2004 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

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

Argentina (and South American Partners)

The book Los fenómenos periglaciales. Identificación, determinación y aplicación by Dario Trombotto and Ana Lía Ahumada is in the process of being published by the Fundación Miguel Lillo. This book synthesizes the current information about periglacial processes on the basis of the research carried out in Argentina and other parts of South America.

Under the direction of Ana Lía Ahumada, the Northwest Argentina working group of the Institute for Quaternary Geology of the ”Fundación Miguel Lillo” continues working on a high basins inventory of eastern Sierra de Aconquija. A special emphasis is on the water (ice) content of rock glaciers and on hazard assessment in these high mountain areas sensitive to climatic change.

Further monitoring of the rock glacier Morenas Coloradas in the Central Mendoza Andes (Dario Trombotto, IANIGLA, Mendoza) indicated in summer 2004 a temperature of 2.58C at 5 m depth at Balcón I (3560 m asl), i.e. where top of the permafrost permafrost occurred until 1999. Another increase in active layer thickness, although less pronounced (15 cm), could also be observed at Balcón II (3770 m asl). Active layer thickening is accompanied by a reactivation of ancient thermokarst.

Bolivia: The Bolivian (J. Argollo)–Argentinian (R. Villalba) research project ”Cryogenic processes as a major forcing of upper-treeline limit of Polylepis in the Bolivian Altiplano” is aimed at climate variations reconstruction using proxy data from high regions across the Western Americas. Tree-ring data have been collected for the past four years in the southern Bolivian Altiplano. Polylepis tarapacana (queñoa) is a good indicator of interannual precipitation changes and some queñoa cross-sections have been collected between 4500 and 4750 m asl on old volcanoes (five in Bolivia and one in Argentina). Landscape features linked to inactive cryologic processes are common in the area. At the Uturunco volcano (218S, 678W), the upper limit of the queñoa woodlands appears to be controlled by rock streams (Andean kurums) that were probably active during the Little Ice Age. These features are better developed on the S-SW slopes than on N-facing slopes; queñoas can therefore reach higher elevations on these slopes. Cross-sections from Polylepis trees killed by this downslope movement of rock and ice have been used for dating the activation of these cryogenic processes using dendrochronological techniques. Bernard Francou and his team (Institute of Research for Development, France) have established a glacier monitoring network that includes glaciers of the Cordillera Real, Zongo and Chacaltaya (Bolivia, 168S). A summary of the research on the Cerro Caquella rock glacier is ready for publication.

Brazil: The Antarctic working group of Proantar-Brazil (F. Simas and C. Schaefer), a new group in the AASP, continued working on permafrost investigations and chemical processes on King George Island, Antarctica. A summary of their work was published in the proceedings of the 2004 SCAR meeting in Bremen.

Chile: Rock glaciers in the semiarid Andes of Chile are being studied by geomorphologists from the Humboldt University Berlin. On the basis of random sampling and aerial photographs, Alexander Brenning established a regression model correlating relief parameters to rock glacier and glacier distribution in the Santiago and Mendoza Andes. A rock glacier was discovered in the Santiago Andes just 10 km east of the Chilean capital—a striking proof of the need for further permafrost investigation in Chile. First results were presented at the EGU Conference in Nice. Further research on the Punta Negra rock glacier (Santiago Andes) by Tobias Wittkopf includes monitoring ground temperatures between 2500 and 4000 m asl in order to better understand soil-snow-atmosphere heat exchanges (Andreas Lamm).

Ecuador and Perú: A large-scale monitoring programme (B. Francou, IRD) in these countries (together with Bolivia, see above) includes mass balance (energy balance), ENSO events and hydrological balance on several tropical glaciers at the Cordillera Blanca, Yanamarey and Artezonraju in Peru (98S) and in the Ecuadorian Andes (Antizana and Carihauyrazo, appr. 08). A workshop on this topic was carried out in July in Huaraz. Despite smaller retreat rates during cold events (La Niña), tropical glaciers retreat has been accelerating since the late 1970s in an area extending from Ecuador to Bolivia.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the colleagues from different South American countries, Switzerland, Germany and France for their support of the Argentine IPA representation.

