2000 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

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

Argentina (and South American Partners)

For the first time a course on geocryology in South America: ‘Periglacial Phenomena, Determination and Application’ was held thanks to support of the Foundation ‘Miguel Lillo’ and the National University of Tucumán, NW Argentina. It was a one week postgraduate course, held in the month of June in San Miguel de Tucumán, by Dr. Dario Trombotto and Dr. Ana-Lía Ahumada with participants from different parts of Argentina.


Several members of the Argentine Association on Permafrost (AAP) participated in the 31st International Geological Congress 2000 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, particularly in the session ‘Modern and Ancient Sedimentary Environments Related to Glaciation’. Dario Trombotto was the convenor of this session, and the idea was to convene a South American meeting of the different experts on cold climate environments. In the two sessions ‘Modern and Ancient Sedimentary Environments Related to Glaciation’, the following South American posters were presented: Periglacial sedimentary structures, Central Andes, Argentina, by A.-L. Ahumada. Periglacial phenomena in the northwest of Argentina, by A.-L. Ahumada. Study of rock glacier ice, by L. Arena & G.M. Caranti. Review of permafrost measurements obtained eastward of the Antarctic Peninsula, by E. Borzotta, J. Venencia & M. Mamani. Freezing index and frequency in Patagonia and in the piedmont cordillera region, by E. Buk.

The permafrost on Seymour Island (Antarctica): temperatures and geophysical soundings, by E. Buk. Preliminary studies of Middle Pleistocene loess in the piedmont of Mendoza, Argentina at 33° S, by D. Trombotto & M. C. Regairaz.

South American Geocryological Inventory, by D. Trombotto. Abstracts from these posters can be found on the Congress CD-ROM. A pre-Congress field trip with the participation of Jerry Brown and Dario Trombotto to the Itatiaia Mountains, Serra da Mantiqueira, reaching almost 2800 m asl., was organised by the South American periglacial group together with Dr. May C. Modenesi-Gauttieri, Geological Institute of São Paulo, Brazil. Several possible periglacial deposits were observed in southeast Brazil. A small working group was created and possible joint projects between Argentina and Brazil were discussed in order to be able to analyse cryogenic indicators in the future. The geocryology of Mendoza was presented to the Argentine Working Group on Quaternary Research (Cadincua – INQUA) at the field workshop in Mendoza in November.

At present Dr. Ana-Lía Ahumada, Institute of Quaternary Geology and Palaeoclimate, is carrying out an inventory of rock glaciers in the northwest of Argentina. Knowing the distribution of cryogenic phenomena in this area may contribute to a better understanding of climate changes. Together with Dr. Lucía Arena, Department of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics, National University of Córdoba, ice from the rock glacier ‘Morenas Coloradas’ of the ‘Cordón del Plata’ is being analysed, and the correlation of micromechanical characteristics and the natural conditions of ice from a sedimentary environment are studied. E. Borzotta has estimated the heat flow and the geothermal gradient based on magnetotelluric soundings on Seymour and Ross Islands. These data were used in conjunction with MAAT to estimate permafrost thickness under equilibrium condition.

María Camacho, University of Jujuy, is studying the sedimentology of the ‘Laguna de Pozuelos’ in northwest Argentina and has identified two humid stages: the Minchin Phase of 27 ka and Tauca Phase of 12 ka. Bernard Francou (Quito, Ecuador) continues monitoring a rock glacier in the ‘Cerro Caquella’ area, Bolivia. He is working particularly on Andean permafrost degradation caused by climatic changes. At the same time he is preparing a borehole drilling to a large depth at ‘Cerro Illimani’ (Bolivia, 6450 m asl.) and at ‘Cerro Chimborazo’ (Ecuador, 6310 m asl.). Trombotto and Regairaz, Mendoza, continue their studies of the loess profile at Las Carreras Valley at the foot of the ‘Cordón del Plata’, an eastern range of the Andes, at 2200 m asl. in Mendoza. The sedimentary characteristics of the analysed material correspond to an Andean loess. The studies of this loess therefore would be the first Argentine example. The loess was dated using TL technique to be 234 +/- 18 ka old, which assigns it to the Middle Pleistocene and to a period rarely mentioned for South America and the Southern Hemisphere. This profile constitutes a key element for the Quaternary stratigraphy in South America.

The Dr. Ricardo Villalba research group (Masiokas and others) from Department of Dendrochronology and Environmental History, at the Institute IANIGLA (Conicet), Mendoza, is working on the project PATAGON-1000. The study ‘Latitudinal differences in glacier fluctuations across Patagonia: A dendrogeomorphological approach to characterise climate variability in the southern Andes during the past 1000 years’ is conducted in collaboration with the Geocryology Unit (Trombotto) of the same institute. The major goal is to characterise the natural climatic variability in this region, with particular emphasis on long-term variability.

Dario Trombotto. (dtrombot@lab.cricyt.edu.ar)


This report highlights a number of current Canadian permafrost activities. The last two years have seen an increase in permafrost research activities in Canada, in part attributable to a new federal programme for science, impact and adaptation research related to climate change. This new Climate Change Action Fund programme is supporting a number of projects with strong partnerships between government, academia and the private sector. A few of these projects are described below.


A surge in resource exploration and development activities in the western Arctic is occurring, placing significant demands on permafrost science and engineering for infrastructure design and management, and for adaptation to climate change impacts. These increased activities and needs, as well as the concurrent interests for construction of gas pipelines, will present both challenges and opportunities for the Canadian permafrost community. In this era of new information technology, the web is presenting opportunities for dissemination and management of permafrost data. Two Canadian examples are presented in this report: an Illisarvik bibliography and a national ground temperature database.

The Government of Canada established the Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) in 1998, in order to engage Canadians in partnerships that will lead to a deeper understanding of the climate change issue, as well as to take early and meaningful actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. One component of this fund is directed towards Science, Impacts and Adaptation projects. This component of CCAF has funded several projects where permafrost is central or integral to the study. Further information on the CCAF programme can be found at http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/ english/html/fund/index.html.

The Geological Survey of Canada convened a National Permafrost/Glaciers/Ice Caps Monitoring Networks Workshop in Ottawa, January 28-29, 2000. The workshop was attended by some 50 participants, more than half of whom represented the permafrost community (government, academia and private sector). Sponsored by the federal Climate Change Action Fund to provide input to the development of Canada’s Global Climate Observations System (GCOS) Plan for the Cryosphere, the workshop focused on the requirements for coordinated national networks to observe the climate change signal, assess its regional variability, and evaluate its impacts in permafrost . For more details on the workshop see the section on the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) in this issue of Frozen Ground. The final report of the Canadian permafrost monitoring workshop will be available on the GSC’s permafrost web site: http:// sts.nrcan.gc.ca/permafrost/ and released as a GSC Open File.

In a collaborative programme between Germany’s BGR and Centre d’études nordiques of Université Laval, twenty holes were drilled through the permafrost in July 2000 near Umiujaq in Nunavik (the Inuit territory of northern Québec) in order to obtain cores and to install geophysical instrumentation in the permafrost. The aims of the project include: to observe the cryostratigraphy in permafrost that aggraded in marine sediments following land emergence; to obtain samples of ice and trapped gases for chemical and isotopic analysis; to obtain temperature data that provide three dimensional temperature fields in permafrost and obtain groundwater pressure measurements at the base of permafrost in order to calibrate heat and mass transfer models of permafrost growth and regime; to provide open access holes for determination of geophysical properties; and to interpret and model the process of formation of palsas and permafrost mounds. As the recent emergence of these marine sediments is a possible analogue for early glacial emergence of marine sediments in other Arctic regions, this study will provide some potential explanations of permafrost characteristics and features now found in sea bottom conditions.

Three sites were drilled and instrumented: a (mineral) palsa consisting of a circular mound 50 m in diameter and 3 m high; a permafrost mound 14 m high that probably formed when permafrost invaded a spur between two pre-existing gullies; a 2.5 m high sandy mound. Preliminary results of the project will be presented at the 1st European Permafrost Conference in Rome.

A new National Park is being established on Bylot Island and northern Baffin Island in the eastern Canadian Arctic. In conjunction with this activity the University of Calgary (Brian Moorman) continues to study the glacier-permafrost interactions in the area. Moorman ‘s team from the University of Calgary is examining the linkages between glacial and permafrost hydrological systems, the burial and preservation of glacier ice, and the stability of permafrost under changing environmental conditions. To accomplish these goals a number of new techniques have been utilised including: combining differential GPS and ground-penetrating radar surveys to create 3-D maps of glacier thickness, englacial and subglacial drainage systems, and buried ice. Current research includes developing electrical resistivity imaging techniques for mapping the 3-D thermal structure of the ground and the distribution of massive ice. To assist in the development of new geophysical applications and permafrost modelling, a low-temperature experimental facility has been constructed at the University of Calgary to enable numerical and physical modelling of field conditions. The facility includes a walk-in freezer, currently housing a scale model (1.5 m x 3 m x 2 m) of permafrost, massive ground ice, and a buried pipeline. Two pumping constant-temperature baths enable precise control of the pipe temperature and the thermal field surrounding it. The facility also has an automated control and monitoring system that enables experimentation under controlled dynamic conditions. Currently, a number of experiments are being undertaken in the facility to test the scalability of geophysical techniques.

