1999 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

The Netherlands
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America
South Africa


In Austria permafrost research continues to focus on the dynamics and selected characteristics of active rock glaciers. Viktor Kaufmann (Graz University of Technology) has recently established geodetic/photogrammetric monitoring of velocity and vertical changes of rock glacier surfaces by different methodological approaches at three sites in the Hohe Tauern Range (Central Alps). Especially in the case of the Doesen rock glacier (which was presented at the 7 th International Conference on Permafrost in Yellowknife) a lot of quantitative information is now available providing data for discussion of rheology kinematics in connection with the IPA Task
Force on rock glacier dynamics.

Karl Krainer (University of Innsbruck) has started several activities in the Hohe Tauern range as well as in the Tyrolean Alps. His working group emphasizes sedimentological and hydrological investigations (water and ground temperature, discharge, hydrochemical characteristics and tracing experiments in order to understand runoff systems). Furthermore, surface velocity measurements using GPS techniques are carried out in some of the study areas.

Gerhard Karl Lieb (gerhard.lieb@kfunigraz.ac.at)


Following an offer made by Don Hayley (Chair, CNC/ IPA) to the IPA Council at the time of the VII-ICOP (Yellowknife), the Organizing Committee prepared a Post- Conference Report. The purpose of the report was to document, for future organizing committees, the notification procedures, scheduling deadlines, paper submission and review procedures, the conference format, and the relevant associated conference administrative and financial details. This report (20 copies) was submitted to the IPA Executive Committee in July 1999.

The report includes a conference summary and a collection of individual reports prepared by the respective Subcommittee Chairmen. General recommendations include:

(1) the conference venue should be one that can provide the opportunity for delegates to experience local permafrost conditions,

(2) the technical programme should provide ample opportunity for informal discussions, should limit the number of concurrent sessions, and the report recommends an increase in poster presentations,

(3) the IPA Working Groups should be tasked with soliciting papers and organizing specialty sessions in their areas of interest, and (4) the IPA needs to adopt a more organized approach to travel assistance for attendance at conferences, paying special attention to worthy delegates from countries with devalued currencies.

The Technical Programme Committee Report indicates that 440 abstracts were initially submitted to the Organizing Committee and that 277 papers were eventually received. Of these, 146 (52%) were accepted outright or with minor revisions, 69 (25%) required major revisions and re-review, and 62 (22%) were not accepted. Ofthe 188 papers published in the Proceedings volume, 30% were from Russia, 22% from Canada, 16% from USA, 9% from China, and 5% from Switzerland. Of the 60 extended abstracts published in the Programme and Abstracts volume, 36% were from Russia, 16% from USA, and 15% from China. A total of 31 Associate Review Editors, all but 2 from within Canada, handled the review process and a total of 198 individuals from a number of countries are listed as having acted as referees. Detailed recommendations concerning the paper review and publication procedures are given.
Following submission of this report, the Organizing Committee was allowed to stand down. The new membership of the Canadian National Committee for the International Permafrost Association (CNC/IPA) was formally announced in the Fall of 1999. The following have been appointed until December 31, 2003: Professor Michel Allard (Département de Géographie, Université Laval) – Chair, Mrs Margo Burgess (Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa) – Secretary, Professor Richard Fortier (Départment de géologie et de genie géologique, Université Laval) – member; Mr Alan Hanna (AGRA Earth and Environmental Limited, Calgary) – member; Mr Don Hayley (EBA Engineering, Edmonton) – member; Dr Brian Moorman (Earth Science Programme, University of Calgary) – member; Dr Steve Solomon (Geological Survey of Canada-Atlantic)- member; Mr Peter Vician (Government of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife) – member. The new CNC/IPA will hold its first meeting in Ottawa at the end of January 2000. This will coincide with a workshop to define the requirements of a National Permafrost/Glaciers/Ice Caps Monitoring Network. The latter is being organized by the Geological Survey of Canada with funding support from Canada’s Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) and Environment Canada.
At the Fall 1999 Canadian Geotechnical Society Annual meeting in Regina, the Cold Regions Division presented the R. J. E. Brown Award, for ‘…outstanding contributions to permafrost science and engineering ’, to J. Alan Heginbottom, now retired from the Geological Survey of Canada, for his contribution to the work of the CNC/IPA, from 1984 until 1998.
The Canadian permafrost community was saddened by the death of George Henry (Hank) Johnston, age 71, in late August 1999. An internationally known permafrost engineer and author of the standard reference text ‘Permafrost: Engineering Design and Construction’, Hank began a distinguished career in 1953 with the Division of Building Research, National Research Council of Canada (NRCC). Hank retired from the NRCC in 1993.
Current permafrost activities in Canada will be reported in the next issue of Frozen Ground.


Hugh French(hfrench@science.uottawa.ca

Don Hayley(hayley@eba.ca)


At Disko Island, central W Greenland, research on rock glacier dynamics and surface climate is being continued by Ole Humlum, University of Copenhagen and the University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS). DGPS surveying of three active rock glaciers was carried out this year.
Surface climate investigations were extended, using various types of miniature dataloggers to measure surface and active layer temperatures. Automatic measurements of precipitation  close to the rock glacier initiation line have been initiated. The timing of surface movements is experimentally recorded by means of vibrationsensitivedataloggers. Sampling of ice from rock glaciers, for isotopic analysis, has been continued and extended.

The headwall weathering rate, and the rock glacier role as a transport agent in high-relief arctic regions, are being investigated. Five active rock glaciers located in various meteorological settings in Disko Island are now included in this general monitoring programmeme. In Mellemfjord (W Disko) and at the Arctic Station (S Disko), two automatic meteorological stations (including measurement of active layer temperatures) have been in operation since 1993 and 1991.
Bo Elberling and co-workers (Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen) are studying the environmental impact resulting from oxidizing sulfidic mine tailings in the High Arctic. During the last three years fieldwork was carried out at the zinc-producing Nanisivik Mine in Canada together with freezer experiments on oxygen diffusion and consumption in frozen
sulfidic waste material. The work is funded by the Environmental Department, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Denmark. As part of the study, cold-tolerant sulfide-oxidizing bacteria have been identified in natural and waste material from the Nanisivik area. Biological catalysis is responsible for about 1/3 of the observed oxidation, and bacteria are found to be active at temperatures as low as 4°C. High oxygen uptake rates and heavy metal release from well-drained tailings are observed during summer months, and snow accumulation
during autumn and winter is considered responsible for reduced but surprisingly high pollution rates throughout most of the year. The project ends in 1999.
At Zackenberg, NE Greenland, a snow fence manipulation project was started in 1998 by Bjarne H.Jakobsen, Bo Elberling and Hanne H. Christiansen, (Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen). In the 1999 summer the first data was collected since the manipulation started. The effect of the snow fence was reduced because of largely increased natural snow precipitation during the 1998-1999 winter. Data on active layer soil water and gas was collected in cooperation with Ron Sletten (University of Washington, USA) and Birgit Hagedorn (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany). Geoelectrical soundings were made in the Zackenberg area as preparation for a coring programmeme in 2000. On the Faroe Islands a new project called LINK (Linking land and sea at the Faroe Islands: Mapping and Understanding North Atlantic Changes) was funded by the North Atlantic programmeme of the Danish Research Councils for the period 1999-2001. One part of this project is monitoring periglacial processes in combination with modern mountain climate. The first mountain meteorological station in these islands was established during the autumn of 1999. This included a shallow (12 m) borehole with temperature monitoring. The MAAT at the highest mountain tops is about 0-1°C, so pockets of permafrost could occur. This part of the LINK project is carried out by Ole Humlum and Hanne H. Christiansen (Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen) and
Lis Mortensen (Museum for Natural History, Torshavn Faroe Islands).

