2003 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

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

Argentina (and South American Partners)

IANIGLA: 30 Years of Basic and Applied Research on Environmental Sciences was published by IANIGLA (Argentine Institute for Snow Research, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences), “Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales.” The book, edited by Dario Trombotto and Ricardo Villalba, is dedicated to the scientific work of Arturo Corte and contains, among the many multidisciplinary topics, seven contributions on geocryology. The book is intended for a wide community of readers. The same Cuyo University Press of Ediunc, Mendoza, published the book written by Juan Schobinger, The Incaic Sanctuary of Mount Aconcagua, about the mummy found in the permafrost at an elevation of 5300 on Mount Aconcagua (6959 m asl, Central Andes of Mendoza.

The research project “GeocriologÌa Argentina General y Aplicada” financed by the National Research Council (CONICET) of Argentina continued. Thermistors were installed on the Morenas Coloradas rock glacier in Vallecitos, Cordón del Plata, Mendoza. A new georeference point in relation to the first one (Balcón I at 3560 m asl) was established (Balcón II) at an elevation of 3770 m. The temperatures of the active layer were measured to the 3-m depth, the top of the permafrost. The new data are integrated into Worldwide Network of Climate Observations (SMOC). Another area studied is at the Laguna del Diamante associated with the Volcano Maipo. An inventory of landforms and cryogenic soils was conducted, and geophysical soundings and soil temperature recording are in preparation.

In co-participation with the LEGAN (Argentine Antarctic Institute, Alberto Aristarain), Mendoza and CNEA (National Commission of Nuclear Energy, José Ruzzante), Buenos Aires, the Geocryology Unit of the IANIGLA joined the international research project “Acoustic emission of the volcano Peteroa.” It is a geophysical, geological and glaciological project with the participation of Italian researchers from the Institute of Acoustics in Rome. The study areas were extended to the south of the province of Mendoza interrelating the topic volcanism (Peteroa is an active volcano) with the Andean periglacial. New sites for the collection of data on climate and cryogenic soil are being selected. These new sites would help to complete the existing cartography, shifting southwards and would be part of the ongoing elaboration of an Argentine and South American map of permafrost and periglacial environments.

In close cooperation with R. Villalba, IANIGLA, Mendoza, the project continued on the integration of instrumental, dendrochronological and glaciological registers and climate variability in Patagonia during the last 1000 years. It was possible to study the periglacial areas corresponding to the transects in the Humid Andes between approximately 39 and 43 S (Volcán Lanín, Cerro Tronador, Cordón del Pico Alto and Cerro Torrecillas), as well as the Patagonian Andes on the Argentine side between approximately 47 and 50S (Cerro San Lorenzo, Sierra de Sangra, Cerro Hatcher, Cerro Fitz Roy, Torre and the borders of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap). These studies revealed excellent examples of periglacial cryogenic microforms and new examples of rock glaciers.

Since 2001, gemorphologists from the Humboldt University Berlin have been studying periglacial geomorphology and, in particular, rock glaciers of the semi-arid Andes of Central Chile. Alexander Brenning is now modeling rock glacier distribution in relation to the measured velocity by A. Lamm and T. Wittkopf. Additional emphasis is placed on the hydrological significance of rock glaciers in the Andes of Central Chile. First results indicate that in many catchment areas, more water is stored in rock glaciers than in ‘true’ glaciers. There is close contact among the Direcciün General the Aguas, the Catholic University of Santiago, the IANIGLA at Mendoza/Argentina (D. Trombotto), and local contacts.

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


The Institute of Geodesy of Graz, University of Technology has carried out in close cooperation with the Institute of Image Processing (Joanneum Research) several studies on detection and quantification of rock glacier movement using various measuring techniques, i.e., geodesy, digital photogrammetry, terrestrial laser scanning, and SAR interferometry.

Results of these investigations were reported at 8th ICOP. Currently the observational network consists of four different rock glaciers in the Austrian Alps. Special emphasis has been placed on the development of a photogrammetric software package for the automatic measurement of 3-D surface dis-placement vectors in time-series of multi-year digital aerial photographs. The Graz group has also contributed to the final report of the IPA/ICSI Task Force on Permafrost creep and rock glacier dynamics.

Other activities on permafrost research in the Austrian Alps comprise hydrological and geophysical measurements (seismic, gravity, and radar) on several rock glaciers as well as monitoring of ground temperatures. Furthermore mapping of relict and active rock glaciers has recently become part of standard geological surveys. Of special interest is the establishment of a new organisation involved in research on natural hazards in alpine environments; the “alps-Zentrum für Naturgefahren” in Innsbruck (www.alps-gmbh.com). Its goal is to develop sustainable strategies, technologies and systems to assess and deal with hazards in a comprehensive way. Without doubt, permafrost will play an important role in these activities.

Gerhard K. Lieb (gerhard.lieb@uni-graz.at)


Like many of our international colleagues, the 8th International Conference in Zurich was a highlight for the Canadian permafrost community, and an opportunity to renew friendships, exchange ideas and discuss new collaborations. This Canadian report is thus brief and touches upon a few select news items and recent developments.

A federal interdepartmental initiative, led by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), completed, in the summer of 2003, a bio-physical research gaps analysis for northern energy and pipeline development and associated government preparedness in the Mackenzie Valley. Short-term (two year) proposals addressing priority gaps have been funded and proposals for longer term (2 to 5 or more years) are under development. Short-term projects include several permafrost and terrain studies in the Mackenzie Valley and Delta—many of which will be led by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). Energy and pipeline related permafrost studies in the western arctic (onshore, coastal and offshore) also continued to be funded by the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD). (Contacts at the GSC: M. Burgess, S. Smith, F. Wright, S. Solomon, S. Dallimore). In summer 2003, the Mackenzie Gas Producers group filed a preliminary information package for a Mackenzie Valley Gas pipeline. The regulatory review process is expected to take place over a three-year period.

Beaufort Sea Scientific Cruise to Investigate Submarine Features: In September scientists from the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Monterey Bay Research Aquarium (MBARI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) undertook a joint cruise in the Beaufort Sea on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Laurier. The collaborative project investigated submarine pingos and pock mark features, with the goal of establishing the origin of these features and assessing their possible relationship to degrading gas hydrates and contemporary marine permafrost processes. The cruise combined a number of disciplines; GSC providing the geologic overview, detailed geophysics, permafrost and stratigraphic framework, MBARI leading an extensive pore water geochemistry program (geochemical proxies to ascertain methane flux rate, isotope geochem etc.), USGS assessing the geochemistry of the gases to determine providence and DFO conducting a wide variety of water column and oceanography studies. A variety of bottom-founded temperature and oceanographic moorings were deployed and ROV studies of pingo morphologies were carried out. Considerable shallow coring was carried out in and around these features and in background areas. Possible evidence of ice bonding and observation of considerable visible ice of a very distinctive character and distribution were features of the coring in this region of submarine permafrost. Information gathered on this cruise will add to the study of shallow permafrost in this remote environment.

Research on “Massive Ice in Granular Resources:” With support from PERD and DIAND a team from McGill University initiated research into the nature, origin, distribution, extent and significance of massive ground ice in coarse-grained deposits focusing on sites in the Mackenzie Delta region of the western Canadian Arctic. Building upon previous studies this research utilizes a combination of geophysical, stratigraphic, laboratory and field mapping techniques. The laboratory component is concerned with physical and chemical analyses of ice and sediment to determine the age and origin of massive ice bodies. The field component focuses on geophysical and topographic mapping. Results will facilitate characterization of the sensitivity of these sediments to natural or anthropogenic disturbance, as well as providing information about massive ice occurrence in coarse sediments. Contacts: Greg DePascale, Wayne Pollard and Bob Gowan.

Mallik 2002 Gas Hydrate Production Research Well Program Results Release: In 2002, the Mallik partnership drilled three wells to 1166+ m to intersect and investigate a major gas hydrate field in the Mackenzie Delta of the northwestern Canadian Arctic. The wells, at a 50-m spacing, consisted of a production test well and two observation wells on either side. A major achievement of the program was the first modern production test of natural gas hydrates. The two observation wells facilitated cross-hole tomography experiments before, during and after several production tests. An extensive suite of open-hole logs and advanced gas hydrate logging tools were run. Continuous wireline core was recovered through the hydrate intervals and a multi-disciplinary science team of some 100 scientists undertook supporting research. Partners in the 2002 Mallik Program planned to release the results at an International Symposium “From Mallik to the Future” in Chiba , Japan, December 8–10, 2003. The Symposium was the first public release of the production test results and hydrate science research from the Mallik research wells. The Symposium planned to conclude with research priorities for exploration of future hydrate production and to further international collaboration in this important field. Further information on the Mallik gas hydrates research program is found on the websites: gashydrate.nrcan.gc.ca; www.mh21japan.gr.jp. The Mallik partners are: Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), Japan National Oil Corporation (JNOC), GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ), United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States Department of Energy (USDOE), India Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (GAIL/ONGC), BP-Chevron-Burlington Joint Venture Group and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP).

Workshop Towards the Establishment of a Canadian CliC Program: The World Climate Research Programme initiated a new project on Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) in March 2000 to study important cold regions processes at a global scale. CliC addresses the entire cryosphere— snow, sea and freshwater ice, ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps and frozen ground, including permafrost. The CliC Science and Coordination Plan and draft Implementation Plan are at http://clic.npolar.no.

The international science community is looking to Canada to provide a leadership role in many areas of cryospheric research. To this end a workshop was scheduled in Victoria, November 30–December 1, 2003, to develop the framework for a strong, but realistic, Canadian contribution to CliC.

Upcoming Special Event: In recognition of Dr. Hugh French’s (Past President of the IPA) many achievements and contributions to the fields of periglacial geomorphology and permafrost studies over a 40-year period, a special session is being organised in his honour at the joint meeting of the Canadian Geomorphology Research Group (CGRG) and l’Association Québecoise pour l’Étude du Quaternaire (AQQUA). The meeting will be held in Québec City in May 2004, and the organisers are hoping for a full day of presentations and the subsequent publication of the papers as a special issue of Permafrost and Periglacial Processes (Volume 15, no. 4). For further information, contact: Antoni Lewkowicz (alewkowi@uottawa.ca).

