Table of Contents
Argentina (and South American Partners)
United States of America
Argentina (and South American Partners)
A proposal for global change research with the following objectives was prepared and submitted to the Inter-American Institute for Global Research (IAI) :
- Search for evidence of global change in Andean permafrost
- Study the structure and composition of cryogenic mesoforms
- Identify regional and bihemispherical palaeoclimatic evidence of permafrost.
- Investigate the relation between cryogenic subsoils and discharge of mountain rivers
It is proposed that two boreholes near Mendoza and two in the Andes on the Chile-Bolivia border be cored and instrumented. The exact sites will be chosen on the basis of accessibility within the area of permafrost. The drillholes will be at least 20 m deep and instrumented with thermistor cables. The cores will be described and the ice content/moisture content noted and measured. Standard instrumentation used in North America will ensure that the results are obtained by comparable methods in both hemispheres. Each site will be equipped with an automatic weather station and data loggers capable of operating for one to two years. The data will become part of the IPA Global Geocryological Database (GGD), and sites will be integrated into the proposed Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) cryosphere measurement program and the Circumpolar
Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) program. If successful, the proposal will enable us to expand the network for monitoring
mountain permafrost temperatures to both North and South America.
Submitted by Dario Trombotto (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Stuart Harris (email@example.com)
From time to time, the Canadan Organizing Committee for the 7th International Conference on Permafrost June 1998) will use this column in Frozen Ground to present background information on the conference program and on the conference site, the City of Yellowknife, NWT. This is the first of these reports.
Yellowknife—the site of the 7th International Conference on Permafrost—is a bustling city of 17,000 situated on the shores of Great Slave Lake, in the southern part of the Northwest Territories of Canada. At latitude 62’28’ north, it is about 960 km (600 miles) north of Edmonton (the site of the 3rd International Conference on Permafrost in 1978) and 440 km (275 miles) south of the Arctic Circle. The highway from Edmonton, opened through to Yellowknife in 1960, crosses the Mackenzie River at Fort Providence by means of a ferry in summer and an ice-bridge in winter. The road is open year round except for periods of a few weeks at the time of break-up and freeze-up of the river ice cover each spring and fall. The road distance from Edmonton is 1530 km (950 miles).
Yellowknife is located in an area that is typical of the Precambrian Canadian Shield. The local topography is generally flat, with many rock outcrops and small hills throughout the area. The region is dotted with innumerable lakes, and much of the land surface is covered with muskeg (peatland). Trees are small and predominantly spruce and pine, with birch and poplar stands found in valleys and on the occasional sand plains.
The overburden of glacial, fluvial or lacustrine deposits is shallow in most areas, but there are exceptions. In one place, drilling indicated a thickness of more than 130 m. In other areas around the townsite, drilling has revealed several tens of meters of gravels and sands overlying thinly stratified lake clays. In the townsite area the most significant glacial deposit is sand, representing outwash reworked by the waters of Great Slave Lake when it stood at a higher level. In places, former strandlines at elevations up to 80 m above the present level of the lake indicate former lake levels.
Permafrost in and around Yellowknife is widespread but not continuous, and extends to depths of more than 50 m in some areas. It does not occur in the exposed bedrock but is found where the rock is covered by overburden. Its greatest extent is in muskeg areas supporting spruce and sedge vegetation, where the active layer is about 1 m thick, and with mean annual ground temperature of -1° to -2°C. Little information is available on ground ice. Massive ice some tens of centimetres thick and thin ice lenses are found in many pockets of silt and clay. Quite extensive exposures of ground ice can be seen from time to time in the open pits at Giant Mine. Thin ice layers have also been observed at depth in bedrock fissures. In most areas of dry or welldrained sand or gravel, permafrost is usually not of major significance. Where ice-rich, fine-grained soils are encountered, however, major engineering problems arise.
The city of Yellowknife is named for the Yellowknife Dene (Indians). The name Yellowknife first appeared in Samuel Hearne’s journal of his travels from Churchill to the Arctic coast for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1771. Hearne named the people inhabiting this area the Yellowknife Indians because he found them using knives and utensils of pure copper. Archeological evidence indicates the area has been occupied for over 2000 years. Peter Pond opened a fur trading post at Yellowknife Bay in 1786, which remained active until the 1820s.
Gold was first noted in the area in 1896, by miners on their way to the Klondike, but there was no staking rush because of the remoteness of the area. Hundreds of prospectors flooded into the area in the 1930s, however, following the discovery of pitchblende (uranium ore) at Great Bear Lake, and the gold at Yellowknife was rediscovered. By 1936, Yellowknife was a boom town, with two mine shafts being sunk. Commercial gold production began in September 1938, when a 72-pound (33-kg) gold brick was poured at the Con Mine. The gold mining industry continued to develop until, in 1942, there were six producing mines in the area, with an average annual production of about 100,000 fine ounces (3 tonnes). Gold mining is still a vital industry in the economy of Yellowknife. Also beginning in the 1930s was the era of the famed “bush pilots”
who opened up the Canadian north to prospectors, miners and developers. Yellowknife was an early center of operations
for bush planes; these were mainly float planes, at least in the early years. Air operations were centered on the Back Bay and Old Town areas, and a monument to the bush pilots was erected on The Rock in the Old Town in 1967. Along with the aircraft operations, Yellowknife developed into a center for support and expediting for prospectors and miners, a function which is still very important. The latest mineral target in the western part of the Canadian Shield is diamonds, with several good prospects under active exploration and development.
In 1967, Yellowknife was named the capital of the Northwest Territories. For many years the legislature met in the ballroom of the Explorer Hotel, which will be the main headquarters for the permafrost conference. Recently, a fine new Legislative Assembly Building has been erected across the road from the Explorer Hotel and near the NWT’s principal museum, the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre.
Today Yellowknife is a thoroughly modern city, with all the facilities one would expect – museums, hotels, motels, restaurants, shops, banks, regular air service, etc. It is also a “small town” in the best sense of the idea, a town where people can and do know their neighbors. The permafrost conference is being planned to use space in the two main hotels in the town, plus other space as necessary. A local field excursion is being planned to provide all conference participants with an opportunity to see permafrost conditions in the city and its vicinity and how they affect the city’s development. An accompanying persons program is being developed to make the best use of the facilities in Yellowknife and the hiking, fishing, picnicking and other opportunities in the surrounding wilderness area.
Branko Ladanyi, Professor of Civil Engineering at école Polytechique de Montreal, has received the 1995 Northern Science Award. The award is presented annually by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to an individual who has made significant contributions to knowledge and understanding of the Canadian North.
The Cold Regions Division, Canadian Geotechnical Society, has a new executive, as of January 1996. The members are Elisabeth Hivon, EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd., Edmonton (chair); Kevin Biggar, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton; Scott Dallimore, Terrain Sciences Division, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa; and Alan Hanna, AGRA Earth and Environmental Ltd., Calgary, Alberta.
Submitted by J. Alan Heginbottom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Project, Research on Changes in Cryosphere Dynamics in China (second stage) has begun. It includes the following subjects:
- Monitoring of cryosphere and information systems in China
- Cryosphere on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and a model of its response to global climate change (1:4,000,000), supported by GIS
- A model for predicting the engineering geocryological conditions along the Qinghai-Tibet highway (1:500,000), supported by GIS
- A model for predicting the response of cryosphere to climate change in the Urumqi River basin (1:50,000), supported by GIS
- Present processes of the active layer in the permafrost region of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
- Effect of climate change on the environmental engineering-geological conditions of permafrost
In addition, a 50-m-deep ground temperature measuring borehole was established in 1995 in the West Kunlun Mountains, and monitoring of the active layer on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in Northeast China is planned to be carried out according to the method defined in the ITEX manual.
The International Symposium on Polar Ice and Snow and Global Change was held on 14-17 April 1996 at the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology. Sixty participants from China, France, Japan, Nepal and the United States attended this symposium. Fifty-six papers were presented and they will be published in a proceedings.
