be chosen in due course. The 1995 Roger J.E. Brown Award is being shared by A.J. Hanna, J.M. Oswell, E.C. McRoberts, J.D. Smith and T.W. Fridel for authoring a paper entitled “Initial Performance of Slopes: Norman Wells Pipeline Project, Canada,” presented at the 7th International Cold Regions Engineering conference in Edmonton in March 1994. The 49th Canadian Geotechnical Conference will be in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in September 1996 (see p. 25).
Submitted by J.A. Heginbottom, Secretary, CNC-IPA
Report from June 1995
The Chinese National Workshop on Cryosphere and Global Change was held on 5-7 May 1995 at the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. About 50 Chinese glaciologists and geocryologists attended. Abstracts have been published in Chinese and the proceedings will be published at the end of this year.
In order to systematically investigate the response of permafrost to the construction and operation of highways in cold regions, an in-situ experiment and observation site is being constructed on the Qing-Kang No. 214 highway by the Transportation Bureau of Qinghai Province in cooperation with the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences. More information will appear in future news bulletins.
Submitted by Zhu Yuanlin
Report from December 1995
As reported in Frozen Ground No. 17, the Conference on the Cryosphere and Global Change was held in Lanzhou in May 1995. The proceedings are being published by Science Press and include, among others, the following topics: responses of the cryosphere to climate change in the high elevations of Asia and impacts on adjacent regions; monitoring of cryospheric changes; responses of glaciers, snow cover and permafrost to climate change; changes in vegetation and depositional and hydrological processes; use of remote sensing techniques; and establishment of databases in cryospheric research.
As reported elsewhere (p. 21) the Fifth National Conference on Glaciology and Geocryology will be held in August 1996 in Lanzhou. The first annual issue of the English language journal Cryosphere will be published by the end of 1995. Ordering information is available from Zhu Yuanlin, Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology.
Report presented by Cheng Guodong
at the Berlin Council meetings
J. Aguirre-Puente, President of the French IPA association, participated in a meeting (May 1995) of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR). The institute wishes to establish a link with the IPA, the common theme being global change. The IIR has a commission to study the environmental problems caused by CFCs. The next international conference of the IIR will be held at the Hague 20-25 August 1996. The IIR contact is L. Lucas, Director, 117 Boulevard Maleshebes, 75017 Paris, France.
There is an active periglacial commission of the National Committee of Geography that includes French geomorphologists who work on fossil and active processes (Alps, Andes, Arctic, Antarctic). They conduct a field trip and hold a two-day symposium each year and results are published. M. Fort, Secretary, Geography, University Paris may be contacted for details. One discussion concerned the extent and depth of Weichselian permafrost; several papers addressed modeling and comparisons with field evidence. This also relates to studies in the EEC Program on paleoclimatic evolution during the Weichselian (in loess) with classic dating and other measurements (14C, 13C, 18O), and new techniques compared with the Vostok core. Many papers concerning fossil frost processes in relation to paleoclimate and paleogeography have been published.
Submitted by J.-P. Lautridou
A joint Russian-German expedition was carried out from July to September 1994 on the Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia. Hydrological, cryopedological and paleogeographical permafrost studies were undertaken by scientists of the Potsdam Research Department of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Institute of Polar Ecology, Kiel (IPÖ) and the Institute of Soil Sciences, Hamburg University (HH) together with Russian counterparts. The investigations are part of an ongoing German- Russian project on the Late Quaternary environmental history of Central Siberia.
Hydrological studies were carried out in the Levinson-Lessing Lake catchment (Byrranga Mountains) by the AWI group in cooperation with scientists from the AARI (Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute), St. Petersburg. The objective is to trace seasonal water and solute transport in the active layer under a variety of geomorphological settings within the lake watershed underlain by continuous permafrost. The study focuses specifically on the determination of 1) flowpaths of water in the phreatic and vadose zone of the active layer and 2) sources and sinks of active layer water (precipitation, evaporation, frozen ground, lateral flow). During summer 1994, instruments were installed in the active layer to depths of maximum thaw. In-situ bulk electrical conductivity and volumetric moisture content of the active layer were measured using time domain reflectometry (TDR). Wells and piezometers were installed to determine water table elevations in the phreatic zone and to calculate hydraulic conductivities. The chemical and isotopical composition of water from the vadose and phreatic layer, precipitation, lake and stream water will be used to infer residence times, mixing rates, flowpaths and sources of water. Further field work is planned to start in May 1995 and continue until October to obtain data for one complete cycle of the active layer (thawing, maximum thaw depth, refreezing).