An Internet bibliography of the nearly 50 reports and papers that have been published covering research at Illisarvik is available at http:// www.nwtresearch.com/illisarvik. Illisarvik is the experimental drained lake on Richards Island in Canada’s western Arctic. The experiment was conceived by Ross Mackay and began in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Canada and the (then) Earth Physics Branch in 1978. Research at Illisarvik is continuing. The bibliography lists the full citation and abstract of all these articles. The bibliography was compiled by Margo Burgess (GSC), Ross Mackay (UBC) and Chris Burn (Carleton), and is hosted by the Aurora Research Institute, Aurora College, N.W.T.

The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) has published a ground temperature database for northern Canada (Smith, S. and Burgess, M., 2000. ‘Ground temperature database for northern Canada, Geological Survey of Canada Open File no. 3954’) which provides a baseline summary compilation of data acquired over the last 30 years. This national database includes publicly available information from published and unpublished sources for 656 sites, 526 of which are in the permafrost region. The majority of sites are abandoned and currently inactive. Information on site characteristics such as air temperature, snow cover and vegetation, which influence the ground temperature regime has also been compiled. The entire database is presented digitally as an Excel spreadsheet. A series of maps and graphs illustrate site distribution, near-surface ground temperatures, and other attributes of the database.

Funding from the Federal Government’s Climate Change Action Fund has been received to increase data accessibility and web enable the national ground temperature and permafrost thickness databases. The web-based version of these databases is currently under development by Sharon Smith and Margo Burgess, and Phase I of the project is available at http:// sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/tsdweb/geoserv_new.asp/.

Upon completion of the project by March 2001 access to the database will be provided through the GSC Permafrost Web Site (http://sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/ permafrost/).

High Arctic Permafrost Observatories are maintained by the Geological Survey of Canada. Ground temperatures to depths of 60 m have been measured since 1978 on a regular basis at five borehole sites at Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut (82.5ºN, 62.4ºW) with the ongoing collaboration of the Department of National Defence. These are the most northerly permafrost monitoring sites in the world and the 22-year data set is one of the longest records of permafrost temperatures in Canada. Funding was obtained in 2000 from the Federal Government’s Climate Change Action Fund to undertake an analysis incorporating the last decade of observations and to service and upgrade site instrumentation. In summer 2000, ground temperature cables were connected to data loggers and air and ground surface temperature sensors were installed at three sites. Preliminary analysis indicates that air temperatures have generally increased since 1986 and this has been accompanied by an observed rise in permafrost temperatures in the upper 15 m. Snow cover is generally thin to absent in this area but exhibits high spatial variability and this may be an important factor influencing the response of shallow permafrost temperatures to changes in air temperature. Data were also recovered in summer 2000 from data loggers at two other High Arctic sites near Eureka and on Lougheed Island. The record of permafrost temperatures to depths of 60 m from 1991 to 1997 is now available for analysis.

A study of the impacts of climate change on the Beaufort Sea coast is currently underway by Steve Solomon. The Geological Survey of Canada, with funding from the Panel on Energy Research and Development and the Climate Change Action Fund has been examining the effects of changes in environmental forcing on rates of coastal erosion. Examination of historical data has revealed decadal scale cycles in storm events, which cause storm surges and wave induced erosion. Ice chart data over 30 years reveals a trend towards increased open water periods, especially during the past decade. During the last field season, a late summer storm resulted in a storm surge of 2.2 m (a return period of about 10 years). The surge was especially interesting in light of the abundance of ice in the region. Despite the construction of new shore protection at Tuktoyaktuk, flooding and localised severe erosion took place. At nearby Tuktoyaktuk Island, a thermoerosional notch 2 m high and 10-15 m deep was cut at the base of the cliffs over the 24 hours of the storm. The data from the storm and other field measurements and mapping will be synthesized in a report on the sensitivity of the Beaufort Sea coast to climate change, scheduled for completion in April 2001.

The Second International Conference on Contaminants in Freezing Ground, Cambridge U.K., July 2000, was jointly organised by Carleton University’s Geotechnical Science Laboratories and Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute (See United Kingdom report for details).

The Inuvik Gas Pipeline Project received the Professional Award of Merit for 2000 by the Association of Professional Engineers of Northwest Territories (NAPEGG). The recipients were Inuvik Gas Ltd, Nixon Geotech Ltd, Comeau and Associates, Asher Engineering and North of 60 Ltd. The 150 mm diameter gas line provides natural gas to the town of Inuvik at rates of up to 3 million standard cubic feet per day, over a distance of 50 km from two wells at Ikhil, due north of Inuvik, NWT. The gas is used for electricity production, and domestic heating. Innovative engineering approaches were used to complete the design for slopes, ice wedges, backfill thaw settlement and occasional warm gas flow at the north end of the line. EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. of Edmonton AB received an Award of Excellence from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta for their design and construction management of a frozen core dam at Ekati Diamond Mine, northeast of Yellowknife NWT. The 10 m high dam was constructed to contain surplus water from storage of processed kimberlite. The dam has a core of frozen gravel on a permafrost foundation that must remain frozen considering natural climatic variability and the risk of a progressive warming trend. A large number of delegates to the 7th International Conference on Permafrost, Yellowknife, 1998, visited the Ekati Mine and the dam just before diamond production began.

Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)


The three former geo-science institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) at Lanzhou, i.e., Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Lanzhou Institute of Desert, and Lanzhou Institute of Plateau Atmospheric Science, have been reorganised into a new institute in June, 1999, which is called the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), CAS.


The major research areas of the new institute are glaciology, geocryology, cold regions engineering, desert and desertification, hydrology and land resources in cold and arid regions, plateau atmospheric science, and ecology and agriculture in cold and arid regions. Director of the new institute is Academician Cheng Guodong.

To provide an opportunity for scientists and engineers to discuss and exchange their achievements and experience in cold regions engineering and to accelerate the great development of Western China, the Fourth International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering was held on 21-23 September 2000 at Lanzhou, China, organised and sponsored by the Chinese Society of Glaciology and Geocryology, CAREERI, Permafrost Institute of the Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Heilongjiang Institute of Cold Ground Construction Science, Communication Department of Tibet, Communication Department of Qinghai Province, the First Survey and Design Institute of Highway, Ministry of Communication of China, Western Branch of Railway Science Institute, Ministry of Railway of China, the First Survey and Design Institute of Railway, Ministry of Railway of China, and Chang’an University. The proceedings are published in English. Please contact Prof. Zhu Yuanlin for information to purchase the proceedings. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is going to be built on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The length of this railway is about 1100 km, among which about 560 km will be across permafrost terrain. Large-scale investigation and research dealing with the permafrost engineering problems of designing and constructing this railway will be started very soon. Experts and scientists from all over the world who are interested in the science and technology of permafrost engineering and other problems are welcome to take part in the scientific research programme for construction of this railway.

Zhu Yuanlin (zhuyl@ns.lzb.ac.cn)


Investigations on bedrock weathering rates and rock glacier dynamics were continued on Disko Island (70ºN), central West Greenland, by Ole Humlum, University of Copenhagen and the University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS). At sea level MAAT is about -6ºC, and most of the study sites are within the zone of continuous permafrost.


Precipitation and temperature (air, ground surface and within the active layer) are measured in headwalls, at rock glacier heads and at several locations along rock glacier flow lines by miniature data loggers. Geomorphic events and snow cover variations are daily monitored by two automatic cameras. Precipitation has been sampled on a daily basis at the Arctic Station (Qeqertarsuaq), southern Disko Island, since the early 1999 in order to calibrate the oxygen isotope signal obtained from ice within rock glaciers and other terrain elements.

In the Ammassalik area (65ºN), SE Greenland, a similar programme on bedrock weathering rates and local meteorology was initiated during August 2000, also by Ole Humlum. An extension of this programme is planned for the coming year. At sea level, MAAT is close to 0ºC, but the highest mountains (about 1000 m asl.) extend deep into the discontinuous permafrost zone. The study area is notorious for periodic very high winter wind velocities (Piteraq’s). The influence of wind on distribution of the snow cover and bedrock temperatures represents a main research topic. A study on Holocene aeolian deposits and the associated palaeowind regime at Ammassalik has been initiated by Hanne H. Christiansen, University of Copenhagen, also in August 2000.