The first issue (vol. 1, 1995) of the journal Cryosphere, jointly compiled by the Chinese Society of Glaciology and Geocryology (CSGG) and the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology (LIGG), was published (see p. 32 for contents). Two volumes of this journal will be published every year starting in 1996. Contact Zhu Yuanlin, Secretary-General of CSGG, to order this journal. The price is US $15.00.
Submitted by Zhu Yuanlin and Cheng Guodong (email@example.com)
A long-term monitoring program called Zackenberg Basic was started in 1995 by the Danish Polar Center, in cooperation with scientists from the Institute of Geography, the Institute of Zoology and the Institute of Botany, University of Copenhagen. Zackenberg (74°28’N, 20°34’W) is located in the southern part of the world’s largest national park, the National Park in North and East Greenland. Zackenberg Basic has as its primary goal the collection of data on a wide variety of physical and biological parameters from the High Arctic ecosystem. Part of Zackenberg Basic is the GeoBasis Programme, in which permafrost and periglacial processes are being monitored in a 600-km2 water catchment area. The study area is located in the zone of continuous permafrost. A climate station is logging air temperature and humidity, precipitation, UV-A and UV-B, net radiation and soil temperature at 10 depths from 0 to 150 cm (in the active layer and upper permafrost) every hour and wind velocity and direction every 10 minutes.
At a permanent hydrometric station at the main river, Zackenbergelven, water discharge and temperature, amount of suspended sediment in the water and its conductivity and pH are logged. Monitoring of the active layer and the top permafrost layers is also taking place along a transect from sea level to nearly 1000 m asl at four locations: 10 m, 35 m, 400 m and 800 m asl. A profile of small TinyTalk loggers, each with its own thermistor, logs temperature five times a day, and obtains the annual thickness and duration of the active layer. Photomonitoring of several periglacial landforms such as annual and perennial snowpatches and nivation niches, solifluction sheets and lobes, ice wedges, debris islands, rock glaciers, wind-abraded stones, avalanche features, talus slopes and free rock faces is carried out in combination with some measurement programs of the rate of ice wedge growth and solifluction movement. Parts of the program will be supplemented and extended in 1996.
All the data collected by the monitoring program are stored in a GIs related database, which is based on a digital terrain model of the Zackenberg area. This database is located at the Danish Polar Center. A ZERO newsletter and more information on the Zackenberg Basic monitoring program can be obtained in the report Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations, 1st Annual Report, 1995-Danish Polar Center, Ministry of Research and Technology, 64 p. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, is the new IDA liaison for the Danish Society for Arctic Technology (SAT) and member of its board. She replaces Henrik Mai, who served in this capacity and as secretary of SAT for a number of years. Mads Bo Bojesen is the new secretary of SAT.
Submitted by Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The National Frost Committee of the Finnish Geotechnical Society is engaged in a national research project, “The foundation and pavement structures of roads.” The goal is to develop a practical procedure for the frost design of roads in Finland. The program, intended to last six years, has just started and is based on national laboratory and field investigations. It is in contact with the U.S. Strategic Highway Research Program LTPP projects.
Submitted by Eero Slunga
The paleopermafrost modeling program continues with a drillhole in western France, undertaken by the participating agencies: CNRS, French Geological Survey, Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées, and the National Agency for Nuclear Wastes. Comparison with field evidence is underway in Normandy (CNRS, Caen) and in Aquitaine (Institut du Quaternaire, Bordeaux).
The paleopermafrost data will be published as a CLIMEX Map at the end of this year under the direction of Jean Dercourt, President of the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW). Efforts will be made to incorporate additional information from the European Group of Climate Modeling for the Last Glaciation.
At Caen (Centre de Géomorphologie, CNRS) experiments on thermal erosion of the river banks in cold regions (J. Aguirre-Puente and F. Costard) and on the cryoreptation (frost creep) process (C. Harris, Cardiff; J.P. Coutard, Caen) continue. A new program on the genesis of the cryoturbations has started (Cardiff, Caen). Field research on the periglacial slope processes (cryoreptation, debris flow) in the mountains is almost completed and publications are in press. The studies on the fossil periglacial deposits of Perigord and Quercy presented at the Symposium Grèzes Litées (September 1994) continue (collaboration Bordeaux, Périgueux, Caen). Michele Evin continues her work on rock glacier hydrology in the French Alps (Ubaye) with Italian colleagues.
The French Polar Institute plans to transform Kerguelen Island (Subantarctic) into a nature reserve.
The French Periglacial Association publishes reports of its activities. The President is Brigitte Van Vliet-Lanoe (Geosciences,
UniversitC de Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France), and the Secretary is Monique Fort (Départ. Géographie, Université Paris, Paris VII, 75251 Paris, France).
In May 1995, the Canada-France meeting at Caen, Sols Gelés, Processus Thermophysiques et GComorphologiques, resulted in 28 communications and one volume of abstracts.
A meeting will be held in Paris 16-17 January 1997 in honor of Andre Cailleux, organized by the French Geological Society, the French Periglacial Group, and the French Geomorphological Group, with a special session on terrestrial and Mars periglacial. The organizer is Francois Costard, Centre de Géomorphologie, Caen (Tel: 33 31 45 5714; Fax: 33 31 45 5757).
Submitted by Jean-Pierre Lautridou and Brigitte Van Vliet-Lanoe (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The principal results of the Geoscientific Spitsbergen Expedition 1990-92 have now been published, mainly in Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie,N.F., Suppl.-Bd. 97, 1994. Several papers are of special interest to the permafrost community: patterned ground in the inner Woodfjord area (D. Thannheiser et al.), chemical weathering in high-arctic soils (W.D. Blümel et al.), recent fluvial sediment budgets in glacial and periglacial environments (D. Barsch et al.), the Late Quaternary glaciation history and landscape development (W.D. Blümel et al.), the glacial history (G. Furrer), glaciology and glacial gemorphology (L. King et al.), and evolution and age of shorelines along Woodfjord (H. Brückner et al.). Further work by this large group of polar geographers is focused on syntheses of the chronological results and studies on actual geomorphological processes in the permafrost environment of a catchment area at Liefdefiord, NW Spitsbergen. The development of a geoecological model for this catchment is planned. In addition, permafrost research is done by several geographical working groups, especially at the universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Regensburg.
The Giessen group has done permafrost prospecting and mapping as well as investigation of mountain permafrost processes in the Zermatt area of Switzerland. This applied research is also focused on the formation and decay of permafrost connected with high mountain construction sites such as railways, cable car stations and buildings (cf. L. King, in Z. Geomorphologie, N.F., Suppl.-Bd. 104, 1996).
The Heidelberg group has published the results of a research project concerning the geomorphology and hydrology of the rock glaciers of the Andes of San Juan, Argentina (e.g. L. Schrott, Z. Geomorphologie, N.F., Suppl.-Bd. 104, 1996). The research group of R. Dikau and L. Schrott has
moved to Bonn and will continue its studies there. Induced by three field campaigns in Spitsbergen (SPE 90-92), a special focus is the study of snowmelt processes and initiation conditions of slush streams (slushflows and slush torrents). A joint group led by D. Scherer (Dept. of Geography, Basel) and D. Barsch and M. Gude worked on this topic in a campaign in spring 1995 in Grkevagge, Abisko Alps, Swedish Lapland (Modelling of Snowmelt and Its Consequences). The release of a high magnitude slush torrent was monitored with different measurement techniques. Snow cover temperatures were analyzed with a thermal imaging camera, energy fluxes at the snow surface were measured continuously at two sites, and meltwater movements in the snow cover were studied by dye tracer experiments. Accumulation of meltwater in the snow cover in the initiation area of the slush torrent was measured using pressure transducers. The slush torrent was documented on video and in photographs. The results of the studies on Spitsbergen and in Erkevagge indicate that slush streams are released by a hydrostatic gradient in the saturated snow cover ofvalley floors. The initiation zone typically has a low gradient. Consequently, slush streams have to be carefully distinguished from avalanches. Further work will be focused on the modeling of meltwater production, movement, and accumulation, which condition the release of slush streams.