2. Paleogeographical studies of permafrost were carried out in the Labaz Lake area (Taimyr lowland) by scientists from the AWI, IPÖ, HH and the Department of Geocryology, Moscow State University. The main task of the field work was to study lithological and cryogenic structures of the perennially frozen sediments of the Labaz Lake drainage area using outcrops and core drilling. Samples of organic material were taken for C14-dating in various stratigraphic horizons. In peat and sediment profiles, samples were taken for palynological, lithological, stable isotopes (oxygen-18, deuterium) and tritium analysis of ground ice. The study was complemented by soil and microbiological investigations of recent tundra soils. These results will be used for reconstruction of the vegetation history, climatic conditions and character of sedimentary and cryogenic processes in the East of the Taimyr Lowland during the Late Quaternary period. In both areas measurement of the active layer depth related to the ITEX program was started (see Frozen Ground No. 16, p. 7, for data from the Taimyr sites).
At the AWI in Potsdam, Christine Siegert has started a research project on Frozen Geochemical Barrier (FGB): Its Dynamics and Influence on Substance Flux in Permafrost Landscapes. The project is in cooperation with Vladimir E. Ostroumov, Institute of Soil Sciences and Photosynthesis, and Bjarne Holm Jakobsen, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen. Integrated field work at different study sites and laboratory experiments is planned.
Geochemical processes in polar and subpolar regions are strongly influenced by the near-surface permafrost table. The boundary between the seasonally thawing soil and the perennially frozen gound is an important geochemical barrier. The thermodynamic conditions at the FGB determine phase transformations of water and the presence of ice. Extremely high gradients of chemical potentials are characteristic for this boundary. As a result, the intensity of chemical substance transformation and mass transfer increases. Specific geochemical processes developing at the FGB have a great influence on soil formation and other landscape forming processes in polar and subpolar terrestrial ecosystems. The character of geochemical processes at the FGB is determined by the interaction of climatic, biotic, geomorphological, geological and geocryological factors, which have varied over geological time.
The German working group on polar geography held its meeting in Jena (12-13 May). New results of the Geoscientific Spitzbergen Expeditions 1990/92 were presented. On 14 May the Quaternary geomorphology and chronology was discussed in the field on a full-day excursion to Bad Kösen and Weimar (led by R. Mäusbacher, Jena). The next working group meeting will be in Heidelberg on 10-11 November 1995.
Submitted by Lorenz King
In 1995 the Laboratory of Geocryology of the International Centre of Geoecology of Mountain Countries in Arid Regions (ICGM) continued and extended the regular observations on the program of geocryological monitoring. Main attention was focused on the thermal regime of permafrost and seasonal freezing-thawing under different natural conditions of the Northern Tien Shan (Zailiysky Alatau). Climate changes result in permafrost “warming,” increased seasonal thawing depth, reduction of thickness, and disappearance of the “pereletoks” at the lower boundary. Despite considerable year-to-year fluctuation there is a general trend of rising mean annual temperature and reduction of the layer of seasonal freezing.
Investigations of the influence of climate and permafrost warming on the dynamics of rock glaciers, solifluction and thermokarst processes, frost heaving, and glacial mud-flow continue. The active rock glaciers of the Northern Tien Shan were classified and a map of their distribution (1:200,000) was compiled. Fluctuations of the movement velocity of the rock glacier Gorodetsky (Zailiysky Alatau) since 1923 were evaluated. On the northeastern part of the Ketmen and Karatau Ranges, research was begun into the unique cryogenic feature of the Tien Shan forest solifluction. On the basis of the map of cryogenic features (scale 1:25,000) of the Bolshava Almatinka basin using special methods, evaluation of permafrost and ground ice volumes was carried out. Using temperature data from deep boreholes and simulation methods, variations of permafrost temperatures in the Holocene were estimated.
The Laboratory of Snow Cover and Avalanches (ICGM) carried out observations of snow cover and avalanche activity
monitoring on the northern slope of Zailiysky Alatau. Data on the duration of snow cover and the depth and water content on slopes of different exposures and altitudinal zones were obtained. The volumes of the avalanches were mapped and measured. A database of multi-year snow cover observations in the mountains of Kazakhstan was prepared. Spatial-temporal variability of the snow parameters was analyzed. A map of maximum snow storage and its variability (1:500,000) was drawn for the territory of Zailiysky Alatau, Kungei Alatau, Ketmen and Dzhungarsky Alatau.
The ICGM proposed a 50-year forecast of glacial evolution in the Northern Tien Shan and the Pjungar (or Dzhungarsky) Alatau.
Submitted by A.P. Gorbunov and I.V. Seversky
The following is the first technical report received from Mongolia. Additional infirmation may be obtained from the author
at the Institute of Geography and Geocryology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulanbator, Mongolia, 210620.
