2002 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

United Kingdom
United States of America
South Africa


In 2002 funding for permafrost research at Centre d’études nordiques, Université Laval was obtained from the Government of Québec to support the networks of automated meteorological stations and permafrost temperature cables across Nunavik (Northern Québec) as well as to update the database. A recent and rapid warming trend causing concern for the safety of existing infrastructure was the main cause of the renewed interest and funding of the permafrost monitoring activity.Data on the recent change from a cooling trend between 1945 and 1995 to the ongoing warming was presented at the permafrost session of the American Geophysical Union in December 2002.


A new research project began in summer 2002 in the community of Salluit to address the diffi culties created by permafrost warming in Nunavik. The project is supported by the Ministry of Public Safety of Québec and the local indigenous governments. Salluit is located in the continuous permafrost zone on the southern shore of Hudson Strait (62°N). The village lies in the bottom of a narrow valley and is mostly built on frozen saline and ice-rich marine silty clay. In order to satisfy the needs of the increasing population for land development, a high accuracy assessment (mapping scale of 1: 2000) of permafrost conditions is being done. The aim is to build a 3D geological and thermal model that will support decision making for land management. The Geological Survey of Canada is providing logistical support and participating in geophysical surveys. Thermistor cables and dataloggers were installed in some of the many new drillholes. Fieldwork in summer 2003 will be mainly directed to measurements of geotechnical properties.

Collaboration with Germany’s BGR (See Germany report) continued near Umiujaq where instrumented palsas and lithalsas are being monitored. Work begun in 1999 on Bylot island in the high Canadian Arctic (see last year’s report) also continued. Contacts: Michel Allard/Richard Fortier.

There is a record amount of development activity occurring in the Northwest Territories, all of which consider the impact of permafrost conditions. Developments include production and expansion of the Ekati (BHP) Diamond Mine, development of the new Diavik diamond mine, and oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Delta, Sahtu and Fort Liard regions. In addition, the Mackenzie Valley Producers Group earlier this year fi led a letter of intent related to the future development of a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. In support of all these activities, transportation systems and municipal infrastructure must continue to be upgraded and expanded to meet the increased demands resulting from the activity. All of this development points to signifi cant future construction in permafrost areas.

Several studies by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) continued in the western Arctic, supported by the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD). The outputs will support evaluation of resource development, pipeline routing options, geotechnical engineering, land-use decisions and environmental assessments of northern development in the Mackenzie Delta, Mackenzie Valley corridor and southern Yukon. Monitoring of creep of permafrost slopes continues at the new warm permafrost site near Wrigley, central Mackenzie Valley, and at 3 sites in cold permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta area. The establishment of a second site for study of warm permafrost slope creep is planned for Yukon in 2003. A report on deep seated rotational failures in ice-bonded permafrost, based on GSC fi eld work conducted in the latter part of the 1990s, is underway and will discuss rotational failures in frozen and thawing Cretaceous shales, active-layer detachments triggered by forest fi re, rotational failures in glacial sediments along the banks of the Mackenzie River, and climateinduced failures as recorded by tree disturbance.

Digital, GIS compatible, geotechnical, geothermal and related, data base development and analysis continued for the western Arctic. Investigations at permafrost-pipeline interaction study sites installed in the mid 1980s and expanded in 1990s continues, as do those at the network of active-layer and permafrost monitoring sites throughout the MackenzieValley and Delta. Contacts: S.Smith, L Dyke, M.Burgess, F.Wright and M. Nixon.

During March 2002 a capacitive-coupled electrical resistivity survey was conducted on Richards Island, Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories by the Canadian Geological Survey.In this new geophysical technique, an electric current is applied to the ground via a transmitter dipole and the resulting potential is measured at a receiver dipole using capacitive coupling rather than direct electrical contact. This method has an advantage over galvanic resistivity methods in areas where surface resistivity is extremely high and electrode contact would be problematic. Since direct contact with the soil is not required, a capacitive-coupled system can be moved continuously across a snow-covered surface. Measurements were made at 1 metre intervals along a 3800 m long traverse by towing the system behind a snowmobile at a speed of 7 km/hr. Dipole spacings were varied from 10 to 100 m to produce an image of subsurface electrical resistivity to depths of up to 30 metres. Using two-dimensional inversion software, an electrical resistivity section was obtained from which ice content could be interpreted. The method was found to be very effective in mapping icebearing sediments, especially zones of massive ice where electrical resistivity is extremely high. Excellent correlation was found with the results of a ground-penetrating radar survey and with ice content that has been measured in drill cores. Contact: T. Calvert.

Field surveys were undertaken by the Geological Survey of Canada in 2002 to investigate coastal stability and vertical ground motion west from the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories to Kugluktuk, Nunavut. Onshore and nearshore coastal profi les were measured at four communities and in a waterfowl nesting area. GPS receivers were installed at Holman, Sachs Harbour and Kugluktuk to measure vertical motions across the boundary from submergence in the west to emergence in the east. These surveys were augmented by acquisition of highresolution (< 1m) satellite imagery. The research is being funded by the GSC, the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD), and the Canadian Space Agency with partners in the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing. Contact: S. Solomon.

Wayne Pollard, McGill University and his students have been studying saline springs in the Canadian High Arctic in order to better understand the nature of permafrost hydrology and as analogues for environments which may host life on Mars. He has also been investigating the use of remotely sensed imagery for understanding permafrost stability and activelayer processes.

In March 2002, a collaborative project between the Geological Survey of Canada and Hanne H. Christiansen of the Danish Technical University (ARTEK) received support from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, under the Northern Dimension of Canada’s Foreign Policy (NDFP). The project involves the rescue and compilation of permafrost thermal data from Greenland for submission to the Global Terrestrial Network Permafrost, and documentation and comparative analysis of recent trends in permafrost conditions in Greenland and the adjacent Canadian Arctic. Environment Canada is also a partner in the analysis. Contact: S. Smith.

A web site is currently being developed for the Canadian Permafrost Monitoring Network by the GSC and will be eventually available through the GSC’s permafrost web site. The web site provides information on the monitoring network and will act as a data submission and dissemination node. A request for site metadata has been sent to Canadian permafrost researchers and metadata currently available may be accessed through the web site.

The GSC is collaborating with Environment Canada, with support from the Government of Canada’s Action Plan 2000, to establish snow depth monitoring stations at selected GSC permafrost monitoring sites. In summer 2002, three snow stations were installed at CFS Alert,Nunavut and one station was installed at both Baker Lake, Nunavut and near Wrigley, NWT. An additional fi ve to seven stations will be installed in summer 2003. Contact S. Smith.

In early April 2002, the Government of Canada announced it would contribute $6.1 million over fi ve years to expand research efforts in Canada’s North, through six new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) university research Chairs. As one of the new chairs, Dr. Christopher Burn (Carleton University) will research the stability of the permafrost regions of northwest Canada, examining, among other things, effects of variable winter weather in valleys, forest fi res, as well as the re-freezing of ground in the vicinity of tailing ponds. Supporters and partners of Dr. Burn include the Village of Mayo and First Nation of Na Cho Nyak Dun, Yukon Parks and the Water Resources Division, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Aurora Research Institute, and Yukon College.

Discussions were held at the Canadian Geotechnical Society’s Annual Conference, in the Cold Regions Division, over the need for research and for training of ‘permafrost’ scientists and engineers, in connection with the major geotechnical developments in the North. Gas pipeline construction and treatment of ground contamination in cold regions are two areas of particular concern. The incoming President of the Society, Suzanne Lacasse (Executive Director, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute), spoke of the need for multinational, multidisciplinary approaches to research and education, with more effective collaboration between all concerned with major projects.

The Cold Regions Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society was pleased to recently present Dr. Peter Williams with the 2003 Roger Brown Award. The award honours him for his excellence in the fi eld of permafrost throughout his long career. Early in his career Dr. Williams began working at the Division of Building Research at the National Research Council, alongside Roger Browne. Dr. Williams then became a professor at Carleton University where he carried out extensive research on the freezing of soils. Peter also developed and directed the fi eld-scale experiment on frost heave around pipelines that were conducted at Caen, Normandy, in a joint France-Canada partnership. Signifi cant publications include his textbook “The Frozen Earth: Fundamentals of Geocryology”, co-authored with Michael Smith, and his popular short book “Pipelines and Permafrost”. His landmark paper, “Hydraulic conductivity of frozen soils” by Burt and Williams, demonstrated the movement of water through frozen soils. These results contributed to assessment of the feasibility of operating chilled gas pipelines in the Mackenzie Valley in the 1970’s. Peter now divides his time between the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge and Carleton University, where he is active in bringing to English publication; Russian books, journal articles, and maps that would be otherwise inaccessible to westerners.

We would like to thank Michel Allard for serving as the Chair of the Canadian National Committee for the IPA (CNC-IPA) for the past 2.5 years. In mid 2002 we welcomed Brian Moorman as the new Chair. Web: GSC permafrost: sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/permafrost Canadian Permafrost Monitoring Network: iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/canpfnetwork/index.htm

Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)


Construction of the longest railway in the world at elevations over 4000 m presents unique opportunities and challenges to our country. The railway traverses the famous Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and covers a distance of 1118 km, from Golmud in Qinghai Province to Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway travels over a 632- km permafrost zone, 550 km of which is in continuous permafrost. The Plateau permafrost has a relatively high temperature, compared with permafrost temperatures in Siberia and the Arctic, and it is therefore more susceptible to thermal disturbance. Because the plateau is both an ‘initiator’ and a ‘magnifi er’ of global change, it will most likely respond early to climatic changes, and the temperature increase on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau will be larger than the global average. Thus, permafrost in this particular condition willbring great diffi culties to design, construction and maintenance of the railway. Counter-measures to protect the permafrost and cool the subsoil must be taken because of the relatively hightemperature permafrost and the global warming. To monitor the situation, several different engineering tests are conducted based on principles of controlling radiation, conduction and convection. The tests for example concern shading the sun, using insulation material, changing the height of embankments, using heat semi-conductors, increasing ventilation, using thermopiles, using crushed stone embankment etc. So far, the idea of protecting the permafrost and cooling the subsoil has been applied widely to design and construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Meanwhile, research on the following topics are conducted: How does the climate change ? How is permafrost responsible for climate change ? How is permafrost changed during engineering action ? How is permafrost changed with both climate change and engineering action ?

