1997 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

Argentina (and South American Partners)
The Netherlands
United Kingdom
United States of America
South Africa

Argentina (and South American Partners)

Between 1996 and 1997 research focused on the following study areas:
Laguna del Diamante, Cordillera Principal (34°S), Mendoza. At this site different periglacial geomorphological, sedimentological and paleoclimatic studies are carried out. In 1996, and with the support of the geocryology research team and the cooperation of other researchers at the Argentinean Institute of Ice, Snow and Environmental Research (IANIGLA), a report was prepared on the possible harm to the environment and the dangers that could result from construction of a gas pipeline from Argentina to Chile.
Lagunita del Plata, Cordillera Frontal (33°S), Mendoza. Periglacial long-term studies which had been interrupted in 1987 were resumed with geodetic measurements and geocryological investigations. Data on solifluction at a height of 4000–4500 m a.s.l. were updated. Geoelectrical measurings and geodetic calculations were made. Field work at this study site provided support for the General Irrigation Department of the Province of Mendoza and nearby communities. This work was carried out with the cooperation of E. Buk, José Hernández and José Corvalán.

Expedition to the Mesón San Juan, Cordillera Principal (33°33′S), Mendoza. The aim of the expedition was to drill into the upper ice of the glacier of the Mesón San Juan (6035 m a.s.l.) in order to analyze the glacial stratigraphy. It was organized by the Laboratory for Glacial Stratigraphy and Geochemistry of Water and Snow (Alberto Aristarain, Conicet and National Antarctic Institute) and carried out with the logistical help of the Argentine Army. The success of the expedition was limited by the considerable retreat of the glacier and the presence of penitentes up to 5 m high on its surface. At the same time periglacial studies had as their initial objective the distinction of different altitudinal levels of the cryogenic environment, the distinction of cryogenic geoforms, and the detection of “quasi-continuous” permafrost. Geophysical radar soundings were made on a cryoplanation surface close to a glacier at 4335 m a.s.l., in order to indirectly determine the occurrence of permafrost. These studies were made with the help of J. Travassos, geophysicist from the CNP National Observatory of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Valley of La Esperanza, Southern Andes (42°32′S), Chubut. Research was conducted on paleoclimate in the Southern Andes with R. Villalba from the Laboratory of Dendrochronology (IANIGLA). Trees (Fitzroya cupressoides) older than 2000 years were discovered. An important geomorphological inventory (GPS mapping) of the study area was accomplished.
In addition, the following activities were carried out:
A postgraduate course in geocryology was prepared. Formal preparations for a postgraduate course on present and fossil permafrost were completed at the University of Tucumán. The course will be presented by Dario Trombotto and A.-L. Ahuma, da Lillo Fundation, San Miguel de Tucumán.
Dr. Trombotto was invited by K. Shimokawa, Sapporo University, to take part in an academic exchange concerning present periglacial investigations in the mountains of Hokkaido, Japan, and the Andes of Mendoza. Japanese researchers presented their studies on palsas and the degradation of permafrost due to climatic changes. An expedition will be conducted to the Daisetsuzan Mountains, Hokkaido, by Prof. Shimokawa, N. Takahashi and K. Sato (Hokkai-Gakuen University), and Hai Yin (Urümqi University, China).
A revised proposal was resubmitted to the Inter-American Institute (IAI) for its global change program entitled Development of the Southern Hemisphere Sector of a Mountain-Climate Permafrost Network. The proposal focused on the establishment of the Southern Hemisphere sector of a north–south transect from northern Canada to southern Argentina to provide data on permafrost distribution and environments along the eastern Cordillera of the Americas. These measurements involved drilling of access holes into the unconsolidated frozen overburden and bedrock and placement of ground temperature cables at key sites, accompanied by automated microclimatic stations. Because of the interannual variability of climate, long-term installations are essential. Unfortunately, the proposal was declined by IAI; but since it has similar objectives and approaches to the European-funded PACE program, other sources of support will continue to be explored. This program could become associated with a new IPA working group on the Southern Hemisphere and be coordinated with similar studies in Antarctica.

Submitted by Arturo Corte (cricyt@planet.losandes.com.ar) and Dario Trombotto (aristar@cpsarg.com)


The 50th (Jubilee) Canadian Geotechnical Conference was held in Ottawa in October 1997. The 1997 Roger J.E. Brown Award was presented to Jack Clark, in recognition of his role in the development of permafrost engineering in northern Canada in the 1970s and 1980s. Dr. Clark was formerly president and CEO of the Center for Cold Oceans Research and Engineering in St. John’s, and still has an emeritus appointment there. He is also a former member of the Canadian National Committee for the IPA. At the business meeting of the Cold Regions Division, a new division chair was elected — Alan Hanna, of AGRA Earth & Environmental Limited, Calgary, Alberta. He replaces Elizabeth Hivon on 1 January 1998. The business meeting also considered the problem of competing conferences, and noted that there are at present too many conferences with similar themes in cold regions or northern engineering. Smaller meetings have increasing difficulty competing with larger, aggressively promoted conferences. The 51st Canadian Geotechnical Conference will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, in fall 1998. For more information, contact Don Lewycky (Tel: 403 496 6773; Fax: 403 944 6753; e-mail: dlewycky@gov.edmonton.ab.ca).

Submitted by J.Alan Heginbottom, Secretary, CNC-IPA (heginbottom@gsc.emr.ca)


An active layer monitoring site was established in the Yituli River basin, northeast China, in 1997 based on the ITEX/CALM protocol. Two boreholes for monitoring ground temperatures were drilled at this site to depths of 13 and 40 m .
The Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology (LIGG) is undertaking a program for research and monitoring of the cryosphere of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. This includes a model of the response of plateau permafrost to climate change and is supported by a GIS and an engineering–geological database of permafrost along the Qinghai– Tibet highway. The present processes of the active layer in permafrost areas of the plateau are being investigated.
In 1997 LIGG, in cooperation with the Japanese GAME National Subcommittee for GAME/Tibet (GNSGT), set up seven observational sites for investigating the variation of ground temperature and moisture in the active layer along the Qinghai–Tibet highway. A test site for observing methane flux has been established in the permafrost region in the Huashi Valley of Qinghai Province.