Hanne H. Christiansen (hhc@geogr.ku.dk)


A Symposium on Changes in Permafrost and Periglacial Environment at Kevo, northernmost Finland took place 20-24 August 1999. It was organised by Matti Seppälä and Martti Eerola of the National Committee of Permafrost Research and Technics in Finland. There were 23 participants from 8 different countries. The paper and poster sessions had 15 presentations of both scientific and technical aspects of permafrost.
Thawing and formation of new permafrost was demonstrated to have taken place recently. Daily excursions were run in Finnish Lapland and northern Norway. No separate proceedings will be published, but the papers will be submitted to different journals.

Mattï Seppälä (matti.seppala@helsinki.fi)


H. L. Jessberger (Ruhr University, Bochum) with a team of geotechnical engineers, continues to apply artificial ground freezing for tunnelling in Germany and abroad. This technology has been used for the subway line U5 in downtown Berlin, where the subsoil is dominated by Holocene sand with a high water table. Freeze pipesplaced in microtunnels, produce a frozen soil ring at least 2 m thick. For high capacity railroad tunnels and road tunnels of 3.5 to 6.5 km length in the Netherlands, artificial ground freezing was used for the construction of traverse galleries between the two parallel main tunnel tubes. The traverse galleries of up to 26 per tunnel are constructed in very difficult subsoil conditions (fine to medium sand or very soft organic clays with high water content and with about 400 kN water pressure). The relevant tunnels cross the Rotterdam Harbour (Botlek railroad tunnel), the Westerschelde (Westerschelde Tunnel at Vlissingen) and the Groene Hardt. In Boston (USA), Rome and Naples (Italy) several major ground freezing applications are in design state. Permafrost aggradation and degradation during the last 200 000 years was simulated numerically for two sections across Northern Germany (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Hannover) as part of a multinational EU-project. Calculations are based on a detailed climate curve for this time period provided by Jeff Boulton, University of Edinburgh and on detailed knowledge of the geological subsurface conditions. Calculations suggest up to eight periods of permafrost development with maximum permafrost thickness varying between 40 – 150m The roles of rivers and lakes in preventing permafrost development, talik-formation was included in this modelling effort. Special attention was paid to likely permafrost degradation scenarios in front of the Scandinavian ice shield at the time of its maximum advance into Northern Germany during the Weichselian stage.

The Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Hans Hubberten) coordinates the multidisciplinary terrestrial portion of the joint German-Russian project “Laptev Sea System 2000”. As part of this research project, an expedition to the Lena Delta region took place in July and August 1998. The expedition group was divided into three
Team 1 focused on modern processes in permafrostaffected soils and used a biological station of the Lena Delta Reserve on the Samoylov Island in the central part of the Lena Delta. Instruments were installed at 4 measuring sites during 1998 fieldwork. Ongoing multidisciplinary studies focus on the seasonal variability of modern processes in tundra soils. The main scientific objectives were: 1 Study of the energy and water balances of the active layer and the upper part of permafrost; 2 Quantification of the climatic, pedogenic and soil microbial parameters which control the production, oxidation and emission rates of trace gases in soils; 3 Measurement of the carbon flux balances (CO2, CH4) at differing tundra sites within the study area.
Team 2 focused on modern and ancient sedimentation in the Lena Delta and worked aboard the vessel Dunay. The main scientific goals were: 1 Sedimentation history reconstruction of the Lena Delta; 2 Understanding the influence of global, regional and local climatic variability on sedimentation in the Lena Delta; 3 Modern and ancient sediment budget of the Lena Delta.
Team 3 focused on climate signals in ice-rich permafrost deposits and worked at the key section of the Late Pleistocene Ice Complex, Mamontovy Khayata, on the Bykovsky Peninsula. Their multidisciplinary research programme includes: 1 Complex cryolithological studies; 2 Ground ice research, especially on ice wedges of differing ages using various isotope and hydrochemical analyses; 3 Systematic paleontological research (mammal bones, insect fossils, rodents, plant remains, seeds); 4 Extensive sampling for radiocarbon and OSL dating; 5 Study of modern geocryological processes. The second expedition, started in April 1999, consisted of 7 field groups. They studied the processes listed above for a full seasonal cycle, from spring to late autumn. Sediment coring from the ice cover on lakes and lagoons in the spring, and an extensive coastal process investigation in the Lena Delta and Laptev Sea in summer comprise an investigation of the environmental history of the Lena Delta. Paleoclimatic signals in ice-rich permafrost are investigated on the Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island and extend
the sample base created in 1998. In addition, projects emphasising hydrologic and thermal dynamics of the active layer, silicate weathering and the carbon cycle in high Arctic soils are ongoing. Automated sites were installed in 1998 close to Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen and at Zackenberg, NE Greenland, with water, gas and soil sampling.
To identify sedimentary and permafrost structures within the Lena Delta, sampling of sedimentary sequences by shallow coring and through natural exposures, ground penetrating radar, and shallow seismic studies, have all been carried out. Mineralogy and geochemistry of the sediments show details about the processes controlling the late Quaternary conditions of accumulation and deposition. The geophysical methods of sub-bottom profiling were twofold: (1) A RAMAC impulse radar system proved to be a viable technique for mapping subsurface structures on land. The 100 MHz radar signal penetrated the permafrost down to 30 m maximum and indicated wedges and ice layers. Drilling was used to determine the geologic composition. (2) A sediment echo sounder was used as high-frequency pulse source for seismic surveying of sediments of Lake Nikolay in the western Lena Delta. It was possible to characterise the geometry of basin fills and changes in lake sedimentation as well as to identify the permafrost table below talik zones.
The research group of the Geographical Institute, University of Giessen, continued its studies in the EUproject PACE. In summer 1999 extensive field checks were carried out concerning periglacial and natural hazard features originating in permafrost areas in the Mattertal valley. At the new Grächen-Seetalhorn test site geomorphological mapping of periglacial features and microclimatological measurements in the coarse blocky debris flow are being carried out. Correlation between slope processes and permafrost distribution were analysed using GIS.
Slope processes were surveyed by geomorphologic mapping, permafrost distribution was investigated by modelling (PERMAKART (F. Keller) and PERMAMAP (M. Hoelzle)) and BTS-mapping. The results of the geomorphologic mapping show many different periglacial forms and processes in the Gornergrat area such as rock glaciers, solifluction, rockfall and debris flows. By combining the results of the permafrost models and those of the BTS-measurements the calculation of a realistic permafrost distribution was carried out. The results of the GIS-analysis indicate a dependency of solifluction forms upon permafrost. The activity of rock glaciers seems closely connected to the occurrence ofperennially frozen ground. Modelling of rockfall- and debris flow-trigger zones show that both processes can occur in permafrost as well as in non-permafrost areas. Alpine permafrost is also studied in the Zugspitz summit area (highest peak in Germany) as part of the EU-project PACE by M. Gude (Department of Geography, Jena). Permafrost thermal conditions are monitored by temperatures measurements in surface and bedrock sites. Based on model PERMAKART and PERMAMAP the distribution of permafrost in the area is evaluated. Monitoring and model results are aimed at improving risk assessment and management related to thawing permafrost and slope instability in the area.