Branko Ladanyi, Professor Emeritus, Ecole Polytechnique, was awarded the 2003 Harold R. Peyton Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers, “in recognition of his unstinting efforts in promotion and practicing in the field of Cold Regions Engineering, with particualr emphasis on engineering education and research into creep behavior of permafrost soils.” Congratulations, Branko, and we would also like to acknowledge your long-standing contributions to the IPA’s Permafrost Engineering Working Group.

An initial issue of papers translated into English from the Russian journal of permafrost studies: ‘Kriosfera Zemli’ has been published with the title ‘Earth’s Cryosphere.’ Publication will continue either with a complete translated version of each issue of the original Russian or as periodic issues of selected papers. This project has been undertaken as a collaboration between the Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, and the Canadian organisation freezingground. org. The translation and preparation of articles is carried out to a particularly high standard, with assistance from Russian and English-speaking linguists and permafrost specialists. The publication is intended to strengthen understanding in the rest of the world of Russian permafrost science and engineering. For enquiries and subscription information, contact earthscryosphere@freezingground.org A second edition of the English version of the Geocryological Map of Russia and Neighbouring Republics (Carleton University, Canada, Moscow State University, Russia, and Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, U.K. 1998) has been published (2003). It includes a number of revisions of definitions and interpretation, as well as significant technical improvements facilitating use of the English Version. The Map is an important illustration of Russian permafrost science as used in pipeline route selection and similar applications. Samples are shown at: www. freezingground.org/map. Enquiries and purchases: map@freezingground.org.

Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)


In addition to construction of the Qinghai-Tibet and the Qinghai-Kangding highways, construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railroad is one of the main projects in the permafrost region of China.

Permafrost remains one of the significant problems in the construction of the railroad. Climate warming and the warm condition of permafrost with its high ice content will influence roadbed stability. In order to protect the permafrost and ensure the stability of the roadbed, new approaches for cooling embankments are proposed. Under the research programme on the interaction of climate, permafrost and engineering, new principles and technologies for adjusting and controlling permafrost ground temperature are being developed. Thus far, and based on research at three experimental field sites and laboratory tests, the main measures employed are the use of thermopiles and crushed stone embankments. The railroad has entered more than 100 km into the permafrost region. Many institutes of the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Communications, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are taking part in this engineering research.

Research under the grant entitled “Interaction between Qinghai-Tibet Railway Engineering and Permafrost and Environmental Effects” and sponsored by the Knowledge Innovation Programme of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is in progress. This programme was directed mainly to the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, CAREERI, CAS.

The research topics are:

• Research on the stability of permafrost in the construction of the railroad.

• Research on the mechanism of freeze–thaw damage and the prevention and countermeasures along the railroad                                              

• Interaction between climate and permafrost along the railroad                                                                                                                                                                                   

• Interaction between engineering structures and permafrost along the railroad.                                                                                                                                                         

• Research on the stability of railway embankment under dynamic loading and the engineering characteristics of saline soils in the permafrost region of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.                       

• Exploiting research on the “digital roadbed” and the emulation system.                                                                                                                                                                         

• Application research on the forecasting of and recovery from thunderstorm-induced disasters on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The Sixth International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering will be held September 5–7, 2004, in Lanzhou, China, organised by the Society of Glaciology and Geocryology, a Branch of the Geographical Society of China, the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering (CAREERI, CAS), the First Railway Survey and Design Institute and United Institute of Permafrost Research and Natural Resources Development (SB, RAS), among others. The Symposium will discuss and exchange research achievements and practical experiences in permafrost engineering science and technology.

The themes are:

• Physics and mechanics of frozen soil                              

• Construction and operation of engineering structures in permafrost regions

• Linear construction in permafrost regions

• Environmental protection in permafrost regions

• Monitoring methods and technique for cold regions engineering

The deadline for submission of abstracts is January 1, 2004, and for submission of papers for publication April 1, 2004. A seven-day field excursion from Lanzhou to Lhasa will provide an opportunity for symposium participants to visit construction sites along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. An International Regional Permafrost Conference in Lanzhou in summer 2006 and the post-conference field excursion along the Qinghai-Tibet railway and highway are being organised. Topics focus on the countermeasures for solving engineering problems in construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway and highway.

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


A number of new projects related to morphodynamics in periglacial environments were investigated at the CNRS UMR 6143, Caen, France (D. Amorese, J. P. Coutard, A. Dubois, M. Font, G. Guillemet, J.L. Lagarde, J.C. Ozouf). Laboratory simulation of scarp degradation under periglacial environments was carried out in a cold laboratory where temperature (freeze–thaw cycles), precipitation, and lithology (heterogeneous cryoclasts) were controlled. This experiment was funded by the French “Programme National Risques Naturels”.

The main periglacial slope processes that have been recognised involve cryoreptation, debris flows and gravitydriven mass slips. Landform evolution was characterised by development of concave scarp profiles, scarp ablation as a consequence of debris flows and final slope softening. Quantification of the displaced material volume, along the experimental scarp, leads to values about 1 cm3/cm2 for 41 freeze–thaw cycles. These results have been compared to field data relative to scarp erosion under moist periglacial conditions along the La Hague-Jobourg Fault Zone (North Cotentin, Normandy).

Collaborations exist also with the University of Sussex (Julian Murton) on a research programme on “Bedrock fracture by ice segregation’, funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council. A new project will start in 2004 on physical modelling of mass-movement processes on permafrost slopes, in collaboration with the Cardiff group (Charles Harris). It is proposed that both full-scale (Caen refrigerated tanks) and small-scale physical modelling (Cardiff geotechnical centrifuge) be developed to investigate mass movement processes in clay-rich soils, and at steeper gradients.

Members of the polar team of the laboratory of physical geography of Clermont-Ferrand (GEOLAB, UMR 6042- CNRS) are carrying out a research programme supported by the French Polar Institute in Northwest Spitsbergen. The main objective is to investigate time-space relations among periglacial, paraglacial and glacial dynamics. Particular attention is drawn to the increasing role played by meltwaters in the contemporary paraglacial context, with severe dissection of till deposits and progradation of the coastline. In Iceland and Antarctica, the interplay and succession of weathering processes are being examined by combining detailed geomorphological mapping, micro/ nanoclimate monitoring, SEM observations and XRD analyses (in collaboration with UNBC and BAS in Antarctica). The role of biological, thermal and chemical weathering processes is being emphasized due to the lack of moisture and/or to the low susceptibility of bedrock to frost-derived mechanisms.

A diachronous fluvial forms analysis of the Lena River (satellite images and Navigation Survey maps) has been conducted by E. Gautier and D. Brunstein (Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, UMR 8591, Meudon). This mesospatial- scale approach allows evaluation of the effects of thermal erosion on fluvial units’ mobility. On the basis of sedimentary structure observation, the specificity of the depositional processes is underlined and deposits associated with logjams and ice-jams are identified. High recession rates are observed along some Siberian river banks. A laboratory simulation experiment and physical approach were continued by F. Costard, L. Dupeyrat, R. Randriamazaoro and E. Gailhardis (OrsayTerre, CNRS-UPS FRE2566), and have demonstrated that exceptional erosion rates can be best explained in conjunction with high water temperatures, and that mechanical erosion is associated with some particular geometry of the channel.

On Mars, polygons formed by networks of cracks from 50 to 300 m large and undifferentiated patterned ground at smaller scale are usual. They occur on about 500 high resolution images and are distributed especially in high latitude regions. The interstitial ice is stable in the first meters only at high latitudes because of the low content of water vapor in the atmosphere. This has been recently confirmed by Neutron Spectrometer data on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Maps proposed by Nicolas Mangold (Orsayterre, CNRS-Université d’Orsay) show a very good correlation between the ice-rich ground detected by the probe and the polygons, regardless of their size, thus indicating that they most likely formed by periglacial processes such as thermal contraction. François Forget (Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Jussieus) currently investigates the climatic control of these features including past periods of seasonal freeze–thaw cycles that could have formed features such as sorted circles, stripes or pingos. The understanding of these landforms will improve our knowledge of the recent climate on Mars.

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


A coastal permafrost drilling transect was undertaken in the western Laptev Sea in April 2003 under the framework of the Russian-German cooperation in the Laptev Sea (Hubberten, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam). The Russian team was headed by M.N. Grigoriev (Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk).

A transect perpendicular to the shoreline and consisting of 15 permafrost boreholes with depths of up to 30 m was drilled. The sixth expedition to the Lena River Delta took place in July 2003 under the leadership of the AWI-Potsdam. Microbial methane production and turnover rates during the freeze back and thawing of the active layer were investigated. Within the scope of the Expedition “Lena-New Siberian Island–2002” the Late Pleistocene permafrost sediments were drilled and transported in the frozen state to Germany. A joint Russian–American–German expedition took place between May and late August to Lake Elgygytgyn in northeastern Siberia. German scientists from Leipzig University and AWI carried out seismic studies of the sedimentary sequence of this impact crater lake, permafrost studies surrounding the lake, observations of the recent hydrological system, and coring of sediments. A Russian-German joint project investigating the Lateand Middle Quaternary in the Verkhojansk Mountains, Yakutia, is currently in progress by the Universities of Bayreuth and Aachen, and the AWI Potsdam. Research topics include periglacial and glacial forms and processes, and the Late Quaternary climatic change derived from ice wedges, relict soils and glacial sediments.

The research group of the Department of Geography, University of Bonn (R. Dikau) continues geomorphological and permafrost research in Turtmanntal, Valais, Switzerland. A Ph.D. thesis on morphometric landscape analysis (Rasemann) was completed, and another Ph.D. project started (Otto). The main focus is on permafrost and rock glacier distribution. The permafrost distribution and sediment storage of rock glaciers by means of geophysical methods and the analysis landscape structure is carried out by M. Nyenhuis. I. Roer continues the monitoring of rock glacier kinematics using remote sensing techniques and terrestrial surveying.