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


Frozen ground research at the University of Ghent (I. Heyse and G. Ghysels) mainly focuses on the study of relict periglacial phenomena. During the Pleistocene, Belgium was situated in the ice-free cold-climatic zone surrounding the Fennoscandinavian Ice Sheet.

Evidence for these very cold conditions is provided by relict cryogenic features, including frost-wedge pseudomorphs. Gunther Ghysels is doing a PhD on frost-wedge pseudomorphs in Flanders (Belgium).

Frost-wedge pseudomorphs are widespread and occur at different stratigraphic levels, suggesting widespread and periodical thermal contraction cracking during the Pleistocene. This research aims at better understanding the variety and types of frost-wedge pseudomorphs in Flanders, their spatial distribution, age and chronology, their palaeoenvironmental significance and the relation between phases of wedge formation/degradation and climate/ climatic changes as recorded in ice-core and marine records. OSL-dating is now being applied to the wedge fillings, adjacent and overlying materials to obtain a more precise and accurate absolute chronology for frost-wedge formation and degradation. Completion of this study and presentation of the final results are planned for 2005.

Irenée Heyse (Irene.heyse@rug.ac.be)


One of the noteworthy events in Canada in 2004 was the special session held in honour of Professor Hugh French, as part of the joint Canadian Geomorphology Research Group/Association Québecoise pour l’Etude du Quaternaire meeting.

Hugh officially retired from the University of Ottawa in 2003 after a 36-year career in the Department of Geography and the Department of Earth Sciences. Among the awards that Hugh received during his career were the Roger J.E. Brown Award of the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 1989 for outstanding contributions to permafrost science and engineering, and the Canadian Association of Geographers Award for Scholarly Distinction in 1995. Hugh is now Professor Emeritus, but continues to teach courses including a periglacial field course in the Gaspésie (eastern Canada).

The day-long special session on May 15, 2004, in Quebec City honoured Hugh’s distinguished career as professor, permafrost scientist, founder and editor of the journal of Permafrost and Periglacial Processes (PPP), and member and past President of the IPA Executive. Over 30 permafrost researchers attended from Canada and abroad (Japan, Norway, Belgium, U.K., U.S.A.). The introduction to the meeting was made by Albert Pissart, Professor Emeritus at Liège, who worked with Hugh on Banks Island in the 1970s and later was Associate Editor on PPP; Jerry Brown; and Antoni Lewkowicz, Hugh’s former graduate student and Associate Editor of PPP. The latter and two other former graduate students, Wayne Pollard (McGill) and Julian Murton (Sussex) gave papers. Many of the more than 20 papers from the special session will be published in 2005 in the first issue of volume 16 of PPP as a lasting tribute to Hugh French’s influence on the field of permafrost science. The special session and special volume were organized by Antoni Lewkowicz.

On November 15–16 in Calgary, another special event took place—the two-day Permafrost and Arctic Geotechnology Symposium, “Our Canadian Legacy.” The symposium, organized by the Cold Regions Geotechnology Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society, featured more than a dozen Canadian permafrost pioneers and specialists either summarizing their areas of expertise and/or sharing interesting and challenging case histories. Symposium attendance far exceeded expectations, clearly demonstrating the renewed interest in permafrost engineering issues associated with resource developments in Canada’s North. A highlight was the presence of Dr. J. Ross Mackay, who introduced Dr. Chris Burn, who spoke on climate change in the Mackenzie Valley. The programme and list of presentations can be found at http:// members. shaw.ca/cgssymposium.

In another notable event, Dan Riseborough (GSC/ NRCan) received the Senate Medal for Outstanding Achievement at the doctoral level and the Governor General’s Medal for the top student of all 2004 graduating classes. The awards were in recognition of his outstanding dissertation presented at Carleton University in September 2004 entitled “Exploring the Parameters of a Simple Model of the Permafrost-Climate Relationship”.