A major national research progam on the interaction among atmosphere, vegetation and permafrost on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau will be started next year.
Two books, An Assessment of Climate Change Impact on Snow Cover, Glacier and Permafrost in China and Seasonally Freezing Saline Soils and Their Improvement: Utilization in the Hexi Corridor, Gansu, China, were published. Three additional books, Frozen Ground in China, Mechanism of Frost Heave and Moisture Potential in Soil and Fracture Mechanics of Frozen Soil, will be published in 1998.

Submitted by Cheng Guodong (cdcheng@ns.lzb.ac.cn) and Zhu Yuanlin (zhuyl@ns.lzb.ac.cn)


The permanent research station in the High Arctic Zackenberg area in northeast Greenland was officially opened in August 1997. Temperature measurements, using TinyTalk miniature dataloggers, in a transect through a nivation hollow with a perennial snowpatch showed that during the 1995–96 season the BTS (bottom of the snow) temperature was about –10°C. The mean annual air temperature was –9.8°C. The BTS temperature was found to be less than 2– 3°C higher than the annual terrain surface temperature outside the snowpatch. As reported previously, two CALM grids were established at Zackenberg in summer 1996, with maximum average active layer thicknesses of 60 and 61 cm, and measurements continued in 1997. Studies of the soil water chemistry, physical and geochemical processes controlling pore water chemistry in the active layer and monitoring of the content of unfrozen water in the layer were started during the 1996 summer in Zackenberg. These studies are part of the long-term monitoring program of physical parameters under the GeoBasis program. Further information on the GeoBasis program and the research projects carried out at Zackenberg is given in Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations, 2nd Annual Report 1996, 80 p., Danish Polar Center, e-mail: dpc@dpc.dk, or on the Web: http://www.dpc.dk/Sites/Zackenberg/FirstChoise.
A soil map of Greenland, scale 1:7,500,000, has been compiled by B. H. Jakobsen, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen. It was presented at the Cryopedology Conference in Russia in August 1997.

A project on water and chemical fluxes in frozen soil has been initiated by B. Elberling, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen. The project aims to provide a better understanding of the chemical processes and transport mechanisms within mining waste in arctic areas. This will provide guidelines for the management of mining waste to minimize the chemical fluxes of trace metals to the terrestrial and aquatic environment. A field study was initiated at the active sulfide mine in Nanisivik, Baffin Island, in northern Canada and will be followed up by detailed laboratory experiments with partly frozen waste material. This project is funded by the Ministry of Energy and the Environment (MIKA), Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen and the National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark.
Rock glacier studies were carried out on Disko Island, West Greenland, by O. Humlum, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen during the summer of 1997. Flow rates and active layer temperatures were measured. Since 1983, Dr. Humlum has studied the characteristics of rock glaciers in different parts of the island, probably one of the areas of the world with the highest density of rock glaciers.
During the summer of 1997 another CALM grid was established close to Qeqertarsuaq (69°15′N, 53°30′W) on Disko Island by H. H. Christiansen, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen. The average active layer thickness was 57 cm. The mean annual air temperature is –4°C. Three TinyTalk miniature dataloggers have been installed in a profile from the terrain surface down to the top of the permafrost to log the active layer temperatures at 0.5, 30 and 74 cm.

Submitted by Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen (hhc@geogr.ku.dk)


During the summers of 1995 and 1996 soil scientists from the Institute of Landscape Ecology in Muenster (G. Broll, G. Mueller) carried out fieldwork on permafrost-affected soils in the Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada. This DFG-sponsored project is accomplished in cooperation with Canadian soil scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Branch and Parks Canada. Besides investigations on soil genesis, the study focused on soil ecological interactions. Soil temperatures were measured at different depths. The results of the study will be presented at Yellowknife and at the International Soil Science Society Congress.