The Institute for Geography, University of Giessen (L. King) continues permafrost temperature monitoring in the Matter Valley, Stockhorn Plateau and Ritigraben. Shallow ground temperature data recorded at Gornergrat at 3000 m asl indicates that permafrost is confined to coarse materials, while it is absent in fine-grained substrates (S. Philippi). However, temperature measurements at Ritigraben block slope (T. Herz) at only 2615 m asl are remarkably cold, mainly due to differences in snow cover development and depth.

Permafrost investigations continued in various projects in the Department of Geography in Jena. A new model routine called CLOUDMAP as part of PERMAMAP (M. Hoelzle, ETH) accounts for the higher amount of diffuse radiation in the northern Alps and calculates the distribution of permafrost by use of global radiation as the controlling factor. This routine was developed by O. Mustafa and M. Gude (Jena) within the EU-project PACE. Studies on alpine permafrost distribution and its geotechnical significance at the highest peak in Germany (Zugspitze, 2964 m asl), started by M. Gude and D. Barsch (Heidelberg) within the PACE project, continue in cooperation with the Bavarian Geological Survey and a local tourist company. Non-alpine sporadic permafrost is investigated in highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France (M. Gude) in the interdisciplinary Scree Ecosystems research programme (SCREECOS). Terrestrial biosphere modelling focuses on the influence of permafrost on biomass productivity in northern areas (Ch. Schmullius, EU-project SIBERIA II) in cooperation with Ch. Beer, M. Gude (Jena) and W. Lucht (Potsdam).

At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, new geophysical investigation and data processing schemes are being developed for ground-ice detection and permafrost monitoring in mountain regions (C. Hauck). Field studies are conducted at sites with likely permafrost occurrence in Germany and Switzerland in collaboration with the Universities of Würzburg (C. Kneisel), Jena (M. Gude), Freiburg (C. Schneider), Zurich (M. Hoelzle) and ETH Zurich (H. Maurer). High-altitude sites are investigated (e.g. Schilthorn, Swiss Alps) as well as those with isolated ground-ice occurrences at low altitude (e.g. in middle mountain ranges). Numerical experiments of the energy exchange processes between permafrost and atmosphere are conducted using different coupled ground-atmosphere models.

At the Department of Geo- and Agroecology, ISPA, University of Vechta, G. Broll continues the long-term ecosystem monitoring in the Canadian Arctic. Research is carried out in the Auyuittuq National Park (Baffin Island) and the Quttinirpaaq National Park (Ellesmere Island) in cooperation with C. Tarnocai (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa) and J. Gould (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada). In Finnish Lapland, research continues on soil ecological investigations in the treeline ecotone, in cooperation with F.-K. Holtmeier (University of Münster, Germany) and within the EU framework LAPBIAT. Research on interactions between soil and vegetation in West Greenland (Kangerlussuaq) was completed in 2002 (Ph.D. thesis by U. Ozols).

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, H. Strunk continues his research in the Ob region in western Siberia, together with L. Agafonov, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg. The topics of research are the reconstruction of the thermokarst history of the last 500 years (M. Krabisch) and the reconstruction of the corresponding summer temperatures (M. Staudinger). Both studies are based on dendrochronological analysis of living trees (Pinus sibirica). Initial results indicate that summer temperatures in western Siberia between 1610 and 1640 AD were about 4°C higher than today.

At the Institute of Physical Geography, Freiburg University, H. Gossmann and S. Vogt continue to host the project King George Island GIS (KGIS), SCAR Geospatial Information Group. 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.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Stuttgart, the field investigations on geomorphic processes in Nordenski Öldland at Svalbard (Ph.D. thesis by S. Sander) verify the potential link between climatic change and geomorphic features. As part of a DFG project, M. Boese and C. Klose (Berlin) are researching the postglacial and recent morphodynamics in the Nanhuta Mountains (Taiwan). A meteorological station was established at 3540 m asl.

Field work on a GIS-based, three dimensional ecological model and an environmental atlas of the Yakutsk region (East Siberia) was started by J. Venzke, Bremen, and a Ph.D. thesis by C. Borowy in cooperation with V. Makarov, Permafrost Institute. A. Beylich, Department of Earth Sciences, Üppsala University, continues geomorphological research in the subarctic and arctic periglacial environments of Iceland and Lapland. The German Research Foundation-funded project “Mass transfers, sediment budgets and relief development in periglacial geosystems” is carried out in cooperation with the Department of Earth Sciences, Üppsala University (E. Kolstrup, H. Seppä, L.B. Pedersen), the Botanical Institute of Göteborg University (U. Molau ), the Natural Research Centre in Saudarkrokur, Iceland (Sæmundsson), Kevo Subarctic Research Institute, Finland (S. Neuvonen), and the Institute of Geography, University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany (K.-H. Schmidt). A. Beylich is coordinating the interdisciplinary Network “Sedimentary Source-to-Sink- Fluxes in Cold Environments” (SEDIFLUX).

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


Having finished a four-year research activity of the Mountain Permafrost Research Group in the Association of Japanese Geographers, the members of the research group are extending their research areas from the Japanese mountains to the Asian mountains.

Four projects are involved:

• Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change (M. Ishikawa, Y. Zhang, T. Kadota and A. Sugimoto) observes land-surface hydrological processes in the Khentei Mountains, northeastern Mongolia in collaboration with the Institute of Geography, MAS (N. Sharkhuu) and the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (G. Davaa). This research focuses on the hydro-thermal condition of frozen ground in the southern boundaries of Northeast Eurasian discontinuous permafrost zone. It includes comparative measurements of ground temperatures, moisture and land-surface energy balances both on permafrost and permafrostfree slopes.

• The collaborative project between the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University (leader: T. Sone) and Kamchatka Institute of Ecology and Nature Management (leader: V.P. Vetrova) continues research on permafrost environments of central Kamchatka to investigate the relationship between physical environment and permafrost distribution.

•A joint research group of National Institute of Polar Research in Japan (K. Fukui and Y. Fujii) and the Altai State University (N. Mikhailov, O. Ostanin and D. Troshkin) carried out mountain permafrost research in South Chuyskiy Range, Russian Altai Mountains in August 2003. They identified many active rock glaciers and open system pingos in the range. The distribution of active periglacial rock glaciers suggests that the lower limit of discontinuous permafrost in South Chuyskiy Range is at 1700–1800 m asl.

•Research on permafrost hydrology in the source area of Yellow River, China began in 2002 by a joint group from the Geological Survey of Japan, University of Tsukuba and ETH Zurich. This is a part of a five year project on groundwater circulation in the Yellow River Basin. The research involves: analysis of satellite images; field monitoring of climatic, hydrological and geomorphic conditions; geophysical soundings on permafrost; and simulation of future changes in permafrost and hydrological conditions. Installation of miniature loggers and seismic sounding were undertaken in August 2003 (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, T. Sueyoshi, T. Ishii and Y. Uchida).

Field projects on periglacial geomorphology also progress outside Asia. T. Sone, J. Mori and K. Fukui joined the Argentine project “Cryology in Antarctic Peninsula Region” which is focused on ground temperature monitoring, periglacial processes in Seymour Island and James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula region. The project leader is J.A. Strelin, Institute Antarctico Argentino. Monitoring of periglacial processes continues in the Swiss Alps. A summary of the nine-year monitoring was presented during the 8th ICOP field excursion A3 in Upper Engadin and also during the main conference in Zurich (N. Matsuoka and A. Ikeda). The continuous measurements have highlighted interannual variations in periglacial mass movements; mainly a reflection of snow conditions.

A special issue of Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie (Supplement 130, 2003) entitled “Glaciation and Periglacial in Asian High Mountains” was published. This issue contains papers from a symposium at the “5th International Conference on Geomorphology” held in Tokyo in August 2001, and includes an overview of Asian permafrost and reports on regional permafrost from Japan, Kamchatka and Bhutan. Copies are available for 98 Euro from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Stuttgart (mail@ schweizerbart.de).

Norikazu Matsuoka (matsuoka@atm.geo.tsukuba.ac.jp)


Permafrost and periglacial research in Tien Shan continues both with borehole monitoring and research on periglacial processes. Within the discontinuous permafrost zone of the Zusalykezen Mountain Pass area (3300 m asl) the borehole temperature observations show significant variation of permafrost thickness within a short distance.


These differences depend on topography, slope aspect, geology, snow cover and other microclimatic conditions. At a north-facing slope the permafrost thickness varies from 15 to 90 m within the distance of 250 to 300 m. On the west, east and south facing slopes there is no permafrost for the same altitudes and similar ground composition. The greatest differences in ground temperatures of 1.5 to 2.2°C were observed between north (–0.4°C) and south (1.8°C) slopes.

The long-term observation started in1974 continues on the thermal regime of coarse block slopes in comparison with fine-grained ground. Specific heat transfer by convection inside the coarse debris occurs as a result of its high porosity. The mean annual temperature of coarse blocky materials is 2.5 to 4.0°C cooler than the MAAT. As a result, permafrost can exist inside such deposits even under a positive MAAT. Near the Big Almatian Lake (Transili Alatau Range) at an altitude of 2550 m asl (permafrost with isolated patches) with a MAAT of 1.4°C, the frost penetration is more than 6 m in the coarse block slope. Normally, at the same elevation in the fine-grained soils the seasonally frozen layer does not exceed 1.2 m. The large coarse blocky massifs have a cooling influence for distances of up to 15 m on adjacent sites with fine-grained soils.

The periglacial research includes measurements using geodetic survey on the development of thermal depressions on moraines and rock glaciers. A thermokarst lake began to form a few years ago on the surface of the rock glacier “Perevalny.” The rock glacier is located at the divide of Big Almatian and Chong-Kemin Valleys at the elevation of 3500 m asl. The thermokarst lake developed at the location of the ice-saturated moraine and the rock glacier (see photo). Aerial photos show that the lake did not exist in 1990. During the last decade the thermokarst lake has reached a diameter of 35 m.