The Sixth Chinese Conference on Glaciology and Geocryology and International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering was held in Lanzhou, 19-22 September 2002. It was sponsored by the Chinese Society of Glaciology and Geocryology, the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering and Ice Core and Cold Regions Environment Laboratory of the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academic Sciences, and co-organized by the Civil Engineering School of Lanzhou Railway University. About 130 representatives from thirty-three universities and research institutes in China, USA, Canada and Germany attended the conference. The symposium had three main topics: Cryosphere and the change of global climate; Engineering in cold regions and the Qinghai-Tibet railway; Basic physical and mechanical properties of ice, snow and permafrost. Post-conference fi eld excursions took place 23-30 September. The fi rst trip went from Lanzhou to Golmud with a stop at Dunhuang city. The second trip went from Golmud to Lhasa city along Qinghai-Tibet roadway, and studied permafrost-related and geotechnical problems in the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Ma Wei (mawei@ns.lzb.ac.cn)


Bo Elberling and co-workers, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen are currently studying the environmental impact resulting from oxidizing sulfi dic mine tailings as well as soil organic degradation in the High Arctic. Presently, the focus is on below-zero reaction kinetics, gas trapping in frozen ground, microbial adaption to low temperatures and the role of winter activity in permafrost regions. The Danish Natural Science Research Council funds the project.

In the Ammassalik area in SE Greenland, a project registering temperatures, snow cover and geomorphic activity was terminated in summer 2002. This project was run by Ole Humlum, The University Courses at Svalbard, since 2000, and investigated the possible occurrence of permafrost. Presumably, near sea level, permafrost is absent but present above c. 400-500 m asl. By this, the Ammassalik area represents a region with high permafrost sensitivity towards climate change.

Below the Copenhagen city centre at the Nørreport station permafrost was established artifi cially by the Comet consortium to excavate a link tunnel between different train stations, connecting the new Copenhagen metro with the other trains. The freezing was done to prevent water from entering during the excavation.

Hanne H. Christiansen, Institute of Geography, University of Oslo, Norway has as a guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Technology, ARTEK, Danish Technical University, carried out a cooperation project with Canadian permafrost scientists on the collection of permafrost thermal data from boreholes in Greenland for inclusion in the global terrestrial network on permafrost (GTN-P) (see also the Canadian report).

The Danish National Adhering Body to the IPA, the Danish Society of Arctic Technology, SAT, organised the symposium ‘Identifi cation of permafrost data from Greenland’ 2 May 2002, to obtain more information on existing permafrost data from Greenland. Twenty-four persons participated, many of whom had worked with permafrost in Greenland themselves as engineers earlier on. Also several students, presently working with permafrost conditions in Greenland, attended the symposium.It was decided to collect old and new data from Greenland for the next Circumpolar Active-layer Permafrost System (CAPS) CD-ROM.

Hanne H. Christiansen (hhc@unis.no)


Since the last French report, a number of new projects related to permafrost have emerged with three main subjects: geomorphological studies, modelling permafrost and periglacial processes and extraterrestrial permafrost studies.

Current geomorphological studies carried out by the GEOLAB team in Clermont-Ferrand by M.-F. André, S. Etienne, D. Mercier and D. Sellier deal mainly with past and present dynamics of periglacial areas. Special attention is paid at Spitsbergen to paraglacial runoff processes reshaping or destroying landforms and deposits generated by frost-related processes, which slowed down since the Little Ice Age. Bioweathering, chemical processes, salt weathering and frost shattering in combination with rock weathering processes is tentatively evaluated in Iceland, Spitsbergen, Antarctica, Scotland and continental Norway, based on high resolution microclimate monitoring, SEM examinations, in vitro experiments and XRD analyses. The Spitsbergen programme is supported by the French Polar Institute and the Antarctic programme by the British Antarctic Survey through a collaboration with Kevin Hall, University of British Columbia, Canada.

A. Decaulne, University B. Pascal, Clermont Ferrand completed a fi eld study on snow avalanches and debris-fl ows in northwestern Iceland. Snow avalanches only impact slopes in a few areas, where avalanches boulder tongues accumulate by mobilizing rock fall material, and cause accumulation of debris cones. On the contrary, debris-fl ows always have a high geomorphologic impact on slopes, by transporting from 500 to 3500 m3 of debris from moraines or from periglacial material located in numerous chutes at the mountain tops.

The last years V. Jomelli, Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, Meudon, observed permafrost (rock glaciers) and periglacial processes (snow avalanches, rock fall, sorted stripes and debris fl ows) in the Andes of Bolivia, Peru, and Equator and in the French Alps, to study the response of these landforms to recent and Little Ice Age climatic change. In the Bolivian Andes measurements on the Caquella rock glacier show symptoms of degradation. Debris fl ow frequency in the Massif des Ecrins, France shows decreasing recurrence time since the 1980s and a shift of the triggering to higher altitudes.

T. Brossard and D Joly, University of French-Comté, continued their studies at the Kongsfjord area at Svalbard on vegetation responses to global change. They focus on a description of the modern distribution of plants and temperature, on a validation of vegetation and temperature models and on studying the potential infl uences of land cover changes on climate change.

The extent of permafrost at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in Hungary were studied by B. Van Vliet Lanoe, University of Lille, in cooperation with the Geology Department of the Ëötvös University in Hungary. Periglacial features can be differentiated from neotectonism and seismic deformation. The study shows that permafrost existed in the main Pannonian basin at the LGM. The relationship between ice cap dynamics, geothermal gradient and permafrost during the Last Glaciation in Northern Iceland was studied in the programme IPEV in collaboration with A. Gudmunsson, Icelandic Geological Survey.

Investigations of fl uvial thermal erosional processes along the Lena River was continued by F. Costard and L. Dupeyrat, Orsay University, in collaboration with E. Gautier, Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, Meudon. Various laboratory simulations within a cold chamber demonstrate the validity of the previous mathematical model for the range of laboratory conditions. A hierarchy of parameters (Reynolds number, water and ground ice temperature) is proposed to explain the present effi ciency of thermal erosion along the Siberian rivers.

Since 1998 the camera of the Mars Global Surveyor space probe has provided thousands of high-resolution images (2-5 m/pixel) showing close-up over striking geomorphic features like recent gullies. These unexpected landforms are interpreted by the camera team as debris fl ows due to subsurface seepage. F. Costard, N. Mangold and J.P. Peulvast, Orsay University, together with F. Forget, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Jussieu proposed that these debris fl ows areproduced by the seasonal thaw of near-surface ground ice like in cold regions on Earth (Costard et al., Science, 2002). This is possible especially in periods of higher obliquity of 40° predicted by astronomers compared to the current 25°. The gullies are distributed poleward of 30° latitude and over poleward-facing slopes preferentially in agreement with a process triggered by obliquity. On the other hand, the surface of Mars is also covered by patterned ground, like polygons and striated soils, at various scales from several tens to hundreds of meters. The fi nal goal is thus the understanding of the climatic evolution and the water cycle of Mars.

Costard, F., Forget, F., Mongold, N. And Peulvast, J.P. 2002. Formation of Recent Martian Debris Flows by Melting of Near-Surface Ground Ice at High Obliquity. Science, 295, 110-113.

François Costard (fcostard@geol.u-psud.fr)


The Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine research (Hans- W. Hubberten) organised expeditions with 15 German and 15 Russian scientists and technicians to the Lena Delta and the New Siberian Islands in the German-Russian project ‘System Laptev Sea’ from June to September 2002 (team leaders: E.-M. Pfeiffer, L. Schirrmeister, V. Rachold and M.N. Grigoriev).

One team focused on modern processes in permafrost. Major emphasis was put on trace gas fl ux measurements and characterising microorganisms in the carbon cycle. Eddycorrelation tower measurements, providing high-resolution data on methane, carbon dioxide and micro-climatic parameters integrated over a larger area, were carried out during the entire active period, including the transition phases spring-summer and summer-autumn. Additional to microbiological and molecular ecological studies of the micro-fl ora actively participating in the carbon turnover, Holocene and Pleistocene permafrost soil sequences were characterised to estimate the effect of climate change on permafrost landscapes. A second team concentrated on the reconstruction of periglacial processes and landscape development during the late Quaternary in the surroundings of Tiksi, emphasising snow patch processes in the marginal zone of the Kharaulakh mountains and their foreland. A third team studied the coastal dynamics of the New Siberian Islands. Apart from geodetic measurements comparing the actual coastline with older aerial photographs, shoreface profi les were measured down to the 10-m isobaths and sediment samples were taken. Of special interest were frozen terrestrial and marine deposits that probably date back to 400-500 ka BP, as well as the large sand areas of ‘Bunge-Land’. Another topic was related to the IPA-IASC project ACD (Arctic Coastal Dynamics, V. Rachold, see the Coastal and Offshore Permafrost report). Another expedition carried out geomorphological, palaeopedological and geocryological studies in the Verkhoyan Mountains and their piedmont plain (Central Yakutia), team leaders: B. Diekmann and I. Belolyubsky.

The Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Hannover, G. Delisle, and the Centre d’Études Nordiques, Université Laval, Ste- Foy, Québec, M. Allard, continue their monitoring programme of the temperature and pressure fi eld within a palsa east of Umiujaq, eastern shore of Hudson Bay, in Northern Quebec. The data analysis reveal episodic cracking of the permafrost at its base, injection of limited quantities of ground water, followed by refreezing. For the last 24 months slow, but steady warming at rates between 0.03K to 0.05K per year have been recorded within the palsa.