Bo Elberling and co-workers, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, have initiated new environmental investigations of spreading of heavy metals (Zn, Pb and Cd) in aquatic environments in relation to Arctic mining. During the spring 2000, a fiord sampling programme was conducted in Strathcona Sound nearby Nanisivik Mine (Baffin Island, Canada) to obtain data for identifying possible sources of Zn, Cd and Pb in fiord sediment and to estimate potential impacts of the sources on the marine environment. In the summer detailed micro-scale oxygen profiles were performed in water-saturated/ water-covered tailings deposited on land. This part of the project reveals that oxygen consumption takes place in the upper most few mm of tailings and that water-covered tailings is a promising remediation action compared to encapsulation. The project activities continue for the coming two years and are funded by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Denmark as part of DANCEA.

At the Faroe Islands the LINK (Linking Land and Sea at the Faroe Islands: Mapping and Understanding North Atlantic Changes) project has extended the air and ground surface temperature and precipitation monitoring network of miniature data loggers in the mountains around Slættaratindur, the highest mountain (882 m asl.). A complete, successful year of automatic digital photographing has provided daily photographs showing snow cover distribution in the highest located cirque valley in the islands, during days without a cloud cover. The automatic, digital photographic monitoring has now been extended to include two web cameras operating at the mountain meteorological station at Sornfelli (740 m asl). These take photographs on an hourly basis of the mountain top and the surrounding landscape, providing snow cover depth, duration and distribution data. Online photographs and data from the meteorological station at Sornfelli can be seen at http://www.metsupport. dk/data/sornfelli/. The LINK project is carried out by Ole Humlum, Hanne H. Christiansen both University of Copenhagen, and by Lis Mortensen, the Geological Survey of the Faroe Islands. For more information on LINK see http://www.geogr.ku.dk/ link/.

At Zackenberg (74ºN) in NE Greenland the ZERO monitoring programme has now been in operation for five years. Included in the monitoring programme is now five summers of CALM data from two grids. In one of the CALM grids there is now also two years of daily automatic digital photographs obtained as part of a research project on active layer dynamics in permafrost soils by Hanne H. Christiansen.

At the Danish Meteorological Institute, Jens H. Christensen recently completed numerical modelling studies of permafrost distribution in Russia’s European North as part of the TUNDRA project. Good agreement is reported between modelled and observed distribution of permafrost zonation.

The Third International Conference on Cryogenic Soils – Dynamics and Challenges of Cryosols will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, 20-24 August 2001. There will be a Post-Conference field trip to Finland August 25-31, 2001. The Conference is organised by the Working Groups on Cryosols of the International Permafrost Association and of the International Union of Soil Science. The second circular and registration form was sent in mid October 2000. The organisers from Denmark, USA, Canada, and Russia have invited scientists from different natural sciences to challenge and discuss their ideas about global change related to the functioning and climate interaction of soils, active layer-permafrost processes, soil-landscape systems and soil-plant systems in cold climates. The following scientists are invited as key note speakers: Luca Montanarella (Italy) – soil database. Charles Tarnocai (Canada) – soil data base, carbon storage. Sergey Goryachkin (Russia) – soils and global change. Walter Oechel (USA) – carbon cycling (CO2). Mark Williams (USA) – carbon and nitrogen soil dynamics and global change. Lothar Beyer (Germany) – chemical weathering and soil formation in cold soils. David Gilichinsky (Russia) – cryosols and palaeoenvironments. Brigitte Van Vliet Lanöe (France) -cryogenic processes. Bernd Etzelmüller (Norway) – permafrost and global change. Torben R. Christensen (Sweden) – carbon cycling (methane). Phil Wookey (Sweden) – soil ecology. Sven Jonasson (Denmark) – soil-microbiology-plant interactions. Ole Humlum (Norway/Denmark) – Arctic landscapes and their evidence of climate change. For further information on this meeting see http:// www.geogr.ku.dk/cryosols.

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


The Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR), Hannover, and the Centre d’études nordiques, Universite Laval, Quebec, have started a joint-project to investigate the development of permafrost in emerged marine sediments east of Umiujaq, Nunavik, near the eastern shore of Hudson Bay (see also report by Canada). Six holes were drilled into a mineral palsa and geophysical equipment installed tomonitor the temperature field and water pressures at the palsa base for at least one year. The intention is to develop a fully consistent numerical model capable of simulating the full cycle of palsa growth and decay based on the observations. The area under investigation is considered as a modern analogue to conditions that prevailed during the last marine regression from the Laptev Sea shelf of Siberia.


During summer 2000 the Giessen PACE group successfully conducted drilling operations on Stockhornplateau (3410 m asl.), Mattertal, Switzerland. The two boreholes reached a depth of 101 m and 31 m, respectively. Preliminary temperature readings indicate a permafrost thickness of at least 150 m in this area. Investigations by Stephan Gruber demonstrated the influence of permafrost on landslide hazards in a GIS analysis that was carried out for a 485 km2 basin in the Mattertal. The permafrost distribution proved to be a highly valuable factor in data-driven modelling of potential landslide hazards in the periglacial belt. A digital elevation model, extensive mapping from aerial photographs, satellite imagery and fieldwork formed the basis for this study. A local permafrost model was designed from calculated potential direct solar radiation totals in summer, terrain elevation and a map of vegetation abundance derived from a Landsat TM image. The satellite image was corrected for atmospheric and topographic effects using the ATCOR3 algorithm. An albedo map derived from the same corrected image has been incorporated into the radiation-based model in order to calculate net short-wave radiation. In the test area Grächen- Seetalhorn, Switzerland, Thomas Herz has started a programme to investigate the microclimatological conditions within a coarse-grained debris cover in the periglacial belt. First results of a one-year period of air temperature measurements indicate a temperature reduction from the surface to the base of the block cover especially in the snow free period. Future investigations will concentrate on the influence of a coarse boundary layer on energy exchange processes between near ground atmosphere and the lithosphere.

C. Kneisel, Trier, has investigated alpine permafrost in recently deglaciated glacier forefields in the Swiss Alps and in northern Sweden. Together with the Swiss colleagues C. Hauck and D. Vonder Mühll, permafrost occurrence below the timberline was confirmed by geoelectrical measurements in the Upper Engadine. Monitoring of ground temperature for a detailed characterisation of this sporadic permafrost site is maintained by C. Kneisel and T. Riedlinger, Trier.

The Russian-German LENA 2000 Expedition was carried out in the Lena Delta and along the coast of the Laptev Sea during the period 28 July to 27 August 2000. The investigations were conducted by four teams according to the following topics: (1) modern processes in permafrost-dominated soils including trace gasses and water and energy balance; (2) coastal erosion and sediment accumulation and water level and temperature measurements; (3) the Ice Complex and its potential as a climate archive; and (4) palaeogeography of the western Lena Delta. The results of the 1998 expeditions to Siberia were published in ‘Berichte zur Polarforschung 315’, as a series of reports edited by Volker Rachold and Mikhail Grigoriev.

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


The activity of the Italian IPA group by F. Dramis has focussed on two main topics that reflect the main financial resources for the scientific activities: a) Antarctic Research; b) the Italian activities within PACE.


In Antarctica, at Terra Nova Bay Station, the campaign 1999/2000 was performed with the cooperation of A. Lewkowicz (Ottawa University). The research was concentrated on the study of the net energy balance of the permafrost surfaces with different morphologic conditions and snow accumulations, on the impact of climate change on the salt concentrations within the active layer, and on the analysis of the relationships between climate and weathering of the bedrock in the ice-free areas of Northern Victoria Land. During the campaign, and thanks to the PNRA organisation, a 15.5 m deep borehole was drilled in the outcropping Harbour granite near the Station. The first temperature profiles were obtained. In the same campaign two CALM grids were established according to the CALM protocols, in proximity to the automatic monitoring stations of Boulder Clay and Simpson Crags. During the austral summer, with the cooperation of Argentine Antarctic Institute and CADIC, two field campaigns, one in Tierra del Fuego and one in James Ross Island (Antarctica), were performed. These campaigns are the first step of a threeyear programme to analyse the relationships between active layer thickness, permafrost conditions and different kinds of vegetation in respect to the main climatic parameters. This approach was proposed to the SCAR-RiScc meeting in Madrid last year. It will be conducted along an ideal transect between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica in cooperation with Argentina and UK. During this campaign a new 8 m deep borehole was drilled at Lachman Harbour (James Ross Island) in the outcropping sedimentary Tertiary rocks.

Monitoring of climatic parameters and borehole temperatures in the Stelvio Borehole (100.3 m deep) continues as part of the PACE activities. The first crystallographic and chemical analyses of the ice core from Foscagno rock glacier have been completed. In addition, 10 miniature data loggers have been placed within different vegetation types and landforms to monitor ground temperature at different depths and incoming radiation, and to understand the effect of the vegetation cover on the permafrost distribution in the Alps.

The Cryosphere Map of Lombardia was published. It is the first attempt in Italy to map the distribution of permafrost, rock glaciers and glaciers in a sector of the Italian Alps. Finally, the organisation of the First European Permafrost Conference in Rome (March 2001) was undertaken.