In connection with the IGCP 297 (Geocryology of the Americas), correlations of periglacial phenomena among Mexico, South America and Southern Africa were studied by K. Heine, Regensburg. The distinction of permafrost and non-permafrost related periglacial forms and processes and the reconstruction of paleo-temperatures by dating past permafrost-induced phenomena are a main point of this study. Current results show that in central Mexico temperatures rose by about 1.5–2.0°C at 4000 m altitude during the last 150 years. In Ecuador and Bolivia the last glacial maximum (LGM) temperatures at about 4000 m a.s.l. were at least 4.8°C lower than today.
Permafrost-related research by M. Böse, Berlin, focuses on fossil features (mainly sand wedges and ice wedge casts) that indicate permafrost conditions during the Weichselian. A recently investigated site southeast of Berlin contains syngenetic ice wedge casts up to 6.5 m long, in fluvioglacial sands above the palaeobiological site of the Rixdorfer Horizon. These ice wedges document permafrost prior to the LGM. Further studies in Poland may give additional information about the periglacial conditions after deglaciation.
The same group continued field work in the Finnish Subarctic in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Finland. Topics were the occurrence of podzolization and brunification processes in seasonally frozen soils, their dependence on different glacial till deposits and cryoturbation, the classification of permafrost-affected organic soils, and the influence of overgrazing by reindeer on soil ecological processes. Results were presented at the Cryopedology Conference in Syktyvkar, Russia, in August 1997.
R. Baumhauer and Ch. Kneisel (Trier) and W. Haeberli (Zurich) are currently studying the relationship among surface ice, ground ice and permafrost in recently deglaciated terrain in the St. Moritz area of Switzerland and the Paarte/ Kebnekaise area of Sweden. Surface temperature logging and geophysical soundings as well as geomorphological studies are applied in order to investigate these interactions and the origin and the characteristics of the different ice types. BTS measurements and DC resistivity soundings indicate the existence of permafrost/ground ice in the recently de-glaciated glacier forefields.
Mountain permafrost research in Germany is focused on discontinuous permafrost in the Swiss Alps and monitoring is mainly done at the Universities of Giessen, Jena and Heidelberg. Long-term observations include borehole temperature measurements, photogrammetry and geodetical surveys of permafrost creep at selected rock glaciers, as well as systematic inventorying of geophysical data (refraction seismics, DC resistivity soundings, BTS mapping). An important rock glacier site located at Macun (Oberengadin, Swiss Alps) has been studied mainly by Barsch and Hell. The rock glaciers are measured at intervals of between 2 and 5 years; the recent surveys were in 1989, 1992, 1994 and 1997. It is planned to include these data in the IPA CD. Other rock glacier monitoring sites are located at Albana and Val Sassa, and regular surveys at longer intervals are planned there.
L. King (Giessen) and his group continued their studies on permafrost distribution and permafrost-related processes in the Zermatt area, Swiss Alps. In connection with the new European PACE project, numerical modeling of permafrost distribution, geophysical permafrost mapping, and monitoring of the active layer and of ground and bedrock temperatures at construction sites in the permafrost area continue.
At the University of Munich, the working group Stoetter/ Belitz continued studies on alpine permafrost in the Vinschgau and the Oetztal Alps. The latest results show that discontinuous permafrost has decreased about 40% in area during the last 150 years. Erosion and hazard studies continued in connection with climatic change monitoring.
The periglacial group of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany (Christine Siegert, Julia Boike), was involved in a number of permafrost activities in 1997. A project in Central Yakutia was initiated in cooperation with the Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk. The main aim is to acquire high resolution data to reconstruct the Holocene climate through thermokarst lake sediments using stable isotope compositions of the aquatic fauna and autochthonous plant remains. Within the project Late Quaternary Environmental History of Central Siberia a final expedition took place in the vicinity of Norilsk. In cooperation with the Geocryology Department, University of Moscow, and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, deep sediments from Lama Lake were recovered and geocryological studies were carried out in the lake catchment. At Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, a long-term project on thermal and hydrologic dynamics of the active layer was started in cooperation with the Soil Physics Group, University of Hohenheim and the Norsk Polar Institut, Tromsö and Oslo. The first sites were instrumented in August and data are continuously recorded. During a two-week pilot expedition to Zackenberg, East Greenland, basic data for a project on geochemical processes and weathering were collected in cooperation with the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Polar Center.
Matthias Kuhle (Göttingen) continued his studies on periglacial keyforms and indicators of permafrost and their relationships with the Ice Age glacier surfaces in Asia. In the mountains bordering the Tibetan Plateau (the Himalaya in the south, the Quilian Shan in the north, and the Kunlun), periglacial keyforms and indicators of permafrost have been found between 4400 and 5400 m a.s.l. in the form of patterned ground, polygonal frost cracks and pingos. These periglacial macroforms show arctic dimensions. The key-forms occur in corresponding topographic positions on valley floors, on saddles at valley heads, and on valley shoulders, where the Ice Age deglaciation came to an end early. In striking contrast are the central Tibetan areas where permafrost is present, but neither patterned ground, frost cracks, pingos, nor slopes covered with thick frost debris occur as periglacial keyforms. The author considers these observations to be an indication of an extended Ice Age inland glacier cover which, as a result of its thickness, lasted far into the Late Glacial.
The present German–Russian collaboration in the Laptev Sea has identified new direct and indirect evidence of ice-bonded offshore permafrost extending from the current shoreline to the edge of the continental slope. Nikolai Romanovskii (Moscow State University) and Felix Are (St. Petersburg) have been collaborating with Hans Hubberten (AWI, Pots-dam) and Heidi Kassens (GEOMAR, Kiel). Utilizing recent geophysical observations and existing Russian data and publications, the extent of ice-bonded offshore relict permafrost has been further evaluated. Paleo-environmental scenarios of permafrost formation and evolution during the last glacial cycle (past 110,000 years) have been developed. Mathematical modeling of offshore permafrost evolution is underway. A map forecasting offshore permafrost and subsea talik distribution of the Laptev Sea shelf was prepared and exhibits continuous relic permafrost distribution to the 60 m water depth, and discontinuous permafrost to the edge of the shelf. The proposed German program, Laptev Sea System 2000, includes investigations of offshore ice-bonded permafrost, paleo-environmental evidence, modeling of gas hydrates, and thermo-erosion studies. Results are very important for planning the location and operations of the Nansen Drilling Program.
German engineers successfully constructed several tunnels employing artificial freezing techniques: Farlach Tunnel in Mannheim and subway tunnels in Düsseldorf. They also applied artificial freezing techniques in restoration work at the leaning tower of Pisa. Results of various projects were discussed at the International Ground Freezing Symposium in Lulea, Sweden.
The German National Permafrost Committee (DNP/ IPA) met in Jena on 31 October and 1 November 1997. New results from permafrost studies in the Arctic, Antarctic and high mountain areas were presented by the following scientists: K. Hinz and G. Delisle, BGR Hannover (seismic evidence of subsea permafrost and numerical simulation of permafrost development in the Laptev Sea, respectively); E.-M. Pfeiffer, Hamburg (cryosols, Taimyr Peninsula); Ch. Siegert and H.W. Hubberten, AGI Potsdam (results of permafrost studies of the AWI in Taimyr and Yakutia); B. Hagedorn, AGI Potsdam (processes in cryosols, Taimyr); H. Gossmann, Freiburg (Dynamic Processes in Antarctic Geosystems—DYPAG); L. King, Giessen (Permafrost and Climate in Europe—PACE); Ch. Kneisel, Trier (ground ice in glacier orefields, St. Moritz). Nine papers have been submitted for the Seventh International Conference on Permafrost.

Submitted by Lorenz King (lorenz.king@geo.uni-giessen.de)


In 1997, the International Center of Geoecology of Mountains in Arid Regions (ICGM) continued observations on monitoring the thermal regime of seasonally and perennially frozen ground at the special polygon for thermometry in the basin of the Bolshaya Almatinka River (Zailiysky Alatau Range, Northern Tien Shan). The polygon includes over 30 observation sites with different conditions of absolute elevation, ground and vegetation. Observations of the dynamics of representative rock glaciers as well as glacio-hydrophysical observations on the Tuyuksu Glacier were continued. Winter observations of the frost heaving of seasonal mounds (thufurs) showed that the vertical movement of their surfaces reaches 10 cm, i.e. about one-third of the height of these features in summer.