In 1992-93, in order to develop a new method to decrease the depth and duration of seasonal freezing in the area of the Baganuur coal deposit, N. Sharkhuu carried out temperature observations on freezing processes using insulation covers over gravels and sands. Sawdust 15 and 35 cm thick was used. The depth of seasonal freezing for gravel and sand was 4.1 m (moisture content 5%, mean annual temperature -2°C). The sawdust had a moisture content of 55% and a density of 0.17 g/cm3. The temperature observations give the following results: decrease of the date from the beginning of freezing and from the ending of thawing and reduction of the depth of seasonal freezing of ground for the sawdust covers with thickness of 35 cm to 2.6 m, with changes from 43 to 52 days. The results obtained show that this method is suitable for development of coal deposit earthworks under the conditions in Mongolia.
N. Sharkhuu obtained ground temperature regimes for the period 1991-93 in more than 20 boreholes in the Nalaikh coal deposit to depths of 20-100 m. As a result of the observations the author has elucidated ground temperature regimes for the seasonal thawing layers and permafrost and established the thickness and annual temperature of continuous permafrost in this deposit. In this area the permafrost is up to 45 m thick with an annual temperature from O° to -1°C. The depth of the active layer ranges from 2.2 to 4.8 m. All characteristics obtained are shown on the author’s permafrost map of the Nalaikh deposit area at a scale of 1:5000. According to temperature data measured in borehole N23 over the period 1945-93, the rate of decrease of permafrost thickness from below (from subpermafrost exploitation of the deposit) was on the average 0.4 m/yr or a decrease from 50 m to 20 m for 48 years.
In 1993, geocryological field research was carried out on the Bajankhongor ritory, an area of 116,000 km2 that embraces the Kangai Mountains on the south. As a result of previous geocryological generalization and new research by N. Sharkhuu, D. Tumurbaatar and R. Lomborenchen, maps have been compiled of permafrost and seasonally freezing
and thawing soils, and also a map of the distribution of cryogenic processes and phenomena on a scale of 1:500,000. According to these maps, mean annual ground temperature ranges from -8°C to -1°C, permafrost thickness in the^Kangai Mountains reaches to some hundred meters, and the depth of seasonal freezing and thawing is from 1 to 5 m.
There is widespread occurrence of cryogenic processes and features, including frost mounds, surface icings, thermokarst and stone polygons.
Submitted by N. Sharkhuu
Within the framework of a Dutch-Russian treaty for scientific cooperation, the Willem Barentz field station has been opened at the eastern valley side of the lower Yenisei River, Russia, near its mouth in the North Polar Sea at Dickson (west Taimyr, c. 73°N). This field station has been set up by biologists, but will also be open for other scientists. There are places for 10-20 persons. The station is accessible by sea and air (by plane to Dickson and then 10 minutes by helicopter). At present, there is a “managing committee.” The contact person for The Netherlands is B. Ebbinge, Afdeling Aquatische Ecologie, Institut voor Bosen Natuuronderzoek (IBM-DLO), P.B. 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands. Tel: 31 3434 55204.
Submitted by Jef Vandenberghe
For the past 30 years, several soil scientists from New Zealand have been studying soils in Antarctica to determine their properties and their significance in respect to weathering processes, glacial history and landscape evolution.
The soils are Cold Desert soils, formed in the coldest and driest environment on Earth. Notwithstanding the severe climate, where mean annual temperatures for much of the continent range from -15°C to -50°C, significant variation in soil properties has existed, largely as a function of available moisture. A distinctive feature of the soils is their very great age. Some land surfaces are now considered to date from the middle Miocene or earlier. The extreme aridity and great age of these soils provide a unique background for the study of cryopedology and geocryology.
Recent research by our New Zealand group in the McMurdo Dry Valley region has focused largely on the properties of permafrost and the impacts of humans on the Antarctic environment. Extensive disturbances in the vicinity of major bases have significantly influenced the soils, the biology and the permafrost. Such disturbances are now forbidden under the Environment Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty.
To predict human impact on permafrost in Antarctica, our research has concentrated on determining the properties of permafrost in the McMurdo coastal environment over a wide range of sites, comparing the permafrost at undisturbed sites with that at sites disturbed 35 years ago, investigating the propert:es of permafrost in differing soil climatic zones, and measuring the summer water content and other physical and chemical properties of the active layer. The movement of contaminants from point sources and the rates and extent of tracer movements in the soil and permafrost at experimental sites are also being studied, providing useful information on soil moisture movement.
An experiment to determine the rate of de-watering of ice-cemented permafrost, using a neutron probe in aluminum access tubes, is currently in progress. Various site climate and soil climate parameters are also being measured. Other experiments have measured the rate at which ground disturbance from typical field work activity occurs. Assessment of sites disturbed up to 30 years ago in field investigations is providing a measure of natural regenerative processes.