Mauro Guglielmin and Nicoletta Cannone (cannone.guglielmin@galactica.it)


The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory continued monitoring of the thermal regime of permafrost, seasonally frozen ground and dynamics of solifluction processes, kurums and rock glaciers in the Northern Tien Shan near Almaty.


During the summer 2000 the laboratory has investigated the geocryological conditions on the southern and eastern slopes of the Transili Alatau Range in the basin of Chong-Kemin River between 3000-3600 m asl. Also in the summer 2000 the laboratory carried out monitoring of the movement and investigations of the structure of the Gorodetsky rock glacier in the basin of the Bolshaya Almatinka River, Transili Alatau Range. The laboratory in 2000 investigated permafrost in burial mounds, in natural conditions and in cryogenic forms in the Altai Mountains, basin of Buhtarma River, where solifluction forms, ploughing blocks, thufurs, kurums and very large relict cryoplanation terraces exist. Studies of the Late and Middle Pleistocene glaciation also were performed here.

A book entitled ‘Permafrost is the keeper of the antiquities’ by A. Gorbunov, Z. Zamashev and E. Seversky was published in Russian, with an abstract in English. Staff of the Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory continue investigating climate, permafrost and ground ice evolution in the Tien Shan supported by the National Geographic Society of the United States of America.

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


The Permafrost Laboratory of the Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences prepared in 2000 a publication concerning seasonal freezing and thawing of ground in Mongolia. Also a preliminary map of Mongolia at a scale of 1:1,500,000, and a map of seasonal freezing and thawing are being compiled.


The Laboratory continues to carry out permafrost monitoring in selected areas of Mongolia. Also the Mongolian-Japanese joint expedition continues their permafrost investigations. Financial support from the USA and Japanese organisations enabled N. Sharkhuu to participate in the international permafrost- related meetings held in Alaska and Japan this year.

We are organising an International Permafrost Symposium on Mountain and Arid Land Permafrost in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 2-6 September, 2001 and a post-symposium field trip on permafrost features, mapping, engineering and monitoring in the Khubsugul and Khangai mountain regions, Mongolia, 7-12 September, both in cooperation with the IPA. The provisional programme was distributed to the IPA, other organisations and individuals.(See Forthcoming Meetings for more details).

D.Tumurbaatar (geo-dgv@magicnet.mn)

The Netherlands

The work on the EU-funded TUNDRA project on the north Russian Arctic Usa River, by Margriet Huisink, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Sandra van der Linden, Utrecht, continues towards its final stage at the beginning of 2001. Reports and scientific publications are in progress (see also Frozen Ground 23, 1999). In the framework of the palaeo-periglacial research at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the existence of former (until yet unknown) continuous permafrost in the middle of the last glacial could be detected (dated at 33-38,000 14C years ago) in eastern Germany. The accompanying vegetation was reconstructed in great detail. A publication by Bos et al. is in press in the ‘Journal of Quaternary Science’.

Jef Vandenberghe (vanj@geo.vu.nl)

New Zealand

During the 1999/2000 summer, several New Zealand permafrost-related programs were undertaken in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica: Jackie Aislabie (Landcare) is leading an ongoing programme into the effects of hydrocarbons on soil properties in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica.


Other researchers in the programme include Megan Balks (University of Waikato), Robert Gibb, Doug Sheppard, Iain Campbell, and Graeme Claridge. The work involves monitoring a range of soil and climate parameters, at three sites of contrasting soils and climate, in collaboration with John Kimble and Ron Paetzold (USDA). Data have shown increased temperature and microbial activity at hydrocarbon-contaminated sites compared to controls. Megan Balks presented a paper at the Contaminants in Freezing Ground Conference in Cambridge, UK, in July and results of aspects of the programme have been presented at a number of other national and international conferences.

Paul Augustinus (University of Auckland) continued his high resolution ground penetrating radar study into the internal structure of Holocene raised beaches on the McMurdo Sound Coast. The mapping of permafrost types and active-layer depth using radar was a significant outcome of this work.

Warren Dickinson (Victoria University of Wellington) lead a programme that involves shallow permafrost drilling in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. This drilling project had its first field season starting in November 2000, and is based on new portable drilling techniques which allow shallow coring of permafrostglacial sediments in remote areas. The primary aim of this project is to recover a climate record from Antarctic ground ice and soils which potentially hold detailed climate information and date back 15 million years. The cored material will not only be used to determine climate and climate history from geological and biochemical material, but will also provide stratigraphic information for ground penetrating radar studies and outcrop maps of glacial sediments. Ground ice from a high elevation site in the Dry Valleys was obtained during a pilot drilling project in 1996-1997. Chemical data from this ice suggests it originated from atmospheric water vapour and brine formed at the surface.

Iain Campbell lead a project which involved detailed examination of the soils at the Lake Hoare LTER site (McMurdo Dry Valleys) in November/December 1999. Soil moisture was measured gravimetrically on a daily basis at various sites, and diurnal soil moisture changes appear to be related to daily weather conditions. The first year of data from the three soil-climate sites established in January 1999 show marked changes in soil moisture content throughout the year and a close relationship with trends in soil temperature. Soil moisture values are very low over wintermonths and peak for short periods following summer snowfalls.

Discussions were recently held in Christchurch on a proposal for a multinational (USA/NZ/Italy) Latitudinal Gradient Project to study ecosystem changes along the Transantarctic Mountains from 70ºS to 86ºS. Mapping and examination of periglacial and permafrost processes will form an integral part of this project. For details of the LGP project go to: http:// www.antarc-ticanz. govt.nz/Pages/Science/Lat- Project.msa.

Paul Augustinus (p_augustinus@hotmail.com )


Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo (http://www.geografi.uio.no/) has continued its activities within the EU-PACE project. Further geophysical studies were carried out around the PACE borehole site at Juvvasshøe (61º 41′ N, 8º 22′ E, 1894 m asl.) in Jotunheimen, southern Norway, and in the Dovrefjell area.


2D resistivity tomography survey was performed along a profile, with the choice of site based on 530 BTS measurements in the area. During the summer 2000 the study of rock glaciers at Prins Karls Forland, Svalbard, was continued. At the Brøggerbreen rock glacier close to Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, 2D resistivity tomography was carried out. At Finse, southern Norway, measurements of ploughing boulder displacements were continued. The joint project between the University of Wales (Charles Harris),University of Dundee (Michael Davis) and the University of Oslo (Johan Ludvig Sollid) to monitor solifluction processes continues. There are currently problems with handling displacement measurements using LVDTs mounted on frames due to the snow pressure.

Investigations on geomorphic activity, bedrock weathering rates and rock glacier dynamics were initiated around Longyearbyen (78ºN) at Svalbard, by Ole Humlum (the University Courses on Svalbard, UNIS). At sea level MAAT is about -6ºC, and most of the study sites are within the zone of continuous permafrost. Precipitation and temperature (air, ground surface and within the active layer) are measured on various terrain units by miniature data loggers, and geomorphic events and snow cover variations in the area are monitored daily by three automatic cameras. Precipitation has been sampled since 1999 in order to calibrate the oxygen isotope signal obtained from ice within rock glaciers and other terrain elements. Two CALM sites have been established close to Longyearbyen by Mette Oht (UNIS) at different altitudes, both equipped with data loggers measuring active layer temperatures. Investigations on ice wedge development, dynamics and oxygen isotope stratigraphy in nearby Adventdalen have been initiated by Jon W. Jeppesen (UNIS). In the Operafjellet area, investigations on the evolution of an ice cored rock glacier, the local meteorological environment, and the associated Holocene oxygen isotope stratigraphy are carried out by Sisse Korsgaard (UNIS).

At the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Arne Instanes is coordinating the research project ‘Arctic oil spills on Russian permafrost soils’ funded by the Norwegian Research Council and NGI. The purpose is to study transport, spreading and penetration of oil types on the surface and into soils and ice. Another project called ‘Permafrost response to industrial and environmental loads’ (http://www.ngi.no/ SIP/SIP7/index.html) is also coordinated by Arne Instanes, and sponsored by the Norwegian Research Council and NGI for 1999-2003. The main 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 remediation of polluted areas. Numerical models and field and laboratory investigations will be used to reach this objective. The technologies developed will benefit Norwegian industry involved in industrial development on Svalbard and Northwest Russia.

Arne Instanes is also working with the Arctic Technology Programme at the University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS), where the purpose is to introduce students to technological and environmental problems that are relevant in the Arctic, including conducting field activities in Svalbard communities.

At the 1998 Yellowknife Permafrost Conference it was discussed that engineering should be more active within the IPA. Soon after the Conference the Norwegian Adhering Body started preparing a workshop on permafrost engineering to be held in Longyearbyen on the Svalbard archipelago. The International Workshop on Permafrost Engineering took place 18-21 June 2000, with 45 participants from 10 different countries. T

he workshop goals were to:

• Strengthen the cooperation and network building between the Nordic countries in the field of permafrost engineering.