The book Permafrost of Northern Tien Shan: Past, Present and Future (106 p.), by S.S. Marchenko, was published with the support of Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. Aldar Gorbunov (permafrost@astel.kz)

Sergei Marchenko (ffssm1@uaf.edu)


Permafrost mapping and monitoring within the framework of the Global Environmental Facility project at Lake Hovsgol National Park continued for the second year in the six valleys entering the eastern shore of the lake.

Yearround recording and periodic measurements of ground temperatures in shallow boreholes and at ground level were obtained. In addition, there are three automatic recording weather stations in the project area. These observations are made in cooperation with Bernd Etzelmuller, Eva Heggam, and Vladimir Romanovsky, and with the overall direction of Clyde Goulden (see Frozen Ground No. 26, pp.47–48). To monitor dynamics of the active layer, permafrost thermal state, and some cryogenic processes (pingo, thermokarst and solifluction), N. Sharkhuu drilled eight additional 5–10 m deep boreholes in these six valleys during spring 2003.

Permafrost studies within the framework of the Joint Japanese and Mongolian FRONTIER project continued for a second year in the Nalaikh and Terelj areas located about 35 and 70 km east of Ulaanbaatar, respectively. M. Ishikawas and others monitored the dynamics of permafrost with ground temperature recordings in the Nalaikh borehole (30 m deep), in Terelj boreholes (7 and 10 m deep) and in more than ten shallow holes (1.5-m) located along a cross-valley transect. He also made monthly electric resistivity soundings at two sites where three automatic weather stations are located.

At present there are 17 CALM and 13 GTN-P active boreholes with permafrost in the Khangai, Hovsgol and Khentei mountain regions. The dynamics of cryogenic processes and seasonal frost are monitored at some sites. Following the recommendations of the International Symposium on Mountain and Arid Land permafrost (Ulaanbaatar, 2001), Sharkhuu started observations to observe changes in active layers and altitudinal surface temperatures in the Tsengel mountains, Altai region. These observations are important for mapping Central Asian permafrost. It is planned next year to install two CALM holes at two new mountain sites and to drill one 15-m deep borehole in the Tsagaannuur valley of the Altai mountain region. In addition, it is important to monitor dynamics of some periglacial processes, especially rock glaciers in the Altai mountains. The plan is to organise an international project to study permafrost conditions in the Altai mountains, where very little information on permafrost exists.

N. Sharkhuu (geo-dgv@magicnet.mn)

The Netherlands

The Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (Han Dolman), in collaboration with the Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk, is performing studies on the carbon and water exchange of larch and tundra ecosystems on permafrost. Measurements are taken by means of micrometeorological techniques above a larch forest in Yakutsk and a tundra site in the Far North near Chokurdakh. The aim is to estimate the annual exchange rates and determine the sensitivity to environmental factors.

Jef Vandenberghe (jef.vandenberghe@falw.vu.nl)

New Zealand

Ian Campbell, Megan Balks and Christine Eliot participated in the 8th ICOP. Megan Balks, Mauro Guglielmin (Italy) and Ron Paetzold (U.S.A.) presented a joint paper relating to the permafrost monitoring that is being undertaken in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica. Christine Eliot presented a paper summarising her Ph.D., a study on rock weathering processes in Antarctica.

Ian Campbell presented a summary of thermokarst landforms that occur in the transantarctic mountains of Antarctica. The New Zealand and Italian Antarctic programmes are collaborating to develop a coordinated monitoring programme within the Ross Sea Region. The Landcare Research Antarctic research programme, led by Dr. Jackie Aislabie, has secured funding for a sixyear programme relating to human impacts on soils and permafrost in the Ross Sea Region. In the 2003–04 Antarctic summer they plan to undertake work at Cape Hallett related to soil and permafrost characterization. Commencing in the 2004–05 summer, Megan Balks (University of Waikato) and Malcolm McLeod (Landcare Research) will lead a soil and permafrost mapping effort based in the Wright Valley. The proposed mapping project will include a number of graduate students and will contribute to the IPA Cryosol and Antarctic Permafrost Working Groups’ soil and permafrost mapping initiatives.

Megan Balks (m.balks@waikato.ac.nz)


Investigations based at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Longyearbyen (78N), covering a range of geomorphic activities initiated in 1999 continued throughout 2003. Several of the activities are described in greater detail on the UNIS homepage (www.unis.no; see Department of Geology).

Investigations on ice-wedge dynamics, loess accumulation and snow cover control on ground temperatures continued by Hanne H. Christiansen, in her present staff position as Physical Geographer, UNIS. Automatic cameras and miniature dataloggers register snow depth and distribution, air and ground temperatures and ground cracking events. Samples of ice-wedge ice are collected for oxygen isotope analysis. A precipitation-sampling program initiated by Ole Humlum in 1999 continued. This project relates the oxygen isotope signal to air temperature and thereby provides background for interpreting the oxygen isotope content in ice sampled from rock glaciers, ice wedges and glaciers in the Svalbard region.

Christiansen and Humlum maintain two CALM sites near Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund. These sites represent dry and humid climatic settings; both are equipped with dataloggers to measure active layer temperatures. Seasonal snow depths and thaw progression are observed on the UNISCALM site located four kilometres from UNIS. Humlum continued measurements of precipitation and temperature at different sites in the landscapes around Longyearbyen. Two standard meteorological stations are operated in order to obtain information on the effect of altitude and the distance to the sea. One of the stations was established at the PACE Janssonhaugen borehole in May 2000. In addition, five automatic cameras are providing daily visual information on snow cover distribution and other geomorphic phenomena related to permafrost around Longyearbyen.

A research project on bedrock weathering in cold climate initiated in 2001 by Angelique Prick (UNIS/EU) located close to Longyearbyen, and involving detailed daily observations, was formally concluded in July 2003; future observations are planned at a reduced level.

Arne Instanes reports that the Svalbard Science Park is currently under construction in Longyearbyen. The new building of 8500 m2 will be completed in 2005 and provide additional space for the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the Governor of Svalbard and Svalbard Museum. UNIS has in collaboration with Statsbygg (the Directorate of Public Construction and Property) and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) established an extensive permafrost monitoring and testing facility in connection with the Svalbard Science Park. Thermistor cables have been placed under the building and on the undisturbed sourrounding tundra. Settlement of the piles and deformations in the building will be monitored, and a long-term pile load tests have been started. The data will be used for research and teaching at the UNIS department of Arctic Technology.

Mapping of late Weichselian/Younger Dryas wind activity in Norway was initiated by Christiansen. This project is a continuation of similar research in Denmark, Scotland and the Faroe Islands, and will provide information on direction of past air flow in Norway, as indicated by bedrock polished by drifting snow at low temperatures.

Eva Heggem and Bernd Etzelmuller, University of Oslo, continued investigating permafrost distribution in Mongolia, in collaboration with the Mongolian Academy of Science (Lake Hovsgol ILTER project). Data from minitemperature loggers were obtained and processed, and an emprically-based permafrost distribution model is under development. Investigations continued in eastern Norway in the Sølen-Elgå mountain areas (E. Heggem). A new project on permafrost distribution on Iceland was started between B. Etzelmuller, O. Humlum, and H. Farbrot, Norway, and A. Gudmundsson and H. Björnsson, Reykjavik, Iceland. Temperature sensors were installed this summer in highmountain field areas of northern and eastern Iceland and initial geophysical surveys were conducted. A geodetic network was established in Iceland for photogrammetic-based velocity measurements of creeping debris bodies (T. Eiken, B. Wangensteen). This work is carried out in collaboration with A. Kääb, University of Zurich. Within the same project framework measurements were started to determine permafrost distribution in the Lakselv area, northern Norway, by means of temperature loggers, BTS and geophysical investigations in collaboration with K. Isaksen.

Ketil Isaksen, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, reports on the continuing observations from the borehole network. In southern Norway, data collection continued from the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole (Isaksen) and on Dovrefjell from the 11 permafrost boreholes which were drilled in October 2001 (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). In the Møre and Romsdal area of western Norway, ground temperature data were collected and the permafrost mapping program was extended with establishment of six new meteorological stations measuring air temperatures and ground temperatures (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). These ongoing data collection projects in southern Norway form the bases for a new project to study changes in the ground thermal regime on a regional scale, and its effects on the mountain environment. In the Troms and Finnmark areas of northern Norway, ground temperature data were collected from several new sites established in 2002 and located in a transect from the outer rim of north-western Troms into Finnmarksvidda and out towards eastern Finnmark to Varangerhalvøya (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). On Svalbard data from the Janssonhaugen PACE borehole were collected (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, O. Humlum, J.L. Sollid) and a new, 2-m deep borehole was drilled and instrumented approximately 100 m away from the deep PACE borehole to study active layer processes and snow cover influence on ground temperatures (S. Hanson, K. Isaksen).

A new research project on permafrost and periglacial processes is being planned by Humlum, University of Oslo. This project involves a number of study sites in a transect across southern Norway, from the humid west coast, across the high mountains in Jotunheimen and Dovrefjell, to the more continental regions close to the Swedish border. This research initiative is funded by the University of Oslo and will establish a network of automatic cameras and dataloggers to study air- and ground temperatures, snow cover and geomorphic processes. The activities will be new research sites and, where possible, they will cooperate with existing permafrost-related research sites. The thermal offsets obtained from temperatures recorded in standard 2-m screen temperatures, and at ground surface and the top of permafrost will be of special interest. A 3-year Ph.D. position is part of this project.

Kaare Flaate (kflaate@online.no)


During 2003 studies of geoecosystems were carried out throughout the year at the permanent polar stations of the Polish Academy of Sciences, i.e. the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund (Spitsbergen, Svalbard) and the Polish H. Arctowski Station on King George Island (South Shetlands, Western Antarctic). During the summer the university stations situated on the west coast of Spitsbergen were operated.