Researchers from the University of Calgary, lead by Matthew Tait of Geomatics Engineering and Brian Moorman of Geography, and Geology and Geophysics, are undertaking a project to investigate methods for measuring the small scale subsidence associated with hydrocarbon extraction beneath permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta. The subsidence bowl for an individual field has been modelled to be several square kilometres in spatial extent with subsidence in the centimetre per year range. Currently, DGPS and interferometric SAR in conjunction with active layer heave modelling are being tested against traditional surveying techniques.

A study of how permafrost and hydrological systems react to rapid glacier retreat is being undertaken on Bylot Island in the Eastern Canadian Arctic by researchers at the University of Calgary (lead by B. Moorman). Recent glacial retreat has been identified to have a major influence on the hydrological system of surrounding permafrost. Ongoing research includes hydrological routing, massive ice preservation, slope stability and the thermal regime of permafrost.

Mapping and studies of the properties of the lithalsas from southern Alaska across the Yukon Territory into British Columbia has been completed (S. Harris, Univ. of Calgary). Work on the layers within the active layer was presented in June 2004 at the Tyumen permafrost conference. Field work is continuing on evidence for a similar layering in bedrock containing permafrost at Plateau Mountain. The monitoring of ground temperatures in permafrost is continuing in the Yukon.

A federal interdepartmental initiative, led by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) and noted in last year’s Frozen Ground report, was approved by Cabinet for 3-year funding of $75 million. The science supported by this funding will be focused on addressing biophysical research gaps related to northern energy development in the Mackenzie Valley and Delta, and the associated government regulatory preparedness. Over $9 million will be dedicated to geoscience studies (mostly in NRCan and also in DIAND), will include permafrost monitoring, slope stability investigations, and coastal and nearshore studies. Energy, northern and pipeline related permafrost studies by the federal government in the western arctic (onshore, coastal and offshore) also continue to be funded by the Federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD).

The application and environmental impact studies for the Mackenzie Gas Project were officially filed in October 2004 by Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited, the Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline Limited Partnership, ConocoPhillips Canada Limited, ExxonMobil Canada Properties and Shell Canada Limited. The project will involve the development of three onshore natural gas fields in the Mackenzie Delta, and the transport of natural gas via buried pipelines through the continuous and discontinuous permafrost regions of the Mackenzie valley to northwestern Alberta. A streamlined regulatory review process has begun and a Joint Environmental Assessment (EA) Review Panel has been established. Many members of the Canadian permafrost community are or will be involved in various aspects of the project and its approval, from engineering design and environmental investigations for the proponents, to reviewing the environmental impact assessment.

GSC (Geological Survey of Canada) and its partners were involved in several coastal and nearshore permafrost investigations. The application of remote sensing to coastal permafrost distribution in the Mackenzie Delta region was a primary focus (S. Solomon). Radar satellite and ground penetrating radar were used successfully to delineate areas of bottomfast ice in the nearshore region. The University of Calgary (B. Moorman) provided the expertise in GPR. Bottomfast ice distribution is a critical control on the distribution of seasonal frozen ground and permafrost in water depths shallower than 2 m. The GSC (D. Forbes, G. Manson and S. Solomon) carried out coastal stability surveys at sites throughout the western Canadian Arctic. The surveys support aspects of the joint IPA-IASC Arctic Coastal Dynamics project by providing information of coastal environments ranging from submergent and exposed to emergent and protected. This project includes partners from the departments of Fisheries and Oceans and the Geodetic Survey of Canada who are determining rates of sea level rise and vertical ground motion, respectively. Rates of ground motion are also being monitored using GPS at sites in the Mackenzie Delta. These locations will provide information on differential rates of subsidence in the delta prior to the development of oil and gas fields there. Changes in the rate of sea level rise and subsidence influence flooding frequency and therefore coastal permafrost stability.