The occurrence and ecological implications of sporadic permafrost in blocky scree slopes of non-alpine mountains in central Europe (altitudes less than 1000 m asl.) is subject of a joint research programmeme by Martin Gude/Roland Mäusbacher (Department of Geography,
Jena) in co-operation with Roland Molenda (Department of Zoology, Jena) and other biologists. The main aim is to understand the thermal regime and the
stability of these permafrost sites by means of field monitoring and modelling approaches. Ground temperatures have been monitored in several block scree slopes in Germany and France for more than four years. Investigations on snow hydrologic processes and related sediment transport in the permafrost area of Swedish Lappland (Kärkevagge, Abisko area) are being
continued by Martin Gude in co-operation with Dieter Scherer (Department of Geography, Basel, Switzerland) and Christer Jonasson (Abisko Scientific Research Station) in the framework of MOSAIC (Modelling of Snowmelt and its Consequences).

A field measurement campaign was undertaken in 1998 and the next field research is planned for 2000. In the Austdalur drainage basin (23 km²), located in the mountains of the Icelandic Eastern Fjords (Austfirðir), A. Beylich, Halle University, has started studies of recent gravitational and fluvial mass transfer in a subarcticoceanic periglacial environment free of permafrost, but with Pleistocene glaciations and a steep, alpine relief. Annually, fluvial sediment transport in the main channels clearly dominates over slope processes. Aquatic slope denudation (slope and rill wash) is the most important slope process, followed by geochemical denudation, avalanches, rock- and boulder falls, creep, debris slides/debris flows, and deflation. The intensity of recent processes is low.

Lorenz King & Martin Schlerf (lorenz.king@geo.uni-giessen.de)


During 1999 the following activities were performed by the IPA Italian Adhering Body. In the EU PACE project:
– Monitoring of the thermal regime of the bedrock down to 100 m depth in the Stelvio Pass borehole (ItalianAlps; 3,000 m asl.) and of the active layer at La Foppa rock glacier;
– Chemical, physical and crystallographic analyses of the ground ice collected from the Foscagno rock glacier borehole;
– Development of a new spatial model of alpine permafrost distribution, based on DTM and climatic para- meters (air temperature and snow cover);
– Analysis of the relationships between vegetational ecosystems and permafrost occurrence.
In 1999 a new three-year research project ‘Permafrost and Climate Change in Antarctica’ (PCCA) (F. Dramis) has been approved within the PRNA (National Research Project on Antarctica). The main topics are:
-Analysis and monitoring of the surface energy balance and the active layer thermal regime in different environmental conditions with particular reference to vegetational ecosystems and gas flux changes;
– Reconstruction of palaeoclimatic conditions from the analysis of ground ice occurring in deglaciated areas.
In this framework, international cooperation programmes have been started with the Antarctic Institute of Argentina (Jorge Strelin) and the University of Ottawa (Hugh French); cooperation agreements are in progress with research institutions of the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Investigations on present-day and Quaternary periglacial landforms and processes are in progress in
the Alps and the Apennines.

Francesco Dramis (dramis@uniroma3.it)

Mauro Guglielmin (cannone.guglielmin@galactica.it)


The Kazakstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory took part in the International Archaeological expedition in the Altai Mountains (Buchtarma Valley). It investigated permafrost in burial mounds and permafrost in natural conditions. The low limit of the sporadic permafrost belt at approximately 1100 m asl. (49º20’N and 86º22’E) ha been determined.
The laboratory carried out monitoring of the thermal regime of alpine permafrost, of seasonally frozen ground and dynamics of solifluction processes, kurums and the Gorodetsky rock glacier in the Northern Tien Shan. A manuscript about fossil debris flows near Almaty was prepared for publication.

The cooperation programme of permafrost investigation between Mongolia and Kazakstan will be initiated in 1999, and continue until 2001. During 1998-1999 about 20 articles on topics of cryogenic processes have been published. Modelling of alpine permafrost distribution in connection with climate change continues in the Tien Shan Mountains.

A.P. Gorbunov (permafrost@astel.kz)


Detailed permafrost maps of Mongolia at the scale of 1:1 500000, and of the Selenge River Basin at the scale of 1: 500000 will be compiled by N. Sharkhuu in a new scientific project on Mongolian permafrost, running from 1999 to 2001. Likewise a map of seasonal freezing and thawing at the scale of 1:1 500 000 will be prepared by D. Tumurbaatar. The compilation of these maps will be carried out on the basis of analyses of data on Mongolian permafrost investigations obtained during the last 20 years. The maps will show distribution, thickness, temperature, ice content and composition of permafrost, cryogenic processes and phenomena and depths of seasonal freezing and thawing of ground. Legends for the maps will be prepared in both Mongolian and English.
Monitoring of permafrost temperature (for GTNet-P) and active layer (for CALM) at several sites of the Khentei and Khubsugul mountain regions, Mongolia, have been conducted by N. Sharkhuu since 1996. At these sites ground temperatures in boreholes were measured 10-25 years ago. In 1999 N. Sharkhuu installed frost tubes in two holes to a depth of 2.5 and 2.0 m for CALM at sites of the Terkh and Chuluut valleys in the Khangai mountain region. Besides, at the Argalant site of the Khentei mountain region, he drilled a borehole to a depth of 12 m and equipped it with a thermistor cable and a frost tube. At present, there are 10 active boreholes for CALM and GTNet-P in Mongolia. These are: Baganuur (15 m and 21 m deep), Nalaikh (5 m and 50 m deep), and Argalant (12 m deep) all in the Khentei mountain region, Burenkhan (50 m deep) and Ardag (15 m and 25 m deep) in the Khubsugul mountain region, and Terkh and Chuluut surface boreholes in the Khangai mountain region. Next year it is planned to install soil temperature dataloggers in some of the boreholes for CALM.