The investigations are included in the “Arctic and Antarctic Research Programme of Poland 2002–2010” under the Committee on Polar Research, Polish Academy of Sciences. The objective is to evaluate mechanisms of natural processes occurring in the periglacial environments associated with glaciers and the coastal zone. The main interests focused on the response of polar geoecosystems to changes of climate and the effect of human factors. Among the subjects concerning permafrost, the dynamics and thickness of the active layer are the most important. The studies were conducted at the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, in the Kaffioyra area and in Billefjorden.

Results from the Recherche Fiord region by the M. Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin were presented at the 8th ICOP. The hydrological dynamics and retention of water in a permafrost environment (S. Bartoszewski) and the spatial and temporal variations of active layer thickness (J. Repelewska-Pekalowa & K. Pekala) are associated with the CALM programme (Calypsostranda site).

The XXIX International Polar Symposium was held on September 19–20, 2003, at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, which is one of the oldest universities in Europe in one of the oldest cities in Poland. This annual meeting of members of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society provides the opportunity to present the latest research results, exchange experiences, and meet members of the polar community.

This year the Annual Geomorphological Workshops took place on Spitsbergen, organised by the Polish Geomorphologists Association in cooperation with the Maritime Academy in Gdynia and the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Workshops’ programme included discussions of geomorphological studies carried out by various Polish universities and visits to the stations at: Kaffioyra, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruñ; Petuniabukta region, the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznañ; Calypsobyen, Maria Curie-Sködowska University, Lublin; Stanislaw Baranowski station in the forefield of Werenskiold Glacier, Wroçlaw University and Silesia University; and Hornsund, the Polish Polar Station, Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences.

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


Research on periglacial processes by G. Vieira (CEG– University of Lisbon) continues in the Serra da Estrela, Central Portugal. The installation of a meteorological station at the top of the mountain with monitoring of ground temperatures, radiation and energy fluxes is under preparation.

C. Mora (CEG–University of Lisbon) is studying the local climate of the same mountain, with special focus on monitoring of air temperatures at different topographic positions. Remote sensing data is being used to calculate the components of the radiation balance in winter and summer. Geomorphological dynamics, and climate studies were presented at the IPA–Spain meeting in La Granja–San Ildefonso (Segovia) in June. The collaboration between the Universities of Lisbon (G. Vieira) and of Alcalá de Henares (Spain–M. Ramos) that focus on the study of the active layer and permafrost on Livingston Island (Antarctic) continues and the drilling of new boreholes is planned. Results of this joint project were presented at 8th ICOP.

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


Field investigations were conducted over the Russian permafrost territory including the Northeast, Yakutia, northern West Siberia, Zabaikalye, Sakhalin, Primorye and the European North. They mostly involved surveys for large investment projects related to pipeline construction and mining operations.

Geochemical and permafrost ecological research was undertaken on Yamal peninsula and along the lower reaches of Yenisei and Pechora rivers by the Production and Research Institute for Engineering Construction Survey, Permafrost Institute (SB RAS), Institute of the Earth Cryosphere (SB RAS), Moscow State University, and others.

Measurements of borehole temperatures, frost heaving, thermokarst settlements, thermoerosion, characteristics of groundwater regime, and meteorological parameters continued at permafrost stations. Continuous instrumental observations have been supported for more than 25 years at Vorkuta, Nadym, Marre-Sale and Yakutsk. The Permafrost Institute established a new permafrost station on the Selenga River delta for the study of seasonally and perennially frozen ground. The data will be used to develop the river-delta model as a natural biological filter for the Lake Baikal ecosystem.

The efforts of many researchers and organisations were concentrated on the Global Change problem. The University of Colorado and the Institute of Physical-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science analyzed trends of the air and ground temperatures for the Russian territory from 242 meteorological stations. The permafrost response to the climate changes is essentially distinct in different regions. As a result of “MIRECO” programme it was revealed that from 1970 to 1995, the permafrost table was disconnected from the active layer bottom within vast areas of discontinuous permafrost zone. Many Russian geocryologists are inclined to consider contemporary warming as a phenomenon provoked mainly by natural causes rather than human impact (V.T. Balobayev, A.D. Douchkov, A.V. Pavlov, N.I. Shender, and N.A. Shpolyanskaya). There is agreement that the rapid degradation of continuous permafrost is exaggerated. Specialists of the Institute of the Earth Cryosphere negate the possibility of the degradation of continuous permafrost during next 50 years.

Russian permafrost specialists were engaged in joint investigations with colleagues from Canada (Department of Agriculture), Germany, Japan (Hokkaido University), Norway (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute), United States (University of Colorado) and others. During the past year Russian researchers participated in the following international and joint activities:

•The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) programme.

•Arctic Coastal Dynamics, the Laptev Sea System, and the Dynamics of Laptev Sea Cryolithozone.

• Completion of the international programme “SPICE– Sustainable Development of Pechora Region” in close corporation with MIRECO (former Polar Ural Geology).

A new project “Permafrost and Climate in Asia” was proposed for consideration by international sponsors. It proposes to concentrate investigations on two transects across different types of the cryolithozone: Russia-China-Japan and Russia-Kazakhstan-China.

As in preceding years the studies of the offshore-onshore permafrost of the Russian Arctic were conducted principally together with German scientists. New knowledge was obtained on the following topics:

• The evolution of the offshore permafrost and gas hydrate stability zone on the shelf of Eastern Siberia during Pleistocene and Holocene (Hans-W. Hubberten, N.N. Romanovskii and others).

•The cryogenic morphology of Quaternary deposits and sea coast abrasion in the central part of Yamal peninsula coast (A.A. Vasiliev, M.Z. Kanevsky).

•The dynamics of the coastal zone adjacent to the Lena River delta, and the recession rate of the thermoabrasive shores of the Laptev sea (F.E. Are and others).

In the course of regional, theoretical and experimental research, new results were obtained as follows:

• Scientists of the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology (MSU) analyzed the main permafrost types according to the landscape structure and estimated the risk of cryogenic hazards in oil- and gas-producing areas.

•The famous 2002 Kolka Glacier catastrophe was examined and the intensity of contemporary thermokarst subsidence was estimated following glacier descent.

• L.S. Garagoulya (Department of Geocryology, MSU) confirmed the assumption that short-period climatic cycles most likely induce thermokarst subsidence under marine climate conditions.

Among important studies conducted in the Permafrost Institute were:

•Analysis of chemical composition of atmospheric gases and aerosols for sites with different conditions of climate and human influence.

•Detailed thermal and water balance observations were performed at the Upper Kolyma plateau during the last five years; thus establishing the main peculiarities of pore ice formation and melting in the coarse-grained slope deposits.

•Computer modelling demonstrated the dependence of the floodplain taliks size upon such natural factors as permeability, path distance gradient of the flow, temperature of river water and ground surface, and rate of lateral erosion.

• Based on drilling from the sea ice at sites 0.4–1.3 km from the shoreline, the top of the permafrost table was located at depths 2–17 m below the sea bottom. The rate of thawing of subsea permafrost is very high; up to 0.1 m/year.

A number of works were directed toward the development of permafrost mapping. The Production and Research Institute for Engineering Construction Survey developed a new mapping method using a matrix system of permafrost conditions. On the basis of field research, a digital maps series was prepared for promising regions of oil and gas development. Several special maps were completed that allow the estimation of the risks of development on the Russian Arctic shoreline (M.M. Koreisha, F.M. Rivkin, and N.V. Ivanova). Map model systems were improved and digital maps with accompanying databases were drawn for the Norilsk industrial region and some oil and gas fields in the north of West Siberia (D.S. Drozdov, Institute of the Earth Cryosphere).

The Department of Geography (MSU) prepared a series of cryo-ecological maps for the European North and Western Siberia. Progress was achieved in the studies of physicochemical processes in frozen ground. In the Department of Geology (MSU), new experimental data on the ice and gas-hydrates formation were obtained for the soils with various salinity. The speed of longitudinal waves as a function of lithology was determined on the frozen ground samples that contain gas hydrates (Cheverev, Chouvilin, Ershov, and Zykov). Thermal characteristics of the frozen soils were established based on the degree of contamination by petroleum products (Ershov, Motenko). Criteria were developed for determining the limits of the plasticity of frozen ground containing high salinity. New data were obtained on unfrozen water migration in a shear zone (Roman). The team from the Permafrost Institute’s Chita laboratory studied the influence of freezing–thawing cycles on composition, structure and properties of gold-bearing deposits. Thermal properties of segregated ice were investigated under laboratory conditions (Grechishchev and others, Institute of Earth Cryosphere).

Research on the lithogenesis under permafrost conditions received further development in research of the Geography Department (MSU). The role of cryogenesis in the soil forming over the territory of modern and Pleistocene permafrost was investigated. New data were obtained on the isotope and chemical composition of surface and ground ice from the Polar Urals and Bolshezemelskaya tundra.

The Institute of Northern Mining Problems (SB RAS) developed the software for determination of the ice-cover thickness. The non-contact, georadar method was developed for measuring rates of about 20 km/h with an error not exceeding 3%. Successful tests were performed during high water on the Lena and Aldan rivers.

S.V. Alekseev (Institute of the Earth Crust, SB RAS) obtained new data on the permafrost of Yakut diamond province.

Experimental research established that in the early stage of induced polarization various types of frozen ground are characterised by either normal or abnormal values of apparent polarisation. As a result, the boundaries between different engineering geological elements during the geocryological survey in the Chita-Ingoda depression can be determined.

Important work was done on the problems of engineering geocryology. Computer modelling was carried out on the temperature fields formed around cooling underground storage of radioactive wastes (Department of Geocrylogy, MSU). Creating artificial frozen barriers can prevent the migration of radionuclides under temperate climate conditions. For the warm cryolithozone in the city of Chita recommendations were developed on stage-by-stage transfer of deformed buildings from pile foundations onto strip foundations without keeping the ground in the frozen state. This has helped to stop the buildings from subsiding (Chita’s Laboratory of Permafrost Engineering). Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology (MSU) has drawn the map of activity of cryogenic processes in the urbanized territories at the scale 1:15,000,000. It is based upon permafrost zonation according to the type and strength properties of the ground as well as temperature conditions. Population and time of settlement are taken into account and the main cryogenic hazards are determined.