An inventory of rock glaciers of the Dzungar Alatau Range has been undertaken. In the territory studied (about two-thirds of the range), 489 rock glaciers occupying a total area of 40.25 km2 have been recorded. Of this total, 426 features covering 33.37 km2 are considered active. On the basis of this inventory, a Map of Rock Glaciers of Dzungar Alatau has been compiled at 1:500,000.
In July and August, the Laboratory of Geocryology investigated permafrost in the morainic dam of the lake associated with mud–debris flow in the Northern Tien Shan, near Almaty. The permafrost thickness at 3600 m a.s.l. is about 100 m and active layer thickness is 1.5–3.5 m, depending on the slope orientation.
In August, the Laboratory of Mountain Geoecology organized an international expedition to the Inylchek Glacier (Central Tien Shan) supported by the G. Ebert Foundation (Germany) with scientists from Germany, Austria and Uzbekistan. This expedition confirmed the surge of the northern Inylchek Glacier, which up to the present time was not considered to be a surging glacier. During one month, starting 6 July, the glacier moved down-valley for 4.5 km and reached the position it occupied in 1932. At the same time, the expedition of the Laboratory of Glaciology determined that the mass balance of the Tuyuksu Glacier this summer was close to its extreme negative value.
In October, Kazakstan joined the CALM program. Temperature recorders were installed to a depth of 4.5 m (thickness of the active layer) in a borehole in the mountains of the Northern Tien Shan (43°N, 77°E, 3330 m a.s.l.).
In late 1996, a book by A.P. Gorbunov, E.V. Seversky and S.N. Titkov, The Geocryology of the Tien Shan and Pamir, was published (in Russian). It contains information about permafrost and seasonal freezing processes of the Northern and Inner Tien Shan, as well as results of investigations and mapping of different periglacial features of the Tien Shan, Pamir-Alai and Dzungar Alatau. The ICGM has completed preparations for publishing of four volumes of the Catalog of Glaciers of the Northern Tien Shan. A Map of Thickness, Water Content and Duration of Snow Cover in the Mountains of Southeastern Kazakstan at 1:1,000,000 has been compiled. In China, with the participation of the ICGM, the book Snow and Avalanches in the Tien Shan (in Chinese) has been published.

Submitted by A.P. Gorbunov and I.V. Seversky (ingeo@asdc.kz)


Geocryologists at the Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences are working on the generalization of the permafrost research materials obtained over the past years. In 1996, a publication on the geocryological character-istics of the economic zones was prepared, and a monograph on permafrost conditions in Mongolia was initiated.
As a result of many years of observations of the surface temperature regime on the protected Bogd Khan Mountain near Ulaanbaatar, N. Sharkhuu analyzed regional regularities in the quantitative alteration of permafrost conditions depending on latitudinal belts, slope exposure, winter air temperature inversion, and snow and vegetation covers. Results are reflected in a report and permafrost map (1:125,000) compiled in 1996 for the national atlas of this protected mountain.

On the basis of generalizations of field and experimental observations of frost heaving at many sites, Dr. Sharkhuu and A. Anand in 1996 compiled a map (1:100,000) of frost heaving distribution in the Selenge River basin. The mapping approach provides the basis for compiling similar maps of the discontinuous permafrost region at small and medium scales. The methods and results of compiling the maps were presented at the International Conference on Geotechnic-96 in Ulaanbaatar.

Submitted by N. Sharkhuu

The Netherlands

The Utrecht University (Koster) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Vandenberghe/Kasse) will take part in the EC-funded project TUNDRA (Tundra Degradation in the Rus¬sian Arctic) within the framework of the Environment and Climate program. The project is coordinated by Peter Kuhry (Arctic Center, Rovaniemi, Finland) and has as a general objective to obtain net fluxes for carbon and fresh water from an arctic catchment under base-case and global change scenarios. The Dutch contribution will concern climate change and the hydrological cycle. Its specific aim is to develop a GIS-based hydrological model of the Usa catchment which will provide seasonal to annual water and sediment budgets under natural conditions (based on the variability of the last 2000 years) and global change scenarios. Validation will take place at four selected field sites through comparson of model output with long-term records from hydrographic stations in the Usa basin.

Submitted by Jef Vandenberghe (vanj@geo.vu.nl)


Since 1989 several high-mountain areas in southern Norway have been investigated by the University of Oslo to map permafrost distribution using BTS, DC resistivity sounding, and sledge hammer seismic technique. A map of permafrost in southern Norway was recently presented based on this type of investigation. A new grid-based temperature map of mean annual air temperature by the Department of Norwegian Meteorological Institute (DNMI) and GIS analysis opens the possibility of mapping the southern limits of discontinuous permafrost over vast areas. Sporadic permafrost in connection with palsas and snow patches is excluded. The approach is well suited for interpretations on a regional scale to study past and future climate through change in permafrost distribution. A special study of frozen ground processes is being performed at Finse.

Rock glaciers on Svalbard have been studied for several years. In the vicinity of Ny Ålesund, a velocity measurement program was launched in 1985. In collaboration with ETH-Zurich (W. Haeberli), rock glaciers in this area were investigated by geophysical methods, including refraction seismic, geoelectric and gravimetric surveys. In the Longyearbyen area rock glaciers are examined, in collaboration with UNIS, with a view to morphology, velocity and internal structure. Permafrost problems associated with the runway at Svalbard airport have been studied since 1994, including changes in the surface elevation. The runway was constructed in 1976 without adequate attention being paid to the effect of the permafrost.
A program to study rock glaciers on Prins Karls Forland in western Svalbard was established in 1995. On the northwestern part of the island, rock glaciers build a 10-kilometer-long continuous transition between the rockwall and the strand-flat area. Results of the flow pattern, internal structure and morphology of some of these rock glaciers are analyzed based on geodetic surveys, DC resistivity soundings, and high-resolution digital modeling. These results will be used in a numerical model to estimate build-up time of the rock glaciers. This might contribute to better understanding of the paleoclimate in the area and the size of the Weichselian ice sheet.

Submitted by Johan Ludvig Sollid (j.l.sollid@geografi.uio.no)


Research on permafrost and contemporaneous periglacial processes, carried out in 1996–97, was a continuation of a complex program of research in the region of the H. Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station, King George Island, West Antarctica, on the west coast of Spitsbergen in the vicinity of Hornsund Fjord and the Polish Station founded there in 1956, and other university polar stations which are active during the summer months. In the Hornsund region (south Spitsbergen), research was undertaken by teams from the Silesian University in Sosnowiec, the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan, and the University of Wroclaw. The Maria Curie–Sklodowska University in Lublin was engaged in research in the Recherche Fjord region (central Spitsbergen), whereas the Mikolaj Kopernik University of Torun owns a station on the Kaffoyra plain on the northwest coast.