Our investigations to date have shown that permafrost and active layer properties vary greatly from place to place. They also confirm the very fragile nature of the Antarctic landscape and the very long time scales over which processes in Antarctica operate. This understanding will help to minimize the impacts of humans within the Antarctic environment and to predict the impacts of global climate change on exposed land surfaces of Antarctica.
Submitted by Iain B. Campbell
Studies of permafrost and periglacial phenomena in 1994 were carried out during expeditions to Spitzbergen and King George Island (Antarctica) as well as the Kola Peninsula. These were continuations of programs started in previous years.
On Spitzbergen studies were carried out on Weddell Jarlsberg Land in the regions of Hornsund and Bellsund Fiords. They included problems of tundra freezing and thawing as well as the temperature of active layer and near-surface permafrost. The annual research programme was carried out by teams from Wroclaw University, Nicolai Copernici University in Torun, and the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, and were coordinated by A. Jahn.
During the summer, polar expeditions headed by K. Pekala, Department of Geomorphology, Institute of Earth Sciences, M. Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, undertook a monitoring program of contemporary morphogenetic processes and thermal conditions. The effect of meteorological conditions, relief, aspect of slopes, vegetation and soil moisture on permafrost active layer dynamics was studied in different tundra ecosystems in the region of the southern border of Bellsund. Contemporary frost processes, Arctic soil development, and permafrost water chemistry were also the subjects of investigation.
Some examinations of slope processes in the discontinuous permafrost zone were made by M. Harasimiuk (Department of Geology, Institute of Earth Sciences, M. Curie-Sklodowska University) on Kola Peninsula.
The investigations on King George Island, with the Polish H. Arctowski Station as a base, were undertaken by the team of A. Kostrzewski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) and concerned monitoring of contemporary periglacial processes and tundra ecosystems.
The results of investigations carried out by the Polish polar center are presented every year at polar symposia of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society as well as at the polar sessions organized by the Institute of Earth Sciences, M. Curie-Sklodowska University. The proceedings are published after each session and symposium. In 1994, two volumes were published: the 21st Polar Symposium in Warsaw, 60 Years of Polish Research of Spitzbergen (54 contributions, 371 pages, Warsaw), as well as Polar Session Arctic Natural Environment Problems (25 contributions, 202 pages, M. Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin).
Submitted by K. Pekala
Report from June 1995
A summary of the highly successful meeting of the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology is reported elsewhere (p. 3-4). N.A. Grave has also provided a very useful summary of the monitoring session held during the council meetings. Copies are available by direct mail or E-mail from the Secretary General’s ofice. In addition to many national and international activities, Russian geocryologists and cryopedologists are actively involved in the development of the Global Geocryological Database. The results of some of those activities are provided in the reports of the Data and Information and Cryosols Working Groups (p. 5 and 8). These include a compilation of over 370 published permafrost maps, a list of Russian organizations and institutions with potential permafrost data holdings, results of a pilot project to extract soil temperature data from existing meteorological station records, and borehole data from units within the IPA permafrost maps. The initial steps to prepare an international soils legend and map of regions underlain by permafrost have been taken.
Numerous bilateral and multilateral initiatives are underway, including the joint program with Japan and a program started with Sweden in 1994 on Tundra Ecology-34. A guidebook entitled Diversity of Natural Ecosystems in theRussian Arctic was prepared by Russian specialists and published (Reprocentralen Lunds Universitet) with general soils and permafrost conditions described for some 20 sites visited by the TE-94 field parties. Under the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) program, active layer measurements are being obtained at several sites (see Global Change and Permafrost Working Group report; p. 6). Active layer data are being collected (by German colleagues) at several sites on the Taimyr Peninsula as well as in West Siberia and Chukotka using the ITEX-IPA protocol.
Plans for the Second International Conference on Cryopedology have been announced (see inside back cover). Finally, the Russian participants in the IPA Council meeting in Berlin will introduce a proposal to establish an International School for Permafrost. Results of those discussions will be announced in the next issue of Frozen Ground.
Report from December 1995
A special session on “Monitoring in the Cryolithozone” was included in the annual meeting of the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology in Pushchino (near Moscow) 24-28 April 1995 (see Frozen Ground 17, p. 3-4). Seven papers were presented at the special session devoted to the monitoring problem. In addition, some papers connected with the problem were discussed at the other special sessions.