Research on planetary cryology continued. Estimates were made that 15% of the Mars surface is covered with permafrost (Mitrofanov, Institute of Space Research, RAS). At Moscow State University the new version of a geologicstructural map of Mars at the scale 1:50,000,000 was prepared and pilot calculations on the size of frost-crack polygons were made (Ershov, Komarov).

The International Conference on Earth Cryosphere as an Object for Nature Management was held in Pushchino, May 25–28, 2003. It was dedicated to the memory Academician P.I. Melnikov on the 95th anniversary of his birth. Scientists from Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia and several other countries took part. The following problems were considered: nature management in arctic and subarctic regions; heat and mass transfer in cryolithozone complexes, the extreme phenomena and natural hazards in cold regions; problems of cryosphere biology; medical and social aspects of habitation in the North; cryofacial analysis and cryoindicators; physico-chemistry and geophysics of cryogenic phenomena; shelf and coastal permafrost in the Arctic. Lively discussions were induced by use of geocryological parameters (temperature at the top of permafrost horizons, the active layer thickness etc.) as the indicators of modern climate change (Anisimov, Kakunov, Malkova, Pavlov, Vasiljev). The discussions emphasised the need to develop additional research.

Russian permafrost scientists participated in 8th ICOP. Thanks to financial support from the Swiss organizing committee the Russian delegation was one of the most numerous with 43 participants including 10 students.

The World Conference on Climate Change took place in Moscow in September 29–October 3. Russian President Putin made the opening speech. He emphasized that Russia will subscribe to the Kyoto treaty based on the trustworthiness of scientific conclusions about global warming and its consequences. Considerable attention at the conference was given to discussion of permafrost response to contemporary climate change.

The Department of Geography at MSU held a scientific seminar and meeting in June devoted to memory of A.I. Popov in connection with his 90th birthday.

Monographs have been prepared as follows:

  • Geocryological Conditions Kharasavey and Kruzenshtern Gas Condensate Fields (Yamal peninsula), editor-in- chief Professor V.V. Baulin, was published.
  • Ecogeology of the European North of Russia (Republic Komi, East Part of Nenets National Region) by N.G. Oberman, I.G. Shesler and A.I. Rubtsov is accompanied by two ecogeological maps at scale 1:1,000,000 and geochemical catalogues.
  • Prospects for Steady Development of the North: Habitation in Modern Conditions by the Research Institute of Foundations and Underground Structures. Geocryological Glossary, editors V.V. Baulin and V.E. Murzaeva, Research Institute for Engineering Site Investigations (PNISS) (geos@geo.tv.sign.ru).
  • A special issue of the journal Earth Cryosphere was produced in English for 8th ICOP. Preparation for editing an English version of the journal on a continuous basis is under consideration (see Publications, p.42)

At the end of May the Russian permafrost community celebrated the 50th anniversary of Geocryology Department, Moscow State University; one of the main centers for preparing specialists in permafrost science and engineering.

Finally, we would like to mention the 70th birthdays of two well-known scientists: Dr. V.R. Alekseev (Institute of Geography, SB RAS) and Dr. L.N. Khrustalyov (Moscow State University) who are cordially congratulated by their colleagues.

A.V. Pavlov and G.Z. Perlshtein (kriozem@online.ru)


The VI Meeting of the IPA-Spain group took place from June 25–27, 2003, in La Granja de San Idelfonso (Segovia, Spain) at the base of the northern foothills of Peñalara Massif (Guadarrama Mountains of Spain’s Central Range). Members of the Department of Geodynamics at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Department of Geological Engineering at Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha organised the meeting.

The general topic of the meeting was “periglacialism in relation to other topics,” and the discussions highlighted the interaction between phenomena derived from freezingthawing processes and factors typically associated with slope stability and vegetation colonization. The opening presentation given by the Director of Peñalara Natural Park reviewed the status of ecological restoration work being done in a high mountain area of the park. The area was once the site of a ski station and now the habitat is being reclaimed to its natural dynamics. Two other park employees discussed the difficulties of regenerating the natural ecosystems in areas affected by numerous freeze–thaw cycles. In the scientific sessions fifteen papers were presented that focused mainly on the Iberian mountains. They were grouped into three categories: monitoring and dynamic characterisation of cold-climate processes; ecology, paleoclimatology, and natural hazards in cold-climate areas; and morphogenesis derived from cold-climate processes.

Field work was conducted on Peñalara Massif (2428 m), the highest peak in the Guadarrama Mountains, to gain insight to current periglacial activity above 1900 m, to detect morphologic indications that reveal current activity, and to interpret data collected at local control stations.

The team leaders of the IPA-Spain group closed the meeting with the presentation of the results of a detailed survey sent to group members to determine priorities for the direction of research presented in scientific works up to the present, set priorities and propose future research. Members agreed to the proposal to coordinate work on permafrost monitoring and periglacial processes underway in several mountain ranges of the Iberian Peninsula (Pyrenees, Central Range and Sierra Nevada) and in the Antarctic, and to study the possibility of creating a network for the exchange of information among the different stations.

Discussions took place with Gonçalo Vieria to create a joint IPA Co-chaired Member (Iberia Member) between Spain and Portugal. This proposal was made to the IPA Executive Committee for Council consideration.

Javier Pedraza and David Palaçios (davidp@ghis.ucm.es)


Research activities included those at the Abisko Research Station, CALM–related observations, and other university projects dealing with permafrost and periglacial environments in the alpine, Arctic and Antarctica.

Lund University: The Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, has undergone a reorganisation and has merged with two research groups from the Department. of Ecology. Together with geology, a new Geobiosphere Centre has been created that now occupies new departmental buildings.

In September 2003 a new CALM-grid monitoring programme was established by Torbjörn Johansson at the Stordalen mire (68°20’N, 19°02’E) in the vicinity of the Abisko Research Station (ARS), northern Sweden. The first measurements were obtained together with Jonas Åkerman. Basic parameters of soil and air temperatures, radiation, precipitation, water table position and soil moisture are monitored during the year at different sub-sites on the mire. In cooperation with the ARS, Åkerman continued the annual, long-term (1978 to present) observations at the 10 CALM sites along the 100-km east-west transect. By extending the existing long-term monitoring programme to the Stordalen mire we now cover the mire in the region that has been most closely investigated since the IBP programme of the 1970s. Recent studies using aerial photography show large-scale changes during the last decades in the mires with underlying permafrost.

Due to financial limitations, the standard active-layer monitoring in the Kapp Linne area, Svalbard, started in 1972, were not obtained in 2003. Future cooperation with UNIS or other partners may result in the continuation of the programme. However, Åkerman is still maintaining a limited monitoring programme of active periglacial processes and their climatic significance in the Kapp Linne’ area, Svalbard.

Uppsala University: Phil Wookey, Else Kolstrup and Göran Possnert continue a previously announced project on soil organic matter in high latitude soil. A project on the response of the forest-tundra ecotone to environmental change (DART: www.durham.ac.uk/DART) has so far resulted in a doctoral thesis by Sofie Sjögersten. Developing DART further, Wookey is Senior Visiting Scientist in a new U.K. NERC-funded project entitled “Snow in Tundra Ecosystems: Patterns, Processes and Scaling” (STEPPS, coordinated by Robert Baxter: http://www.dur.ac.uk/stepps. project/). Jan Boelhouwers has initiated a project on environmental controls on solifluction and frost heave processes in the Abisko area and continues his previously reported activities. A 2003 project headed by Else Kolstrup on boundary constraints of periglacial phenomena in Scandinavia has resulted in a doctoral thesis on palsas by Frieda Zuidhoff. Also, a “stone growth” project is being continued by Else Kolstrup, who also investigates relict periglacial phenomena. Visiting scientist Achim A. Beylich continues projects on sediment budgets in Iceland and Lapland (see German report, p.24).

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

Stockholm University: The Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology announced the appointment of Peter Kuhry to the position of Professor in Physical Geography. Recruitment for a two-year post doctoral position within the field of Arctic Palaeoclimatology and/or Permafrost studies was also announced.

Jonas Åkerman (Jonas.Akerman@natgeo.lu.se) Else Kolstrup (else.kolstrup@natgeog.uu.se)


The EVENT in 2003 was the preparation for the 8th International Conference on Permafrost in July. The main work load was carried out by the University of Zurich, the ETH Zurich and the SLF Davos, but all other Swiss institutes working on permafrost contributed as well.


The first pilot phase of the “Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS)” will come to an end this year. During the second pilot phase (2004–2005) the methodology of the BTS-area part of PERMOS will be improved. The following activities are reported by several institutes:

•The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) has started a new project to investigate the role of water in the active layer on steep scree slopes in alpine permafrost. Armin Rist is undertaking a Ph.D. in this context to obtain a better understanding of the interactions between water, ground temperature, and slope stability. Two boreholes were drilled in 2002 at Flüela Pass by Martina Lütschg who is monitoring and modelling the permafrost at the foot of a slope cooled by avalanche deposits. After being an editor of the 2003 ICOP proceedings, Marcia Phillips continues to monitor the performance of snow-supporting structures on steep avalanche slopes in creeping permafrost at three high altitude sites, and is involved in a project concerning a chairlift with stability problems. The SLF borehole programme now has a total of 12 boreholes at various sites in the eastern and western Swiss Alps in which ground temperatures and slope stability measurement are made—most of these are included in the PERMOS network.

• Permafrost monitoring on Schilthorn combined with geophysical and meteorological measurements has continued by Christian Hauck (Institute for MeteorMeteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe), Ingo Völksch (ETH Zurich), Lars Schudel and Martin Hoelzle (University of Zurich).