The studies carried out are complex in character:


  • Thermics and dynamics of the active layer of different tundra ecosystems
  • Physico-chemical processes in the active layer
  • Thermic and hydrological regime
  • Development of relief influenced by contemporaneous periglacial processes on slopes, in marginal areas of glaciers, on coastal plains and in coastal areas

Since 1993, geophysical research on fossil permafrost in the alpine zone of the Tatra Mountains has been undertaken by teams of scientists from the Silesian University in Sosnowiec, the Institute of Geography of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy in Krakow. The Maria Curie–Sklodowska University has cooperated with the Institute of Marine Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in research on periglacial phenomena in the Khibiny Mountains on the Kola Peninsula.
Research programs are coordinated by the Permafrost Committee of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the National Adhering Body for IPA. The results of research and studies carried out by these Polish teams are presented during Polar symposia, organized annually by the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society, as well as during topical conferences. These results were published in conference proceedings in Biuletyn Peryglacjalny (1996, vol. 35, p. 153–195) and Polish Polar Research (1996, vol. 17, 1–4; 1997, vol.18, no. 1).
Conference publications include:

  • 23rd Polar Symposium, Sosnowiec, 1996
  • 24th Polar Symposium—40 Years of the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, Spitsbergen, Warsaw 1997
  • Problems of the Contemporaneous and Pleistocene Periglacial Zone, Spitsbergen Geographical Expeditions, Maria Curie–Sklodowska University Press, Lublin, 1996
  • Dynamics of the Polar Environment. Spitsbergen Geographical Expeditions, Maria Curie–Sklodowska University Press, Lublin, 1997

Submitted by Kazimierz Pekala (pekala@golem.umcs.lublin.pl)


Several major geocryological and cryopedological conference were held in Russia this year. The results of the Cryopedology ‘97: Second International Conference held in Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic are reported in the Cryosol Working Group report (page 26).
The annual permafrost conference in Pushchino was held 21–25 April 1997 under the title International Conference on the Problems of Earth Cryosphere (Basic and Applied Studies). A total of 162 abstracts were submitted by researchers from various regions of Russia, North America, Asia and Europe. Registered participants totaled 140 Russian and 30 foreign. The conference included plenary and sectional sessions, symposia, a roundtable discussion, and the annual meeting of the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (CSCEC RAS). An abstract volume in Russian and English was available and copies can be obtained from the council.

The plenary session dealt with the main directions of modern geocryology. Topics introduced were elaborated upon in the sections, symposia and roundtable:
Section 1: Periglacial processes on the shelf and land of the arctic sea coasts; Chair N.N. Romanovskii (23 presentations).
Section 2: Reliability of geotechnical systems in the cryolithozone; Chair L.N. Khrustalev (24 presentations).
Symposium: Microbiology of permafrost: Life at negative temperatures; Chairs D.A. Gilichinsky and J.M. Tiedje (13 presentations).
Symposium: Cryogenic processes and phenomena, conditions of their formation, palaeogeographic information; Chair V.I. Solomatin (12 presentations).
Symposium: Physical–chemical mechanics of frozen ground; Chairs S.E. Grechishchev, E.D. Ershov, and Yu.K. Zaretsky (17 presentations).
Roundtable: Geoinformation systems, digital maps and databases in geocryology; Chairs M.A. Minkin and E.S. Melnikov (11 presentations).
The annual meeting of the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology, Russian Academy of Sciences, was held on the last day. The topics discussed were Russian participation in the 7th International Conference on Permafrost, policies and plans for the journal Earth Cryosphere, and plans for next year’s conference to be held in late April and devoted to the 90th anniversary of P.I. Melnikov’s birth. Priority would be given to the following topics: permafrost as one of the cryospheric components, the application of remote sensing in permafrost investigation, ground water, gas hydrates, offshore permafrost, engineering in a permafrost environment, and geophysical methods in permafrost investigations.
It should be noted that the National Geocryological Foundation (NGF) was established in Russia two years ago for the purpose of collecting and disseminating permafrost data. Information on several Russian institutions’ data collections is stored in the NGF. Specific regional databases are devised under its aegis. Metadata concerning digital and paper databases on Yakutia, Transbaikal, the Norilsk region, West Siberia, and European North Russia are available. Raw data can be obtained by negotiation with the data owners. Contact the NGF Director, M.A. Minkin.
The new quarterly Russian journal Earth Cryosphere began publication in 1997 under the auspices of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Its goal is to publish scientific contributions on all aspects of the Earth’s cryosphere and to help formulate a unified concept of it. Papers are published in Russian with title and abstracts in English. A decision to translate papers into English will depend on the number of potential non-Russian subscribers. Papers, short communications and reviews in the following fields will be considered for publication:


  • New data on the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere as parts of the Earth cryosphere at global, regional and local scales, including possible changes under natural and anthropogenic conditions.
  • New data on the structure, composition, formation and evolution of natural and artificial cryogenic features, from single crystals of ice to snow and ice covers and the entire cryolithozone.
  • Distribution of cryogenic (periglacial) processes, their development, and possibilities of their prediction and control.
  • Cryogenesis and its role in the evolution of other Earth cryosphere components.
  • Role of cryosphere and cryogenesis in supporting the biosphere and its utilization at various scales.
  • Modeling of the cryosphere, its components and links, cryogenic (periglacial) processes and phenomena, and the interrelations of the cryosphere with other Earth envelopes.
  • Development of methods, techniques, and technological means and instrumentation to study of the cryosphere and their interactions.
    Development of provisions for collection, processing, storage, dissemination and use of cryological information.