The web site for the Canadian Permafrost Monitoring Network was updated (www.canpfnetwork.com) (S. Smith). The site now provides access to summary historical ground temperature data for several Canadian boreholes and to active layer data for monitoring sites in the Mackenzie Valley. A CD compilation of summary thermal data for Norman Wells Pipeline monitoring sites was released this year. (For more information on both these items, see the report of the Standing Committee on Data Information and Communication).

A study concerned with massive ground ice in coarsegrained deposits and its implications for granular resource inventories is being conducted in the Mackenzie Delta area by researchers from McGill University (W. Pollard) and the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) (B. Gowan). Supported by PERD and DIAND, this study addresses questions concerning the nature, origin, distribution, and significance of massive ground ice in deposits identified as potential sand and gravel sources. In 2003–04 fieldwork included a series of resistivity and GPR surveys at sites on Richards Island and along the East Channel of the Mackenzie River. Samples of ice and ice-rich sediments were taken for physical and chemical analyses. Results will facilitate characterisation of sensitivity of these sediments to natural or anthropogenic disturbance, as well as providing information about massive ice occurrence in coarse sediments. This research forms the basis of MSc research of Greg De Pascale (McGill University).

The Canadian daily snow depth database that was released on the Canadian Snow CD in 2000 has been updated to the end of the 2002/2003 snow season. The database includes daily snow depths observed at close to 2000 climate stations in Canada, monthly depth statistics (mean depth, median depth, snow cover duration) as well as climate normals for the 1971–2000 period. The updated dataset files (partitioned by province) can be downloaded from the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (www.ccin.ca) (R. Brown, Meteorological Service of Canada).

An Introduction to Frozen Ground Engineering, Second Edition by O.B. Andersland and B. Ladanyi, was published in 2004 jointly by ASCE and John Wiley & Sons, New York, 363 p. S. Solomon (NRCan/GSC) and D. Atkinson (formerly NRCan, now with the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska) completed their contributions to the Cryosphere chapter of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). They provided information on coastal permafrost and the sea level rise. B. Ladanyi (Ecole Polytechnique) contributed to the Chapter on Infrastructure, Buildings, Support Systems, and Industrial Facilities.

A two-day workshop on “Permafrost Geophysics: Exploration and Engineering Challenges” in regions of continuous and discontinuous permafrost is being organized for April 2005 in Calgary. The workshop, sponsored by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta, will involve tutorials on the current knowledge from ultra-near surface to deep oil and gas exploration. Short presentations on case studies and a panel discussion focusing on cross-disciplinary approach to permafrost investigations are planned. For many decades numerous scientific field parties operating in the Canadian Arctic have received critical logistics support from the Federal government’s Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) of NRCan. We wish to give PCSP the long overdue recognition for the significant contribution it has made to permafrost research in the Canadian Arctic, not only for Canadians but also numerous colleagues in the international community. Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)


Permafrost monitoring has been carried out continuously on the Tibetan Plateau since 1988; the year of the establishof the Cryosphere Research Station on the Qinghai- Xizang Plateau. Eleven active-layer monitoring sites, and 18 permafrost-temperature monitoring boreholes along the Qinghai-Xizang Highway (QXHW) cover almost all types of vegetation cover and permafrost found on the plateau.


The active layer monitoring sites observe air temperature and humidity at the height of 1.5 m, of soil temperature and moisture at 10 to 15 different depths from the ground surface to the base of active layer, and of soil heat fluxes at 3 depths (2, 5 and 10 cm). The depths of the 18 boreholes range from 20 to 130 m. Starting in 2000, four meteorological stations were established along the QXHW in order to measure air temperature, humidity, wind speed at 2, 5 and 10 m above the ground, solar radiation, net radiation, snow depth, and precipitation. Two fluxes monitoring sites were installed in 2004 in order to monitor the heat, moisture and carbon dioxide fluxes at 3 m above the ground surface.