At the Department of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, University of Kaiserslautern, H. Meissner continues research on ‘Behaviour of frozen soils’ to describe a viscous potential for frozen soils depending on variables such as case history, tension level, temperature, water content, pore numbers etc. Experiments are carried out with cubic samples in a ‘True Tri-axial Apparatus’.

At the Department of Geography, University of Bonn, R. Dikau continues the programme ‘Landform – a structured and variable boundary layer’. Research is carried out in the periglacial belt of high mountain geosystems in the Turtmanntal, Valais, Switzerland. Several PhD-theses concentrate on geomorphometric analysis of landforms on different spatial scales (Rasemann), the structure and activity of talus cones (Schreiner), permafrost distribution and sediment budgets (Nyenhuis) and on kinematicsof periglacial features (Roer). In addition to geophysical measurements and observations of ground temperatures the monitoring programme was extended by the installation of a weather station and an automatic camera. Recent developments in airborne data acquisition (High Resolution Stereo Camera) lead to the creation of digital terrain models with a resolution of one meter. This facilitates the analysis of fi ne scale periglacial objects on meso and micro spatial scales.

In the framework of PACE21, permafrost temperature monitoring in the 100 m borehole at Stockhorn plateau is continued by the Institute for Geography, Giessen University by L. King. A meteorological station was installed in June 2002 in co-operation with the Physical Geography Department of the Zurich University, M. Hoelzle. Shallow ground temperature measurement sites were established in the Gornergrat area to monitor the infl uence of substrate character on the ground thermal regime (S. Philippi). First data of the 30-m deep Ritigraben borehole, Grächen- Seetalhorn area, confi rm the existence of more than 30-m deep permafrost. As the subsurface consists of unconsolidated sediments, advective processes play a signifi cant role in the ground thermal regime. Several sensors monitoring rock and air temperatures in the block cover were installed by T. Herz.

At the Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg, A. Schulte analysed alluvial fans formed by slush torrents in northwestern Spitsbergen. Two of these fans, Kvikkåa and Beinbekken, were formed exclusively by the sediment of slush torrents and can therefore be studied as monogenetic geo-archives. A maximum accumulation of 1.5 to 2 m of sediment is assumed to have built up in approximately 11000 years. The low overall sedimentation rates confi rm the large recurrence intervals for slush torrents in Spitsbergen. The Institute of Physical Geography, Freiburg University, H. Gossmann and S. Vogt, continues to host the SCAR Working Group on Geography and Geographic Information project King George Island GIS (KGIS). The KGIS project provides a spatial database for King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, with a focus on high-resolution data sets for the periglacial areas of the island.

Permafrost distribution and thermal conditions in the German Alps and in non-alpine Central Europe are investigated by M. Gude, University of Jena. Studies on alpine permafrost at the Zugspitze were started within the PACE project, and continue with the analysis of distribution, thermal conditions and geo-technical implications. Non-alpine permafrost conditions are investigated in numerous highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France, based on an interdisciplinary research programme covering biology, geophysics, geomorphology, and micrometeorology.

At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, C. Hauck has initiated geophysical and meteorological monitoring to study energy exchange processes between atmosphere and frozen ground.

In 2001 the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, J. Völkel, fi nished the project ‘Changes of the Geo-Biosphere during the last 15.000 years – Continental Sediments as Geo-archives’, focused on periglacial processes forming widespread slope sediments during the Younger Dryas. In the study areas of the Harz, Rhön, Fichtelgebirge and Bayerischer Wald, geomorphodynamic activity on the slopes reported in the literature could not be proved for the Younger Dryas. Another project discusses the means and the dating of the late glacial deglaciation at high altitudes of the Interior Plateaus of British Columbia, Canada.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Stuttgart, S. Sander continues the investigations on geomorphic processes in Nordenskiöldland at Svalbard to verify the potential link between climatic change and geomorphic features such as mass movement, debris fl ows and thermal erosion. C. Kneisel at the Department of Physical Geography, University of Trier is maintaining the monitoring of ground temperatures at a site with sporadic permafrost below the timberline in the Upper Engadine, eastern Swiss Alps, to investigate the interaction of the permafrost with the environment.

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


Italian permafrost and periglacial research continues in both in the Alps and in the Southern Hemisphere. A new project entitled ‘Permafrost and Global Change in Antarctica II (PGCAII)’ was recently funded by the Italian National Antarctic Research Programme for two years. The main goals in PGCAII are to study the impacts of Global Change in Antarctica, and to reconstruct the palaeoclimatic evolution of Victoria Land through permafrost analysis.

The Global Change studies will include active-layer monitoring and analysis of the relationships between climate, vegetation cover and active layer, along a transect from the Antarctica Peninsula to South America and in Victoria Land in Antarctica. Relevant sites for the transect will be identifi ed such as Signy at Orchards Islands, Jubany at South Shetland Islands, and Edmonson Point, this last site is also included in the SCAR-RiSCC project. Palaeoclimatic reconstructions will be achieved through the analysis of ground thermal profi les, to study the relationships among climate, vegetation cover and active layer, and the cryostratigraphy of ground ice. Also new methods, such as phylogenetic analysis of bacteria and the study of weathering processes of cryotic rocks, will be used reaching a potential time period of 10 million years.

The existing cooperation with the Instituto Antartico Argentino (L. Jorge Strelin, Cadic) continues with a new international agreement between Insubria University and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). As part of this agreement a new long-term, active-layer monitoring site will be installed in the climatically very sensitive area of Signy Island. Next year Cynan Ellis Evans (BAS), Andrew Hodgson (University of Sheffi eld), Nicoletta Cannone (University of Ferrara) and Mauro Guglielmin (University of Insubria) will carry out a SCAR-RiSCC campaign to set up the permafrost monitoring site and a new CALM grid at Signy Island.

At the SCAR-RiSCC meeting in Hobart, Australia, Mauro Guglielmin proposed a specifi c protocol for monitoring permafrost thermal regimes and active-layer thickness through the Southern Hemisphere Working Group of the IPA.

In the framework of the LTER project cooperation between M. Guglielmin and M. Balks, Waikato University, New Zealand, will be formalised to start joint research next year. In a new project funded by the Italian Mountain Research Institute three new 18-m deep boreholes were drilled in the Foscagno Rock Glacier in the Italian Alps. The boreholes will be instrumented to monitor ground thermal regime. The cores from these boreholes showed different types of ice that, hopefully, will allow reconstruction of the palaeoclimatic history of this rock glacier. New geophysical investigations (electric tomography and radar investigations), experiments with markers and automatic monitoring of spring water fl ow at the foot of the rock glacier ramp, should allow reconstruction of the hydrogeology of this alpine permafrost acquifer.

A doctoral thesis on the analysis of the ancient periglacial features such as block streams and block fi elds in the Ligurian Alps was started at the University of Genova. The Italian Association of Physical Geography and Geomorphology sponsored two Working Groups, one on the study of ancient periglacial features and one on the study of permafrost and active periglacial processess. In November 2001 a workshop on the ‘Relationships between permafrost degradation and slope instability’ was held in Milano organised by ARPA Lombardia. F. Dramis (dramis@uniroma3.it)

M. Guglielmin (cannone.guglielmin@virgilio.it)


The Mountain Permafrost Research Group of the Association of Japanese Geographers completed a four-year research project.

The research areas covered were: Japanese mountains including Hokkaido (M. Ishikawa, Y. Sawada, T. Sone, H. Matsumoto, N. Takahashi, K. Hirakawa and Y. Ono) and Japanese Alps (K. Fukui, M. Aoyama, A. Ikeda, S. Iwata and N. Matsuoka); other Asian mountains including Kamchatka (T. Sone and K. Yamagata) and Himalaya (T. Watanabe, M. Ishikawa, S. Iwata and C. Narama); Swiss Alps (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, K. Hirakawa and T. Watanabe); and Antarctica (T. Sone, J. Mori, K. Fukui and H. Miura). The research topics focused on internal structure of rock glaciers, block slopes, frost mounds and other terrain underlain by permafrost, modelling of local andregional permafrost distribution, climatic and rock controls on rock glacier dynamics, various weathering and slope processes associated with permafrost or seasonal frost and recognition of permafrost indicators and reconstruction of palaeo-periglacial environments. The activities also involved annual meetings in Tokyo and fi eld excursions in Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps. In addition, a co-sponsoring symposium ‘Glaciation and periglaciation of Asian high mountains’ took place during the 5th International Conference on Geomorphology in Tokyo 2001. A special issue Mountain glaciation and mountain permafrost in Asia was published in the Journal of Geography, Vol. 111, August 2002, Tokyo Geographical Society, in association with the Study Group on Quaternary Glaciation in Japan. Seven papers (in Japanese) from this issue highlighted mountain permafrost. Papers in English will soon be available in another special issue to be published at the end of 2002 in Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, which contains papers from the 5th ICG symposia: six papers concern the research group activities. The outcomes from the research group also involved a doctoral thesis by M. Ishikawa, December 2001, Hokkaido University, entitled ‘Distribution of mountain permafrost in the Daisetsu Mountains, Hokkaido, Northern Japan’. Several other doctoral theses will be completed in the coming years.

The ice-fire experiment group (M. Fukuda) conducts post-boreal forest fi re research in Eastern Siberia along the Lena River. The research focused on the thermal impact to the permafrost after forest fi re as well as the effect on greenhouse gases such as methane.

The Yukon River Watershed Water and Energy Exchange group (N. Ishikawa) completed year two of a three-year research project in Alaska. Y. Kodama and Y. Ishii, Hokkaido University, measured CO2 fl ux and runoff discharge from a permafrost-dominated watershed at Caribou- Poker Creeks Research Watershed north of Fairbanks. They also joined fi eld research on open-system pingo drilling by K. Yoshikawa, University of Alaska in the same watershed. Pingo ice was observed 7.5 m below a surface layer of retransported silt deposits. Massive ice extended to bedrock, 23.5 m deep. A one-inch PVC casing was installed in one of the boreholes to measure temperature. T. Sato of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention and T. Ozeki, Hokkaido University, studied the impact of snow on permafrost also at Caribou-Poker Creeks Research Watershed. Sato maintains a meteorological tower and extensive snow surveys at this site.