An overview paper, “Monitoring of Global Changes in the Permafrost Zone,” was presented by A. Pavlov. He predicted that by 2020 the temperature of the ground surface would increase by about 2.5°C. Seasonal thawing would be deeper by 15-25%. An expected warming of global climate would reduce temperature contrasts in the permafrost. An interrelationship between climate warming and the intensity of cryogenic processes (thermo-abrasion, rapid solifluction) was noted. Pavlov proposed to create a unified system of circumpolar monitoring of the Northern Hemisphere using automated measuring means and computer-aided technologies of collection, storage and processing of information. This information should be used for prediction of changes in frozen ground properties to improve construction projects.
A scenario of climate warming and prediction of changes of the West Siberian cryolithozone in the 21st century were discussed by V. Balobayev, using a computerized model of warming and thawing in accordance with the tables and maps of increasing temperatures of the ground surface during the 21st century for all West Siberia. Relict permafrost will continue to degrade. The southern border of permafrost will retreat 50-80 km by 2020 and 200 km by 2050. By the end of the 21st century frozen ground will only occur north of Yamal and Gydan.
In his paper “A Necessity to Take Into Account Global Climate Warming When Projecting Construction on Permafrost,”
L. Khrustalev stated that 54% to 100% of the buildings in the settlement of Tiksi would be destroyed by 2030 because of the expected climate warming. Monitoring of the permafrost zone in the Urengoi gas field (northern West Siberia) during 1975, 1976, 1980 and 1992-1994 (paper by D. Drozdov and others from VSEGINGEO titled “The Change of Engineering-Geocryological Conditions in Urengoi Mineral Deposits”) showed that the more significant changes in the temperature of frozen ground were found in sites close to construction. Near pipeline embankments after 1975, the temperature of permafrost rose 2°-3°C and now is near 0°C. Along roads with undisturbed surfaces, the temperature of the ground rose up to 1.5°-2.0°C. Cryogenic processes there were also activated.
Dynamics of the littoral zone of Arctic seas and the present state-of-the-art and goals were presented in a paper by F. Are. Monitoring of the coastal zone dynamics and calculations showed rates of constant thermoabrasion of Arctic sea shores are conditioned mainly by a hydromechanical transfer of suspended sediments during strong storms. American investigators believe that sea ice is the principal agent of shelf erosion. Are believes that the drift ice in the Laptev Sea does not substantially influence the dynamics of the shoreline. The sludge ice, which is formed in large amounts during the winter storms, is a more effective agent of transfer than suspended sediment in the Laptev Sea. F. Are proposed to create a 1:50,000 scale map of the coastal dynamics, which will show eroded areas and land formation during the recent decades, rates of coastline movement, and magnitude of coastal erosion and sediment accumulation in the littoral zone.
Monitoring of the coastline at 60 points in the area of polar station Mare Saale (Yamal Peninsula, West Siberia) over 16 years showed that the mean rate of retreat of the shore is about 2 meters per year and 10 meters where the shores are composed of ice-rich sediments (“Thermoabrasion of the West Yamal Seacoast,” V. Vassiliev.) Monitoring of the coastline in the area of the Lena River delta over 14 years (1981-1994) showed that during the last 10-20 years the rate of shoreline retreat was 10-25% less than the rates obtained by previous investigators during the preceding decades.
Adequate monitoring in the cryolithozone was emphasized in the paper “Remote Sounding for the Geocryological Substantiation of the Transcontinental Railway Project” (Siberia, Alaska), by V. Rasbegin and others. Forecasting the
impact on the environment and permafrost conditions and working out relevant recommendations can be solved by means of research and monitoring the cryolithozone.
Monitoring of permafrost begun in 1980 is carried out in five physicogeographical regions of Central Yakutia, as discussed in a paper by P. Skryabin and others entitled “Monitoring of the Ground Thermal Regime in Central Yakutia.” The last decade is characterized by a rise in air temperature of 0.7°C and by an increase in the thickness of the snow cover. The changes in the mean temperature of the ground at the top of permafrost are connected mostly with the variations of the air temperatures and the depth of summer thaw, with summer precipitation and a sum of air temperatures above O°C.
As reported by A. Federov, the monitoring data obtained in Central Yakutia show an increase of ground temperature at the 3.2 m depth of 15%. During the last 15-20 years we can see a significant rise in ground temperature because of climate warming.
The expected climate warming will give rise to thermokarst phenomena in central Yakutia, at sites where ice wedges
occur. The depth of alasses may be 15-20 m as reported in papers by N. Bosikov, “The Stability of Technogenic Landscapes in Central Yakutia,” and T. Botulu, “The Evaluation of Modern Conditions of the Landscapes with Ice Wedges
and Reaction to Climate Warming.”