Five international symposia have been held during the last ten years in order to share and exchange our experience and knowledge in permafrost engineering: in Chita (Russia), 1993; in Harbin (China), 1996; in Chita, 1998; in Lanzhou, 2000, and in Yakutsk (Russia), 2002. Since the first symposium, the participation at these bilateral symposia have increased significantly, evolving into international meetings attended by scholars and engineers from many countries. These symposia have substantially enhanced the development of permafrost science, engineering and technology and the multidisciplinary collaboration within this field. The 6th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering was held September 5–7, 2004, in Lanzhou, China. The following summary of the symposium was prepared by Huijun Jin and Guodong Cheng.

The 6th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering was successfully held under the auspices of the Glaciology and Geocryology Branch of the Chinese Geographical Society, the IPA Chinese Adhering Body. It was co-organized by the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering (SKLFSE), the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company (QTRC), the PRC Ministry of Railway, the First Railway Survey and Design Institute (FRSDI), and the United Institute of Permafrost Research and Natural Resources Development, Siberian Branch (Russian Academy of Sciences). Fifty-eight technical papers were published in the Symposium Proceedings, as a supplement of the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology (Vol. 26).

About 150 scientists and engineers from seven countries attended the symposium. Seventeen Chinese engineers and scientists and 17 scholars from six other countries participated in a field trip along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway/Railway during September 8–13, and in a seminar in Lhasa on September 14. During this seminar, the latest progress on permafrost engineering and the survey, design and construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR) were presented and discussed with some of the major railway designers, regulators and administrators.

Permafrost conditions occupy 22% of China land territory. About 70% of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is underlain by high-elevation permafrost. The QTR from Golmud to Lhasa is due for completion in 2007. It will traverse 632 km of the plateau permafrost. The Qinghai- Tibet Highway is generally parallel and about 1 to 2 km away from the railway. Chinese engineers are facing unprecedented engineering and environmental challenges; therefore, permafrost engineering has recently become the main research focus for cold regions scientists and engineers. Moreover, many foreign scientists and engineers have been invited or volunteered to become involved in the resolution of permafrost problems that are developing along the QTR.

Many promising achievements have been obtained during the past three years in the QTR construction practice. These include the adoption of techniques such as rock-stone ventilation roadbeds and side slopes, air-duct ventilated roadbeds, and thermosyphons for cooling the underlying permafrost, and the utilization of insulation boards. The techniques adopted are being tested under real conditions. However, there are still numerous engineering and environmental problems waiting for solutions. In this respect, the Lhasa symposium helped considerably in the development of applications. It aimed at soliciting comments and recommendations for the improvement of the design and construction. During the numerous discussions on design, maintenance and environmental engineering issues, international experts were encouraged to share their experience in order to assure that the QTR utilized the best standards in terms of quality and safety, within limited construction costs. Some experts pointed out that actively cooling the roadbed could be achieved by removing snow from the embankments and toe areas, or using light-coloured embankments and side slope surfaces, awnings for shading the solar radiation, and hairpin or tilted thermosyphons. Some new ideas on using “natural cold reserves” were proposed to protect the QTR permafrost roadbed from thawing.

Some of the major questions from the post-conference field trip that participants were concerned with: field explorations for the design, construction and operations; general understanding of design criteria; construction in building of the QTR; active, passive, reactive and proactive protection of the permafrost foundation underlying the railbed; interactions between the natural and engineering environments; and drainage of excess water. The major concerns from the QTR builders, authorities and administrators dealt with: long-term effects of rock-stone ventilation, convection roadbed and coarse stone protection; applicability of insulation materials; thermosyphons; impacts of climatic warming on the QTR; slope stability and hazards mitigation along railways in permafrost areas; and advice for a long-term QTR monitoring system. The participants were impressed by the innovative designs and quality of workmanship on the QTR.