Norikazu Matsuoka (matsuoka@atm.geo.tsukuba.ac.jp) Kenji Yoshikawa (ffky@uaf.edu)


The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory continued monitoring of the thermal regime of permafrost, active layer (CALM programme), seasonally frozen ground and dynamics of rock glaciers in the Northern Tien Shan.

During summer 2002 the geodetic observation net registrering the rate of movement of Gorodetsky rock glacier was extended. N. Palgov started the geodetic net in 1923. Over a 79-year period, mean displacement of the central part of the frontal lobe of the rock glacier was 72 m or 0,91 m/yr. Some parts of the rock glacier reached a maximum surface movement velocity of 2.0-2.2 m/yr during the few last years.

Investigations of anthropogenic landscape modifi cation and associated natural processes in permafrost areas were continued. An example is the construction of a road from Almaty to the south shore of Issyk Kul Lake triggering natural processes. The 100-kilometer road crosses two mountain ranges, the Transili Alatau and the Kungei Alatau, and rises to the continuous permafrost belt at an elevation of 3800 m asl. At one location the road cut the front of a rock glacier initiating slope processes. As a result, material from the rock glacier fell on the road in the first year after construction.

Geomorphologic studies were carried out in the Talgar, Asy and Turgen valleys, Northern Tien Shan, together with German scientists led by T. Bolch, Department of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. The studies focussed on mapping the distribution of cryogenic landforms and mudfl ow deposits, relief evolution and comparison of periglacial environments of different valleys depending on microclimatic, and topographic factors.

Collection of spatial data on the distribution of mountain permafrost in the Northern Tien Shan continued. The lower permafrost boundary on south-facing slopes in the Transili Alatau Range, 43° N, was found at 3250 m asl in coarse blocky materials.

At the international permafrost workshop in Mongolia, September 2001, an international team (China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan) decided to prepare a permafrost map of Central Asia. Therefore a meeting was held 2-7 April at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAREERI, Lanzhou, China on the compilation of the Central Asian Map of Permafrost and Ground Ice Conditions. The participants of the meeting, Guo Dongxin, Li Shuxun, Li Shude, Tong Boliang, Zhao Lin, Nan Zuotong and Sergei Marchenko, discussed the regionalisation and classifi cation of permafrost areas in Central Asia, mountain and high plateau permafrost distribution, permafrost temperatures, ice content and the distribution of periglacial phenomena. At the meeting the existing mountain permafrost mapping were reviewed. Partial fi nancial support for the meeting in China were provided by grants from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, USA, and from CAREERI, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou.

Aldar Gorbunov and Sergei Marchenko (permafrost@astel.kz)


In the Global Environmental Facility project ´Dynamics of biodiversity loss and permafrost melt in Lake Hövsgöl National Park`, led by Clyde Goulden, USA, Bernd Etzelmüller, University of Oslo, Norway and Vlad Romanovski, University of Fairbanks, USA, conducted geophysical (electric) and thermal measurements in seven 4- 10 m deep shallow boreholes to monitor and map the permafrost.

To study the dynamics of pingo, thermokarst, solifl uction and icing, it is planned to drill additional several shallow boreholes (see also separate report on this project). N. Sharkhuu each year expands the permafrost monitoring. This year he drilled three 15-m deep boreholes in Terkh, Chuluut and Sharga valleys in the Khangai mountains. The boreholes were located where former deep boreholes were drilled and investigated by him in 1969. He installed temperature data loggers in the soil surface and in the 1.3-m deep CALM borehole at 2950m asl.

N. Sharkhuu collaborated with M. Ishikawa and Y. Zhang taking part in fi eld surveys in the Joint Japanese and Mongolian FRONTIER project, headed by T. Ohata and T. Kadota. As part of this project, in the Nalaikh depression near Ulaanbaatar, automatic weather stations were operated at the same sites as the permafrost thermal monitoring 30 m deep borehole. In addition numerous temperature and water moisture data loggers were installed.

Jambaljav and coworkers conducted short-term visual fi eld observations of changes in some permafrost phenomenon in the Darkhad depression, Hövsgöl mountain region, to compare with old photographs and other materials.

N. Sharkhuu (n_sharkhuu@yahoo.com)


The Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, mapped the lower limit of the permafrost at Sølen. In the eastern part of southern Norway, the limit is as low as about 1100 m asl. in east and north-facing slopes (H. Juliussen, E. S. F. Heggem and B. Etzelmüller). In Dovrefjell and at Jotunheimen at the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole areas, in central southern Norway, collection of data from 13 boreholes continued (K. Isaksen, T. Eiken, R. Ødegård and J. L. Sollid). The drilling operations on Dovrefjell were fi nanced by Forsvarsbygg (O.-E. Martinsen) and the Norwegian Geological Suvrey (B. Follestad).

On Svalbard data from the Janssonhaugen PACE borehole site were collected (K. Isaksen, O. Humlum and J. L. Sollid). In the Møre and Romsdal area of western Norway, and in the Troms and Finnmark areas of northern Norway, ground temperature monitoring were established at selected sites to map the lower limit of the permafrost, and study its infl uence on rock falls (K. Isaksen, L. Blikra and J. L. Sollid).

In Kongsfjorden on Spitsbergen, four coastal erosion monitoring sites were established as part of the IASC ACD (Arctic Coastal Dynamics) project (B. Wangensteen, T. Eiken, R. Ødegård and J. L. Sollid). The Department, in co-operation with the Department of Geography, University of Zurich, carried out three weeks of fi eld work mapping the permafrost distribution in northern Mongolia, Hövsgöl region, collaborating with the IPA (J. Brown), the Long-term biodiversity and ecological monitoring in northern Mongolia project (C. Goulden) and the Mongolian Academy of Science (N. Sharkuu). The field work was founded by the Global Environmental Facility.

The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) runs a programme on how permafrost responds to industrial activity and terrestrial pollution. Micro- biological studies in the fi eld and laboratory are combined with thermal fi eld experiments and numerical studies to develop methods and knowledge leading industrial activity in Arctic to sustainable development. An automatic measuring system for microbiological activity in permafrost gives information about changes in bio-production in soil due to pollution and it will also be used for terrestrial monitoring of oil contamination. The project will provide advice and methods for cleaning terrestrial pollution in permafrost, reducing oil pollution and predicting possible consequences of different levels of oil pollution. The project also focuses on geotechnical design for thermal loads. In recent years NGI has adjusted the calculation of frost depth methodology to new numerical tools. With fi eld tests, measurements and with numerical models, the project studies thermal effects of contaminated and not-contaminated soil. A frost susceptibility cell is presently being designed at the NGI laboratory to quantitatively measure frost susceptibility of soil, contaminated and not contaminated. 

Based at the University Courses on Svalbard, UNIS, in Longyearbyen at 78ºN, investigations on a range of geomorphic activities, initiated in 1999, have been continued throughout 2002 as described also on the UNIS webpage. Investigations on ice-wedge dynamics, loess formation and snow cover control on ground temperatures were initiated in 2002 by Hanne H. Christiansen, Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, using automatic digital cameras and miniature dataloggers. S. Korsgaard, UNIS/Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, fi nished a master thesis investigating the evolution of an ice-cored rock glacier, the local meteorological environment and the associated Holocene oxygen isotope stratigraphy in spring 2002.

A research project on cold-climatic bedrock weathering, initiated in 2001, was carried out by Angelique Prick (UNIS/EU). This project, which involves daily monitoring, will continue until summer 2003. Ole Humlum, UNIS has continued measurements of precipitation and temperature at different sites in the landscape, using miniature dataloggers. Two standard meteorological stations measuring air temperature, air humidity and wind speed are operated to obtain information on the effect of altitude and the distance to the sea. One of these stations is located at the PACE borehole on Janssonhaugen. A precipitation-sampling scheme was continued in 2002 by Ole Humlum. This project relates the oxygen isotope signal to air temperature and providing background for interpreting the oxygen isotope content in ice sampled from rock glaciers, ice wedges and glaciers in the Svalbard region. J. Jeppesen, UNIS/Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, fi nished a master thesis on Svalbard ice-wedges and their isotope variations in spring 2002. Hanne H. Christiansen and Ole Humlum operates two CALM sites near Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund, representing dry and humid climatic settings, both equipped with data loggers measuring active-layer temperatures. Web: UNIS: http://www.unis.no Physical Geography, University of Oslo: http://www.geografi .uio.no

Kaare Flaate (kfl aate@online.no)


For many years Polish scientists have been conducting interdisciplinary research on geosystems in Arctic and Antarctica.

Poland operates two polar stations open all year, the Polish Polar Station, Hornsund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard Archipelago and the Polish Antarctic Station H. Arctowski, King George Island, South Shetlands, West Antarctica. In winter 2001/2002 the Kaffi oyra station, Spitsbergen, of the Nicholas Copernicus University, Torun, was also open. Research also takes place in few other bases on the west coast of Spitsbergen only open during the polar summer.

During the year 2002 research expeditions to Spitsbergen were undertaken by the Maria Curie Sklodowska University, Lublin, the Nicholas Copernicus University, Torun, the University of Silesia, Sosnowiec and the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan. The research focused on continuing programmes begun within the last years on the operation of periglacial geoecosystems under the infl uence of climate and human impacts. Research results were published in the volume of Polish Polar Studies entitled ´The operating and monitoring of geoecosystems of polar areas´ issued at the XXVIII International Polar Symposium, in Poznan in March 2002. In the same volume the basic rules of the international CALM programme, in which Poland takes part (Site P1) at Calypsostranda, Spitsbergen, were presented. The new multi- disciplinary programme of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences was presented to the participants of the XXV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, in Warsaw, September 2002. This programme called ‘Arctic and Antarctic research programme of Poland’ is planned to be realised in 2002-2010. Research concerning permafrost, active layer and periglacial processes are included in this programme.