• Strengthen the international network, in science as well as engineering, and to promote environmentally friendly solutions to permafrost engineering problems.

• To arrive at a set of conclusions and recommendations covering the workshop themes.

The workshop was sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers within the ‘Nordic Arctic Research Programme 1998 – 2002’ and organised by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), The University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS) and Department of Geotechnical Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

An important part of the Nordic Arctic Research Programme is to stimulate young scientists to choose an Arctic research career. Only three or four of the workshop participants could be considered under the category ‘young permafrost engineering scientists’, and this demonstrates the importance of this IPA engineering initiative. Research opportunities have diminished with reduced interest in new resource development. This situation may change with the growing interest in development of Arctic regions such as Greenland, Northwest Russia, and renewed interest in Alaska and the Mackenzie Delta. The increasedemphasis on alpine permafrost in densely populated areas of central Europe may inspire young scientists to a career within this field. At the closing session it was summarized that the conclusions of the workshop should provide recommendations for the Permafrost Engineering Working Group in preparation for the 2003 Conference in Switzerland. The workshop highlighted the importance of environmental friendly solutions to engineering projects in permafrost regions, and again, the need for standardised methods for in-situ geotechnical testing of permafrost soil was brought forward. Professor Kaare Senneset, chairman of the Organising Committee, contributed a tremendous effort into organising the workshop and especially his contribution in preparing the workshop proceedings with almost 30 papers must be mentioned.

Kaare Flaate (kflaate@online.no)


Studies of permafrost and periglacial phenomena in 2000 were carried out on scientific expeditions to Spitsbergen, Svalbard. These were continuations of programmes started in previous years.


On Spitsbergen studies were carried out in the summer season of 2000 on Wedel Jarlsberg Land, Bellsund Fjord region, on Oscar II Land, Kaffioyra Plain and on Billefjord, Petunia Bukta. The research programme was conducted by teams from: Maria Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin (Bellsund Region), Nicolai Copernici University in Toru (Kaffioyra) and Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna (Petunia Bukta). The investigations included dynamics of the permafrost and active layer, periglacial processes and deposits, and dynamics of glaciers. The results of investigations carried out by the Polish Polar Center are presented every year at the polar symposium of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society and the Polar Research Committee, as well as on polar sessions. The proceedings are published after each session and symposium (e.g. 26th International Polar Symposium‘The Polish Polar Research – The 25th Jubilee of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society’ Polish Polar Studies, ed. J.Repelewska-Pekalowa, Lublin 1999, 428 pages.). The next, 27th International Polar Symposium will be organised in the Nicolai Copernici University in Toru , 1-3 December, 2000. The Polish periglacial community mentions with great sadness the passing of Professor Anna Dylikowa, University of Lodz.

Kazimierz Pekala(geomorf@biotop.umcs.lublin.pl)


The project ESTRELA – ‘Geomorphological and biophysical processes and landscape units in Mediterranean mountains: the case study of Serra da Estrela (1999-2001) (PRAXIS/C/CTE/11153/1998)’started in October 1999 and is coordinated by António de Brum Ferreira (Centro de Estudos Geográficos, University of Lisbon).


It is an interdisciplinary approach joining geomorphologists, climatologists and botanists. In the framework of the project several data loggers measuring air, soil and rock temperature were installed in the upper areas of the Estrela range. An assessment of the relationships between air, soil and rock temperatures and a better understanding of the present-day periglacial phenomena are expected outputs. A meteorological station was also installed in the top of the mountain at 1993 m asl. and is now fully operational. More details about the project can be found at http://www.ceg.ul.pt/proj_estrela.

From January to March 2000, Gonçalo Teles Vieira participated in the Spanish Antarctic Campaign in Livingston and Deception Islands (South Shetlands) in the framework of the project RADIANTAR-2001, coordinated by Miguel Ramos Saínz (Department of Physics, University of Alcalá de Henares, Spain). The research focused on detailed geomorphological mapping (with special emphasis on periglacial activity), meteorological data collection (automatic monitoring of air temperature, relative humidity, wind, soil temperatures and radiation budget) and drilling in the active layer and permafrost. Data from this and other campaigns are being integrated in a GIS for spatial analysis.

A report synthesising the results from the research on the Pleistocene glaciation of the Serra do Gerês (Northwest Portugal) was published in late 1999. Relict periglacial landforms and deposits and their relationship with glacial evidence were also analysed (Ferreira, A. B.; Vidal-Romani, J. R.; Zêzere, J. L.; Rodrigues, M. L. 1999 – ‘A glaciação plistocénica da serra do Gerês’. Vestígios geomorfológicos e Rnº 37, 150p. – in Portuguese with English abstract)

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


Since the last Romanian report, the activities of the Romanian geomorphologists involved in glacial and periglacial geomorphology and permafrost were focused on the Transylvanian Alps (Southern Carpathians).


A group of geographers from West University of Timisoara are involved in the research project ‘The present-day morphodynamic processes of the alpine area of the Southern Carpathians, from sustainable development perspective’ (project director, P. Urdea), financed by the National Council for University Research (CNCSIS) for the period 1999-2001 (Grant 15/63 CNCSIS).

In the Fagaras Mountains – the highest in Romania, and in the Retezat Mountains, monitoring and prediction of permafrost activity were continued by P. Urdea and his group from the Department of Geography, West University of Timisoara. Also, the sporadicextrazonal permafrost, discovered at low altitude (1100 m asl.) at Detunata Mountain (Apuseni Mountains), was monitored by the method of temperature measurements of the spring situated at the base of the rock glacier.

P. Urdea and L. Dragut (Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca) examined and mapped glacial and periglacial relief and relict permafrost indicators in the Surianu Mountains. M. Voiculescu (West University of Timisoara) completed and defended at the Bucharest University, the doctoral thesis ‘The study of the geoecological potential and environment protection in the Fagaras Mountains’.

Glacial and periglacial relief and present-day geomorphic phenomena were studied by M. Mandrescu (Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava) during the summer of 2000 in the Maramures Mountains (Easthern Carpathians).

The Asociatia Geomorfologilor din Romania (Romanian Association of Geomorphologists), founded in 1990 and affiliated with the International Association of Geomorphology, was reorganised at the XVIII National Symposium of Geomorphology (25-30 September, 2000) and now has six different research fields including ‘Glacial and Periglacial Geomor-phology’ coordinated by P. Urdea.

Petru Urdea (urdea@cbg.uvt.ro)


Vladimir P. Melnikov was elected Academician by the Russian Academy of Sciences.


The International Conference on Rhythms of Natural Processes in the Earth Cryosphere was held in Pushchino, 16-20 May 2000 (see details in introductory report). Highlights of several research topics and reports from institutes and university groups are presented in the following: David Gilichinsky and his colleagues from the Soil Cryology Laboratory, Institute of Physicochemical & Biological Problems in Soil Science, Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushchino) and Department of Soil Biology, Faculty of Soil Science, Moscow State University have demonstrated that permafrost has allowed the prolonged survival of ancient microbial life at subzero temperatures. Permafrost is characterised as a unique physical-chemical complex, which due to the unfrozen water films, maintains life longer than any other known habitat. Viable cells have been isolated from cores up to 400-m deep in the Canadian Arctic and at the lowest ground temperatures (-25ºC) in Antarctica. The oldest cells date back to 3 million years in north Siberia, and probably older in Antarctica. Upon thawing the microorganisms renew physiological activity and exposes ancient life to modern ecosystems. It is now possible for the first time to use actual viable organisms for the purposes of reconstructing a past environment.

Terrestrial permafrost, inhabited by cold-adapted microbes, can be considered as an extraterrestrial model. If life should be found to have existed during the early stages of the development of the Earth, then its traces may consist of primitive cryogenic forms within the extraterrestrial permafrost materials to be recovered from comets and Mars.

Permafrost sediments contains a tremendous mass of organic matter as well as viable methanogens which become activated and could produce additional methane in the event of permafrost thawing. Researchers at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science find that large quantities of carbon as methane (up to 40 ml/kg) and carbon dioxide (up to 20 ml/kg) are preserved in the permafrost. Methane occurs in discrete layers that are determined by the age and genesis of the deposits and by the type of cryogenesis. The fact that for at least several hundreds of thousands years methane has not diffused from the methane-rich layers into adjacent layers implies that there is negligible diffusion of methane in the permafrost under both present and past conditions. This reservoir of bound methane could be easily released during thermoabrasion of marine and riverbanks and summer thawing of landscapes and outcrops. The yield of ancient methane from thawing of frozen late-Pliocene sediments wasestimated to be as high as 40 mg methane/m2 day; comparable with those from modern Arctic tundra landscapes.