Professor Valentin Kondratev invited colleagues to join the permafrost engineering conference to be held in Chita in 2005 where emphasis will be on linear infrastructures in permafrost areas. President Guodong Cheng invited participants to join the International Regional Permafrost Conference in 2006 in Lanzhou, China. It is co-sponsored by the IPA and organized jointly by the Chinese Society of Glaciology and Geocryology, the Chinese Academy Sciences, SKLFSE, CAREERI and CAS. A post-conference field excursion to the construction sites in the permafrost areas along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway/Highway will be organized (contact Prof. Lai Yuanming: ymlai@ ns.lzb.ac. cn).

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


The research group CNRS UMR 6042 (GEOLAB Laboratory, Clermont-Ferrand) continues its periglacial investigations within various research projects. The last field season of a four-year programme led by Denis Mercier and supported by the French Polar Institute took place in Northwest Spitsbergen. It is aimed at paraglacial dynamics including relationships between geomorphic processes and vegetation colonization.

In Iceland, the scientific cooperation between Armelle Decaulne and Thorsteinn Saemundsson (Natural Research Centre of Northwestern Iceland, Saudårkrokur) consisted of a joint investigation of snow-avalanche and debrisflow processes (geomorphic impact, triggering factors, slope deposit stratigraphy, relative dating using lichenometry and vegetation cover) and in a study of associated natural hazards in fjords and valleys in north and northwest Iceland. They co-organized with Achim Beylich (Geological Survey of Norway) the First SEDIFLUX Science meeting. The Second SEDIFLUX Science Meeting is organized by Samuel Etienne (setienne@seteun.net) in Clermont-Ferrand in January 2005 (see Other News).

Results from previous field seasons in Alexander Island (Antarctic Peninsula) and in the Falkland Islands are being processes by Marie-Françoise André, Kevin Hall and Joselito Arocena with a particular focus on past and present alveolar weathering, thermally-driven processes, and stone runs.

At the CNRS UMR M2C 6143 (Caen University), various research programmes are dedicated to morphodynamics in periglacial environments. In order to constrain the evolution of fault scarps and steep slopes in areas that have experienced periglacial erosion during the Quaternary, a physical modelling experiment was carried out in a cold room. Boundary conditions were assessed with reference to field data obtained along the La Hague Fault Scarp (North Cotentin, Normandy). Data from 41 freezethaw cycles point out that scarp degradation mainly results from three interactive processes: (i) cryoexpulsion that modifies the soil rheology, ii) combined effects of frost creep and gelifluction which lead to slow and gradual downslope displacements of the active layer, and iii) debris flows that induce rapid mass movements when the active layer is water saturated. One of the most surprising results of this physical modelling is the importance of rapid waterinduced mass displacement during thawing. This appears to be a very efficient process in scarp erosion and degradation.

A new programme funded by the INSU/CNRS (Programme National “Relief de la Terre” 2004) is dealing with the role of debris flows on slope degradation in periglacial environments. A research programme of the University of Sussex (Julian Murton) funded by the U.K. Natural Environmental Research Council on “Bedrock fracture by ice segregation” has been active in Caen since 2003. A new programme of the Cardiff group (C. Harris) started in 2004 on the topic of physical modelling of mass-movement processes on permafrost slopes: both fullscale (Caen refrigerated tanks) and small-scale physical modelling (Cardiff Geotechnical Centrifuge) are developed to investigate mass movement processes in clay-rich soils at steep gradients.

Martian permafrost structures were investigated at the Laboratory IDES (UMR 8148, Orsay). The frozen ground of Mars is likely to contain water ice that may be studied by either geomorphic or geophysical approaches. The Gamma-Ray Spectrometer on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft gave new data about the distribution of hydrogen, and thus ground ice, in the first metre of the planet. We interpret these data in connection with the geomorphic features observed at the same latitudes where ground ice is present (N. Mangold). This work provides a tool for studying recent features associated with the presence of very superficial ice. Investigation of the geophysical properties of Martian frozen ground by radar experiment is currently the topic of preliminary research prior to the first result of the radar MARSIS onboard Mars Express. Radar data will allow the identification of ground ice and possibly of ground water at depth of the order of several hundreds of metres. Current research concerning radar are in progress at the Laboratory IDES. It is focusing on the propagation wave of the radar response in a one cubic metre permafrost mass in a cold room. The propagation of a 08C interface have been detected with a GPR and validated with thermocouples (P. Tucholka, A. Saintenoy, F. Costard).