“Changes in Frozen Ground by Thermodenudation” was presented by V. Ostroumov. Physical and physicochemical properties of frozen ground in the oxidation zone near thermoabrasion benches and alass formations in the Kolyma-
Indigirka lowlands were studied. Stationary oxidation zones are formed on stable slopes over 150-200 years. When characterizing the relationship of the oxidative transformation of the ground and thermodenudation intensity, it is assumed a linear character of transformation with time. The resulting relationship can be used to determine the rate of thermodenudation. The proposed approach makes it possible to determine the rates of thermoabrasion and the river bank regression by the data of a single determination of ground parameters in the oxidation zone.
The evaluation and control of icings in connection with global environmental climate changes were presented in a paper by V.Alekseev.The process of icing formation is important for engineering, prospecting and construction. To predict the evolution of icings one should make a modern cartographic evaluation of icing danger, determine the dependence of icing parameters on specific environmental and geocryohydrological conditions, and find methodological approaches to forecasting events in connection with the natural and man-affected evolution of the geocryogenic systems. Results of the investigations should be small-scale maps of the icing-rich area. The monitoring of icings should be organized to determine the changes in the ice field characteristics during the past 200-300 years. An international program for monitoring icing danger in the cryolithozone was proposed.
Prepared and submitted by Nikolai A. Grave
European members of the International Permafrost Association have recently submitted a three-year research proposal to the European Union under its Fourth Framework Environment and Climate Program. The project is entitled High Mountain Slope Instability Associated with Permafrost Degradation Due to Climate Change: Monitoring, Modeling and Hazard Assessment. As the title implies, we propose to monitor mountain permafrost temperatures and slope instability associated with permafrost degradation, and undertake numerical and physical modelling in order to provide a new process-based approach to mountain slope hazard assessment in the context of dimate change.
Objectives of the program are: 1) to establish a framework for monitoring the impact of global climate change in the high mountains of Europe, particularly in relation to the stability of mountain permafrost, and 2) to provide a new process-based method for mountain landslide hazard assessment in the context of changing climate and permafrost degradation.
Coordinator of the proposal is Charles Harris (Cardiff, UK) and partners indude Dietrich Barsch (Heidelberg, Germany), Lorenz King (Geissen, Germany), Wilfried Haeberli (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Francesco Dramis (Rome, Italy), Jonas kerman (Lund, Sweden), Johan Ludvig Sollid (Oslo, Norway) and David Palacios (Madrid, Spain). Field sites will be located in the Pyrenees, the Alps and the mountains of Scandinavia, including Spitsbergen.
Future plans and results of the program, including involvement of the Global Geocryological Database node at the GeoData Institute, University of Southampton, will be presented in future issues of Frozen Ground.
Submitted by Charles Harris
United States of America
Report from June 1995
Several U.S. membership and prokssional organizations continue their activities related to both seasonally and perennially frozen ground. These include the American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Association of American Geographers (AAG), and several boards and committees of the National Research Council. Permafrost research projects and monitoring are also active under several governmental programs. Brief reports follow.
The AGU continues to provide support for the IPA Secretariat and to promote permafrost interests both nationally and internationally. The Snow, Ice and Permafrost Committee meets regularly at the annual Fall meetings. As was the case in 1994, a special session on frozen ground is planned for the 1995 meeting in San Francisco. The topics are related to:
Continuing advances in understanding physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring in areas of permafrost and seasonal frost, combined with increasing interest in the role of permahost in diverse practical problems ranging from Arctic contamination to global change, provide the impetus for this general session on frozen ground processes.
It is anticipated that some participants in the IPA Frozen Ground Workshop to be held at CRREL on 9-1 1 December (see inside back cover) will continue on to the San Francisco meetings and present additional reports.
The ASCE’s Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) continues to be active in all aspects of cold regions research and engineering. In addition to the work of the Frozen Ground Committee, the Design and Construction Committee is developing monographs on Roadways and Airfields, Arctic Foundations, and Cold Climate Utilities. TCCRE co-sponsored the 7th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in March 1994 with the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering in Edmonton, Alberta. An informative 869-page proceedings (with 20 permafrost and frozen ground papers) is available from Dan Smith, University of Alberta (403 492 4138). The Eighth International Conference is being held in Fairbanks, Alaska, on 12-17 August 1996, with a focus on infrastructure and including a mini-symposium on the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. TCCRE is also sponsoring the International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 1997) in Anchorage on 16- 19 June 1997. ISCORD promotes the exchange of information and experience related to the
development of cold regions of the world. ASCE’s quarterly Journal of Cold Regions Engineering has a new editor, Professor John Dempsey, Clarkson University. The journal continues to seek quality papers on all aspects of cold regions engineering and research. For information on TCCRE contact Jon E. Zufelt, CRREL (fax: 603 646 4477).