At the University of Regensburg, the working group on Periglacid Slope Deposits was established several years ago. The distribution, composition and formation of periglacial slope deposits, which occur throughout the formerly periglacial landscape of the Bavarian Forest, are studied. Major aims of the studies are 1) to unravel the layering of the periglacial slope deposits and their material composition by means of pedochemical and mineralogical characteristics, and 2) to identify the aeolian Sdiment component. A synthesis of the subdivision and the origin of the periglacial slope deposits in the Bavarian Forest is published in Annals of Geomorphology (Völkel, 1995). Currently, slope sediments, soils and peats in the Bavarian Forest as evidence of climatically induced changes of the landscape during the transition from the Late Glacial to the Holocene are studied. The project is part of the DFG key program on the Change of the Geobiosphere During the Last 15000 Years: Continental Sediments as Witnesses of a Changing Environment and thereby incorporated in the core project Past Global Changes (PAGES) of the International GeosphereBiosphere Program (IGBP). The aim of the project is to reconstruct the processes and the environmental conditions during the Late Glacial in an upland area in Germany from information preserved in slope sediments, soils and peats, and to outline the significance of the Late Glacial morphodynamics for the development of the post-glacial landscape. A more precise geostratigraphy concerning the morphodynamics of the Late Glacial by means of interstratifications (interbeddings) of slope deposits with peats and by means of absolutely dating the sediments by OSL (Optically Stimulated Luminescence) is planned. In the summers of 1994 and 1995 studies in northwestern Canada to examine the processes and forms in recently frozen ground allow conclusions concerning periglacial slope processes during the Pleistocene in Germany.
In 1995, German-Russian cooperation on the project Late Quaternary Environmental History of the Taimyr/Severnaya-Zemlya Region continued. Its multidisciplinary program aims to provide information concerning the processes in the “permafrost-soil-hydrosphere-biosphere” system, and thus to understand the peculiarities and changes of these processes in the Late Quaternary. The results will also provide understanding of sedimentary and permafrost processes with respect to global change. Several German and Russian institutes are involved, namely the Alfied Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdarn; the Institute of Polar Ecology, Kiel; the Institute for Soil Science, Hamburg; the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the Komarov Botanical Institute, St. Petersburg; and the Department of Geocryology, Moscow State University. From April to November 1995, a total of 30 Russian and German scientists carried out field work on the Taimyr Peninsula. In addition, a short expedition was undertaken to Severnaya Zemlya in order to plan field work in this area for 1996.
The objectives were as follows: 1) Paleoclimate reconstruction using bottom lake sediments: four ice-covered lakes were cored on the Taimyr Peninsula, with a maximum depth of recovered sediment of 23 meters (April to May). 2) Hydrological studies in the active layer, lakes and rivers: field work was carried out in the Levinson-Lessing catchment from snowmelt to the beginning of freeze-back (June to October). 3) Paleogeographical-geocryological investigations of permafrost sequences, mapping of permafrost landscapes, and studies of cryosols, including the decomposition of organic matter and microbiological processes in the eastern part of the Taimyr Lowland at Labaz Lake (July to August). A detailed summary of this German-Russian project will be published in Reports of Polar Research (contact H.-W. Hubberten, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdarn, Germany; E-mail: email@example.com).
Submitted by Lorenz King
In January 1996, the Fourth Symposium on Joint Siberian Permafrost Studies Between Japan and Russia was held at Sapporo. At the meeting, attended by 60 participants, 30 papers were given dealing with the results of the previous summer’s field program. In addition to papers, V.N. Konishchev, Moscow State University, visiting professor at the Institute of Low Temperature Science, presented a special report on the genesis and occurrence of the Edoma ice complex in Siberia. The proceedings of this meeting have been published and are available from the convener of the meeting, Masami Fukuda.
In summer 1996, three groups from Japan will conduct field studies in Siberia. The permafrost group, headed by M. Fukuda, will conduct field studies on the genesis of the Edoma ice complex on the New Siberian Islands with V.V. Kunistky and M.N. Grigoriev, Melnikov Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk. The biology group from Hokkaido University will conduct field work in the taiga and tundra regions of east Siberia, cooperating with the Yakutsk Biological Institute. A group from the Institute of Forest Research will also conduct joint field studies with the Yakutsk Biological Institute. Greenhouse gases over Siberia will be monitored by the Environmental Institute using charter aircraft to trace gas concentration in west and east Siberia.
A new group, IGBP-NES (Northern Eurasian Study), is being established in Japan. In November 1995, an international meeting on IGBP-NES was held in Tsukuba, Japan. During the meeting, a transect study related to the carbon budget in Siberia was discussed. Two transect lines were recommended, one along the Lena River and another along the Yenisey. Following this recommendation, the new group of IGBP-NES Japan is to establish a concrete action plan in 1997. The convener of IGBP-NES Japan is Gen Inoue, Institute of Environment; E-mail: inouegen@ nies.go.jp.
Submitted by Masami Fukuda (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Laboratory of Geocryology of the International Center of Geoecology of Mountain Countries in Arid Regions (ICGM) carried out studies on monitoring of permafrost and the thermal regime of the active layer in northern Tien Shan. The laboratory continued to study cryogenic processes, movement of solifluction, rock glaciers, frost heave on the thufur area, and the mapping of permafrost and associated phenomena in the Zailiisky Alatau Range. In 1996 the monograph Geocryological Conditions of the Tien-Shan and Pamirs by A.P. Gorbunov, E.V. Seversky and S.N. Titkov was prepared for publication.
The Laboratory of Glaciology continues to work on the theme Monitoring and Forecast of Fluctuations of the Glacial Systems in the Mountains of Kazakstan. Year-round observations on winter and summer precipitation, accumulation and ablation of snow and ice, movement of ice, and the ice surface have continued on the experimental glacier Tuyuksu in the Zailiisky Alatau. Research at the Shumsky and
Muravlev glaciers in Dzhungarsky Alatau resulted in a number of papers co-authored with the University of Wisconsin and showed the dynamics and mass exchange of the glaciers in connection with climate features for 25 years of observations.
The Laboratory of Snow Cover and Avalanches was renamed the Laboratory of Geoecological Problems of Mountain Territories. During the winter of 1995/96 observations on snow cover and avalanche activity were carried out. I.V. Seversky took part in the International Conference on Ecohydrology of High Mountain Areas in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he submitted a report, Distribution of Snow Cover in
the Mountains of Central Asia. V.P. Blagoveshchensky presented a report, Estimation of Avalanche Risk, at the conference Mountains and Man held in Barnaul in March 1996.
In August 1996, ICGM intends to arrange an expedition to the Inylchek Glacier, Central Tien Shan, along the route of G. Mertzbacher, who reached this area more than 90 years ago. Scientists from Germany, Austria and Poland are expected to take part. Included will be observations on ecology, glaciology and geocryology in Central Tien Shan. The contact person is V. Popov. E-mail is the same for the Institute of Geography and ICGM.
Submitted by A.P. Gorbunov and V. P. Blagoveshchensky (email@example.com)
The Mongolian National Permafrost Association is pleased to acknowledge its membership in the International Permafrost Association. Mongolian geocryologists express their appreciation to the IPA Council and its officers.
In 1995, geocryologial field work was carried out on the Khan Khentei protected area, an area of more than 12,000 km² that embraces the Khentei Mountains. As a result of these and previous studies, maps at 1:500,000 of permafrost, seasonal freezing and thawing ground, and the distribution of cryogenic processes and phenomena have been prepared by N. Sharkhuu, D. Tumurbaatar and R. Lomborenchen. According to these maps, large parts of the territory are characterized by continuous permafrost with an average thickness between 50 and 200 m. Average depths of seasonal thaw are 1 to 3 m. There is widespread occurrence of surface icings and stone polygons. Permafrost aggradation associated with climatic change and hydrogeological conditions is observed at several sites.