In November 1998 a joint Japanese – Mongolian group headed by Masami Fukuda, conducted a permafrost survey in the Khatagal (near Khubsugul lake) and Nalaikh (near Ulaanbaator) areas for three weeks. During the survey, three boreholes were drilled to a depth of 5-8 m and geoelectrical soundings were carried out. Data were collected on the Busnuur pingo near The Nalaikh area. This year a new group headed by Fujio Tsuchiya worked on a joint research programmeme on the study of permafrost degradation under influence of Mongolian forest fire. This programmeme lasts from 1999 to 2002. The main objective is to monitor the thermal gradient shift in permafrost after fire occurrence and the temperature gradient change near heat pipes as a counter measure of degradation, as well as to investigate the ecological impacts of forest fire and processes of regeneration. This summer permafrost surveys were conducted in the areas with forest fires of the Khentei mountain, Mongolia, for two weeks. During the survey heat pipes were installed in two surface boreholes (about 2 m deep) one with and one without permafrost. Financial support from the IPA enabled N.Sharkhuu to visit the Kazakstan high mountain permafrost laboratory in Almaty for two weeks in June 1999. Based on analyses of permafrost research materials from Mongolia and Kazakstan and financial possibilities, geocryologists from both countries discussed and constituted a programmeme of joint Mongolian and Kazakstan permafrost studies in the period 1999-2001. They will start to develop a joint programme for mapping and monitoring permafrost as part of CALM, and GTNet-P and the IPA Task Force of Mapping and Distribution Modelling of Mountain Permafrost. For permafrost modelling and mapping, the Burenkhan phosphorite area, Mongolia and the Big Almaty area, Kazakstan were selected as permafrost conditions that have been studied and mapped previously.


N.Sharkhuu (geoeco@magicnet.mn)

The Netherlands

The Vrije Universit eit, Faculty of Earth Sciences, participates in the EC-funded TUNDRA-project and is studying fluvial processes in the Russian arctic Usa basin. In
the summers of 1998 and 1999 fieldwork was conducted, and morphological and sedimentological data were collected, from field sites across the catchment, from the taiga to the treeless tundra, from the Ural Mountains to the tundra-lowlands. In each of these sites present and past fluvial processes of erosion, deposition and reworking were reconstructed by means of morphological mapping and sedimentological analysis. Extrapolation of these data into a larger area will be done by using satellite images, topographical maps and maps such as soil maps, vegetation maps and permafrost maps that will be provided by other members of the TUNDRA-project. For more information, contact huim@geo.vu.nl.


This research is carried out in close cooperation with the Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography, which studies the hydrological characteristics of the Usa River. A model is under construction, using data collected during the field work, which will describe present discharges and future changes in the hydrological regime under climate changes. The model uses monthly temperature and precipitation values and data from other partners in the TUNDRA-project, such as vegetation cover, topography and permafrost conditions. More information from s.vanderlinden@

In a study of Tertiary Sirius Group diamictites from different localities in South Victoria Land, Antarctic, attention is paid to periglacial overprinting of the glacial structure of the sediments. This is done by checking thin sections for well-known periglacial microstructures. During studies of glacial sediments emerging from underneath the glacier Sléttjökull, Iceland, it was found that permafrost exists underneath the snout. Sediments remain frozen for up to four years and so should be classified as permafrost. Freezing is caused by heat loss in winter from the thin glacier snout. Studies are being conducted together with J. Krüger, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen. More information on these two last projects from : J. van der Meer (j.j.m.meer @frw.uva.nl)

Jef Vandenberghe (vanj@geo.vu.nl)

New Zealand

Members of the New Zealand group are currently undertaking a number of research projects in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica. There is little active periglacial/permafrost research currently being undertaken in New Zealand itself although a number of relevant projects have recently been completed. In Antarctica Warren Dickinson (Victoria University of Wellington) has an ongoing programme of drilling permafrost in the Dry Valleys area using ground ice to improve our understanding of paleoclimate and landscape history.

Ground ice in the Sirius group tillite has been sampled from cores up to 9.5 m deep at Table Mtn. Stable isotopic data suggests that the ground ice accumulated from a combination of: (1) moisture diffusion from the surface and (2) brine seeping downward from the surface along thin films. Further research will involve validation of this model using ground ice from cores taken across a transect on surfaces of differing ages and elevations. Temperature probes will be deployed into the core holes to determine the stability of the ground ice and will record temperatures and relative humidity through the winter. Peter Sheppard (IGNS), Megan Balks (University of Waikato), Jack Alasbie (Landcare) and Ron Paetzold (USDA) are continuing work on the effects of hydro- carbon spills on Antarctic soil ecosystems. It has been demonstrated that the right organisms are present to degrade fuel and oil spills in Antarctic soils, but they achieve it at a much lower rate than observed elsewhere. The reasons for this contrast are being examined as is how these properties affect the functioning of the ecosystem. The main objective of the 1999/2000 season is to undertake maintenance and download data from a number of climate monitoring sites and to install temperature and moisture monitoring equipment at sites with oil contamination. Preliminary work will be undertaken to install equipment for a controlled spillage trial that is to be undertaken during the 2000/2001 summer. Iain Campbell, Doug Sheppard, Megan Balks are involved with John Kimble and Ron Paetzold (USDA) in a project involving active layer/permafrost investigation at two locations in the McMurdo Sound region. Temperature probes have been inserted as well as humidity and moisture recorders in the active layer and non-ice cemented permafrost. At the coastal sites, ice-cemented permafrost was present at 35 and 65 cm respectively, whilst the inland Dry Valley site provided a contrast with no ice-cement present and dry permafrost present below 40 cm. It is intended that they will become permanent permafrost monitoring sites and that the range of sites can be extended. Peter Sheppard is also involved in a project with Iain Campbell, Graeme Claridge and Ian Graham (IGNS) in which the sources of salts in ancient Antarctic Dry Valley soils and their stored climatic record are being investigated. Understanding of the sources of the salts, how to differentiate these sources, and the controls on intra-soil processes is needed if the climatic history is to be elucidated. Paul Augustinus, Matt Watson, Scott Nichol (University of Auckland) and Ed Butler (Victoria University of Wellington) undertook ground penetrating radar surveys of raised beaches in the McMurdo Sound region. The subsurface imaging clearly displayed the subsurface stratigraphy and depth to bedrock at many sites, as well as indicating the depth to the active layer and discrimination between dry and ice permafrost. This work is being extended to other raised beaches along the Ross Sea coast over the 1999/2000 summer season.