Geocryologists at the Department of Geocryology, Geological Faculty, Moscow State University, under the leadership of Prof. E.D. Ershov continue to develop the concept of cyclicity of the cryolithozone during the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic on the basis of models of permafrost evolution. On the basis of physicochemical theory, Dr. V.G. Cheverev proposed recommendations for stabilisation and consolidation of cryogenic grouting.

Evidence was provided for the significance of intrasecular variations of temperature and atmospheric precipitation (mostly during the warm season) in the activation of cryogenic relief-forming processes in the zone of continuous permafrost. The activation of these processes is characterised by a definite cyclicity as shown by K.S.Voskresensky in his Doctoral Dissertation on Modern Relief-forming Processes on Plains of the Russian North, Faculty of Geography, MSU.

S.V. Gubin, Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, in his Doctoral Dissertation, Late Pleistocene Soil forming on the Icyloess Sediments of the Eurasian North-East, showed that these sediments contain buried soils formed in the relatively warm period 28,000-50,000 years ago. Among them the most-developed soil profiles were forest type soils formed 40,000-50,000 thousand years ago.

Field studies and new scientific generalisations by N.N. Romanovskii, MSU, and H. Hubberten (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany) show the role of palaeoreconstructions in the climate-sea-land system. The studies, conducted by investigators from the Moscow State University and the Institute of Earth Cryosphere, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Division, are important for understanding the basic reasons for the activation of destructive cryogenic processes in the economically developing regions. E.S. Melnikov and his colleagues from Institute of Earth Cryosphere, based on results of field work in different regions of Russia, confirmed the special role of geocryological mapping as a basis of permafrost monitoring. M.O. Leibman, based on long-term field studies on Yamal Peninsula, demonstrated the relationship of landslide development to summer temperature and precipitation of the current and preceding year.

Researchers from the Geocryological Department, Industrial and Research Institute for Engineering of Construction (Russian Federation State Committee for Construction) carried out comprehensive studies along the Pechora Sea coast (Varandey Peninsula, European North of Russia). The thickness of the subzero temperature zone is about 150 m, with the upper 30-50 m represented by frozen soils containing methane, and below supercooled saline sediments. The temperature of these sediments reaches down to -4.0ºC, but their physical and physico-mechanical properties are similar to unfrozen sediments.

Results of the most recent studies are found in the following monographs (in Russian): L.S.Garagulya & E.D.Ershov, eds. (1999). Geokriologicheskie opasnosti (Geocryological Hazards). A.D.Frolov (1998). Elektricheskie i upruguie svoistva merzlykh porod i l’dov (Electric and Elastic Properties of Frozen Deposits and Ices). L.N.Khrustalev, ed. (1999). Inzhenernaya geokriologia (Engineering Geocryology). N.G.Moskalenko (1999). Anthropogenic Dynamics of Vegetation on the Lowlands of the Russian Criolitozone.

Director R.M.Kamensky, Permafrost Institute Yakutsk, reported that the basic topic of research at the Institute concerns the present state of permafrost and prediction of its future development. Investigations within this broad topic are conducted in five areas:

1. Spatial and temporal patterns of the distribution and evolution of permafrost, ice, frost-related features and processes;

2. Groundwater formation and regime;

3. Physical and chemical fields in permafrost, modelling and prediction;

4. Permafrost soil as a bearing and enclosing medium for engineering structures;

5. Ecological consequences of anthropogenic impact on permafrost.

The Institute carried out and continues cooperative studies with scientists from Japan, USA, Germany, and France within the framework of GAME, GAMEGEWEX, GCOS/GTN-P international projects and bilateral agreements with the University of Hokkaido (Japan), National Institute of Polar Research (Japan), National Institute for Environmental Studies (Japan), Institute of Low Temperature Science (Japan), University of Alaska (USA), and Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. Joint Russian-Japanese programmes include the study of the natural and post-disturbance (fire) evolution of permafrost landscapes in Central Yakutia, as well as monitoring of greenhouse gases in near-surface air, acid rain and snowcover contamination.

The joint Russian-German expedition (Laptev Sea – 2000 Project) in the Lena Delta, the Laptev Sea coast and shelf studied palaeoenvironmental conditions for ice-complex development and erosion of ice-rich coasts. In cooperation with the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, a comparative study of geocryological conditions was undertaken along longitudinal transects (north-south) in East Siberia and Alaska. Air temperature variations in the last 100 years at Yakutsk and Fairbanks were analysed. Members of the Kazakhstan Laboratory joined the Kazakhstan-French-Russian expedition to study freezing conditions in ancient burial mounds at the archaeological sites in the Altai and Dzhungaria. The Institute published the following monographs: ‘Materials for Study of Unmelting Soil Frost in Siberia’, written by the Russian Academician of the 19th century K.E. Baer. It is the collection of all data and information on permafrost available by 1840. It was written in 1842 and the manuscript was kept in the archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Zhang R.V. (2000) ‘Design, Construction and Opera- tion of Small Hydraulic Structures in Permafrost Areas (Exemplified by Yakutia)’, Permafrost Institute Press, Yakutsk, 158 pp. Gorokhov A.N., Savvinov D.D., Fedorov A.N. (2000) ‘Landscape Ecology of the Amga Watershed’, Permafrost Institute Press, Yakutsk, 107 pp. Karpov E.G., Baranovsky E.L. (1999) ‘Permafrost Conditions in the Igarka Area, Northern Yenisey’, Permafrost Institute Press, Yakutsk, 181 pp.

V.P. Melnikov (an@ikz.tmn.ru) E.S. Melnikov (emelnikov@mtu-net.ru)


The main IPA-related research activities in Sweden during the past year are those under the PACE project and which are reported elsewhere (See PACE report).


Arctic and alpine geomorphological research in the Department of Physical Geography, Lund University, suffered a heavy loss by the recent death of Prof. Anders Rapp. No major projects have received funding during the last four years. Only minor activities continued through private funding initiatives, basic departmental funds and staff input. Prof. J.O. Mattsson has managed to continue editing ‘Geografiska Annaler’ from Lund. Active projects are present at Karkevagge: Through international cooperation and funding and good cooperation with the Abisko Research Station, P. Schlyter (now operating from Dep. of Physical Geography in Stockholm) has managed to continue a limited, but important activity of geomorphological monitoring in the Karkevagge valley. J. Åkerman is planning to revitalise participation from Lund with this project during 2000/2001.

Abisko: In cooperation with the Abisko Research Station Åkerman is maintaining the CALM sites along the east-west transect in the Abisko area. The ten active- layer sites have now been monitored since 1978 and annual data is presented within the CALM reporting system and the GGD.

Kapp Linne’ area, Svalbard: Åkerman is maintaining a limited monitoring programme of active periglacial processes and their climatic significance. The active layer monitoring in Kapp Linne’, started in 1972, is maintained within the CALM network. A single site visit a year and maintenance of the data loggers are conducted but without external funding. Several MSc projects of the Kapp Linne’ area supervised by Åkerman are completed: Vegetation mapping by T. Josefsson and I. Martensson, and a Digital Elevation Model of the Kapp Linne’ area with analyses of the vertical and horizontal distribution of vegetation and geomorphological forms and processes.

Jonas Åkerman (jonas.akerman@natgeo.lu.se)


The concept Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS) was approved by the Swiss Co-ordinating Group for Permafrost in November 1999 and ratified by the Glaciological Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS) in January 2000.


During a pilot phase lasting from 2000 to 2003, the activities will be concentrated to circa 10 existing drillings, 10 permafrost distribution areas and a maximum of two aerial flights per year. Measurements are undertaken by eight institutes that actually set up the various sites. Meanwhile, efforts are under way to associate PERMOS under the umbrella of a federal department to ensure the long-term financing and maintenance of the network.

Mountain permafrost research is undertaken by various institutes, some of the projects with collaboration of two or more institutes are as follows: The Institutes of Geography at the Universties of Lausanne (IGUL, Emmanuel Reynard, Christophe Lambiel) and Fribourg (IGUF, Michel Monbaron, Reynald Delaloye, Grégoire Devaud) are conducting several projects on the distribution and thermal conditions of discontinuous permafrost in the western part of Switzerland. In the partially frozen talus slope of the Lapires (Mont-Gelé, 2500 m asl.), measurements in the 20 m deep borehole drilled in autumn 1998 indicate permafrost with temperature close to the melting point (temperatures between –0.2ºC and 0ºC), an active layer of 3 m and a ZAA (zero annual amplitude) depth of only 4 m ! At the Alpage de Mille (2200 – 2450 m asl.) analyses of spatial and temporal variability of BTS measurements are conducted in the vicinity of two inactive rock glaciers since 1996. Investigations on permafrost-glacier relationships in several sites indicate, beneath the high complexity of such terrain, the degradation, displacement and even the whole melting of pre-Little Ice Age frozen bodies, the possible post-Little Ice Age establishment of permafrost, and finally, in the forefield of the Grand-Aget glacier (2800 m asl.) a landslide affecting frozen material. Mapping of past, current and future distribution of permafrost and glaciers in the Mont-Gelé area is carried out. Geophysical survey (tomography, DC resistivity soundings) and BTS measurements are performed in frozen terrain (rock glaciers, moraines, proglacial margins, screes) in the same area. Both institutes are also investigating the thermal evolution of perennially frozen ground at very low elevations (Creux du Van, Jura Range, 1200 m asl.) in collaboration with SFISAR, Davos (Veronica Stöckli, Marcia Phillips). Dendrochronological curves are compared with the thermal conditions of the ground.