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


During the past year research was conducted in all branches of modern permafrost science and engineering.


In the context of global change the Institute of the Earth Cryosphere, SB RAS, performed mathematical analysis of geothermal measurements in the upper horizons of permafrost for the entire Russian territory (A.V. Pavlov). The trend of the Arctic permafrost development was established by V.N. Konishchev`s method for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and the different time intervals were estimated for the soils of the Kola Peninsula, Bolshezemelskaya tundra and the Lower Amur watershed (Moscow State University, Department of Geography). The lithosphere’s temperatures were generalised to a depth of 3000 m for the main geological structures of the southeastern part of the Siberian Platform. The infl uence of the deep heat fl ux on the permafrost thickness and as applied to the different geomorphologic elements was estimated (V.T. Balobaev, M.N. Gelezniak, Permafrost Institute SB RAS).

Long-term theoretical and experimental research devoted to the physics of cryogenic processes in the soils and their mathematical description were completed (J.B. Gorelik, V.S. Kolunin, Institute of the Earth Cryosphere SB RAS).

Under the leadership of E.D. Ershov and I.A. Komarov (Moscow State University, Department of Geology) a comparative analysis was performed on the surface polygonal relief of Earth and Mars. This work included the laboratory testing of the thermal and mechanical properties of the frozen soils at temperatures as low as -125oC.

Studies on the dynamics of geocryological conditions under the impact of human activities continued at several institutions. At the Research Institute of Bases and Underground Structures new approaches were offered for the causes of topographic relief. Among other measures groundice barriers are considered to regulate runoff and groundwater fl ows. Year-round thermo-electric cooling devices were designed and tested under industrial conditions (Fundamentproject). Thermal and seismic-acoustic properties of socalled ´oil-ground´ were studied (E.D. Ershov, Y.D. Zikov, Moscow State University, Department of Geology).

The investigation of the interaction between ocean and coastal permafrost continued by the German-Russian group of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (Potsdam), the Permafrost Institute (Yakutsk) and Moscow State University (Division of Geocryology). Based on the observational data, the balance of mineral and organic sediments for the Laptev and Eastern Siberian seas were evaluated as was the impact of the coastal cryogenic processes on the carbon system of the Eastern Siberian Sea. Some regularities were established in relation to thermokarst dynamics on the Laptev Sea shelf and coastline during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene (H. Hubberten, N. Romanovskii et al.).

The Production and Research Institute for Engineering Construction Survey, Moscow State University, and the Fundamentproject conducted widespread engineeringgeocryo-logical and eco logical investigations in the territories of the oil and gas fi elds and along roadways and pipelines. As a result, the series of engineeringgeocryological maps were developed and the geocryological prognoses prepared taking into account technogenic impact and climate changes.

The first issue of ‘Basic sources of information in the area of engineeringgeocryology, glaciology and ice-techniques’ was prepared. This project consists of a compilation of more than 1600 sources: monographs, textbooks, articles, maps, dissertations and standardnormative documents. An electronic version is under development.

Publication of the journal ´Earth Cryosphere´ continued in Russian as the main source for current publication of Russian permafrost research. The first issue in English is in preparation. The International Conference on Extreme Cryosphere Phenomena: Theoretical and Applied Aspects was held in Pushchino, 13-15 May, 2002. A total of 137 reports were submitted by researchers from Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and several other countries with 160 scientists and engineers present. Reports were presented and discussed in the following sessions: geocryological mapping and forecasting (co-chairs: V. Baulin, D. Drozdov, E. Melnikov), coastal dynamics of Arctic Seas (co-chairs: F. Are, A. Vasil’ev, V. Rachold, N. Romanovsky), cryogenic physical-geological processes and phenomena (co-chairs: V. Konishchev, V. Solomatin), natural and technogenic hazards in the cryolithozone (co-chairs: M. Minkin, L. Khrustalev), response of the ryolithozone to climate changes and anthropogenic impact (co-chairs: A. Pavlov, V. Romanovsky) and physics and mechanics of extreme phenomena in the cryolithozone (cochairs: S. Grechishchev, V. Romanovsky). Roundtable discussions were held to review the current activities under the international monitoring programmes CALM and GTN-P. The number of the attendees and presentations set a new level of participation with an increased involvement of the young researchers.

The Fifth International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering was held in Yakutsk, 2-5 September. It was sponsored by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Fund of Basic Research, the Government of Sakha Republic, the companies ‘Yakutia Railroads’ and ‘Geotechnology’. Participants from China, Japan, Norway, Russia and United States presented 87 papers that were discussed in the following sessions: physics and mechanics of the frozen ground, problems of building and maintaining construction in the cryolithozone, geocryological aspects of mining, road construction. Following the symposium a fi ve-day excursion took place to observe local features of mining operations, building and maintenance of the roads, and other engineering structures under permafrost conditions. During the meetings it frequently was emphasized that permafrost engineering must be consistent with the priorities of geocryology, as well as the activities of the IPA.

The following monographs were published during the past year (all in Russian):

Dubikov G.I. 2002. Composition and cryogenic structures of permafrost in Western Siberia. Moscow, GEOS, 246 p.

Gorelik J.B. and Kolunin V.S. 2002. Physics and modeling of cryogenic processes in lithosphere. SB RAS, GEOS, 262 p.

Kuzmin G.P. 2002. Underground constructions in the cryolithozone. Novosibirsk, Nauka, 176 p.

Shepelev V.V., Boytsov A.V. and Oberman N.G. 2002. Monitoring groundwater of the cryolithozone. Permafrost Institute, SB RAS, Yakutsk, 172 p.

Makarov V.N. 2002. Lead in the biosphere of Yakutiya. Permafrost Institute, SB RAS, Yakutsk, 114 p.

Melnikov, E.S and Grechishchev, S.E. (eds.) 2002. Permafrost and oil & gas development. Moscow GEOS. (Available from Russian Scientifi c Council of Earth Cryology, 200 rubles).

Roman L.T. 2002. Frozen soils mechanics. Moscow, Nauka/Interperiodika, 426.

V. Melnikov (melnikov@ikz.ru)


In 2002 the Spanish IPA Group in collaboration with University of Valladolid published the book ‘Mountain and High-Altitude Periglaciation’ in Spanish, containing papers presented at the Group’s last workshop in Potes, 27-29 June, 2001, (see Spanish report in Frozen Ground 25).

The next workshop is scheduled for 25-27 June, 2003 in San Ildefonso-La Granja, a small, historical town, associated with the Spanish royalty and located 90 km from Madrid, in the mountains with Peñalara at 2429 m asl. as the highest peak. Javier Pedraza (javierp@geo.ucm.es), from University of Complutense Madrid is organizing the workshop, which will focus on the relationship between periglacial features and other processes. The workshop is open to the international community, see Spanish IPA-Group webpage.

In the Pyrenees University of Barcelona coordinated the RISKNAT project on periglacial processes and their effect on rock fall hazards in the central Pyrenees (Val de Nuria and Andorra). Researchers from the Universities of Zaragoza and Huesca are experimenting with geoelectric soundings for permafrost prospecting in Sierra Telera, and also operates temperature monitoring for studies on temporal soil freezing in Sierra de Guara. Researchers from University of Valladolid, together with teams from other Spanish and Swiss universities, are studying permafrost distribution in the central Pyrenees (Postes) and continue to monitor the fl ow of several rock glaciers (Argualas Peak Area).

In the Cantabrica Range researchers from the University of Leon are analyzing the relationship between inactive rock glaciers in the mountains of Catoute and Gistredo and rock fracture networks, using present ground temperatures to extrapolate the effective climatic conditions during the formation of these rock glaciers. University of Valladolid recently launched an initiative to investigate how glacial and periglacial landforms in the Picos de Europea were effected by the Little Ice Age cooling.

In the Northwest Region projects of the University of Santiago focus on the northeast region of Spain and have produced interesting results on the location of glacial, periglacial and nival landforms at very low altitudes and even in coastal areas.

In the Central mountain range ground temperature conditions and ground mobility are compared to snow cover duration in a study conducted by University of Complutense, Madrid. In southern Spain, at the Sierra Nevada Mountains teams from the Universities of Barcelona, Complutense and Alcala de Henares continue monitoring temperature changes and movement of the southernmost rock glacier in Europe at Veleta Peak. Monitoring of ground temperature in the 114-m deep PACE borehole continues, after reparation of the data logger.

Outside Spain members of the Spanish IPA Group are involved in international projects such as the Antarctic effort of the University of Alcala de Henares on Livingston Island (South Shetland), where data on ground temperatures in areas of discontinuous permafrost (max. 2.4-m deep) at 25-m altitude and continuous permafrost (max. 1.1-m deep) at 275 m altitude are recorded and related to local periglacial processes. University of Complutense is working on a comparative study of permafrost distribution in the active Popocatepetl and inactive Ixtacihualt volcanoes in Mexico, where ground temperature monitoring down to 1.8 m at altitudes between 4000-4950 m is carried out. Finally, teams from the Institute Xeologico de Laxe are using cosmogenic dating on periglacial landform in several massifs in Galicia (Spain) and Andringitra (Madagascar).

Serrano, E. and García de Celis, A. (eds.) 2002. Periglaciarismo en montaña y Altas latitudes. Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain, 296 pp.

Web: Spanish IPA Group: www.ucm.es/info/IPAesp RISKNAT project: www.ub.es/xarxariscosna

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


The Swedish Academy of Sciences now acts as the Swedish Adhering Body to the IPA. The Abisko Research Station director Terry Callaghan, who is a board member of the Academy, is the formal link with the Academy. The permafrost group of the Swedish Geomorphological Research Group elects the Swedish representative to the IPA at its annual meeting. H. Jonas Åkerman, Lund University, is the Swedish representative to the IPA Council.