In New Zealand, Alan Mark (University of Otago) is collaborating with Peter Kershaw (University of Alberta) on vegetation- environmental relationships in the alpine zone of Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago, N.Z. There will be a conference of the Australia-New Zealand Geomorphology Group, in Wanaka, in the central South Island of New Zealand, and at the foothills of the Southern Alps and close to some of New Zealand’s best periglacial landscapes. Details of the conference have not yet been announced, but it is to follow the conference of the New Zealand Soil Science Society and is to run from Dec 6 to 10, 2000.

Professor Michael Crozier, School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington is the organiser and contact person for details of the meeting: michael.crozier@vuw.ac.nz. Paul Augustinus (p_augustinus@hotmail.com)


Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo (http://www.geografi.uio.no/) continues its activities continues its activities within the EU-PACE project. The first deep PACE borehole (102 m) was drilled in May 1998 at Janssonhaugen (78°12′ N, 16°28′ E at 250 m asl.) on Svalbard. The first year of data collection from Janssonhaugen shows seasonally temperature variations down to a depth of 18.0 m, equivalent to the depth of zero annual amplitude. The depth of the active layer in the first summer was 1.55 m, with a maximum depth on 4 September. At both 0.2 m and 0.8 m there are high-frequency variations throughout the entire year. Below the permafrost table, high-frequency temperature variations diminish rapidly, as revealed from theory, and closely follow a sinusoidal curve at 5.0 m depth. The permafrost thickness is estimated to be approximately 220 m. Analyses reveals an increasing temperature gradient with depth. Using a heat conduction inversion model a palaeoclimatic reconstruction shows a warming of the surface temperature over the last 60-80 years. The temperature profile represents a regional signal on Svalbard, which shows an inflection associated with near surface warming of 1 ° to 2 °C in the last century.

In August 1999 a 129 m deep PACE borehole was drilled on Juvvasshøe (61°41′ N, 8°22′ E at 1894 m asl.), Jotunheimen, in southern Norway. The preliminary results indicate 250 to 300 m deep mountain permafrost, and a very low upper geothermal gradient, which probably reflects a pronounced surface warming in the last part of this century. The Norwegian Meterological Institute will install a complete meterological station close to the drill site. Juvvasshøe has a relatively gentle slope from 1700 down to 1300 m asl., where geophysical investigations such as 2D-resistivity soundings, seismic and electromagnetic measurements (EM31) were carried out along a 600 m long profile. This was done together with ETH/Zürich and Terradat/Cardiff. The result is a detailed picture of the transition from continuous to patchy permafrost situated about 1450 m asl., with an increasing active layer thickness.
In connection with the PACE project, mapping of mountain permafrost has been intensified using geophysical methods, and by establishing spatial models of permafrost distribution by means of GIS. Field efforts were concentrated on the mountain areas of Jotunheimen and Dovrefjell, where several hundred BTS-measurements have been carried out. Based on a topographical, spatial-distributed radiation model (SRAD), the radiation balance was calculated in both areas. This showed nearly identical relationships between altitude, potential radiation and BTS temperatures. The BTS temperatures are mainly controlled by altitude, whereas topographic effects, such as slopes aspect seem to be of minor importance, chiefly due to the maritime macroclimatic conditions. A small-scale map of permafrost distribution in southern Norway has recently been established, based on temperature data provided by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and a spatial regression model. In the areas of Dovrefjell and Jotunheimen empirical spatial models of large-scale permafrost distribution were established using GIS. Relationships between relief, radiation and partly snow were applied. These data will be incorporated into the PACE documentation. Studies of periglacial processes are undertaken at Finse in southern Norway, where GIS methods have been used to analyse the relationship between the distribution of periglacial landforms and topograhical parameters. For a number of years, slow slope movements (i.e. ploughing boulders, solifluction lobes and debris in general) were monitored using standard surveying techniques. Recently, DGPS has been employed for this purpose, and a test of DGPS for continuous measurement of slope deformation has been performed. In the autumn 1998, a joint project with PACE, between University of Wales (Charles Harris), University of Dundee (Michael Davis) and the University of Oslo (Johan Ludvig Sollid) was started at Finse. The equipment used in the laboratory experiments on solifluction processes, performed by Harris and his co-workers, was installed at one of the Finse sites (Jomfrunut)The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, NGI (http: //www.ngi.no/) has recently started a five year research programme “Permafrost response to environmental and industrial loads”. The objective is to investigate how permafrost responds to different loads such as terrestrial pollution and industrial activity, and to establish reliable, effective and environmentally safe solutions for construction on permafrost and clean-up operations at contaminated sites. Existing numerical models will be used in the investigations to predict and estimate permafrost response and optimise the field and laboratory testing programme. There will be a joint field and laboratory programme that aims at developing new methods for field investigations and, together with numerical analyses, gives input to the response analysis and model development. NGI’s permafrost research station at Sveagruva, Spitsbergen (77º54’N, 16º41’E) will be used for the field investigations. In addition, NGI’s existing field installations in Lonyearbyen and several contaminated sites on Spitsbergen will be utilised. The Research Council of Norway finances the programme. For more information, see http://www.ngi.no/SIP/SIP7.htm, or contact the programme coordinator Arne Instanes (ai@ngi.no or arne.instanes@unis.no).

Johan Ludvig Sollid (J.L.Sollid@geografi.uio.no)

Kaare Flaate (kflaate@online.no)


During 1999 Portuguese periglacial researchers continued studies mentioned in previous reports. Maria Luísa Rodrigues presented a PhD thesis on the Quaternary deposits and present-day dynamics of the Limestone Massif of Estremadura. Among other issues, she analysed the significance of relict stratified slope deposits. At the IPA-Spain meeting in Albarracín, António de Brum Ferreira, Maria Luísa Rodrigues and Gonçalo Teles Vieira presented a synthesis on the relict and present-day periglacial phenomena in Portugal. Gonçalo Teles Vieira participated in the IGU/IPA periglacial symposium in Lodz, Poland. A small group is being organised in order to apply in the near future for membership in the IPA. The group includes researchers from the Universities of Lisbon (4), Coimbra (2) and Oporto (1).

Gonçalo Teles Vieira (gtvieira@ceg.ul.pt)


The main focus of activity during the past year was the monitoring of permafrost and related periglacial forms (BTS and summer temperature measurements of springs situated at the base of rock glaciers, talus cones and block fields) in the Fagaras, Retezat, Parang, Tarcu (Southern Carpathians), and Detunata Goala (Apuseni) Mountains, by a team of the West University of Timisoara, under the coordination of Petru Urdea. For the next three years (1999-2001) the same team will work in the grant 15/63 ‘Study of the presentday morphodynamic processes in alpine zone of the Southern Carpathians (Transsylvanian Alps) from the perspective of sustainable development of the mountain area’, financed by the National Council of Scientific Research for Higher Education, of the National Education Ministry.