The AAG, under the leadership of Jesse Walker, Louisiana State University, has taken another step closer to forming
a Cryosphere Specialty Group. The group’s interests would include snow, ice (glacier, lake, sea), permafrost, periglacial
processes, and cryosols, among other topics and disciplines in all cold regions of the Earth. It would organize special sessions at the annual meetings and other activities. In order to form such a group 100 interested AAG members are required and a petition is being circulated among members within and outside the U.S. to demonstrate support for
The NRC Transportation Research Board’s Committee A2L04 on Frost Action met on 22 January 1995 in Washington, DC. Among the technical topics discussed were presentations on centrifuge modeling for frost effects, recent results from the Minnesota road test sections (MNIRoads), the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) monitoring program, the CRREL Frost Effects Research Facility (FERF), and open grade embankments in Alaska. The committee reviewed its research needs statements; more information can be obtained from the committee’s new chairperson, Billy Connors of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, 2301 Peger Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709-5316.
Several research, monitoring and planning activities related to permafrost are underway in the U.S. The National Science Foundation funds permafrost and periglacial research in both the Antarctic and Arctic. The Arctic System Science (ARCSS) program has a number of projects in Alaska at which ground temperatures and active layer thickness are monitored. The ITEX-IPA protocol for active layer measurements is being conducted on six 1000-meter grid sites in 1995. The U.S. Geological Survey (Clow, Lachenbruch) and CRREL (Lunardini) continue to monitor permafrost temperatures at sites in northern and central Alaska. The University ofAlaska in Fairbanks has several groups at the Geophysical Institute (Osterkamp) and the Water Research Center (Kane and Hinzman) that continue their long-term measurements of permafrost and the active layer, respectively.
The National Science Foundation sponsored a small international workshop at the Byrd Polar Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, in January 1995 to define research priorities for the Russian Arctic land-shelf systems. Both subsea and onshore permafrost were identified as major topics of interest in understanding past, present and future processes. The 40 participants included invitees from Russia, Latvia, Norway, Germany, and Canada. More information will be provided as the research opportunities are identified.
Submitted by Jerry Brown
Report from December 1995
The U.S. National Research Council has appointed Bernard Hallet as Chair of the U.S. Committee for the International Permafrost Association (USC/IPA) for the period July 1995 through July 2000. He replaces Bill Lovell who served in this position for the previous five years. Hallet, formerly Vice Chair of the USC/IPA, is the Director, Periglacial Laboratory of the Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington, a position formerly held by QRC founder Linc Washburn. The USC/IPA is a subunit of the U.S. National Committee on Geology (USNC/Geology), which in turn is under the Commission on Geosciences, Environment and Resources. Other new members of the USC/IPA are in the process of being appointed.
Jon Zufelt, CRREL, reports that the ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) met in San Diego on 21-22 October 1995. Some highlights from those meetings follow. TCCRE’s Frozen Ground Committee continues its efforts in the technology transfer arena. The committee has developed two short courses which will be offered at the ASCE’s 8th International Cold Regions Engineering Specialty Conference in Fairbanks on 12-17 August 1996. The first is “Computer-Aided Analysis of Frost Heave Using the CRREL FROST Program.” The second course is on thermosyphon design. In other news, the committee is developing sessions on Anti-Icing Technology for Roads. The sessions are planned for the ASCE National Convention, to be held in Minneapolis in the fall of 1997. The committee has finalized contributions to the ASCE Monograph “Roadways and Airfields in Cold Regions.” The existing Monograph, “Thermal Design Considerations,” is currently being reviewed and updated. Jim McDougall of North of 60 Engineering, Ltd. in Calgary, Canada, was named as the new committee chair.
Jesse Walker reports that the April 1996 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Charlotte, North Carolina, will have four sessions related to the cryosphere: 1) snow cover, 2) active layer, 3) glaciers and permafrost,
and 4) periglacial. The proposed AAG Cryosphere Specialty Group is likely to be formed in 1996.
Ron Paetzold of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Lincoln, Nebraska, reports on several soil climate projects in the northern United States. The Soil Moisture/Soil Temperature Pilot Project (SMIST) is a feasibility study for the establishment of a network of soil climate data collection stations to monitor temperature and moisture to depths of 2 meters. A second project is the Wisconsin Dense Till project (WDT), which consists of 28 instrumented sites in northern and central Wisconsin for monitoring soil moisture and temperature. A report by the NRCS Soil Climate Team entitled “Distribution of Soil Climate Stations for the United States” provides an inventory of reporting stations and data. This report is available from NRCS, Federal Building, Room 152, 100 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-3866.