At the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Lund University, Torben Christensen has since April 2000 coordinated ecosystem-atmosphere carbon fl ux measurements at Stordalen, in northern Sweden (68°20’ N, 19°02’ E), where mixed mire is underlain by discontinuous permafrost. Both advanced eddy correlation and automated chamber systems measuring CO2, H2O, CH4 were installed in collaboration with Terry Callaghan, Abisko Scientifi c Research Station, Thomas Friborg, Institute of Geography, Copenhagen University, Bo Svensson, Linköping University and Patrick Crill, University of New Hampshire, as part of the EU funded CONGAS project, now an integrated part of the EU-funded CARBOMONT project, also funded by national Swedish sources. Also carbon translocation and turnover experiments using 14C labelling and soil chemistry analyses including detailed studies of organic acids are carried out. Soil and air temperature, radiation, precipitation, water table position, soil moisture content and active layer thickness are all systematically monitored. A CALM grid will be established in 2003 by Torbjörn Johansson, in cooperation with the continuation of the long-term, active-layer monitoring conducted by Jonas Åkerman in the same region. In cooperation with The Abisko Research station J. Åkerman maintains the 80 km east-west Abisko/Torneträsk area active-layer transect, with eleven active layer sites monitored since 1978. Annual data is included in the CALM database. J.O. Mattsson continues the editing responsibilities of Geografi ska Annaler.

At the Kapp Linne area at Svalbard activelayer monitoring was started in 1972, and now continues in co-operation with Ole Humlum, The University Courses at Svalbard. J. Åkerman maintains a limited monitoring programme of active periglacial processes and their climatic signifi cance in the area, including vegetation mapping and digital elevation model analyses of the vertical and horizontal distribution of vegetation and geomorphological forms and processes.

Else Kolstrup, Jan Boelhouwers, Phil Wookey and Göran Possnert at the Department of Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Uppsala University continue their research on boundary constraints of geomorphological forms and processes in past and present periglacial environments in Swedish Lapland, Finnish Lapland, the Subantartic Islands and in Iceland.

At the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Karlstad, R. Nyberg maintains projects in the Abisko area on the dynamics of the Kårsa glacier, permafrost and slope processes in the Pallenvagge and Nissunvagge valleys, and on the assessment of the importance of extreme erosional events as geomorphological hazards and as climatic indicators.

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


The local organising committee is busy with the preparation of the 8th International Conference on Permafrost to be held in 2003 in Zurich. We are looking forward to welcome the permafrost community next July in Switzerland.

The ‘Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland’, PERMOS, continued its activities within the pilot phase 2001-2003. The fi rst annual report was published. Two working groups, one for the 12 boreholes and one for the 10 BTS areas, were established to coordinate and standardise data sets. A second report is being edited and data will be published according to suggestions of the working groups.

In 2002 three permafrost-related Ph.D. theses were fi nished: Catherine Stocker-Mittaz, University of Zurich ‘Permafrost distribution modelling based on energy-balance data’, Martin Musil, ETH Zurich, ‘Inverting seismic and georadar data with applications to the Muragl rock glacier’ and Lukas Arenson, ETH Zurich ‘Unstable Alpine permafrost: A potentially important natural hazard. Variations of geotechnical behaviour with time and temperature’.

At the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research Marcia Phillips is investigating low-lying permafrost sites located below the limit of alpine permafrost, in collaboration with several other research institutes. The sites are scree slopes at the base of high cliffs and are characterised by having exceptionally cold ground temperatures. Trees growing on these slopes are highly stunted. Soil and tree-ring analyses and ground temperature measurements are carried out to investigate the reasons for the reduced growth of the trees. The stability of avalanche defence structures on steep slopes in alpine permafrost terrain continues to be monitored. The structures at three experimental sites are creeping downslope at rates exceeding those approved by the Swiss Federal Guidelines and various types of foundations are increasingly being put to the test. Two, 20-m deep boreholes were drilled in the avalanche slope at Flüelapass, behind lake Schotten, in the project ‘Snow cover and permafrost’ by Martina Lütschg and Veronika Stöckli, aiming at a numerical study of the interaction processes between snow cover and permafrost.

New projects of the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group at the Geography Department, University of Zurich focus on energy fl ux processes in the active layer (Susanne Hanson, Martin Hoelzle), quantitative remote sensing for spatial permafrost modelling (Stephan Gruber, Daniel Schläpfer) and parameterization of rock-wall temperatures (Stephan Gruber, Wilfried Haeberli). Five, 5-m deep boreholes at sites with different surface characteristics were drilled in the Murtèl-Corvatsch area. The use of hyperspectral remote sensing in high-mountain permafrost has been pioneered by a successful fl ight of DAIS7915 in the Murtèl-Corvatsch test area. A set of 22 miniature temperature dataloggers has been installed in near-vertical rock faces of different aspect between 2000 and 4500 m asl.

In collaboration with the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, Germany (Christian Hauck), the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group at the Geography Department, University of Zurich (Lars Schudel, Martin Hoelzle) continues permafrost monitoring on Schilthorn with combined geophysical and meteorological measurements. This work started during the PACE project and aims to quantify the energy exchange processes between the atmosphere and the shallow subsurface related to ground freezing and thawing. Permanently installed electrodes for electrical resistivity monitoring (determining the unfrozen water content), an energy balance station and instrumented PACE boreholes for temperature measurements are used. In addition, the data serve as input and validation variables for 1-dimensional modelling of energy and water fl uxes in frozen soil.

The investigations on the two rock glaciers Muragl and Murtèl-Corvatsch within the ETHMini- Poly project (Sarah Springman, Hansruedi Maurer, Daniel Vonder Mühll, Lukas Arenson, Martin Musil) were completed except for ongoing temperature monitoring within fi ve boreholes and borehole deformation measurements at the second location. The geophysical cross-hole georadar experiments at Muragl showed very good consistency with the internal structure from the drillings and it was possible to estimate the location of the shear zone. The laboratory investigations, triaxial creep and shear tests on permafrost samples, revealed new information concerning the behaviour of ice-rich frozen soil with high volumetric air content under various loading conditions. Together with the fi eld observations, these results were used to develop general statements about the stability of rock glaciers. In addition, thermal anomalies have been measured within both rock glaciers, revealing air and water circulation at the base but also through open channels within the permafrost, which may result in accelerated permafrost degradation.

The Institutes of Geography of the Universities of Lausanne (Christophe Lambiel, Emmanuel Reynard) and Fribourg (Reynald Delaloye, Alain Turatti, Sébastien Métrailler) continue their collaboration mainly in the Valais Alps. Frozen scree slopes at very different altitudinal ranges are the subject of thermal and geoelectrical measurements. Glacier forefi elds are investigated to understand the glacierpermafrost relationships in the Verbier area. In the Réchy/Lona region, electrical soundings and BTS measurements in two small glacier forefi elds carried out in 1990 are compared with modern data in collaboration with the University Institute Kurt Bösch at Sion (R. Lugon). Rock glaciers movement have been measured with a differential GPS. First results show velocities up to 125 cm/year in a rock glacier with low resistivity ice, whereas an adjacent rock glacier containing high resistivity ice only moved 30 cm/year.

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

United Kingdom

A new research programme on ‘Bedrock fracture by ice segregation’, funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, has commenced in the cold laboratories at the CNRS Centre de Géomorphologie, Caen, France.

Four sets of experiments, each running for a year, will monitor the effects of different thermal regimes, moisture conditions and material properties on rock fracture, ice segregation and frost heave in large blocks of limestone and sandstone. Experimentally-formed fractures and segregated ice will be compared with predictions from two theoretical models of rock fracture and frost heave, and the observed rock fractures compared with contemporary and relict weathering profi les. The research is led by Julian Murton (University of Sussex) and Jean-Claude Ozouf (CRNS Caen), in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Coutard, Jean-Pierre Lautridou and Gerard Guillemet (CNRS Caen), David Robinson and Rendel Williams (Sussex) and Rorik Peterson (University of Alaska, Fairbanks).

The UK radioactive waste management company Nirex is involved in an international collaborative project, PERMA, to study the characteristics of a permafrost fi eld site that might be of relevance to safety assessments for northern European deep geological radioactive waste disposal. The investigations are being carried out at a gold mine in northern Canada together with partners from Finland (POSIVA and GTK), Sweden (SKB) and Canada (OPG and University of Waterloo). The partners are aiming to improve the understanding of the subsurface hydraulic and chemical processes and the behaviour of crystalline bedrock under permafrost conditions. Thermal and mechanical processes are also of interest. Activities carried out to date include electromagnetic SAMPO soundings in the vicinity of the mine, to provide information on the permafrost depth, fracture zone characteristics and possible talik structures, and surface and subsurface water sampling. The project continues into 2003.

Nirex have recently commissioned a report on ‘Middle and Late Quaternary Permafrost and Periglacial Environments in the UK: A Review of Geological Evidence, by Professor Charles Harris, Cardiff University: UK Nirex Ltd (code KSGE050), May 2002. This report is in the public domain. Development of scaled physical modelling of cryogenic processes was continued under the direction of Charles Harris, at the Cardiff University School of Engineering Geotechnical Centrifuge Centre. The research is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the Royal Society. Work in progress includes investigation of the signifi cance of soil properties and slope geometry on solifl uction processes and shallow periglacial landsliding with James Smith, Cardiff University, and an investigation of the signifi cance of host sediments (geotechnical properties and ice content) during the thawing of ice wedges and the formation of ice-wedge casts with Julian Murton, Sussex University. Experiments are performed at scales of between 1/10 and 1/30, under elevated gravity fi elds ranging from 10 gravities to 30 gravities. The technique allows full-scale, self-weight stresses to be replicated within the scaled model, so that pore pressures and soil stress/strain relationships can be accurately modelled. Centrifuge modelling is also in progress at the University of Dundee under the direction of Michael Davies, where the interaction between engineering structures and thawing soils, and the signifi cance of warming temperatures to the stability of frozen rock slopes are under investigation.