As a result of geocryological and geothermal research by N. Sharkhuu in the Baganuur mining area in 1976, 1984, 1992-93, and 1995 (prior to and following mining) detailed changes in permafrost conditions have been observed. These results are presented in a chapter (in English) on permafrost and environmental analyses of the Baganuur project. The report includes a permafrost map of the Baganuur d mining area at a scale of 1:25,000, and gives permafrost assessment, prediction and recommendations for monitoring.
Submitted by N. Sharkhuu
The EC-sponsored EPECC project (European Palaeo Environments Climate and Circulation) has been completed. The Free University Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, the University of London and the University of Bonn participated. Palaeoclimatic reconstructions ofwestern and central Europe have been done for a number of time slices within the last 130,000 years. Mean summer, winter and annual temperature patterns have been reconstructed. For the last glacial the main contribution for climatic reconstruction was provided by periglacial structures and phenomena, supplemented with information derived from botanical and beetle remains.
Submitted by Jef Vanderberghe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In Svalbard there are several ongoing programs concerning rock glaciers. One project was started by the University of Oslo, Department of Physical Geography, in 1986 in the Ny-Ålesund aream, with monitoring of surface movements of the Bragger rock glacier. The movement is 3-5 cm/year. Another movement monitoring program of two rock glaciers in the Longyearbyen area was started in 1994 by the UNIS (the University Courses on Svalbard). Preliminary results show a surface creep rate of 8-13 cm/year, with a mean surface temperature of -5° to -7°C. Both programs will be continued. This summer a new rock glacier program will be started by the same department on the northern part of Prins Kids Forland, Svalbard, to calculate volume, form and surface changes of selected rock glaciers through historical time. The program is supported by the Norwegian Research Institute.
Investigation of frost heave phenomena on the runway at Svalbard Lufthaven (LYR), Longyearbyen, was started two years ago by the University of Oslo, Department of Physical Geography, in cooperation with NP, UNIS and Luftfarwerket. High resolution elevation measurements are made several times a year, during thaw and freeze-up periods, to identify problem areas for more detailed studies.
The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) in Oslo has continued its research at the Permafrost Station at Sveagruva, central western Spitsbergen. The station was established in 1978. Basic dimate and near-surface ground temperature data are logged every hour year-round in addition to manual observations of snow height, thawing depth, and water content of topsoil.
In northern Spitsbergen, hot springs in Woodfjorden will be studied this summer by the Agricultural University of Norway, Department of Soil and Water Science.
A field course in Arctic Geornorphology for graduate and doctoral students will be conducted by the University of Oslo, Department of Physical Geography, in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, during the first two weeks of August. The course is part of the Norwegian Net university courses.
Kaare Semneset reports that the University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS) are attended by about 100 students, including foreign students from Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Russia and the United States. Graduate and undergraduate courses for the 1996-97 academic year include arctic biology, geology, geophysics, and technology. The handbook of studies and application forms are available from UNIS, B.P. 156, N-9170 Longyearbyen, Norway. Tel: 47 79 02 3300; Fax: 47 79 02 3301; E-mail: email@example.com. Their website contains updated information: http://www.unis.no.
On the mainland, permafrost research programs are running at Finse in Jotunheimen and at Dovre in southern Norway. A new program will be started in Varanger, northern Norway, this August. The program is run by the University of Oslo, Department of Physical Geography. At Finse a monitoring prpgram of geomorphological features was started in 1995 as part of a Ph.D. study. In Jotunheimen and Dovre mapping of the permafrost thickness has been the main subject. Results are newly published in Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift, vol. 50, no. 1. In Varanger the goal is to investigate the distribution pattern of permafrost for that area.
Submitted by Johan Ludvig Sollid (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 1995, research on permafrost and contemporaneous periglacial processes focused on the following regions: the Polish Antarctic Stations on King George Island; the western coast of Spitsbergen in the Recherche Fjord (Expedition of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University of Lublin); Kaffioyra Plateau (Expedition of Nicolai Copernici University of Torun) and the Polish Polar Station of Hornsund. Research also continued on slope processes in an area where discontinuous permafrost is present on the Kola Peninsula, with the cooperation of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin and the Institute of Marine Biology in Murmansk.
In October 1995 the XXII Symposium of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society took place. This was dedicated to Professor Alfred Jahn, eminent geomorphologist and polar scholar (who frequently represented Poland in the IPA), in celebration of his 80th birthday. To commemorate the occasion, a book was published entitled Unity of Arctic and Antarctic Natural Environment containing 20 papers (165 pages, published by the University of Wroclaw). Much of the authors’ interests were in the abiotic and biotic elements of the periglacial environment.
In December 1995, a scientific polar session took place in Lublin. Its theme was Contemporaneous and Pleistocene Problems of the Periglacial Zone, and it was organized by the Department of Geomorphology of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin and the Permafrost Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. This brought forth another publication in the series Geographical Expeditions to Spitsbergen (28 contributions, 240 pages, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin).
The journal Biuletyn Peryglacjalny, published in Lódz (Societas Scientiarum Lodzensis) and edited by Professor Anna Dylik, made its reappearance. Members of the editing body are: RO. van Everdingen, J.S. Gozdzik, G. Hoppe, A. Jahn, L. King, H. Klatkowa, V.N. Konishchev, K. Pekala , A. Pissart, R Raynal, N.N. Romanovskii, A. Srodon, and A.L. Washburn. The latest issue (no. 34) is in print, and the next (no. 35) is planned for late 1996. It indudes the following problems: morphogenetic periglacial processes of the Quaternary (paleogeographical assessment); contemporary periglacial processes and the reaction of the periglacial environment to anthropogenic forces; problems of terminology, discussion concerning new terms and their correct usage, terminological misuse etc.; and reviews of recent publications. Biuletyn Peryglacjalny is published in English (with a French summary) or in French (with a summary in English).
Submitted by Kazimierz Pekala (email@example.com)
During this past year the Russian Academy of Sciences restructured its permafrost organizations. The National Permafrost Committee and the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology were combined into the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology. Its chair is Vladimir P. Melnikov. The officers and members of the new council are identified in the accompanying table.
The first annual meeting of the new council was in Pushchino during the International Conference on Fundamental Research of Earth Cryosphere in the Arctic and Subarctic. The conference was organized by the council and was attended by approximately 125 participants, including 10 foreign scientists and engineers. A total of 109 abstracts were published in Russian and English before the conference in a special volume (234 pages).
There were three plenary and three special sessions, two round tables, and a joint session of the IPA Cryosol Working Group and ISSS Cryosol Subcommission. Plenary subjects covered many aspects of geocryology, including paleogeography of the cryolithozone, prediction of permafrost evolution, modeling, monitoring, and interrelationships between components of onshore and offshore cryogenic geosystems. Many problems were discussed at the special sessions:
gas emission, gas hydrates, results of experimental and field studies of gas hydrates and greenhouse gas fluxes on land, lakes and shelves of different arctic regions, cryogenesis and soil formation processes, cryosol classification, and periglacial processes.
Members took part in round table discussions on new geocryological databases and a digital map of contemporary geocryological processes of Russia at a scale of 1:7,500,000 (Earth Cryosphere Institute), and prospects for geocryological investigations in the Russian Arctic and Subarctic.