•At the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group (University of Zurich), a number of permafrost activities are reported:

  • GIS-based modelling of rock glacier distribution in the Upper Engadin area is being performed by Regula Frauenfelder, Bernhard Schneider (University of Basel), Wilfried Haeberli and Martin Hoelzle;
  • Energy flux processes in the active layer in the Corvatsch area are being investigated by Susanne Hanson, Monika Oswald and Martin Hoelzle;
  • Rock wall temperatures and application of the surface energy balance model Permebal provide spatial surface temperature information. Hyperspectral and laser altimeter remote sensing data are used for the determination of accurate surface characterization such as albedo and surface roughness, which are used as input for the Permebal model (Stephan Gruber, Stephan Heiner, Daniel Schläpfer, Martin Hoelzle);
  • Downscaling of climate model information for coupling with local energy balance models is being investigated in the Swiss Alps by Nadine Salzmann and Martin Hoelzle;
  • Energy balance measurements and validation of the Permebal model in the Stockhorn-Zermatt area are performed by Nina Riesen, Stephan Gruber and Martin Hoelzle.

•On the two rock glaciers Muragl and Murtèl-Corvatsch temperature monitoring and borehole deformation measurements are ongoing within PERMOS. Based on the results of ETH-Mini-Poly project, laboratory experiments are being performed at the Institute for Geotechnical Engineering, ETH Zurich (Sarah Springman, Lukas Arenson).

• As for the past several years, at the Institutes of Geography of the Universities of Lausanne (Christophe Lambiel, Emmanuel Reynard) and Fribourg (Reynald Delaloye, Sébastien Métrailler) permafrost activities continue in close collaboration. The focus remains on the investigation of permafrost conditions on scree slopes, on the Little Ice Age forefields of small glaciers as well as on several rock glaciers, mainly in the western Swiss Alps. Some new sites are being investigated:

  • On the Aget glacier forefield (Bagnes valley), frozen materials were moved by the Little Ice Age advance of the glacier. The frozen ground is now creeping/sliding backward due to the absence of the glacier (30 cm/a).
  • In the Réchy/Lona region, the same electrical soundings and BTS measurements were carried out as in 1990 and compared (in collaboration with R. Lugon, University Institute Kurt Bösch, Sion).
  • A 20-m deep borehole was drilled in the frozen lateral moraine of the Tortin glacier (Mont Fort; temperatures are between –0.5 and –0.75°C).
  • A steep valley side affected by slope and rock instabilities was investigated in the Arolla area. Many DC resistivity soundings and resistivity mapping lines were carried out on the different objects of the site (rock glaciers, scree slopes and glacier forefield).

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

United Kingdom

A conference entitled Cryospheric Systems: Glaciers and Permafrost was organised by the British Geomorphological Research Group and the Quaternary Research Association at Burlington House, the headquarters of the Geological Society of London, on January 13–14, 2003. The convenors were Charles Harris and Julian Murton.

The meeting was attended by some 60 participants from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S.A. The aim of the conference was to explore the interactions between glacial and periglacial geocryological systems. An excellent series of papers was presented, generating a lively and stimulating discussion. A collection of papers presented at the conference is to be published as a Special Publication of the Geological Society of London and edited by Harris and Murton. The publication will include papers discussing a) glacierpermafrost interaction, b) the dynamics of the ice margin and the paraglacial zone, c) permafrost processes, d) cryogenic rock weathering, and e) periglacial slopes.

United Kingdom Nirex Ltd. have continued their involvement in an international project to characterise a continuous permafrost site in northern Canada, to better understand processes of subsurface water-rock interactions under cold climate conditions (as an analogue for conditions in the U.K. far into the future). The work is coordinated by the Geological Survey of Finland and participants include radioactive waste management agencies from Finland, Sweden, Canada and the U.K., as well as the University of Waterloo. The field study area is the Lupin gold mine in the Nunavut Territory. Permafrost extends to approximately 550 m depth. During 2002/03 investigations comprised:

  • A wide-band electromagnetic survey (SAMPO). At Lupin sounding anomalies form a subhorizontal layer at depths between 400 and 700 m, in contrast to the vertical orientation of the geological units in the area.
  • Drilling of boreholes (to 515 m) from adits in the mine to obtain groundwater samples and investigate hydraulically active fractures. The groundwater samples were analysed to investigate signs of freezing out processes that may cause fractionation of saline waters from fresher waters.
  • Sampling of lake waters. The research area is characterised by a large number of smaller and larger lakes and ponds. Surface waters are being analysed to ascertain if there might be present discharge locally of deep groundwaters. This kind of situation might be experienced in a talik structure related to major fault structures, such as at Lupin.

In addition to the field studies, freeze-out experimental work has been carried out by Waterloo University. Key objectives of the study were:

  • To measure changes in elemental compositions and isotopic systematics related to the freezing of Canadian and Fennoscandian Shield groundwaters;
  • To assess the importance of geochemical and isotopic signatures resulting from ‘freezing out’ on the recognition and interpretation of paleofluids; and
  • To conduct a preliminary assessment of solute and mineralogic implications for flow system characterisation and evolution of shield groundwater composition.   

The methods and results of Phase II of the Lupin study will be reported by the Geological Survey of Finland later in 2003.

A U.K. Natural Environment Research Council funded physical modelling experiment on bedrock fracture by ice segregation is being carried out in two cold rooms at the CNRS Centre de Géomorphologie, Caen, France, by Julian Murton, Jean-Claude Ozouf, Gerard Guillemet, and others. Crack development, rock surface heave, temperature and porewater pressure have been monitored in 10 blocks of chalk 45-cm-high during the course of more than 20 freeze-thaw cycles under conditions of simulated permafrost and seasonally frozen ground. As expected, the location cracking by ice segregation is strongly controlled by the thermal regime. In permafrost (2-sided freezing), cracking commenced at a depth determined by the permafrost table, with significant ice segregation occurring during thaw cycles. By contrast, in seasonally frozen rock (1-sided freezing), the location of cracking is more variable and closer to the rock surface.

A new research project at Cardiff University has been initiated in collaboration with the Welsh conservation body, the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), concerned with the nature, distribution and mode of formation of relict ground ice features (ramparted depressions) in Wales. The associated Ph.D. programme by Neil Ross will be completed in 2005 and it is planned to include field investigations of modern active ground-ice features (open-system pingos) in Svalbard as part of the research programme.

The new U.K. representative on the IPA Council is Dr. Julian Murton of the University of Sussex. He replaces Charlie Harris who was elected as a Vice President at the Zurich conference. Julian has worked extensively in the Canadian Arctic, undertaken laboratory simulation experiments of cryogenic processes, and investigated Pleistocene periglacial stratigraphy in the U.K..

Charles Harris (harrisc@cardiff.ac.uk)

United States of America

Two oral sessions and one poster session on permafrost were presented at the Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco the week of December 8, 2003. The U.S. Permafrost Association held its annual meeting at the AGU. Results of this year’s election are posted on the Association’s web site (www.uspermafrost. org).

During the past year membership in the USPA increased to 170 individual, corporate and institutional members. U.S. participation in the 8th ICOP included 48 attendees, 40 papers published in the proceedings, and nine extended abstracts. The USPA was unanimously elected by the American Geological Institute’s (AGI) Member Society Council as its 42nd Member Society (www.agiweb.org).

A program focused upon the freshwater cycle of the Arctic Basin was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation under the SEARCH program. Projects under this “Freshwater Initiative” address the goals of the Arctic- CHAMP program (http://arcticchamp.sr.unh.edu/index. shtml):

  • Assess and better understand the stocks and fluxes within the arctic hydrologic cycle
  • Document natural variability in and changes to the arctic water cycle
  • Understand the sources of natural variability and causes of arctic water cycle change and assess their direct impacts on biological and biogeochemical systems
  • Develop predictive simulations of the response of the earth system and human society to feedbacks arising from natural variability and progressive changes to the arctic hydrological cycle.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) met in Las Vegas in March. Dan Smith (University of Alberta) presented plans for the 12th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Edmonton, Alberta, May 16–19, 2004. The 13th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering is being planned for Bangor, Maine, in June or July 2006. About 10 members of TCCRE participated in the 8th ICOP. ASCE President Patricia Galloway is planning to visit Finland and Russia in June 2004. TCCRE is providing input on ASCE’s involvement in cold regions engineering for a presentation to the Association of Finnish Civil Engineers during the visit. TCCRE members are contributing to the following conferences: Winter Cities in Anchorage (February 2004); EWRI World Water Congress (Anchorage, May 2005), ISCORD2004/Symposium, and the 13th International IAHR St. Petersburg Ice Symposium (June 2004). TCCRE committees continue to produce the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, Cold Regions Monographs, and programs for sessions at ASCE national meetings.

The 135-acre, CRREL Farmer’s Loop Road permafrost site, Fairbanks, Alaska was dedicated as one of the National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites (NGES) at a ribboncutting ceremony on September 23, 2003. The NGES Geo Council serves as a forum for exchanging ideas and information among geo-engineering associations and professions, construction organisations, and government agencies. Engineering research has been conducted on the site since the late 1940s and included experimental permafrost foundations, the measurement of frost heave forces on piles, long-term influence of vegetation on permafrost stability, experimental road surfaces, insulation of roads and thawing of permafrost by passive solar means, and bioremediation. With the addition of the CRREL site the NGES Program now has seven sites available to the geo-community to advance the state-of-the-art in the areas of in-situ field testing, field instrumentation, prediction of soil behavior, and foundation prototype testing.

Tingjun Zhang and Roger G. Barry, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), University of Colorado, report a number of current projects and activities:                 

  • Historical soil temperature changes in the Russian Arctic and Subarctic
  • Inter-decadal variations of freeze and thaw depths in Russia
  • Response of river runoff to permafrost thawing in the Russian Arctic drainage basin
  • Numerical simulation of talik formation under thaw lakes and talik freeze-up following thaw lake drainage
  • Detecting near-surface soil freeze/thaw cycle using a frozen ground algorithm
  • The Frozen Ground Data Center http://nsidc.org/fgdc Larry Hinzman and Doug Kane, University of Alaska– Fairbanks, report that numerous studies related to permafrost hydrology have been initiated or continued at the University of Alaska–Fairbanks Water and Environmental Research Center. These include studies on the impacts of water removal from tundra ponds, assessing the changes in water resource use on the Seward Peninsula for the last century, and assessment of wildfire in tundra watersheds (http://www.uaf.edu/water/projects).