Petru Urdea (urdea@cbg.uvt.ro)


The following report presents highlights of some current permafrost studies in Russia. The Federal research subprogramme ‘Global Changes in Natural Environment and Climate’ unites geocryologists from different regions of Russia. Participating researchers come from institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), e.g. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics of RAS, Institute of Geography of RAS; its Siberian Division (SD RAS), e.g. Institute of Atmospheric Optics of SD RAS, Institute of Earth Cryosphere of SD RAS; North-Eastern Centre of the Pacific Division of RAS; as well as from Moscow Lomonosov State University, St. Petersburg State University and other leading academic institutions of Russia. Also, very popular in Russia still is the multiyear subprogramme ‘Comprehensive Studies of Oceans and Seas, Arctic and Antarctic’. It is implemented by the All-Russian Research Institute of Oceanology, United Institute of Permafrost and Use of Natural Resources of the Cryolithozone of SD RAS, Institute of Earth Cryosphere, Polar Geophysical Institute of the Kola Research Centre of RAS, North-Eastern Research Centre of the Pacific Division of RAS, Moscow Lomonosov State University, as well as the Arctic Murmansk Engineering- Geological Expedition and other large-production organizations.

Working over the lines of the above programmes, the Institute of Global Climate revealed ‘Echoes of land climate of some Russian regions’ to the warm stream El-Nino events that occur in the Pacific. The Institute of Computational Mathematics of RAS has developed a theory of the sensitivity of global atmospheric circulation to low-power permanent perturbations. Studies carried out at the Geography Faculty of Moscow State University and presented in the 1999 doctoral dissertation of K.S. Voskresensky entitled ‘Modern Relief-Forming Processes on Plains of Russian North’ have demonstrated the critical role in the relief-forming processes played by intrasecular changes in the temperature regime and the level of precipitation during the warm annual season. It has also been elucidated that cryogenic processes are characterized by cyclic development, whereas their energy is determined by the potential energy of the relief and a portion of the descending heat flux.
Field studies were performed in the Yugorsk Peninsula which yielded comprehensive (cryolithologic, chemical and isotopic) characteristics of massive ground ice. These field and laboratory studies were performed in collaboration with geologists from Göteborg University, Sweden, Institute of Earth Cryosphere of SD RAS, All- Russian Research Institute of Oceanic Geology, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of RAS, and the Institute of Microbiology of RAS.
The reliability of identifying regions of perennially frozen deposits by electric and elastic properties of frozen deposits and ice (particularly ground ice) using technique reported in Frolov’s monograph ‘Electric and Elastic Properties of Frozen Deposits and Ice’ (1999), as well as in Doctoral dissertations of I.A. Komarov, R.I. Gavriliev, and others, is being studied. Field studies in the Laptev Sea basin support conclusions drawn by N. Romanovskii and H. Hubberten on the significance of paleo-reconstructions of interactions in the climate-land-sea system. In this context radically new geocryological modelling of the dyna– mics of the shelf and off-shore permafrost indicate four climatic and glacio-eustatic cycles (~ 420 000 years). This is based on the isotopic temperature curve derived from ice cores from the Vostok station in the Antarctic kindly provided by V.M. Kotlyakov. Also of interest is geocryological modelling of the dynamics of the shelf and off-shore cryolithozone, its interaction with the zone of stability of gas hydrates and gas fields, and modelling of cryogenic phenomena. The above-mentioned studies are carried out by the joint effort of Russian scientists from Moscow State University, P.I. Melnikov Permafrost Institute, St. Petersburg State University of Communications and German scientists: H. Hubberten, K. Siegert, V. Rachold, L. Schirmeister and others from the Potsdam Division of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Studies. The annual meeting of geocryologists was held in Pushchino 20-23 April 1999, and for the first time the programme was shared with glaciologists. The theme of the international conference was “ Monitoring of the Cryosphere” and consisted of a series of plenary, paper and poster sessions and several panel and round table discussions. The annual meeting of the Consolidated Scientific Council for Earth Cryology, presided over by Vladimir P. Melnikov, was held on the last day of the conference, and included a discussion of plans for the next conference in May 2000 on the theme “Rythyms of natural processes in the Earth Cryosphere”.
New geocryological data are presented in more detail in the Russian-language journal “Kriosphera Zemli” (The Earth Cryosphere), and national and foreign specialists are invited to subscribe to it. The English version of the 16-sheet Geocryological Map of Russia and Neighbouring Republics has recently been published. The English version of this very detailed map, important to industrial and government users as well as to permafrost scientists, is a project of Cambridge, Moscow State and Carleton Universities. Full details with map examples are given on the http://www.freezingground.org/map or may be obtained by writing to Collaborative Map Project c/o Geotechnical Science Laboratories, Carleton University, Ottawa, K1S 5B6, Canada.

V.P. Melnikov(an@ikz.tmn.ru)


Forty-five experts from Spain and Portugal attended the fourth meeting of IPA-Spain, organised by the Instituto de Estudios Turolenses and the University of Zaragoza, 15-17 July, 1999, in Albarracín. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the characteristics of the cold-climate landforms and processes in the Mediterranean and sub- Atlantic environments of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorenz King (University of Giessen, Germany) gave a keynote address on mountain permafrost in Europe, and Francesco Dramis (University of Roma) gave the closing speech on periglaciation of the mountains of Italy. On July 16, a field trip to Sierra de Albarracín examined cold-climate landforms in Paleozoic quartzite mountains and Mesozoic calcareous ravines of the Iberian Range.

The fifth meeting of IPA-Spain will take place in 2001, in Santander. An active rock glacier has been discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in southern Spain, as part of the EU-PACE project fieldwork. It is situated in Corral del Veleta (3100 m asl.), a cirque at the NE face of the Veleta Peak (3394 m). A shallow borehole was drilled in the rock glacier by members of the Spanish PACE group.Pure ice appeared at 1.9 m depth. As the Veleta Peak is located at 37ºN, this active rock glacier is the southernmost in Europe. The Spanish PACE group will carry out intensive research at this rock glacier in the next years to determinate its origin, the climatic implications and the permafrost distribution in the area.

José Luis Peña Monné (jlpena@posta.unizar.es), Antonio Gómez, Miguel Ramos, David Palacios (davidp@eucmax.sim.ucm.es)


Else Kolstrup Physical Geography, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Uppsala, continues research on boundary constraints of geomorphological forms and processes in past and present periglacial environments. Faculty and NFR-funded projects involve a thesis study by Bo Westin on constraints of thermal contraction cracking and another by Frieda Zuidhoff on boundary constraints of palsas in Lappland. Dynamics of, and dating methods applicable to, Danish Weichselian coversand (aeolian) deposits are being investigated in cooperation with Göran Possnert (Uppsala) and Andrew Murray (Risö, Denmark). Also casts from thermal contraction cracks in Denmark are the subject of investigation. Philip Wookey, Else Kolstrup and Göran Possnert continue the NFR-funded project ‘Climate Change, Soil Organic Matter Lability and Decomposer Metabolism in High Latitude Soils in Northern Iceland’. Wookey is playing a strong role within the EU project Dynamic Response of the Forest-Tundra Ecotone to Environmental Change (DART), and is chairman of the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX). Late December 1998 Prof. em Anders Rapp died and Swedish periglacial research has thereby lost a highly merited representative.