Two draft projects were presented. The first was a program called The Arctic: The Environment and Its Stability, Mineral and Biological Resources, Climate, Hydrometeorological and Geocryologid Prediction, by V.P. Melnikov, E.S. Melnikov and F.E. Are. This proposal is under the State Combined Scientific and Technical Program of Russia, entitled Combined Investigations Ocean and Seas; Arctic and Antarctic in 1996-2000. The second was Cryosphere of the Laptev Sea System, A Draft of Prospects for Russian-German cooperation in 1998-2000, by H.-W. Hubberten and N.N. Romanovskii.
Members of the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology and Bureau of the Council and principal documents were announced. The council agreed to conduct the next annual international conference in the last 10 days of April 1997 and to invite foreign scientists. One special topic will be evidence and distribution of paleopermafrost. Information about the next conference will be available soon. The council supported the suggestion by V.M. Kotlyakov and V.P. Melnikov to publish the journal Earth Cryology. The publishers will be in Novosibirsk.
On 3-5 June 1996 the First Conference of Geocryologists of Russia was held at Moscow State University. It was organized and sponsored by 16 main geocryological institutions of Russia. The Chairperson of the Organizing Committee was E.D. Ershov, the Co-Chairs were V.V. Baulin and R.M. Karnensky, and the Scientific Secretary was N.I. Trush. The plenary session was devoted to development of the ideas of V.A. Kudryavtsev in geocryology, the main scientific problems in geocryology, and international cooperation at the Melnikov Permafrost Institute. Five sections discussed the problems of engineering geocryology (42 reports submitted), dynamic geocryology (28 reports), geocryological forecasting and geoecology (21 reports), regional and historical geocryology (45 reports), and the physical chemistry and mechanics of frozen soils (29 reports).
A total of 165 reports were published in three pre-conference volumes in Russian. The volumes are available from the Geocryological Department of the Faculty of Geology, MSU for $30. For more information contact: N.I.Trush, Faculty of Geology, Geocryological Department, Moscow State University, Vorobievy Gory, 119899 Moscow, Russia. Tel: 7 095 939 4919; Fax: 7 095 233 4084.
Submitted by N.N. Romanovskii and I.D. Streletskaya (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Russian organizations and institutions are welcome to submit descriptions of their programs and activities.
The Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis has a new director: V.A. Shuvalov, Corresponding Member, Russian Academy of Sciences. The institute plans to host the next Earth Cryology Conference in Pushchino in April 1997. David Gilichinsky and colleagues continue to develop plans for the International Permafrost School.
The Earth Cryosphere Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences is located in Tyumen with a branch office in Moscow. The director is Vladimir P. Melnikov and the head of the Branch of Geocryological Prognosis and Informatics in Moscow is Evgeny S. Melnikov, who reports the following.
The ECI conducts both basic and applied investigations. Basic studies include:
- Theoretical, field and experimental investigations of the development of natural and technogenic geosystems and geocryological processes.
- Fundamentals of geocryological surveys, digital mapping, modeling and forecasting.
- Fundamentals of geological monitoring and assessment of impact on the onshore environment in the Arctic and Subarctic.
- Investigation of the distribution, properties, and geocryological processes of offshore permafrost deposits.
- Studies of the thermodynamics and physico-chemical mechanics of freezing soils, ice and materials (cryogenic water migration, ice lensing, heaving etc.).
- Studies of gas hydrate properties and distribution in the earth cryosphere.
Applied studies include, among other topics:
- Assessment of engineering and geocryological conditions in the oil- and gas-bearing arctic regions and recommendations for rational use of nature during technological impacts.
- Recommendations for development of oil and gas fields in connection with the distribution of cryogenic deposits on the shelf of the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean, as well as the influence of subsea permafrost on linear structures.
- Interpretation of geological and geophysical data, results of three-dimensional seismic prospecting, and data on the dynamics of developed fields of hydrocarbons.
- Collection of geocryologid raw data and metadata covering the regions with oil and gas field development in the Arctic and Subarctic.
- Compilation of digital geocryological and geoecological maps.
- Techniques for production of artificial ice and icecompositional materials.
- Methods for estimating areas of thaw and settlement close to a cluster of wells.
- Technology for preventing local degradation of permafrost with foam shields.
- Technological production and application of efficient foam sorbents and peat filters.
- Geotechnid designs for preventing: (a) thermal cracking in frozen soils, embankments and darns, and frost crack interaction with pavements, chilled pipelines, cables, foundations, etc., (b) frost heaving and ice-lensing inside of soils, embankments, dams, roads, foundations, etc.
Digital maps have been prepared for the Nizhnwartovsk Oil Association, the Samotlor Oil Association, the Chernogor Oil Association, and the Belozer Oil Association, among others. Information presented on the maps includes rivers and reservoirs, forests, populated areas and their structure (resident4 blocks and streets), basic communication (roads, oil pipelines, electric power lines, etc.), and industrial objects (flares, well clusters, pumping stations, boilers). Eight doctors of science and 26 bachelors of science are working on 11 projects in the institute. Facilities include a radiospectrometer; a combined reflecting spectrometer; a mass spectrometer; spectral analyzers; chemical, soil mechanics, and physical properties laboratories; cold chambers; seismographs; ultrasonic translucent instruments; and computers. Geoinformation systems are developed using ARC/INFO. For more information, contact: The Earth Cryosphere Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, P.O. Box 1230,625000 Tyumen, Russia. Tel: 7 345 224 3649; Fax: 7 345 222 3380;E-mail: email@example.com or The Earth Cryosphere Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Branch of Geocryological Prognosis and Informatics, Vavilov Str., 3016, r.85, 117982 Moscow, Russia. Tel: 7 095 135 9871,7 095 135 9828; Fax: 7 095 135 6582; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Permafrost Coordinating Group of the Swiss Academy of Sciences met on 29 April 1996 at VAW-ETH in Zurich.
During the first part of the meeting, the new technology of miniature temperature data loggers was discussed. In fall 1994, the geomorphology group of the Geography Department at the University of Bern had developed such miniature miniature data loggers with a programmable time interval and especially designed for alpine permafrost conditions. These miniature temperature data loggers open new possibilities for monitoring programs and other research projects. Bernhard Krummenacher (University of Bern) carried out a demonstration experiment, described the technical aspects involved, introduced the program for tuning the loggers, and showed first results from field measurements. Martin Hoelzle and This Wegmann (VAW-ETH Zurich) also reported first experiences and results obtained in the area of the Murttl-Corvatsch rock glacier. The bottom temperature of the snow cover (BTS) was monitored continuously during the winter 1994/1995. Significant differences were observed on the rock glacier (ridge and furrow), in front of it, and beneath and outside a nearby ski run.
In a second part of the meeting, 14 presentations provided an overview of ongoing research projects in Switzerland. The University of Bern group (B. Krummenacher, K. Budmiger, B. Blank and D. Mihajlovic) reviewed their activities near the Gemmi Pass during the last 8 years: year-round temperature measurements in the soil and snow cover, solifluction observation and photogrammetric investigation of the Furggendti rock glacier with displacement rates of up to 5 m/a. Using an automatic camera which takes a daily photograph, the pictures were rectified, registered and assembled in a video sequence which shows the melting pattern of the snow in springtime. The relation between permafrost occurrence and snow distribution patterns is being investigated by M. Imhof (Ph.D. dissertation).
Activities at the University of Lausanne (M. Phillips, E. Reynard and L. Wenker) consist of geomorphological mapping of periglacial environments using aerial photographs in combination with the BTS method. The distribution of mountain permafrost is being modeled using several programs, and the results compared with those from other alpine regions.
The distribution of permafrost is also being modeled at the University of Fribourg (M. Monbaron, R. Lugon, J.-M. Gardaz, S. Morand, R. Delaloye) using rock glaciers as an indicator of permafrost conditions. The inventory of rock glaciers obtained from aerial photographs and field visits includes more than 300 rock glaciers. In addition, meteorological, geophysical and runoff measurements have been performed over the past ten years.
F. Keller (ETH Zentrum) has compiled a new map modeling the permafrost distribution of Switzerland using the program PERMAKART. Glacierized areas (about 1300 km²) and areas occupied by periglacial permafrost (roughly 2000 km²) cover about 8% of the entire country.