A two-day conference organised by the British Geomorphological Research Group and the Quaternary Research Association will be held on 13-14 January 2003 at the Geological Society, Burlington House, London London entitled Cryospheric Systems. The conference will focus on glacial and periglacial systems and in particular their interactions, in terms of processes, landforms and sediment associations, in the context of climate change. Conference convenors, Charles Harris, Julian Murton and David Evans.

Charles Harris (harrisc@cardiff.ac.uk)

United States of America

The U.S. Permafrost Association (USPA) was offi cially established in 2001 to better enable U.S. scientists to contribute to the International Permafrost Association and to promote permafrost science and engineering in the U.S. During the past year membership has grown to over 130 individual, corporate, and institutional members, the constitution and bylaws were approved, and elections were held. Douglas Kane was elected as the Association’s fi rst president.

The annual meeting was held at the AGU Fall meeting in San Francisco in December 2002. Discussions included U.S. participation in the Zurich conference, and how best to promote permafrost activities in the U.S. The following contains individual reports of many USPA members and organizations

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) held the 11th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Anchorage, Alaska, 20-22 May, 2002. There were over 230 attendees participating in 32 technical sessions. Seventy papers were published in the conference proceedings. The theme of the conference was “Cold Regions Impacts on Transportation and Infrastructure”. Eleven papers and 4 technical sessions focused on the performance of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) after 28 years of operation. During the conference awards luncheon, Jim Rooney delivered the Eb Rice Memorial Lecture, Bucky Tart received Harold R. Peyton Award for Cold Regions Engineering, and Norbert Morgenstern was awarded the CAN-AM Amity Award. The Peyton recipient was also recognized during the 150th anniversary celebration of the ASCE that was held in Washington, DC, 3-7 November, 2002. The 12th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering will be held 16-19 May, 2004 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and will be co-sponsored by TCCRE and the Cold Regions Engineering Division of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. The 13th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering is being planned for Bangor, Maine in June or July 2006.

During 2002 the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (US ARC) organized a task force on Climate Change, Permafrost and Infrastructure Impacts. The objective was to identify key issues and research needs to foster an understanding of global change impacts on permafrost in the Arctic and their relevance to natural and human systems. The task force fi ndings include: requirements for a dedicated, visible U.S. permafrost research programme, data management needs, baseline permafrost mapping requirements in Alaska, basic permafrost research focused on process studies and modeling, and, applied permafrost research on design criteria and contaminants in permafrost environments. The report will be available from the Commission in Spring 2003.

The U.S. National Science Foundation supports several programmes and numerous projects that examine permafrost dynamics and infl uence on ecosystem processes and their response to climatic variability. Larry Hinzman (University of Alaska Fairbanks) reports on the organization and funding of a new NSF program that has a substantial permafrostoriented involvement: The Hydrologic Cycle and its Role in Arctic and Global Environmental Change: A Rationale and Strategy for Synthesis Study (CHAMP). The primary aim of CHAMP is to catalyze and coordinate interdisciplinary research with the goal of constructing a holistic understanding of arctic hydrology through integration of routine observations, processbased fi eld studies, and modeling. A number of projects were funded starting in summer 2002. The CHAMP strategy is available on the internet (see address at end of report). F. Stuart Chapin (University of Alaska Fairbanks) reports that the NSF-funded Arctic Transitions in the Land- Atmosphere System (ATLAS), a coordinated programme to examine the geographical patterns and controls over climate-land surface exchange and develop reasonable scenarios of future change in the Arctic, is in its fi nal synthesis stage.

News from individual projects include the following highlights with details available on the USPA web site: NSF-LTER studies by Tom Osterkamp, Vladimir Romanovsky and Kenji Yoshikawa (University of Alaska Fairbanks) at the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest and Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed (CPCRW) documented warming and degradation of permafrost over the last 20 to 80 years. Larry Hinzman, Douglas Kane and Kenji Yoshikawa continued their investigations in CPCRW and on the Seward Peninsula that relate changes in hydrologic processes and permafrost to climatic dynamics. Graduate dissertations by Kevin Petrone and William Bolton demonstrated the strong controls of permafrost extent upon hydrologic processes (basefl ow, peak discharge, recession rates) and chemical exports (NO3, DOC, and essential cations). Kane and Hinzman have upgraded the remote meteorological and hydrological stations operated by the UAF Water and Environmental Research Center to provide near-real time continuous monitoring of fi eld conditions via the internet.

Several NSF-sponsored projects led by Kenneth Hinkel (University of Cincinnati) and Frederick Nelson and Nikolai Shiklomanov (University of Delaware) in northern Alaska include observations on the infl uence of enhanced snow accumulation on seasonal thaw, assessment of an urban heat island at Barrow, measurements of regional active layer thicknesses as part of the CALM network, and seasonal and long-term measurements of heave and settlement using DGPS. In 2002, average thaw depth at Foothills sites were substantially reduced compared to the period of record (1995-present) and sites on the coastal plain although low, were slightly higher than in 2001. An international CALM workshop was held in Lewes, Delaware in November 2002, to develop a synthesis of the fi ve-year programme. A special issue of Polar Geography contains data and information on over 100 CALM sites from the 15 investigating countries. Several papers were published with Oleg Anisimov (Russia) concerned with the possible effects of thawing permafrost on human infrastructure, and on demonstrating the utility of stochastic modeling as an alternative method of mapping geocryological parameters. A joint project with Ron Paetzold, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, is investigating the variability of the surface energy balance and shallow ground thermal regime in different landscape units at Prudhoe Bay.

Wendy Eisner (University of Cincinnati) and Jim Bockheim (University of Wisconsin) continued a programme of intensive spring and summer coring and survey of drained thaw-lake basins from Barrow inland to Atqasuk.

Tom Osterkamp (Geophysical Institute), reports that this year marks the twenty-fi fth anniversary of the beginning of a series of 25- station permafrost observatory along the northsouth transect of Alaska stretching some 1200 km between Prudhoe Bay and Glenallen.

These observations continue as part of the project to investigate the infl uence of climate and environmental factors on the thermal and moisture regimes of the active layer and permafrost in Alaska. Additional sites have been established in outlying areas to help create a statewide picture of permafrost conditions and their changes.

In April 2002, Vladimir Romanovsky and Kenji Yoshikawa (University of Alaska Fairbanks), and Jerry Brown, added two, 45-meter boreholes to the Barrow Permafrost Observatory, and in August installed two 1-meter thermistor probes (see web site). Initial results of this IARCsupported borehole programme appeared in Eos. Vladimir Romanovsky with colleagues Tatiana Sazonova, Dmitrii Sergueev, and Gennadii Tipenko at the Geophysical Institute have produced a synthesis of environmental data along an east Siberian transect and a comparison of active layer and permafrost conditions with an Alaskan transect.

A report by Brown and Torre Jorgenson (ABR, Inc) on the carbon loss due to coastal erosion was presented at the Arctic Coastal Dynamic (ACD) workshop in Oslo. The estimates of carbon loss were developed from the two key ACD sites on the U.S. Beaufort Sea coast. The 14 erosion transects from the Barrow Elson Lagoon key site were remeasured in August and only minor changes were noted since summer 2001 (project led by Brown and Orson Smith, University of Alaska Anchorage).

Torre Jorgenson and Erik Pullman (ABR, Inc.) with Yuri Shur (University of Alaska) are conducting studies in the eastern portion of the NPR-A supported by Conoco Phillips Alaska. The project is designed to (1) determine the nature, magnitude, and distribution of ground ice in relation to terrain units, (2) evaluate potential thaw settlement from surface disturbance, and (3) develop a conceptual model of how ground ice develops in relation to lake basin development. Data are collected on soil carbon stores within the upper 2.5 m of the permafrost.

Skip Walker (University of Alaska Fairbanks) is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers in fi eld observations and experiments to validate a model of frost-boil formation and its relevance to climate change. Twelve Alaskan sites are located along a climate gradient from Happy Valley in the Arctic Foothills to Howe Island in the Delta of the Sagavanirktok River on the Beaufort Sea coast. Site visits along a transect from Inuvik on the Mackenzie River to Satellite Bay on Prince Patrick Island (Canada) and along the Kolyma River (Northeast Russia) were conducted in summer 2002. The project is also linked to the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Mapping project.

A number of activities are on-going at the at the National Snow and Ice Data Center/ WDC for Glaciology, University of Colorado. Mark Parsons and Tingjun Zhang, are leading the IARC-funded Global Geocryological Database (GGD) activity to produce Version II of the CAPS CD-ROM in cooperation with the IPA. The IARC-supported Frozen Ground Data Center has been established to improve access to existing data through online searching, ordering, and availability in the Global Change Master Directory. Christoph Oekle, in collaboration with Zhang, Mark Serreze, and Richard Armstrong, has developed a regional model of soil freeze/thaw at a 25 x 25 km resolution and daily time steps for the period September 1998 through December 2000. Feng Ling and Zhang have developed a numerical simulation to model the permafrost thermal regime and talik formation under shallow thaw lakes in the Alaskan Arctic. Zhang with Serreze, Roger Barry, and David Gilichinsky (Russia) are continuing their analysis of the historical soil temperature measurements in the Russian Arctic and Subarctic.

Ron Sletten and Bernard Hallet (University of Washington) are currently involved in projects in both the Arctic and Antarctic and include: the biocomplexity of carbon cycling (Thule, Greenland); weathering studies (Zackenberg and sites in southwest Greenland); and diffusion of heavy metals contaminants at study sites in Alaska. In the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, they are examining the dynamics and evolution of contraction crack polygons, the motion of rock glaciers, the formation of infl ational soils, and other geomorphic processes. Surface velocities along the centerline of the rock glacier of 20 to 40 mm/yr, are based on differential GPS and Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry measurements. This research is focussed in Beacon Valley where the oldest ice on Earth has been reported, and where there are some of the best terrestrial analogs for investigating the stability of subsurface ice and periglacial processes on Mars.