The University of Bern (Group for Applied Geomorphology) has been investigating permafrost and periglacial phenomena in the small valley Furggentälti in the Gemmi region (2500 m. asl., Wallis, Switzerland) for many years. In 2000, the work concentrated on the new meteorological stations (radiation and energy balance, standard climate parameters) (Hans Kienholz, Severin Schwab, Dragan Mihajlovic). Furthermore, the annual BTS campaign was carried out last winter, combined with BTS measurements from more than 40, single-channel temperature data loggers. The two projects concerning the flow dynamics of the rock glacier in the Furggentälti (Dorothea Koelbing) and the spatial and temporal dynamics of the snow cover (Isabelle Kunz) are almost finished.

To improve understanding of the effects of disastrous flooding caused by high air temperature linked with heavy precipitation, a joint study between the Geological Laboratory of the EPFL (GEOLEP, Daniel Bayard) and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITÖ- ETHZ, Hannes Flühler, Manfred Stähli) is being conducted during the winter 2000/2001. This project called “Water infiltration in a partly frozen soil and ground water recharge in alpine catchments” combines physical and hydrogeological aspects to study water dynamics into a partly frozen soil in a mountainous area. Field experiments collecting meteorological data and soil physical data will serve as inputs for a numerical model. A one-dimensional heat- and water-balance model will be used for predicting the influence of the greenhouse effect on the studied system. Experiments will be carried out at various places in the southern Swiss Alps (region of the Valais), at the Hannigalp near Grächen (at 2100 m asl.) and near the Gd St Bernard pass (2500 m asl.) to characterise the hydrogeological processes for different climates and to investigate the influence of site orientation, altitude and soil texture on the frost depths and amount of percolated water. Tracer experiments will be used to quantify snow melt infiltration into frozen ground and to investigate the dependence of frozen soil infiltration on soil properties, surface characteristics and physical state at the onset of the snow melt.

The University of Zürich (Regula Frauenfelder, Wilfried Haeberli, Andi Kääb, Martin Hoelzle) is involved in several projects related to mountain permafrost. Digital photogrammetry, geodesy, remote sensing and geomorphology focus on improved process understanding of glacial and periglacial hazards. In the project “GIS-based Modelling of Creeping Mountain Permafrost” supported by the Foundation for the Promotion of Scientific Research at the University of Zürich, rock glaciers are of particular interest. Due to the fact that only the ice of a rock glacier matrix can melt, rock glacier topography is a cumulative expression of the entire rock glacier history and, thus, in a complex way, of the present and past environment. The decoding of present-day morphology and distribution of rock glaciers, and a better knowledge of the climatic controls on rock glaciers provide important information on past and present climate conditions. So far few investigations exist about regional variability of rock glacier development, i.e. what regional effects cause rock glacier abundance in contrast to scarce distribution of such a phenomenon. The project aims at closing this gap by applying two complementary approaches: (a) the development of a GISbased model simulating alpine rock glacier distribution and (b) the evaluation of presently relict rock glaciers to reconstruct past distribution of permafrost limits. The synthesis of these two approaches should allow for assessing palaeoclimatic fluctuations in the time range of millennia.

The ETH-Mini-Poly project of the three institutes Geotechnics (Sarah Springman, Lukas Arenson), Geophysics (Hansruedi Maurer, Martin Musil) and VAW (Daniel Vonder Mühll) continued in its second year. After drilling four, 70 m deep boreholes through the Muragl rock glacier in 1999, two new cored drillings were undertaken this year on Murtèl-Corvatsch rock glacier. The boreholes are some 15 and 35 m upslope of the borehole 2/1987, and are 51 and 63 m deep. Undisturbed cores of frozen material for laboratory testing were taken and determination of in situ strength and stiffness using a pressuremeter (Cambridge InSitu) were performed. In addition, instruments for longterm monitoring of deformation and temperature were installed. The first results of the field measurements and some additional triaxial tests on artificially frozen samples, indicate that the thermo-mechanical behaviour of ice-rich permafrost soil close to 0ºC strongly depends on micromechanical processes. Interaction between the air voids, the ice, the soil particles and the unfrozen water has to be taken into account while describing failure or creeping processes of such a system. Therefore, the stability of some currently frozen alpine slopes is thought to be extremely sensitive to climate change. First assumptions can be made, but in order to be able to predict the probability of slope failure, further laboratory investigations and numerical analyses are necessary.

Within the PACE project, the two Swiss partners (University of Zürich: Wilfried Haeberli, Martin Hoelzle, Catherine Mittaz; VAW-ETH Zürich: Daniel VonderMühll, Christian Hauck) drilled two, 101 m deep boreholes (a vertical and an oblique one) at the north slope of Schilthorn. Further, geophysical field survey at various PACE drill sites (VAW) and energy balance measurements were undertaken during the past year. The latter allows improving the permafrost distribution models taking into account effects of snow and thermal offset.

During the last year, Marcia Phillips finished her PhD entitled ‘Snow supporting structures in permafrost terrain’ at the SFISAR, Davos.

Daniel Vonder Mühll (Daniel.VonderMuehll@unibas.ch)

United Kingdom

The Second International Conference on Contaminants in Freezing Ground was held at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2-5 July 2000. The Conference was organised by the Scott Polar Research Institute in collaboration with Geotechnical Science Laboratories of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. The primary theme was removing pollution in cold regions and especially that entering the ground from oil spills, military wastes, various sources of nuclear material and other contaminants.


Delegates from 11 countries attended the Conference in Cambridge. A recurring topic was the restoration (decontamination) of lands damaged by oil and other spills using bacteria able to tolerate freezing conditions. The environmental conditions are such that conventional clean-up methods as practised in temperate lands often cannot be used. The proceedings of the Conference will include more than 20 reviewed papers, and various shorter items, which collectively illustrate the current rapid development of the associated science and technologies. The pre-publication price is US$100. In addition to the approximately 200-page Proceedings, this price will include a membership in the Virtual Conference and, currently, a free copy of the proceedings of the first Conference (of which there is only a limited stock). As a member of the Virtual Conference, you will be able to join the international discussion and planning for the future. Enquiries should be directed to: conferencesecretariat@freezingground. org, or visit the web site http://www. freezingground.org/vc/index.htm.

The British National Adhering Body of the IPA held its Fourth Periglacial Workshop on 6-7 September 2000 at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The Workshop was organised by Julian Murton and Colin Ballantyne in association with the Cryostratigraphy Research Group of the Quaternary Research Association, the IPA Working Group on Periglacial Processes and Environments, and the IGU Commission on Climatic Change and Periglacial Environments. The Workshop had four themes.

1. Modelling and monitoring of cryogenic processes. Keynote addresses were given by Charles Harris (Cardiff) on physical modelling in periglacial geomorphology, and Albert Pissart (Liège) on periglacial experiments and the origin of cryoturbations. Presentations were given by Colin Ballantyne (St. Andrews) and Ivar Bertling (Oslo) on ploughing boulders, Michael Davies (Dundee) on centrifuge modelling of rock slope stability, Norikazu Matsuoka (Tsukuba) on micro- and macrogelivation, Julian Murton (Sussex) on physical modelling of ice segregation in bedrock, and Samuel Etienne (Nantes) on biological weathering in periglacial environments.

2. Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. The keynote address was by Colin Ballantyne on the Late Devensian periglaciation of Scotland. Presentations were given by Hanne Christiansen (Copenhagen) on nivation in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, and Stephanie de Villiers (Pretoria) on South African cryogenic palaeoenvironments.

3. Mapping and monitoring of permafrost and periglacial features. Presentations were given by Daniel Vonder Mühll (Zürich) on geophysical mapping of mountain permafrost, Nikolai Shiklomanov (Delaware) on the effects of climate variability on active- layer thickness in Alaska, Hanne Christiansen on monitoring of snow cover by automatic photography, and Martin Gude (Jena) on the microclimate of extraalpine screes.

4. Interactions between permafrost and glaciers. The keynote paper was given by Bernd Etzelmuller (Oslo) on the relation between glaciers and permafrost on Svalbard. Presentations were given by Ole Humlum (Svalbard) on the effect of supraglacial debris on glaciers in permafrost areas, Wishart Mitchell (Luton) on rock glaciers in the Indian Himalaya, Julian Murton on basal ice and the frozen deforming bed of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and Colin Whiteman (Brighton) on melt-out till overlying Laurentide basal ice.