Investigations of the reaction to construction activities at Jungfraujoch were presented by H.-R. Keusen (GEOTEST).
The group at VAW-ETH Zurich presented three different projects. Temperature and deformation measurements in the undisturbed part of Jungfraujoch have been completed by numerical finite element models to investigate the stability of rock walls with permafrost within a changing climate (T. Wegmann). Photogrammetric investigations of Gruben rock glacier were performed for the time interval 1970-1991. Elevation changes, surface velocities, strain rates and changes at the rock glacier front were presented (A. Kaab). In addition, first results from high-frequency georadar investigations on Murttl-Corvatsch rock glacier and comparisons with the existing borehole information were reported (P. Huggenberger, D. Vonder Muhll).
Information about the small fragment of moss containing pollen which was encountered in the core during drilling through the Murttl-Comatsch rock glacier was discussed: the botanical (J.-N. Haas, University of Basel) and 14C investigations (D. Wagenbach, University of Heidelberg) led to an age of about 2000 years BP, which corresponds well with the rough estimations concerning the Holocene evolution of the rock glacier (W. Haeberli, University of Zurich).
Chr. Döbeli (University of Basel) reported on ecological studies in the Liefdefjorden area (Spitsbergen), investigating temperatures, radiation, flowering time and nutrients at several test sites.
The meeting closed with an overview by W. Haeberli on permafrost monitoring programs in various mountain regions of the world.
In January, Wilfried Haeberli was appointed president of the section on Geography and Environment of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, and consequently stepped down as the leader of the Permafrost Coordinating Group. Daniel Vonder Miihll was appointed as the new leader of the group. In addition, two working groups were established, one to define standards with respect to large-scale, long-term experiments using miniature temperature data loggers in the Alps, and the other to compare and compile the various existing inventories on rock glaciers and permafrost sites.
Submitted by D. Vonder Muhll and W. Haeberli (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Members of the British National Adhering Body of the IPA have been involved in establishing a new Cryostratigraphy Research Group jointly with the Quaternary Research Association. The CRG was established to promote interdisciplinary research among Quaternary scientists and geomorphologists concerned with periglaciation. The CRG is a fixed-term research group of the QRA, and is affiliated with the British IPA body.
Cryostratigraphy seeks to classify permafrost sequences on the basis of their contained ground ice. Variation in the nature and distribution of ground ice allows identification of cryostratigraphic units whose interpretation and dating may allow reconstruction of past geocryological environments. The British Pleistocene is characterized by repeated growth and decay of permafrost, which caused the formation of distinctive landforms and structures, and disturbed superfcial sediments and bedrock. The application of cryostratigraphy in Quaternary research requires integration of process studies in the modern permafrost zone with traditional Quaternary stratigraphic investigations.
The CRG will hold one or two meetings per year at key periglacial localities within Britain. During these meetings, leading periglacial scientists will be invited to present keynote talks. The first meeting will take place in West Wales, probably in autumn 1996. Details of meetings will be published in the Quaternary Newsletter and on the QRA Website (http://www2.tcd.ie/pcoxon/qra.html). Enquiries should be directed to Julian Murton, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Wales, P.O. Box 914, Cardiff CFl 3YE, UK; Tel: 44 1222 87 4830; Fax: 44 1222 87 4326; E-mail: email@example.com
A Periglacial Workshop affiliated with Britain’s National Adhering Body took place on 13 December 1995 at the University of Durham during the 1995 Annual Meeting of the British Sedimentological Research Group. The workshop, convened by Julian Murton (Cardiff), comprised ten talks and seven posters, and was attended by about 25 people. The objectives were to promote discussion of current research and provide opportunities for future collaboration.
The workshop opened with a talk by Colin Ballantyne (St. Andrews) on aeolian and niveo-aeolian deposits on Scottish mountains. Colin presented evidence for a general model of aeolian sedimentation commencing during the early Holocene. During the past few centuries the aeolian sediments on some mountains have been subject to extensive (niveo) aeolian reworking because of opening of the vegetation mat. Continuing the aeolian theme, Mark Bateman (Sheffield) discussed structures of possible periglacial origin within the Late Devensian coversand of north Lincolnshire. Some structures at Caistor morphologically resemble involutions, and their stratigraphic position suggested to Ko van Huissteden (Free University, Amsterdam) a similarity with Weichselian Late Pleniglacial sediments in the Netherlands. The third talk, by Geoff Duller (Aberystwyth), evaluated whether the luminescence dating of glacial and periglacial sediments was fact or fantasy. Geoff reviewed experimental data testing the “full-bleach assumption of the TL and OSL methods, and concluded that the degree of bleaching is highly variable.
The next two talks concerned periglacial rivers. David Bridgland (Durham) presented a climatic model for river terrace formation during the Middle and Upper Pleistocene in southern England. The model, based on stratigraphic observations, has aggradation of fluvial sediments, both at the beginning and end of periglacial conditions, and downcutting during the intervening periglacial episode. A debate ensued as to the effects of sea level change on fluvial activity. Following this, Ko van Huissteden presented cryostratigraphic and 14C evidence for Weichselian floodplain aggradation in the Netherlands. In contrast to the Weichselian Early and Late Pleniglacial (OI stages 4 and 2), when continuous permafrost existed here, the Middle Pleniglacial (OI stage 3) was a time of alternating aggradation and degradation of permafrost. An important phase of degradation at approximately 38,000 years BP was associated with floodplain erosion.
Wishart Mitchell (Luton) presented results on studies of rock glaciers in the Himalayas. Based on reconnaissance mapping in the Lahul and Ladakh regions, he suggested that the rock glaciers have developed under drier conditions than those associated with glaciers in the high mountains. Other rock glaciers in the Indus valley and the upper part of Spiti are currently developing out of retreating valley cirque glaciers.
Nel Caine (visiting at Durham) discussed the hydrologic and geomorphic processes in a nivation hollow from the Colorado Front Range, USA. During a 14-year record of discharges from the basin, the yields of both clastic sediment and dissolved material have been low, with a denudation rate of only 0.005 mm/yr. The figure suggests that this part of the alpine landscape has hardly been modified during the Holocene. Infilling of hollows by clastic sediment is countered by geochemical denudation, and it is the latter which may therefore be important in maintaining the basin form.
Julia Branson (Southampton) reported on recent progress in the development of the Global Geocryological Database. The GGD will in time comprise linked data centers (in Boulder, Moscow, Lanzhou and Southampton) which are compiling data from regions of perennially and seasonally frozen ground. The objectives of the database are to advance studies of permafrost, cold regions engineering and environmental change.
David Evans (Glasgow) described buried glacier ice from Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian High Arctic, and considered its implications for the glacial geology and geomorphology of subpolar glaciers. Because the ice is buried by till or alluvium whose thickness may exceed that of the active layer, the ice may be preserved indefinitely under present climatic conditions. Thus glaciers readvancing over the buried ice may reactivate it, which may partly explain the occurrence of thick englacial debris bands.
The final talk, by Julian Murton (Cardiff), discussed the sediments and stratigraphy of thermokarst lake basins in the Mackenzie Delta area, western Canadian Arctic. Based on cryostratigraphic observations, three stages of deposition have been distinguished: 1) widespread thaw slumping transporting upland sediments into thermokarst lakes; 2) reduced slumping promoting reworking of sediment and suspension settling; and 3) lake drainage permitting gelifluction and accumulation of peat and aeolian sand. The 14C dates from some stage 1 sediments suggest a progradation rate of approximately 4 cm/yr.