Nicole Mölders and John E. Walsh (University of Alaska Fairbanks), supported by IARC, are investigating the roles of highlatitude terrestrial variables and processes (e.g., permafrost, soil freezing and thawing, snow, interaction of soil moisture and soil temperature states) in the context of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Simulations with and without consideration of soil frost processes are being performed to examine the infl uence of permafrost on the regional weather in Alaska. The inclusion of soil frost processes leads to altered fl uxes of heat and water to the atmosphere, which modify the cloud and precipitation formation on the local scale.

Gary Clow, USGS, relogged a number of deep boreholes in northern Alaska and downloaded data measuring active layer temperatures, air temperatures, snow depth, and solar radiation. These deep drill holes showed signifi cant warming during the 1990s.

Tim Collett (USGS) reports that the multi-national 2002 Mallik gas hydrate research programme, located in the Mackenzie Delta region, resulted in the recovery of a large number of gas hydrate samples from below the 640 m deep permafrost section at depths of between 890 m and 1150 m. Other aspects of the Geological Survey of Canada lead project consisted of well logging, obtaining down-hole temperature profi les, microbiologic studies, seismic cross-hole tomography, and the fi rst modern production tests of a gas hydrate reservoir involving both pressure draw down and thermal stimulation.

Kathleen A. McCarthy (USGS) has been investigating the movement of free-phase petroleum hydrocarbons in the subsurface at a site near Barrow, Alaska. Hydrocarbons from surface spills have migrated well below the permafrost table, most likely through fractures in the frozen sandy gravel.

Erk Reimnitz (retired USGS) is analyzing the shape of shorefaces from the arctic coastlines of North America and Siberia. The shape may be controlled by the action of fl oating ice ranging in size or extent from continuous sheets down to small fl oes and even individual ice crystals; processes that differ from those in lower latitude, ice-free coastlines.

Matthew Sturm (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) has developed a statistical model that can be used to predict the temperature of the snow-ground interface over a large region. The model, based on measurements made in the Kuparuk Basin, is simple and emphasizes the importance of snow in controlling permafrost temperatures and active layer thickness.

H.J. Walker reported on the history of the Louisiana University arctic coastal and permafrost research in the Spring 2002 issue of Witness the Arctic. An unabridged version of this overview is available on the ARCUS web site. Also, just published in the book Landscapes of Transition, edited by K. Hewitt et al. and published by Kluwer in 2002, is the paper “Landform development in an arctic delta: the roles of snow, ice and permafrost”.

Alexandre Tsapin and G. McDonald (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) are using amino acid racemization and radiocarbon dating to investigate the metabolic activity of “dormant” microorganisms in northern Siberian permafrost. Viable bacteria have been cultured from millionyear- old Siberian permafrost, but the relationship between the age of the bacteria and the age of the sediments remains uncertain.

Bucky Tart reports that Golder Associates, Anchorage, hase been involved in numerous permafrost engineering projects throughout Alaska and in the Former Soviet Union. The major project has been the permafrost geotechnical consultation for the Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) during and since pipeline construction. Other projects involve frost heave concerns for pavements in Anchorage, and slope stability issues in permafrost for various pipeline locations, highways, and mines.

Buzz Scher and Charlie Riddle, R&M Consultants, Anchorage, report on two rural airport projects. The Tetlin runway involves a thermal design to avoid settlement of the aggregate surfaced runway that is built over variable ice-rich and ice-poor permafrost. The Kotzebue airport design requires removal of a hill composed of ice-rich silt without sedimentation into the adjacent lagoon.

Dave Norton, an Anchorage-based consulting engineer working for the owners of the Trans Alaska pipeline, reports that permafrost engineering was a focus of interest during the process to renew the Trans Alaska Pipeline rightsof- way (ROW). The pipeline began operation in 1977. In 2002 the Bureau of Land Management prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluated renewal of the ROW for an additional 30 years. Changing conditions along the ROW, primarily permafrost degradation, were among the key points of investigation. The EIS determined that the pipeline and the permafrost regime near it had reached thermal equilibrium in most cases. Areas that exhibit continued permafrost degradation are addressed by built-in support adjustments and normal maintenance.

Thomas Berglin and Ed Clarke (Soils Alaska PC, Fairbanks) report that they are undertaking a testing programme on the thaw stability and sampling procedures for both fi negrained (micaceous silt) and coarse-grained (very sandy gravel) soils of interior Alaska. Clarke attended the Fifth International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering in Yakutsk, Russia, and exchanged experiences with Russian and Chinese researchers on foundation construction techniques on frozen granular soils.

Hannele Zubeck and He Liu (University of Alaska Anchorage) are modeling the use of helical piles to increase pile capacity in permafrost soils.

Several groups lead by Vladimir Aizen (University of Idaho), are monitoring watersheds in the Salmon River basin (Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.) and Narin River basin (Akshiyrak Mt. Massif, Kyrgyzstan) by measuring meteorological, hydrological, borehole temperatures, heat balance and snow pack parameters, and aqueous geochemistry within nested watersheds to evaluate the role and long-term changes of water balance components.

William J. Wayne, University of Nebraska, reports on his continuing studies of periglacial sand wedges and sheet sand in Nebraska, and on relict patterned ground in the Snowy Range, Wyoming.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) supports two technical areas that are of interest to cold regions engineers – the Heat Transfer Division’s K-18 Committee that focuses on low temperature heat transfer and the Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering Division (OOAE) that sponsors the annual Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering (OMAE) conference. The 22nd Conference (OMAE 2003) will be held in Cancun, Mexico, from June 8 to 13, 2003, and includes the Polar & Arctic Sciences & Technology Symposium.

Finally, we regret to note the death of Duwayne M. Anderson in October; a pioneer in the research on unfrozen water and ice segregation.

Web: ARCSS: www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/system.htm; ARCUS: www.arcus.org; ATLAS: www.laii.uaf.edu/ATLAS/atlas.cfm.Barrow; Obs: iarc.uaf.edu/barrow_permafrost.html; CALM: www.geography.uc.edu/~kenhinke/CALM/; CHAMP: www.arcus.org/ARCSS/hydro/index.html; EIS: www.tapsrenewal.jpo.doi.gov/ Frost boils: www.geobotany.uaf.edu/ cryoturbation.index.html; Frozen Ground: nsidc.org/frozenground/; HARC: www.arcus.org/HARC/index.html; ITEX: www.systbot.gu.se/research/itex/itex.html; Met network: www.uaf.edu/water/projects/ NorthSlope/northslope.html; RAISE: www.raise.uaf.edu/; Siberia transect: www.gi.alaska.edu/snowice/ Permafrost-lab/proj_trans/pr_trans.html; US ARC: www.arctic.gov; USPA: www.uspermafrost.org

Larry Hinzman (ffl dh@uaf.edu); USPA President-Elect Lynn Everett (everett.2@osu.edu); USPA Secretary Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.org); USPA Past President

South Africa

At Marion Island a project was initiated by Steve Holness, Western Cape University, South Africa and Jan Boelhouwers, Uppsala University, Sweden, continuing an earlier 5-year project in the Maritime Sub-Antarctic.

The 290-km large Marion Island (46o 54’S, 37o 45’E) rises 1230 m asl, in the southern Indian Ocean, north of the Antarctic Polar Convergence. The climate is dominated by strong westerly winds, high relative humidity, a small temperature range, relative low temperature, and high precipitation. The study area is the peak of a shield volcano. Marion Island comprises typical sub-Antarctic biota with a scarcity of species. Coastal areas are characterised by bogs and mires in tussock grassland. The objectives of the project are to assess responses of geomorphic processes to climate changes, to analyse and describe Holocene sedimentological records, to explore and generate proxy-climate data and to integrate this with data and modelling from other researchers in palaeolimnology and climate modeling, to examine possible Northern and Southern Hemisphere teleconnections/ interhemispheric relationships between climate change, and to do detailed morphological and sedimentological analysis of key landforms (e.g. patterned ground, slope failures, blockfi elds) in order to assess palaeoenvironmental implications of these landforms. Investigation techniques include: organic sedimentary records from peat bogs, testate amoebae activity, peat humifi cation, ground microclimates, surface sediment activity, morphology and relative ages of relict glacial and periglacial features (including evidence of rapidly degrading permafrost for high altitude areas of the island) and weathering processes and rates. A Ph.D. thesis and a M.Sc. thesis and at least six peer-reviewed publications from recent periglacial research on Marion Island have either been published or are in press.

A key issue in the southern African periglacial research is the nature of Quaternary palaeoenvironments. Recent publications continue to suggest evidence for localised glaciation, while the counter arguments suggest a relatively inactive geomorphological environment during the Last Glacial Maximum, with somewhat drier conditions than present with deep, seasonal ground freezing. It is clear that landforms used to argue for niche glaciation during the Quaternary have been misinterpreted and that considerable research is required to clarify and resolve the discrepancies. Contemporary climatic data are scarce and extrapolating Quaternary palaeoenvironments is, thus, exceptionally diffi cult. Current research by Paul Sumner and Werner Nel, Pretoria, South Africa, using automated logging equipment is aimed at gathering data regarding contemporary climatic and ground microclimate in the High Drakensberg/Lesotho area. Further investigations are being conducted on openwork block accumulations, sorted patterned ground and colluvial mantles to establish both current and past environmental conditions.

A session of the International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on Climate Change and Periglacial Environments was held at the IGU Regional Conference in Durban from 4-7 August 2002. Paper topics ranged from periglacial climates during the Last Glacial in Europe to climate change issues in the maritime Sub-Antarctic and a review of current debates on Quaternary palaeoenvironments of the High Drakensberg in southern Africa. It was clear from discussion that quantitative approaches using modern analytical techniques and modelling are needed to resolve the periglacial and glacial questions for southern Africa.

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