Nine posters were displayed on topics spanning the four themes. Roundtable discussions highlighted two key areas for future research: (1) the rheology of cold earth materials, and (2) the transient behaviour of cold-climate processes. Laboratory modelling, particularly by way of large geotechnical centrifuges such as those at Cardiff and Dundee, provides promise for advancing understanding of the rheological behaviour of, for example, ploughing boulders, downslope soil movements in areas of two-sided freezing, and subglacial deforming beds of permafrost. Abstracts for the Workshop may be obtained by e-mail from Julian Murton (j.b.murton@sussex.ac.uk).

Charles Harris (harrisc@cardiff.ac.uk)

United States of America

Research programmes reported in prior issues of Frozen Ground continued and are briefly reviewed. In addition a number of workshops were conducted this year and reports on climate change impacts prepared.


The Frostfire project is attempting to develop and further refine our knowledge and modelling capability of fire effects, ecosystem impact, and vegetation recovery in the subarctic boreal forest by examining the impacts of an experimental forest fire. The goal of this project is to determine the impacts and interrelated effects of fire on ecosystem processes and their feedbacks to climate in the relatively small Caribou- Poker Creeks Research Watershed near Fairbanks, Alaska. On-going studies are related to fire science, nutrient dynamics, permafrost and vegetation responses and recovery, climatic influence and feedbacks, and hydrology. Intensive pre-burn surveys quantified fuel status of the soil organic layer and forest canopy throughout the experimental watershed. Data on climatic processes, vegetation distribution, streamflow quantities and chemistry, and permafrost and active layer temperatures were also collected. These data sets are currently being augmented with additional data on microclimate, soil nutrients, ground- and surface-water partitioning in streams, among other parameters. A Frostfire synthesis workshop was convened on 21-23 March 2000 to compile and compare results. Over fifty scientists participated with 43 separate oral or poster presentations. The abstracts of this meeting are available at: http:// www.uaf.edu/water/publications/ffabstrc.pdf. Additional project synthesis activities took place at the Fire Conference 2000 in San Diego, California, November 2000 and in a special session at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California, December 2000.

The NSF ATLAS (Arctic Transitions in the Land Atmosphere System) programme completed its third year of field research and analysis in examining the potential and actual changes occurring in the Alaskan Arctic in response to climatic warming. This research includes integrated analyses of permafrost dynamics, vegetation/climate interactions, trace gass flux measurements, hydrological process studies, and interdependence of snow distribution and ecological community evolution. Many of the active layer measurements under CALM and the shallow borehole, ground temperature measurements are conducted with ATLAS funding. Details of the research programme may be obtained at http://www. laii. uaf.edu/atlas/atlas.html. Summaries of the progress to date were presented in a special session at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, December 2000.

Dan Lawson and colleagues reported that the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) conducts a number of permafrost projects in Alaska. Topics include: stable isotope variations in ground ice as a palaeoclimate indicator, ground water flow and contaminant migration in discontinuous permafrost, GPR and temperature measurements in boreholes, rates of degradation of permafrost and thermokarst formation on the Tanana Flats, and remediation of contaminated soils. Ron Sletten reported that the University of Washington continues a project in the Beacon and Victoria Valleys, Antarctica, investigating polygonized ground and its surface dynamics, and studies of buried ice obtained from co-ring in the Beacon Valley. The ice is on the order of at least several million years, thereby being some of the oldest continuous ice on Earth. Another project is investigating the migration of inorganic contaminants in the active layer and permafrost utilizing laboratory studies and a field site in Alaska. They are collaborating with the Danish scientists at Zackenberg on a study of soils and weathering processes.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Borehole Palaeothermometry programme continues to operate in Greenland and Antarctica. This project seeks to reconstruct surface temperatures in the polar regions for the last 40 kyr and to improve our understanding of the thermal conditions within the permafrost that underlies polar ice sheets. Field work began at Siple Dome, West Antarctica during November 2000; these measurements will continue for another two years. In addition, high-precision borehole temperature measu rements from central Greenland and East Antarctica (Taylor Dome) are continuing to be analysed for climate changes during the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. Gary Clow (USGS) and Bruce Koci (University of Wisconsin) are developing the design for a ‘rapid access’ drill. This drill would be capable of drilling through 3.5 km of polar ice in a week. In-situ measurements or core samples could then be obtained from the underlying permafrost. In northern Alaska, the USGS (Clow) expanded its network of climatemonitoring stations to eight. This network is designed to monitor regional changes in air and active-layer temperatures during the next 10-20 years. All stations are co-located with deep boreholes and are part of the GTN-P network.

Tim Collett (USGS) reported that the USGS and the U.S. Department of Energy, in cooperation with industry, are assessing the occurrence, recoverability, and energy resource potential of permafrost-associated, natural gas hydrate accumulations in the Prudhoe Bay-Kuparuk River area of northern Alaska. Two known gas hydrate accumulations, Eileen and Tarn, are being evaluated. The initial phase of this study includes mapping the distribution of gas hydrates. In the second phase of the project, the USGS will propose drilling a test well to evaluate the production characteristics of these gas hydrate accumulations.

The NSF Arctic System Science Programme sponsored a workshop to document the current state of knowledge of arctic hydrology and identify and describe the gaps in knowledge that are most limiting to a better understanding of the Arctic water and energy balances. The workshop was held 18-20 September 2000 at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, California. The convenors of the workshop were Charles Vorosmarty (University of New Hampshire) and Larry Hinzman (University of Alaska-Fairbanks). Thirty-three scientists participated in this workshop and review. The research needs document is planned to be published by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U. S. (ARCUS) in early 2001. The Workshop on International Permafrost Monitoring and Database Management was sponsored and held at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, 11-14 June 2000. Twenty-five specialists from Canada, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States attended. The workshop builds on current activities of the IPA to develop the Global Terrestrial Network- Permafrost (GTN-P) of the WMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Details are reported elsewhere in this issue of Frozen Ground.

A series of regional reports by the National Assessment Synthesis Team (NAST) of the U.S. Global Change Research Programme are currently being published. The report Potential Consequences of Climate and Change for Alaska discusses potential effects on permafrost. The NAST reports will be available on: www.gcrio.org/nationalassessment. A workshop organised by Orson Smith entitled ‘The Warming World: Effects on the Alaska Infrastructure’ was held at the University of Alaska-Anchorage 5-6 January 2000. The report is available at: http://www. engr.uaa.ala-ska.edu/infrastructure/. A Workshop on Cold Regions Engineering chaired by Ted Vinson was held at the University of Alaska-Anchorage in 19-21 June 2000 and attended by 126 participants including seven Canadians. The objective of the workshop was to identify and prioritise cold regions engineering research needs in the new millennium in North America.

Rupert (Bucky) Tart reported that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) held its annual Civil Engineering Conference and Exposition in Seattle, 18- 21 October 2000. The Conference theme was‘Seattle 2000 – Passages to Century 21’. The ASCE’s Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) was an active participant in the Conference given the proximity of the Conference to Alaska, the location of many of the nation’s major cold regions projects. TCRRE sponsored six sessions at the Conference on the topics of: South Pole Station Redevelopment, Ground Freezing in Civil Engineering Projects, Global Warming Effects of Civil Engineering Projects, Challenges of Civil Engineers Working in the Former Soviet Union, and Approaches to Difficult Problems in Cold Regions. The TCCRE Executive Committee and the following seven TCCRE Committees also met in Seattle: Programmes, Frozen Ground, Environment and Public Health, Foundations and Structures, Transportation and Infrastructure, Hydraulics and Hydrology, and Education. Topics discussed included developing programmes on cold regions pipelines for the ASCE 2001 annual convention to be held in Houston; revisions to existing TCCRE monographs and the completion of new monographs; and how TCCRE can participate in the VIII ICOP. The Speciality Conference will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2002, with the theme ‘Remediation and Repair of Structures and Foundations’.

Recognising that extreme environments are ever more important sources of freshwater, and that additional hydrologic research and data collection are needed in these areas, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) sponsored a speciality conference on ‘Water Resources in Extreme Environments’ 1-3 May 2000, in Anchorage, Alaska. The convenors of the conference were Douglas L. Kane, Technical Chairman (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and James Thrall, Conference General Chair (Meridian Management, Inc.). Most of the world’s population is concentrated in areas where freshwater resources may already be, or may soon become, inadequate to meet the demand for water. When this happens water must be imported from other areas or a dispersal of the population will occur. Source areas of additional freshwater are often in extreme environments such as mountains, plateaus, and polar regions.

The proceedings bring together papers and posters presented at the conference and are available via http://www .awra.org/proceedings/paper.html#extreme. A meeting of the U.S. and Russian scientists was held in Seattle in November under the Russian- American Initiative on Shelf-Land Environments (RAISE) programme. Field studies and modelling of coastal and subsea permafrost are included in the programme.

Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.org) Larry Hinzman (ffldh@uaf.edu)