The following posters were displayed:
- Periglacial trimlines and the upper limit of Devensian glaciation, outer Hebrides (Colin Ballantyne, St. Andrews)
- Sediment transport by periglacial processes-The gravity fall model revisited (Julia Branson, Southampton)
- Relict rockglaciers in the British Isles (Stephan Harrison, Coventry)
- The Mis Tor Rockglacier, Dartmoor (Stephan Harrison, Coventry; Ed Anderson, Middlesex; and Vanessa Winchester, Oxford)
- Rock glaciers in the Himalaya (Wishart Mitchell, Luton)
- Near-surface brecciation of chalk, Isle of Thanet, Kent: A comparison with ice-rich bedrocks (Julia Murton, Cardiff)
- Cambering and gulls in unconsolidated Quaternary sediments in East Anglia, UK (Colin Whiteman, Brighton)
The workshop promoted enthusiastic discussion of periglacial research and demonstrated the important contribution that such work can make to Quaternary science. This was particularly well illustrated by the studies of periglacial aeolian and fluvial sedimentation. In addition, the workshop drew attention to at least three important topics that merit further research: 1) Anglo-Dutch optical dating studies of late Weichselian/Devensian sediments to improve cryostratigraphic correlations and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, 2) comparative studies of mid-latitude Pleistocene river terraces to test models of terrace formation, and 3) collaboration between glacial and periglacial geologists in studies of glacially deformed massive ice in permafrost to interpret the origin of the ice.
Several participants expressed interest in the possibility of future workshops and field meetings on a periglacial theme. Abstracts for the present workshop are available from the convenor.
Submitted by Julian Murton and Charles Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)
United States of America
A series of permafrost-related projects have been funded as part of the National Science Foundation’s Arctic System Science (ARCSS) program. Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska, solicited and submitted the following summaries.
Progress in developing climatic simulations of large areas in the Arctic is restricted by physical constraints of data collection, by a limited understanding of the interdependence and interaction of the physical and biological processes, and by limitations in our technical ability to extend our measurements and understanding across a range of scales. NSF, as part of its ARCSS global change program, is funding a multi-year program focused on northern Alaska. The program, Land-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions (LAII), involves a group of projects concerned with research on boundary layer processes associated with the vegetative cover, active layer and near-surfice permafrost. Many of the study sites are along the route of the oil pipeline and road to Prudhoe Bay and the adjacent Kuparuk River watershed, in which an intensive vegetation-soil-atmospheric gas exchange program known as the Flux Study of the LAII is underway. Details can be obtained from individuals and the LAII project office at the University of Alaska (firstname.lastname@example.org).
An important component of several active layer studies was the establishment of 1-x 1-km grids surveyed and marked every 100 m. These grids, installed at Toolik Lake, Imnavait Creek, Happy Valley, West Dock, Betty Pingo, Barrow and Atkasuk, are the U.S. contribution to CALM (see page 21). Thaw depths have been measured at every node on these grids each autumn, and in some cases several times throughout the summer, by many of the cooperating LAII-Flux Study scientists.
Donald Walker, University of Colorado, and his associates have established permanent vegetation plots at inland sites at Toolik Lake, Imnavait Creek and Happy Valley and at coastal sites at Prudhoe Bay, Barrow and Barter Island. Site factors, including soil properties, plant cover, and active layer depth in August, are available. A regional vegetation map of the Kuparuk River basin (8140 km²) was prepared using existing vegetation classifications and aerial and satellite imagery. Additional plots along the north-south Flux Study transects were established in 1995 to serve as verification for the regional scale extrapolations.
Frederick Nelson, State University of New York-Albany, Ken Hinkel, University of Cincinnati, and colleagues are collaborating on two related projects concerning the spatial variations and temporal trends of the active layer on the ARCSS 1- x 1-km grids and the Flux Study 100- x 100-m plots. These studies involve intensive probing using formal hierarchical sampling designs. Near-surface (0-120 cm) temperatures and soil moisture are monitored hourly at several of these locations. Temporal (interannual and interdecadal) variations of active layer thickness are being investigated using coupled-flow models of soil thermal evolution, driven by local weather records at Barrow. Heat and mass transport measurements in the active layer and upper permafrost indicate that coupled-flow processes are especially active during snowmelt and when the active layer is thawed, and that these effects extend into the upper permafrost. When the annual field is modeled, the difference between measured and simulated temperatures indicates that nonconductive processes can cause episodic residuals of ± 2°-3°C and, while infiltration of snow meltwater is occurring, can displace the entire thermal field in the upper soil column. Soil moisture appears to be the crucial dynamic parameter. Using historical core data taken at Barrow in 1963 and a replicate sampling in 1993 suggests an average volumetric water (ice) enrichment of up to 5% in the upper few decimeters of permafrost. Stratigraphic analysis of the structures suggested downward movement of water through a network of cracks.
Tom Osterkamp, University of Alaska, and associates are pursuing research to improve understanding of the coupling of climate to permafrost through the intervening snow cover. A model using Barrow air temperatures applied to the ground surface with no snow cover predicted little change in permafrost temperatures. This result disagrees with observations confirming that air temperatures alone cannot account for the observed warming of the permafrost over the last century. Modeling the effects of the snow cover showed that the variable depth hoar fraction can change the daily and mean annual ground surface temperatures by several degrees and the date of active layer freeze-up by several weeks. Permafrost temperatures, obtained from a series of shallow boreholes, have cycled since 1983 over a range of 4°C with a period of at least 11 years, about in phase with the sunspot cycle and with the patterns of cyclonic and anticyclonic circulation in the Arctic Ocean. This range is about the same as the observed warming of the last century and the predicted warming for the next half-century due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Active layer thicknesses also varied systematically, changing by up to a factor of two. About one-third of the active layer freezes from the bottom upwards.
Douglas Kane and Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska, and associates focus upon developing models of hydrologic and thermal processes. The modeling efforts include simulations of meteorologic data, areal extrapolation, soil moisture, stream runoff, active layer thaw depth, and soil temperatures. Data necessary to understand the hydrologic, meteorologic and thermal processes are being collected throughout the Kuparuk River basin. Specific parameters measured include subsurface temperatures and variables necessary to establish the surface energy balance. Soil samples were analyzed in the laboratory for bulk density and hydraulic conductivity. Automated time domain reflectometry (TDR) probes are installed in the active layer to measure unfrozen soil moisture daily during the summer. Depth of thaw of the active layer is measured several times throughout the summer and surface condition is noted in an attempt to relate thaw rates to surface characteristics. Physically based, spatially distributed models of hydrologic and thermal processes have been developed and verified for portions of the Kuparuk River basin. The primary control on the depth of thaw appears to be hydrologic factors. In very wet soils, the depth of thaw is greater than in drier soils, all other factors being nearly the same. Under conditions of running water in surficid drainages the depth of thaw is geaterthan in drier soils. An extensive network of shallow wells around the Prudhoe Bay site (Betty Pingo) revealed that hydraulic gradients changed from early to late summer. Just after spring melt, the surrounding wetlands supplied water to the tundra ponds; in late summer, however, the gradients were reversed, with water moving from the ponds to the wetlands. The total volumes of water movement were quite low due to low hydraulic conductivities and low hydraulic gradients; however, this supply of water and heat may be important for areas adjacent to small thermokarst features.
James Bockheim, University of Wisconsin, and other LAII investigators have found that nonacidic tundra soils are more extensive in the Kuparuk River basin, accounting for as much as 54% of the total vegetation cover. Properties of 30 soils in moist nonacidic and acidic tundra and 8 soils in nonacidic and acidic shrublands were compared. Although the organic layer is thicker in acidic tundra, the thickness of the A horizon, the maximum thaw depth, and the pH of the upper mineral soil layer are greater in the nonacidic moist tundra and shrubland than in their acidic counterparts. Many of the soils in nonacidic tundra contain a thick, dark-colored surface mineral horizon and abundant base cations. These soils may be more susceptible to carbon release and permafrost table recession in the event of global warming then adjacent acidic, lighter colored soils. The factors controlling the distribution of nonacidic soils are poorly understood but may include distribution of calcareous dust in snowfall, the age of the geomorphic surface and vegetation succession.