Submitted by Jerry Brown
Report from June 1995
The Council of the Southern African Permafrost Group (SAPG) has changed again, with Stefan Grab (University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg) now taking over as president from Margaret Marker (University of Cape Town). Wilson Rooy (University of Pretoria) and Ian Meiklejohn (University of Pretoria) remain as secretaryltreasurer and IPA representative respectively.
Some members attended and presented papers at a special Periglacial Session of the SASQUA (Southern African Society for Quaternary Research) Biennial Conference, held in Cape Town from 30 April to 6 May 1995. Papers presented included:
- Interpretation of relict periglacial landforms in the High Drakensberg: Pleistocene or Holocene? (S. Grab)
- Evidcnce for perennial snowbeds and Quaternary glaciation in the eastern Cape Drakensberg (C. Lewis)
- Cenozoic sequences from Lesotho (M. Marker)
- Valley asymmetry in the High Drakensberg: What are the palaeoclimatic implications? (I. Meiklejohn)
- Debris deposits at Bannermans Pass, KwaZulu/Natal Drakensberg: Some palaeoclimatic implications (P. Stunner, I. Meiklejohn and S. Currie)
The debates at the SASQUA conference again highlighted the considerable differences in opinion regarding the interpretation of Quaternary periglacial/glacial landforms in southern Africa. The stimulating and sometimes heated discussion is seen as healthy for the discipline, particularly as there are so few periglacial researchers in southern Africa. This bodes well for a more rigorous scientific approach and an improvement in the periglacial/glacial research component
of southern African Quaternary studies. In future, SAPG sessions and field meetings will be closely associated with the
Southern African Association of Geomorphologists and SASQUA biennial meetings, which are held during alternate years, so that we will all be able to meet on an annual basis.
Given the small academic community in southern Africa, it is indeed gratifying to note how many researchers are currently
involved in periglacial research. Stefan Grab, Paul Sumner and Ian Meiklejohn are continuing investigations in the KwaZulu/Natal regions of the Drakensberg and adjacent areas of Lesotho, where research is focused on debris deposits,
slope deposits and patterned ground. Colin Lewis is working on similar periglacial features in the Eastern-Cape Drakensberg as well as evidence for Quaternary glaciation, while Jan Boelhouwers and Wilson Rooy continue their work on
periglacial features and other slope deposits in the Western Cape Mountains. It can be seen that much of the research
conducted concerns the Quaternary, primarily as a result of the debate highlighted above and due to the marginal nature of contemporary periglacial activity.
Submitted by Ian Meiklejohn
Report from December 1995
Stefan Grab examined active and relict periglacial features on Mt. Kenya during July 1995 and is ascertaining the implications of such landforms on equatorial climatic change. In September 1995, he visited Mt. Inyangani (the highest summit in Zimbabwe) to determine the occurrence of relict periglacial landforms near the summit area. Stefan is continuing with his detailed analysis on the high Drakensberg periglacial environment. Colin Lewis presented a paper at the INQUA meeting in Berlin on evidence for Quaternary glaciation in the Eastern Cape Drakensberg mountains; his research in the area is ongoing.
Circulars for the IVth Southern African Association of Geomorphologists (SAAG) Biennial Conference, to be hosted by the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, from 8 to 10 July 1996, have been circulated. The Southern African Permafrost Group (SAPG) is an affiliate member of SAAG and there will be a “SAPG session” at the conference.
The conference will be followed by a two-day technical workshop titled: Design and Instrumentation for Soil and Water Loss Estimations on Plot, Slope and Catchment Scales. Contact: Theo Scheepers at The Department of Earth Sciences, University of the Western Cape, PIBag X17,7535 Belville, South Africa. Tel: +27-21-959 299512223, Fax: +27-2 1-959 2266.E-mail:email@example.com
Submitted by Ian Meiklejohn
In recent years, research on permafrost and periglacial phenomena has been undertaken by several Romanian geomorphologists. Under the coordination of Petru Urdea, a team from the University of Timisoara carried out summer temperature measurements of springs situated at the base of rock glaciers, and talus cones in the Retezat and Fâgâras Mountains, and used BTS measurements to map periglacial forms from the Surianu (L. Drâgut), Lotrului (C. Ancuta) and Tarcu Mountains (C. Gruia), where the temperature of the springwater suggests the possibility of permafrost.
In September and October 1994, together with Jocopo Passoti (University of Milan), measurements were made of soil temperature from the high zone of the Fâgâras and Retezat Mountains.
D. Calin (Bucarest) and M. Florea (Brasov) have prepared a Geomorphological Risk Map of the Negoiu Zone (Fâgâras Mountains).
A data bank covering quantitative and qualitative characteristics of permafrost, periglacial processes and landforms in the Romanian Carpathians, as well as monitoring of the permafrost, has been initiated as part of the IPA/GGD.
Submitted by Petru Urdea