Else Kolstrup (Else.Kolstrup@natgeog.uu.se)


In the last year, the main issue of the Glaciological Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS) has been permafrost, in particular the concept of the Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS). It was agreed that the main part will comprise thermal monitoring in a number of shallow, 20 m deep boreholes. Various existing sites form the base, which will be enlarged continuously. In January 1999, a meeting held in Interlaken was dedicated to permafrost with presentations by Charles Harris (Permafrost and Climate in Europe – PACE), Markus Imhof (Permafrost in the Schilthorn region), Hansruedi Keusen (Geotechnical approaches for buildings in permafrost) and Daniel Vonder Mühll (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland – PERMOS).

The International Glaciological Society (IGS) held a meeting in August 1999 in Zürich. Five talks were given in the permafrost session and several permafrost posters were presented. A field trip led by Wilfried Haeberli and Marcia Phillips took the participants to the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SFISAR, Davos) and various research sites in the Upper Engadin.

The results of the project ‘Ice melt in high mountain areas ’ (Project W. Haeberli) within the National Research Program me (NRP) 31 on ‘Climate Change and Natural W. Hazards’, was published in spring 1999.

Within the Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland (HADES), the permafrost part was published in August 1999. It contains a Swiss map showing the permafrost distribution according to three different models, the location of over one hundred rock glaciers, three case studies (Murtèl-Corvatsch, Furggentälti and Val Réchy) and a comment in German, French, Italian and English. Meanwhile, projects performed through several institutes are going on: The Institutes of Geography at Fribourg (IGUF, Michel Monbaron, Jean-Michel Gardaz, Reynard Delaloye) and Lausanne (IGUL, Emmanual Reynard) are conducting research on the thermal evolution of permanently frozen ground at very low elevations (Creux du Van, Jura Range, 1200m asl.) and at the lower limit of the discontinuous permafrost belt in the western Penninic Alps (Alpage de Mille, 2300m asl.; Mont-Gele/Lapires, 2500m asl.). A comparative study site of IGUL is situated in the more oceanic Diablerets region (2400m asl). Various methods such as direct current (DC) resistivity soundings and mapping, BTS measurements, and continuous temperature measurements at the ground surface are being used. In the Lapires talus slope, a 20 m borehole was drilled in autumn 1998.

The research project ‘Snow-supporting structures in permafrost terrain’ has been running for three years at the SFISAR, Davos (Patrik Thalparpan, Marcia Phillips). The influence of snow-supporting structures on ground temperature evolution, and the technical aspects of the construction of the structures in high alpine permafrost terrain are being investigated. Field measurements include the monitoring of borehole temperatures, snow distribution, temperatures of experimental snow-supporting structures, and slope stability. Results obtained from measurements and computer simulations indicate that heat is not conducted into or out of the ground through the steel components of the supporting structures. Ground temperature is, however, reduced slightly on a very local scale through artificial modification of snow cover distribution. Temperature measurements will be continued to verify these results over a longer period. Several types of structures and foundations have been tested for their suitability in steep, potentially unstable terrain. In addition, anchor pull-out tests were conducted and different types of grout and injection techniques were investigated in the field and in the laboratory. Guidelines for the construction of snow-supporting structures in permafrost have been established.

At the Department of Geography, University of Zürich (Wilfried Haeberli, Andi Kääb, Martin Hoelzle), various ongoing projects relate to creeping mountain permafrost. They combine photogrammetry, geodesy, geophysics, geomorphology and distribution modelling. One project aims at developing remote sensing techniques for early recognition of glacial and periglacial hazards based on satellite imagery, aerial photography and digital terrain models. On Muragl rock glacier, four 70m deep boreholes some 30m apart, were drilled within the ETH-Mini-Poly project of the three institutes of Geotechnics (Sarah Springman, Lukas Arenson), Geophysics (Hansruedi Maurer, Martin Musil) and VAW (Daniel Vonder Mühll). Sophisticated geophysical surveys included both surface as well as borehole-to-borehole investigations (seismics and radar). Some cores were saved and are being analysed. Borehole logging, vertical and horizontal deformation and temperatures provide the base to assess the geotechnical characteristics, and for long-term monitoring of the rock glacier.

As the PACE project is fully operative now, the main fieldwork at all field sites took place this year. The two Swiss partners (University of Zürich: Wilfried Haeberli, Martin Hoelzle, Catherine Mittaz; VAW-ETH Zürich: Daniel Vonder Mühll, Christian Hauck) intensified their investigation at the Schilthorn site: geophysical surveys, a 14 m deep borehole to measure temperatures and a climate station to determine the energy balance are a first step to the deep drilling, which will be done in 2000. VAW-ETH Zurich organised and participated in the geophysical fieldwork in Sierra Nevada (Spain), Svalbard, Tarfala (Sweden), Valtellina (Italy), Jotunheimen (Norway) and at various sites in the Swiss Alps. A whole range of different methods were used, such as refraction seismics, DC resistivity tomography and various electromagnetic methods in order to evaluate sui-table techniques for the mapping of permafrost. First results were presented at the PACE meeting in Giessen, Germany in October 1999. Possible new establishment of permafrost in glacier forefields is investigated at the Muragl glacier by the University of Trier, Germany (Christoph Kneisel), and in several glacier forefields in the Valais area by the University of Fribourg (Reynald Delaloye).

Three PhD theses were successfully completed during the last year: Markus Imhof (University of Berne) investigated the relationship between permafrost and snow especially in the Bernese Alps, including the Schilthorn area. Emmanuel Reynard (University of Lausanne) performed geomorphological and hydrological studies in the Montana area (Valais). Jean-Michel Gardaz (University of Fribourg) wrote his thesis about hydrology in permafrost.

Daniel Vonder Mühll (vondermuehll@vaw.baum.ethz.ch)

United Kingdom

University of Sussex), with funding from The Leverhulme Trust and the Geological Society, is investigating ‘The origin of deformed massive ice, Pleistocene Mackenzie Delta, Western Canadian Arctic’. A second project, organised by Julian Murton and funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council, brings together expertise on ground ice, rock weathering and cryogenic experiments from the University of Sussex and the Centre de Géomorphologie, Caen, France to develop ‘A pilot experiment on rock weathering in permafrost’.