Chien-Lu Ping, University of Alaska, and colleagues are studying the relationship between the permafrost table and soil formation in more than 70 pedons excavated to a meter or more from arctic Alaska and associated sites in northwest Canada, and northeast Russia (see Cryosol Working Group report). Field evidence indicates that the zone of permafrost table fluctuation ranges from a few to more than 50 cm,
depending on the vegetation type and successional stage, latitude, and landform position. During a cooling period the permafrost table rises and sequesters the soil carbon which was frost-churned or cryoturbated to the lower part of the active layer. During a warmer period, the permafrost table is expected to be depressed and release carbon and other nutrients to biogeochemical cycling. The increased active layer results in deeper root penetration. Reducing conditions generally occur above the permafrost table. When the saturated zone fluctuates with the rise and fall of the permafrost table, a redox zone is created and mineral weathering is enhanced. Moderately to strongly developed cryogenic structures, including ice lenses and ice nets, commonly occur above the permafrost table. After thawing, these structures become platy and blocky, which provides channels and pores for water and root penetration.
William Reeburgh, University of California-Irvine, and his students measured methane fluxes, using static chambers, at weekly intervals at 43 sites during the 1994 and 1995 thaw seasons. Five vegetation cover classes were used in the sampling site selection: barrens, moist non-acidic tundra, moist acidic tundra, shrublands, and wet tundra. The methane fluxes were integrated over the thaw season to produce annual methane emission estimates. The vegetation-classified methane fluxes were used to define four general methane emission categories (sink and low-, moderate-, and high-source) and were combined with the Kuparuk River basin vegetation map to produce a regional methane emission map. Field water table manipulation experiments are in progress near Toolik Lake. These experiments involve lowering (and raising) wet meadow water tables inside 1- x 1-m cofferdams to determine the effect of water table level changes on methane and carbon dioxide emissions.
John Hobbie, Marine Biological Laboratory, and colleagues are conducting research on two major aspects of the active layer. First, the project monitors thaw depth in a small watershed at the LTER Toolik Lake site through surveys conducted in early and in late summer. The database now contains six years of information (see CALM table, page 21). Comparison of data between Barrow (coastal) and Toolik (inland foothills) shows the same depression of thaw penetration in 1991 reported by Osterkamp’s project in the Prudhoe Bay area. Second, the project is monitoring soil chemistry and hydrology in the same watershed. Weekly measurements of water table, soil temperature, and soil water gases, nutrients, and dissolved organic carbon are being made at eight different sites representing upland tussock tundra and riparian birch and willow. Soil water gases reach 100,000 microatmospheres of C02 and 500,000 microatmospheres of methane due to plant and microbial respiration. Most of the nitrogen and phosphorus leaves the watershed in the dissolved organic forms. Soil water concentrations of dissolved organic carbon are correlated with different vegetation types and position of the sample in the watershed.
Terry Chapin, University of California-Berkeley, and associates are measuring water and energy exchange in all the major tundra vegetation types in the Kuparuk River basin, including those that are expected to become more common with global warming. Included in these measurements is an estimation of ground heat flux, measured as a function of vegetation type, climatic factors (e.g. temperature), and net radiation. At each site, other important variables influencing ground heat flux are also measured, including leaf area index, moss cover, soil moisture, and soil temperature. These measurements are at the same locations where Nelson’s project measures active layer depth.
Walt Oechel, San Diego State University, and several associated groups obtain active layer depth measurements associated with a series of experiments. These include net CO2 flux chamber plots, several permanent meteorological sites, and a water table-surface temperature manipulation experiment at a Prudhoe Bay site (West Dock). The water table was lowered on average 7 cm below the ambient water table, and surface temperature was increased by approximately 1°C using the open-top ITEX chambers. Several of these studies are closely related to similar ones in the Russian Arctic. Descriptions of the extensive data sets and experimental designs for the San Diego projects and the other ARCSS-LAII projects will be available as part of an ARCSS data management project at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado.
Reports of several recent NSF-ARCSS-sponsored workshops on arctic land-shelf-basin interactions are available. The results of three workshops held in Columbus, Ohio, Arlington, Virginia, and St. Petersburg, Russia, describe research priorities for the Eurasian land-shelf system, including both onshore and subsea permafrost. The report is available as Byrd Polar Research Center Misc Series M-397, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1002. The second report of a workshop held in March 1995 discusses issues and research questions for the arctic shelf-basin interactions. That report is available from the Polar Science Center-APL, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105-6698.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Frost Action chaired by Billy Connors (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities) met on 9 January during the Seventy-Fifth Annual Meeting of the TRB. In addition to committee business, presentations were made on the IPA Global Geocryological Database (Jerry Brown), neural networks (Lufto Raad), moisture accumulation in pavements (K. Eigenbrod), and evaluation of seasonal variability in cohesive subgrades (Ken Anderson). The TRB program included a seven-paper session on Geotextiles in Cold Regions.
Jess Walker reports that on 13 April, 20 papers devoted to the cryosphere were presented in four sessions of the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Six papers were devoted to various aspects of snowfall, including such topics as snow depths in the former Soviet Union and snow cover fluctuation as derived from satellite observations. Other papers dealt with the active layer, permafrost, glaciers, rock glaciers, arctic soil development and alpine talus deposits. IPA working group chairs Roger Barry, Fritz Nelson and Antoni Lewkowicz co-chaired several sessions and presented papers. IPA Vice President Hugh French presented a paper entitled Periglacial Environments, Pleistocene and Recent.
The general consensus was that the sessions were very successful and that we should pursue attempts to form a Cryosphere Specialty Group within the AAG. To that end a petition containing the names of 106 potential members was submitted to the AAG requesting that the Cryosphere Specialty Group be established. It was subsequently approved and the group is now official. Future plans call for two or three sessions to be held at the meeting in Fort Worth (1-5 April 1997) and for expanded sessions in Boston
(25-29 March 1998). Further information is available from H.J. Walker (hwalker@unixl .sncc.lsu.edu).
Submitted by Larry Hinzman and Jerry Brown (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A five-year research program has been approved by the South African Committee for Antarctic Research on cryogenic landforms and processes on Marion Island, situated at 46°S, southeast of the African continent in the maritime Subantarctic. The project, led by Jan Boelhouwers and Ian Meiklejohn, aims to assess the environmental controls, active processes and resulting landforms of geomorphological phenomena on the island. The focus is on forms that have a high paleoclimatic indicator value, or have a high environmental impact. Jan Boelhouwers and Stefan Grab undertook their first visit to Marion Island in April and May 1996, during which ground climate and sediment movement monitoring sites were established.
Currently five members of the Southern African Permafrost Group (SAPG) are cooperating in a project under Ian Meiklejohn’s leadership on mountain environments. One of the prime aims of the project is to use paleogeomorphic features to develop a Pleistocene climate history for the high mountains of southern Africa, In the context of mountain environmental research, Ian Meiklejohn will be working with Kevin Hall in British Columbia during July.
Two conferences of relevance to IPA members will take place in southern Africa over the next 15 months. First is the Southern African Association of Geomorphologists (SAAG) Biennial Conference in Cape Town, as announced in the last issue of Frozen Ground The second is an International Conference on Environment and Development in Africa, 29 June to 4 July 1997, hosted by the University of Pretoria, the Society of South African Geographers, the International Geographical Union, and the African Association of Geographers. There will be a post-conference field workshop, hosted in conjunction with SAAG and the SAPG, to the Drakensberg Mountains. Interested parties are invited to contact the Conference Organizers, Department of Geography, University of Pretoria, 0002 Pretoria, South Africa; Tel: 27 12 420 4049; Fax: 27 12 420 3284;E-mail: email@example.com
Submitted by Ian Meiklejohn (firstname.lastname@example.org)