Several WERC researchers are also involved in the Freshwater Initiative (see above item), as well as continuing hydrological studies and observations started in 1984 in the Kuparuk River watershed, Northern Alaska.

Ken Hinkel, University of Cincinnati and Frederick Nelson and Nikolai Shiklomanov, University of Delaware, report on several related activities. The first five-year phase of the Circumpolar Arctic Layer Monitoring (CALM) program was completed, and plans for the second, five-year phase were initiated. Summer 2003 observations continued at many of the 125 circumpolar sites in Northern Alaska. Average grid thaw depths were about the same as in 2002 and, in general, average thaw depths were 10-20 cm below peak averages experienced in 1998. Thickness of the organic layer was determined by Jim Bockheim, University of Wisconsin, on the seven Alaskan CALM grids. Soil temperature and drift thickness have been monitored since 1997 along the 3.2-km long and 4-m high snow fence. Ground subsidence beneath the drift crest appears to be ongoing, most of the vegetation is dead, and ponding has become more pronounced. In August, about 70 air and soil temperature loggers were serviced in and around Barrow; these are used to monitor the urban heat island (UHI) effect in the 150 km2 study area. There is a direct correlation between the UHI magnitude and fossil fuel consumption. Anna Klene is completing her doctoral dissertation on theUHI project.

Wendy Eisner, Kenneth Hinkel, and Richard Beck, University of Cincinnati, and James Bockheim, University of Wisconsin, are investigating research on paleoenvironments, geomorphic processes, and carbon stocks of drained thaw-lake basins on the Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain. In 2003, fieldwork included thaw-lake basins, sites not impacted by the thaw-lake cycle, and ancient backshore beach dune complex. Paleosol sequences were sampled to help elucidate the erosional/depositional history of the Atqasuk region. Interviews with Inupiat community elders offered invaluable observations on landscape and climate change, as well as accounts of their cultural traditions and personal history.

During 2003, the Permafrost Lab of the Geophysical Institute UAF continued observations of the active layer depth, moisture and temperature and the permafrost temperature dynamics at the numerous permafrost observatories within the Alaskan Arctic and Sub-Arctic. A new active layer/near-surface permafrost observatory was established on the Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic (under Walker’s Biocomplexity project). The IARC-funded permafrost observatory at Barrow was equipped with additional snow depth sensors. Establishment of a new permafrost observatory in the Cooper River basin was initiated. This site is very interesting because the old (Late Pleistocene) permafrost is almost continuous at this relatively southern location. At the same time, the temperature of permafrost at this site is very close to the melting point of ice and is continuing to rise. Ph.D. dissertation “Permafrost Dynamics in 20th and 21th Centuries Along the East-Siberian and Alaskan Transects” by Tatiana Sazonova was completed.

Tom Osterkamp reported at the 8th ICOP that permafrost temperatures along a north-south transect from Prudhoe Bay to Gulkana have generally warmed since the late 1980s, initially in response to thicker snow covers and continues into 2003. The warming north of the Brooks Range (2 to 4 °C) is comparable in magnitude to the century long warming there. Thin discontinuous permafrost is thawing at the base at a rate of 0.04 m per year at one site.

Gary Clow, U. S. Geological Survey, completed logging the 21 NPRA deep borehole array, downloaded data loggers from the soil temperature, active-layer network, added soil moisture sensors to nearly all the stations, and installed three new stations (two in NPRA and one in ANWR) as its contribution to the Global Terrestrial network for permafrost (GTN-P).

Walter Oechel and Kristen Freeman, San Diego State University, continue measurements of mass (CO2 and H2O) and energy fluxes at Barrow, Atqasuk, and Ivotuk, Alaska. All three sites are validation sites of CO2 flux for MODIS product over the Arctic region. A portable eddy covariance tower was deployed to measure mass and energy fluxes at three locations along a transect between Barrow and Atqasuk. Soil respiration using automatic soil respiration chambers and soil CO2 concentration were measured at both the Barrow and Atqasuk sites.

Patrick J. Webber, Craig E. Tweedie, and Robert D. Hollister, Michigan State University, report on recent activities at the Arctic Ecology Laboratory at Michigan State University (www.cevl.msu.edu/ael/) that includes organisation activities for CEON (see p. 41), continuation of ITEX research and vegetation mapping at Barrow, and an undergraduate trip in December 2003 to Patagonia and Antarctica on a new MSU study abroad field course.

Donald (Skip) Walker, University of Alaska, and a team including 19 scientists and students from the U.S. and Canada completed its second field season investigating the effects of climate on frost-boil ecosystems. The project, funded under the NSF Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) initiative, has as its main objective to determine how the decreased activity of vegetation in colder climates affects frost heave processes, and the size and spacing of frost boils, across all five arctic bioclimate subzones. This summer three Canadian research sites were established at Green Cabin in Aulavik National Park, Banks Island, and Mould Bay, Prince Patrick Island. Key factors being studied are the role of cryoturbation in sequestering soil carbon, and how biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen is affected by cryoturbation.

Nicole Mölders and John E. Walsh, Geophysical Institute and the International Arctic Research Center, University Alaska–Fairbanks, are modeling the impact of permafrost and snow on the thermal and hydrologic regimes of the Arctic. The soil frost and snow modules of the hydrothermodynamic soil vegetation scheme (HTSVS) were implemented and tested within the offline version of the Common Land Model (CLM) of the NCAR Community Climate System Model (CCSM). As the project evolves, we will address changes in permafrost and associated hydrologic impacts in the context of greenhouse-gasinduced climatic change.

Ron Sletten and Bernard Hallet, University of Washington, established two physical and chemical monitoring sites at Thule, Greenland. This project is part of the NSFfunded biocomplexity project on carbon and nutrient cycling led by Jeff Welker, Colorado State University and includes Josh Schimel, University of California–Santa Barbara. The UW group also conducted the final field season in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica, on a project investigating surface ages and turnover due to contraction cracks; data includes continuous records of contraction crack dynamics (hourly data) and soil temperature at varying depths up to 20 m over the past five years.

Torre Jorgenson and Erik Pullman ABR, Inc., and Yuri Shur, University of Alaska, completed their third field season in the eastern NPRA, northcentral Alaska, studying lake basin development, floodplain development, and icewedge degradation as part of environmental baseline studies funded by Conoco Phillips Alaska, Inc. The work focuses on quantifying ground ice, sediment, and carbon stratigraphy within geomorphic units across the landscape. Ken Karle, Hydrologic Mapping and Modeling, Inc., Yuri Shur, and Torre Jorgenson initiated a pilot-scale project to evaluate remote sensing techniques for monitoring permafrost changes in central Alaska for the National Park Service.

Ted Vinson, Oregon State University, continues to promote the use of probabilistic methods in cold regions engineering design, which now incorporates global climate change considerations. He is currently working on a Federal Highway Administration project to produce an interactive instructional CD (or DVD) on Geotechnical Considerations and Road Foundation Engineering Practice in Cold Regions.

Tom Douglas, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Mark Conrad and Katharine Woods, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Shirish Patil, University of Alaska Fairbanks are investigating permafrost cores to better understand the stable isotopic regime of methane hydrates. The core samples are from the 425-m deep Hot Ice #1 borehole drilled by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Maurer Technology, and the U.S. Department of Energy during March and April of 2003. The borehole penetrated permafrost at about 380 m. Preliminary isotopic results show increasing inputs of CO2 derived from hydrocarbons/hydrates with depth, and may yield insight into methane hydrate formation within the permafrost.

Hannele Zubeck, University of Alaska Anchorage, continues research on foundations in permafrost, and includes field testing on removable piles in support of Hot Ice #1—the arctic tundra platform that holds the drilling rig and operations for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s methane hydrate production.

Larry Bryne, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and associates continue the investigation as to when the tundra is ‘sufficiently hard’ to allow off road travel for the purpose of seismic exploration, oil field development and maintenance in the North Slope oil fields around Prudhoe Bay. The criterion which DNR follows for opening the tundra is 6 inches of snow and 12 inches of ground frost. Over the past 30 years the exploration season has decreased by over 100 days because the tundra has been slower to harden in the winter. Last December, DNR allowed Conoco Phillips Alaska (CPA) to construct a mile section of ‘demonstration’ ice road to assess these techniques.

David Esch, with Geo Engineers Inc., Anchorage, is currently involved in the Alaska Department of Transportation study of life-cycle costs of the airports in the Yukon- Kuskokwim Delta region. This includes the analysis of present construction methods and providing recommendations for the most suitable and economical methods of constructing and maintaining airfield embankments on the discontinuous permafrost of the region, and which are underlain primarily by ice-rich organic silts, and lack suitable sources of gravels for the construction of embankments.

Vladimir Aizen, University of Idaho, and an international team recovered two, 175-m surface to bottom icecores from the Belukha Plateau at the Siberian Altai in August 2003. The cores may record a 2,000-year climatic and environmental record. A 21-m shallow snow/firn core was recovered from the Bomi glaciated area in southern Tibet in October 2003. Several automatic weather stations are located at 4800 and 5800 m asl.

H. Jesse Walker, Louisiana State University, reports that the Colville River delta information has a new URL: http://louisdl.louislibraries.org. The “Colville Delta” collection has 53 texts, 24 tables/graphs, 50 maps, 1145 photographs and 870 aerial photographs ranging in dates from 1947 to 1992. The materials can be searched under 894 subject titles.

Details of the above reports and additional reports of U.S. permafrost activities are posted on the USPA web site. The report Climate Change, Permafrost and Infrastructure was published in 2003 and is available from the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (www.arctic.gov).

Larry Hinzman (ffldh@uaf.edu); USPA President Lynn Everett (everett.2@osu.edu); USPA Secretary