A new methodology for simulating the ground thermal regime of the active layer and the upperpart of permafrost (two-sided freezing) has been successfully developed and is being applied to a large block of chalk. Results to date indicate that frost heave occurs during both freeze and thaw cycles, and that ice segregation is causing rock cracking to take place at the base of the simulated active layer. As part of the research project “Assessment of renewable ground and surface water resources and the impact of economic activity in The Ili River Basin, Republic Of Kazakstan” funded by the INCO-COPERNICUS Fund of the European Commission , Stephan Harrison (Centre for Quaternary Science, Coventry University) and David Passmore (Department of Geography, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) are investigating the geomorphological evolution of upland valleys in the Tian Shan mountains. Long-term monitoring of environmental systems in the Zailiisky Alatau mountains of the northern Tian Shan offers an unusually detailed record of late 19th and 20th century glacier fluctuations, rock glacier fluctuations, climate records and frequency of avalanche activity over the past 40 years. Research aims include (a) to establish temporal and spatial linkages between twentieth century climatic changes, glacier and rock glacier response and patterns of valley side and valley floor instability, and (b) to develop a model of climate change and associated geomorphic responses that may be integrated within environmental and economic management frameworks. Scaled centrifuge modelling of thaw-related slope processes by Charles Harris and Brice Rea (Cardiff University) has made significant progress through 1999 (see PACE report, this issue), and a new three-year project entitled “Scaled centrifuge modelling of periglacial mass movement processes” commenced in October 1999. Funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, this project will study gelifluction processes and the transition to rapid mudflow/active layer detachment sliding, with particular emphasis on the role of con-stitutive soil properties. A second project, involving Anglo-Norwegian collaboration and funded by the British Council and the Norwegian Research Council has been initiated to monitor processes of gelifluction at a field site in Finse, Southern Norway. The research team includes Johan Ludvig Sollid and Ivar Berthling (University of Oslo), Charles Harris (University of Cardiff) and Michael Davies (University of Dundee). This monitoring is designed to provide field validation of the scaled centrifuge modelling programme.

Charles Harris (harrisc@cardiff.ac.uk)

United States of America

FROSTFIRE, a wildfire research project in the boreal forest near Fairbanks, Alaska, was ignited in Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed (CPCRW) in July 1999. The Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Fire Service, at the request of the University of Alaska Fairbanks conducted the 900-acre controlled burn. Research groups from the U.S., Canada, and Japan are studying fire behaviour and effects on climate and boreal ecosystems. The fire burned about 90 percent of the black spruce in the 2,000-acre research area as it raced through stands of black spruce and feather moss, but moved more slowly and with less intensity in hardwoods and sphagnum moss. Background data on pre-fire conditions were collected over the last two years and now numerous investigations will focus upon fire impacts, permafrost degradation and vegetation recovery.

A second programme in CPCRW, the YuWEx (Yukon Water and Energy Experiment) project, is a collaborative research activity among several Japanese and U.S. scientists. Studies of interactive processes associated with hydrologic and climatic dynamics in the discontinuous permafrost area of the Yukon River uplands are underway to improve our understanding of land surface processes and potential impacts of climatic change in a region of discontinuous permafrost. Permafrost research continues as part of the ATLAS programme (Arctic Transitions in the Land/Atmosphere System), a research programme sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s ARCSS (Arctic System Science) programme. The goals of the research are to develop a more complete understanding of the responses of arctic ecosystems to a changing climate, to determine the geographical patterns and controls over climate-land surface exchanges (mass and energy), and to develop scenarios of future change in the Arctic system. This fiveyear programme includes numerous investigations of active layer dynamics and permafrost response to climatic change. The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) network is part of ATLAS.

A second NSF programme ‘Russian -American Initiative on Shelf-Land Environments in the Arctic (RAISE)’ sponsored a 3-day workshop on Arctic Coastal Dynamics. Rates of erosion of ice-rich, land-based permafrost, the dynamics of subsea permafrost, and sedimentary processes along the coastlines were reviewed and available information synthesised. In the Antarctic, a joint US-Russian team cored permafrost in Beacon Valley to study sand/ice wedge polygons, their initiation and growth, and their effect on land surface stability. This University of Washington led team recovered a 20-m core that may contain the earth’s oldest preserved ice. Observations include physical, chemical and microbial characteristics of the core along with borehole ground temperatures. A NASA collaborator is modelling ground-ice dynamics as the Beacon Valley is considered to be one of the best terrestrial analogs for the study of Martian soils. Gary Clow reports that the U.S. Geological Survey continues its borehole measurements in Greenland, Antarctic, and Alaska. The primary goals of the Survey Borehole Paleothermometry Programme are to reconstruct surface temperatures in the polar regions for the last 40 ka and to improve our understanding of the thermal conditions within the permafrost that underlies the polar ice sheets.

The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions (TCCRE) held its 10th International Conference on Cold Regions in Lincoln, New Hampshire, August 16-19, 1999. The conference, entitled Putting Research into Practice, was represented by Canada, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Eighty-six papers were presented in 26 sessions. The technical and administrative committees of TCCRE met. Bucky Tart reported on the Yellowknife conference and announced the forthcoming International Workshop on Permafrost Engineering in Svalbard and the permafrost conference in Switzerland. TCCRE expressed interest in developing engineering sessions for the 2003 conference. Ted Vinson reported on the ISCORD conference held in Tasmania. Bill Lovell, Jr., former U.S. representative to IPA, was presented the Hal Peyton Award, the prestigious ASCE cold regions engineering award. Steve Grant and Giles Marion, CRREL, and Ron Sletten, University of Washington, organised a special session on unfrozen water for the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco, December 1999. The Cryosphere Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers sponsored several sessions at the AAG annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, in April 1999. As noted elsewhere, the Troy Péwé Climatic Change Permafrost Reserve, located in Fairbanks, Alaska, was dedicated on September 18, 1999.

Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.org) and Larry Hinzman (ffldh@ aurora.alaska.edu)

South Africa

Most activities of the members the Southern African Permafrost Group have been concentrated on the preparations associated with the INQUA Congress, Durban, from 3-15 August 1999, as reported elsewhere in this issue. Ongoing research on Marion Island in the maritime sub-Antarctic by the Universities of the Western Cape and Pretoria focus on: (a) Ground climate monitoring in order to examine environmental controls on frost activity, (b) Experimental determination of sediment movement rates in response to soil frost activity, with particular emphasis on needle ice as a geomorphic agent, (c) Quantitative survey work on active and relict periglacial landforms, concentrating on active patterned ground, (d ) Geomorphological mapping of glacial andperiglacial landforms. In addition Paul Sumner, with the assistance of Werner Nel, is working on rates of weathering and debris production on Marion Island.

Jan Boelhouwers (janboel@uwc.ac.za)