Four issues of the journal are planned for 1997. Issue number 1 is available and the other three will contain reports presented at the April 1997 conference in Pushchino (see page 31 for the contents of the four issues and subscription information). Several issues in 1998 are planned to include papers for the Yellowknife conference. Complimentary copies of the first issue are available. Future issues will be priced at US$20.00 each.
The Geocryological Map of the U.S.S.R. (1:2,500,000) with explanatory note (edited by E.D. Ershov) in 16 sheets was published in December 1996 and is available for purchase. The map, displayed in Pushchino, summarizes the results of a 25-year research effort by the Geocryology Department, Faculty of Geology, Moscow State University. Geological formations, Quaternary deposits, genetic complexes, type of freezing, cryogenic structure, macro-inclusions of ice and ice content form one map layer. Other layers are permafrost extent and ground temperature, thickness and structure, altitudinal and latitudinal zonations, cryopegs, relic permafrost, periglacial features and taliks. Supplementary 1:25,000,000 inset maps show geological regions, types of rocks with syngenetic or epigenetic freezing, and hydrogeocryological structures (see page 33 for ordering information).
The following monographs were published recently in Russian: Gavrilova, M.K., Fedorov, A.N., Bosikov, N.P. and others.
1996. Impact of climate changes on development of permafrost environments of Central Yakutia. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute, 180 p.
Gorbunov, A.P., Seversky, E.V., Titkov, S.N. 1996. Geocryological conditions of Tien-Shan and Pamir. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute, 184 p.
Kazansky, O.A. Cryostructural method of palaeopermafrost reconstructions. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute, 98 p.
Konyakhin, M.A., Mikhalev, D.I., Solomatin, V.I. 1996. Oxygen-isotope composition of ground ice: Textbook. Moscow, Moscow University Press, 156 p.
Engineering–geological monitoring of Yamal gas fields, volume 2: Geocryological conditions of Bovanenkovo gas field development. 1996. Novosibirsk, SB Nauka.
Principles of geocryology. 1996. Moscow, Moscow University Press. Pozdnyakov, I.V. 1996. Permafrost of northern Amur valley. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute.
Salnikov, P.I., 1996. Stability of foundations for construction on permafrost in southern Transbaikal. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute.
Melnikov, E.S., ed. 1997. Results of basic research of Earth cryosphere in Arctic and Subarctic. Proc. of the International Conference in Pushchino. Novosibirsk, SB Nauka.

Submitted by E. S. Melnikov (emelnikov@glas.apc.org) with contributions from M.O. Leibman  (mleibman@glas.apc.org), I.D. Streletskaya and M.A. Minkin


The Spanish group of the IPA hosted a conference on present cold frozen processes from 17–20 July 1997, in Andorra. Forty-five Spanish and Portuguese specialists in permafrost and ice-related natural processes participated. The 23 papers that were submitted will be published in a special volume. The papers addressed a variety of aspects, including snow distribution in Spanish mountain ranges; the formation of protalus ramparts in the Gredos, Cantabrian and Pyrenees mountain ranges; periglacial processes associated with the active layer in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada; research conducted by Spanish scientists on current permafrost-related processes in the Antarctic and northern Sweden; present activity associated with periglacial processes in Portuguese mountain ranges; and data collection linked to geomorphologic processes related to permafrost. The conference closed with a synthesis of the status of current studies on periglacialism and permafrost in the Iberian Peninsula and the projection of future lines of research. The next meeting of the Spanish group of the IPA will be held in Albarracin (Teruel, Spain) in July 1999.

Gonçalo Vieira from the Centro de Estudos Geograficos, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, has sent the following report on periglacial geomorphological research in Portugal.
The study of present-day geocryological processes is quite recent and is still emerging. The first reference to periglacial processes was by Andre Guilcher (1949) on the head deposits of the Cabo da Roca. It was not until the 1970s with Suzanne Daveau that research started to develop, expanding in the 1980s, especially after the meeting on the Iberian Quaternary held in Lisbon in 1985. The majority of the studies focus on Quaternary deposits. Present-day processes are still poorly evaluated due to the present climatic conditions (Mediterranean type) and the low altitude of the mountains on the mainland, with a maximum of 1993 m a.s.l. in the Serra da Estrela. However, Pleistocene periglacial deposits are widespread from the mountains to near sea level in north and central Portugal. These are mainly stratified slope deposits (i.e. grèze litée type), screes and head deposits. Antonio de Brum Ferreira (1985) supports a decrease of about 10°C in the mean annual temperature in the last glacial maximum. The lower limit for the periglacial belt in the Serra da Estrela is near 1750 m a.s.l. No permafrost occurs in the Portuguese mountains.
Recent research on periglacial phenomena is centered mostly in mountain areas and is being conducted by researchers from the Centro de Estudos Geograficos (University of Lisbon) in the Serra do Geres (Antonio de Brum Ferreira, Maria Luisa Rodrigues, Jose Luis Zêzere and Gonçalo Vieira), Serra da Estrela (Gonçalo Vieira and Antonio de Brum Ferreira) and Maciço Calcario Estremenho (Maria Luisa Rodrigues); by the Instituto de Estudos Geograficos (University of Coimbra) in the Serras do Caramulo and Freita (Antonio Rochette Cordeiro) and Serras de Condeixa-Sicó-Alvaiázere (Lucio Cunha); and by the Instituto de Geografia (University of Oporto) in the Serra do Marao (Antonio de Sousa Pedrosa). In the Serras da Estrela and Geres the occurrence of a late-Pleistocene glaciation allows the study of the relations between periglacial and glacial deposits and forms.

Submitted by David Palacios (davidp@eucmax.sim.ucm.es)


The former Glacier Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS) has been restructured. The scope of the new Glaciological Commission includes all naturally existing ice, in particular glaciers, snow and permafrost. According to this extension, several new members joined the commission. There is a delegate for glaciers (Martin Hoelzle) and one for permafrost (Daniel Vonder Mühll), who act as national correspondents for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and the IPA, respectively. A Swiss permafrost monitoring network is being established. It will be maintained by the Glaciological Commission like the already existing glacier monitoring network. Besides SAS and the universities, the Swiss Alpine Club supports the development of the concept for the permafrost network.

The annual meeting of the Swiss Geomorphological Society took place in July at the Academia Engadinaisa in Samedan (Upper Engadin) with about 60 participants. Several of the 15 talks and 14 posters were related to the topic permafrost. On the one-day excursion, several themes such as geology, glacier stages, and permafrost investigations were presented. A guided walking trail devoted to the topic of climate change has been developed.
In August 1997, 50 participants in the M4 field trip of the International Geomorphology Conference started in Zurich, spent three days in the Swiss Alps, then continued to Italy (more details are given on page 24)
A booklet with 20 extended abstracts from the meeting of the Coordinating Group on Permafrost, held in April 1996, has been published. It includes an article about the permafrost map of Switzerland by Felix Keller. It shows that approximately 5% of the Swiss area is underlain by permafrost. Interested colleagues can order the booklet from vondermuehll@vaw.baum.ethz.ch.

Submitted by Daniel Vonder Mühll (vondermuehll@vaw.baum.ethz.ch) http://www.vaw.ethz.ch

United Kingdom

The U.K. Adhering National Body organized a two-day workshop at the University of Cardiff, 16–17 December 1997, in association with the IPA Periglacial Processes and Environments Working Group and the Cryostratigraphy Working Group of the Quaternary Research Association. The workshop theme on the first day is periglacial processes, landforms and cryostratigraphy, and on the second day, monitoring and modeling periglacial processes. The second day includes a visit to the Cardiff Geotechnical Centrifuge Center in the School of Engineering, where participants can see the new cryogenic testing facility used in scaled physical modeling. Participants from the following countries are attending the conference: Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. and U.S.A. A detailed report of the meeting will be included in the next issue of Frozen Ground.

The Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE) project is being coordinated at the University of Cardiff (see page 3 for details).
The 8th Annual International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) Workshop was held at the Royal Holloway Institute for Environmental Research, Surrey, U.K., in April 1997. Forty-four delegates from 14 countries participated. Phil Wookey, ITEX Chair, organized the workshop; for additional information contact: philip_andrew.wookey@natgeog.uu.se
O.W. Heal, University of Edinburgh, co-authored the report of a workshop held in Trondheim, Norway, 16–18 June 1996, to develop a plan for an IGBP high latitude transect in the Scandinavian/Northern European Region (SCANTRAN). The workshop, organized under the auspices of the Research Council of Norway Environment and Development, was co-sponsored by the Norwegian National IGBP Committee and ARTERI-Arctic-Alpine Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Initiative of the European Union. For details contact: b.heal@ed.sac.ac.uk

Submitted by Charles Harris (harrisc@cardiff.ac.uk)

United States of America

Three frozen-ground-related international meetings were held in Alaska in 1997.
The International Symposium on Physics, Chemistry, and Ecology of Seasonally Frozen Soils was held 10–12 June 1997 at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In attendance were 105 people representing 11 countries (Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S.A.).
Peter J. Williams delivered the opening keynote address, entitled The Seasonally Frozen Layer: Geotechnical Significance and Needed Research. The first day included 19 oral and 12 poster presentations on the fate of carbon and phosphorus; soil stability; soil water, gas and solute movement; and northern ecosystems.

The second day commenced with a keynote address by F. Stuart Chapin III on Influence of Frozen Soils on Ecosystem Processes and Their Sensitivity to Climatic Change. There were 21 oral and 13 poster presentations on this day, with topics ranging from nitrate dynamics to watershed hydrology, fauna adaptation, solutions at low temperatures, soil structure, and bioremediation.
The final day concluded with 16 oral and 12 poster presentations on remote sensing; modeling soil frost; compaction; and heat, water and solute movement. On 13 June, 45 participants toured research and engineering facilities in the Fairbanks area, including visits to the Geophysical Institute Synthetic Aperture Radar Facility, Permafrost Tunnel, and Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research Site. See page 33 for information on ordering the proceedings.
In August 1997 the Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks hosted the Eleventh International Symposium and Workshop on Northern Research Basins. In 1975 the national committees of the International Hydrologic Program (IHP) for Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. established a working group on northern research basins (in 1992 Iceland joined the group). The objective of this group is to encourage research and information dissemination on the hydrology of basins in northern latitudes that are affected by snow, ice and frozen ground.
Each meeting has one or more designated themes. Most of these in the past have been process-oriented. The main theme of the 1997 meeting was An Evaluation of Spatial Variability of Hydrologic Processes in the Circumpolar Arctic. The objective was to examine available process-oriented, spatially distributed data sets (water and energy fluxes), and make a comparison amongst them to see if a generalized understanding could be developed. Development of a clear understanding of global scale climatic dynamics is not possible until we complete regionalized comparisons of process interactions and variability.
Forty-four participants from 12 nations (Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) joined in the traveling workshop. The workshop began in Prudhoe Bay with field excursions into the oilfields and continued on to research sites across the North Slope. Two days were spent at the University of Alaska field camp at Toolik Lake. The final day was spent in a symposium on the campus of the UAF. Thirty-nine papers were presented, 17 of which were printed in Volume 1 of the proceedings; a second volume was also published. Twelve of these papers will also be submitted for possible publication in the journal Nordic Hydrology. Copies of the two-volume proceedings are available from Douglas L. Kane, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-5860 (or email ffdlk@aurora.alaska.edu).
The Fifth International Symposium on Cold Regions Development sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the International Association of Cold Regions Development Studies was convened 4–10 May 1997 in Anchorage. See page 33 for information on ordering the proceedings.
The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) published a new monograph in its cold regions engineering series. Edited by Daniel Smith, Cold Regions Utilities is a guide to the basic principles of cold regions environmental engineering. Its focus is on geotechnical and thermal considerations that influence the design of utility systems. Highlighted are problems related to water supply, wastewater, solid waste, and the energy components of infrastructure to cold regions. A major thrust of the publication is its emphasis on thermal design considerations of piped water and sewerage systems in frozen ground. TCCRE is sponsoring the Ninth International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Duluth, Minnesota, on 27–30 September 1998. The theme of the conference is Cold Regions Impacts on Civil Works. Topics encompass issues related to transportation, foundations, geosynthetics, navigation, and utilities in seasonally frozen ground. For more information on ASCE activities and publications
The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) published a new monograph in its cold regions engineering series. Edited by Daniel Smith, Cold Regions Utilities is a guide to the basic principles of cold regions environmental engineering. Its focus is on geotechnical and thermal considerations that influence the design of utility systems. Highlighted are problems related to water supply, wastewater, solid waste, and the energy components of infrastructure to cold regions. A major thrust of the publication is its emphasis on thermal design considerations of piped water and sewerage systems in frozen ground. TCCRE is sponsoring the Ninth International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Duluth, Minnesota, on 27–30 September 1998. The theme of the conference is Cold Regions Impacts on Civil Works. Topics encompass issues related to transportation, foundations, geosynthetics, navigation, and utilities in seasonally frozen ground. For more information on ASCE activities and publications visit its Web site: http://www.asce.org or call 800 548 2723/ 703 295 6300.
FROSTFIRE is a new project in Alaska investigating the role of wildfire. It is funded by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. This project is an experimental and regional approach to improve our understanding of boreal feedbacks to climate. The objective of this research is to develop a predictive understanding of the major classes of feedbacks from boreal fire to climate as a basis for improved understanding of the changing role of the boreal forest in the Earth system. The hypotheses to be tested include:

  1. The direct effects of regional warming in Alaska will be to increase fire severity by increasing the flammability and consumption of biomass, especially of the organic soil layer.
  2. The greatest carbon loss due to fire results from post-fire decomposition rather than combustion during the fire.
  3. Increased fire severity has a threshold effect on the loss of permafrost that depends on local microclimate (e.g. slope and aspect).
  4. Fire causes threshold changes in energy exchange with the atmosphere.

The lead investigators on the project include F. Stuart Chapin, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California (fschapin@garnet.berkeley.edu) and David V. Sandberg, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Submitted by Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.apc.org) with contributions by Breton Sharratt (bsharratt@mail.mrsars.usda.gov) Larry Hinzman (ffldh@aurora.alaska.edu) Jon E. Zufelt (jzufelt@crrel.usace.army.mil)


During 1997 the following activities were carried out within the Italian IPA Adhering Body.
Research was conducted on mountain permafrost in the Italian Alps with particular reference to permafrost degradation and related slope instability phenomena.
A three-year research program on permafrost and buried ice in Victoria Land, Antarctica, funded by the ENEA-PRNA Project, is in progress. It includes geophysical soundings, thermal logging and monitoring of boreholes, and chemical and isotope analysis of ground ice.
A research project on permafrost distribution and thermal characteristics in the Svalbard Islands has been initiated with the financial support of the National Research Council. The first field investigations (including deep drilling) will start in the spring of 1998.

The Italian IPA group contributed to the one-day workshop associated with the M4 field trip, Mountain Permafrost Monitoring and Mapping (Zurich–Bologna, 22–28 August 1997), in cooperation with the IPA Mountain Permafrost Working Group and the IGU Commission on Climatic Change and Periglacial Environments. For more information and a site map, see Supplementi di Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria, suppl. III, t.2, p. 181–203, 1997.
A contribution was also made to the preparation of the PACE EU Project, and a book on mountain permafrost was published (see p. 33).

Submitted by Francesco Dramis (dramis@uniroma3.it)

South Africa

The Southern African Permafrost Group (SAPG) is involved in three major projects; mountain geomorphology, mountain environments, and soil frost research on Marion Island. Apart from the research carried out on Marion Island, the major emphasis is on relict features and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. A particularly pleasing aspect is that the community appears to be growing at a student level. There are at least five Masters and Ph.D. students doing periglacial research under the leadership of the SAPG members.

In 1996 a five-year research project was started on Marion Island to study present-day soil frost processes, their controls and their physical manifestations in this maritime sub-Antarctic environment. The project has now been expanded to include a survey of the Holocene periglacial record of the island. Two additional studies that will commence in 1998 will focus on mechanical weathering and ice-mass balance. The first is a study into the mechanisms and environmental controls of mechanical weathering processes to evaluate the potential use of mechanical weathering products as palaeoenvironmental indicators. The second is a study in collaboration with H. Oerlemans (Utrecht, Netherlands) on the modeling of past mass balance changes of the Marion plateau glacier. With the focus on Holocene environmental changes on Marion Island the project is generously supported by the South African Committee on Antarctic Research.
At the INQUA Congress in 1999 in Durban, South Africa, the Southern African Permafrost Group will organize a workshop and post-conference excursion under the auspices of the IPA Working Group on Periglacial Processes and Environments and the IGU Commission on Climate Change and Periglacial Environments. The one-day workshop will take place during the conference and run under the theme Periglacial Research and Environmental Change. It will consist of a series of paper sessions. A morning session of invited papers on the theme of Periglacial Research in the Southern Hemisphere: A State of the Art is being considered.
Immediately following the congress a four-day excursion will observe evidence in the field and debate the Quaternary (peri-) glacial record of the Lesotho Highlands. This area is one of the few places in the world where the question of a Quaternary glaciation has not yet been resolved.
The provisional program is:
Day 1: Travel from Durban to the Drakensberg escarpment, followed by four-wheel-drive transport up to 2900 m a.s.l. Accommodation will be in a rustic mountain chalet at the edge of the main escarpment offering spectacular views. The afternoon will be used for an introduction to the area.
Day 2: Quaternary glaciation of the Lesotho Highlands: site visits, with data presentations and discussion, to the hollows and their sedimentary sequences proposed as evidence for Quaternary nivation and cirque glaciation.
Day 3: Quaternary record of periglacial landforms: site visits, with data presentations and discussion to the block streams and other periglacial slope deposits and their paleoclimate significance.
Day 4: Slope deposits along the main escarpment and synthesis and site visit to slope deposits below the escarpment. Final discussion and synthesis and return to Durban.
Numbers will be limited to about 25 people. Costs for the post-conference excursion are estimated to be in the order of US$350.
Jan Boelhouwers and Kevin Hall are in the process of developing a proposal on the formation of an IPA Southern Hemisphere Working Group. The intention is to bring together researchers from the Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica, involved in permafrost and periglacial issues, as well as research data on these topics. Initial projects will involve the creation of a Southern Hemisphere bibliography and a synthesis of permafrost maps. It is intended that the group be formalized in Yellowknife. For more information or suggestions, contact Jan Boelhouwers or Kevin Hall:
Jan Boelhouwers, Department of Earth Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa.e-mail: janboel@artso.uwc.ac.za, fax: +27 21 9592438.
Kevin Hall, Geography Program, University of Northern British Columbia, 333 University Way, Prince George, B.C., Canada V2N 4Z9. e-mail:hall@unbc.ca, fax: +1 250 9605795.

Submitted by Ian Meiklejohn (kim@scientia.up.ac.za)