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


The 2nd European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP II) organized by the AWI and the ESF PACE 21 project will be held June 12–16, 2005, in Potsdam, Germany. The scientific steering committee is chaired by Charles Harris, and the local organizing committee by Hans-W. Hubberten. Permafrost scientists from Europe and other countries are invited to attend the conference and present results in the wide field of permafrost research and engineering (www.awi-potsdam.de/EUCOP).

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI-Potsdam) carried out a multidisciplinary study of the coastal region of Cape Mamontov Klyk (Western Laptev Sea) in summer 2003 (L. Schirrmeister, M. Grigoriev). The main topic of the new Russian-German project “Process studies of permafrost dynamics in the Laptev Sea” is transition processes from terrestrial to submarine permafrost. A joint Russian/German expedition focused on geocryological and sedimentological investigations, periglacial morphology, palaeosols, modern periglacial surface conditions, coastal dynamics, and hydrological and palaeontological studies. Other topics included palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, interpretation of remote sensing data, methane budget calculations and permafrost transformation. The 7th expedition to the Lena River Delta (May–July 2004, D. Wagner) focused on trace gas flux measurements and the microbial community involved in the carbon turnover during the thawing of the active layer. Micrometeorological eddy covariance measurements providing turbulent flux data (heat, water, CO2, and CH4) in the atmospheric boundary layer were carried out for the spring-summer period.

Late Quaternary environment and palaeoclimate in central Yakutia are investigated by the AWI (B. Diekmann) and the Aachen University (F. Lehmkuhl) with partners from the Permafrost Institute Yakutsk (V.V. Kunitzki, V. Spector) and the Yakutsk State University (L. Pestryakova, A. Prokopiev). Fieldwork in 2002 and 2003 in the Verkhoyansk Mountains and in 2004 in the alass region northeast of Yakutsk studied the development of periglacial and glacial landscapes, lacustrine systems, as well as permafrost complexes and ground ice features. During the summers 2003 and 2004 joint expeditions of palaeolimnologists of AWI (T. Kumke) and Yakutsk State University (L. Pestryakova) investigated 47 lakes in the Central Yakutian lowlands in order to establish a calibration dataset for diatoms and chironomids for quantitative reconstructions of the Yakutia palaeoenvironments.

In Spring 2003, scientists from the AWI-Potsdam (H. Meyer) sampled permafrost tunnels in Fairbanks and Barrow with the support of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (K. Yoshikawa and J. Brown). The objective was to apply in Alaska the experience acquired on complex Late Quaternary permafrost deposits in Siberia. Stable isotope analysis of ice wedges was the main research topic. Hydrological studies were carried out during the summer on the North Slope of Alaska within a collaboration between the Water and Environmental Research Center (UAF, L. Hinzman) and AWI (J. Boike). The modelling of smallscale hydrological processes was supported by several other field measurements.

The Institute for Geography at the Giessen University (L. King) continues monitoring ground temperature in the periglacial belt of the Matter Valley, Swiss Alps. Shallow ground temperatures measured in two test areas since 2002 indicates that discontinuous permafrost occurrence corresponds with coarse-textured surface deposits. The influence of coarse cover layers on ground thermal regime even exceeds that of snow cover thickness and duration (S. Philippi, T. Herz). In summer 2004, 65 temperature sensors were installed between the ground surface to a depth of 100 cm near the existing PACE borehole sites at the Stockhorn Plateau site, in order to demonstrate the influence of topographical effects on the ground thermal regime.

M. Gude (Jena) continues investigating permafrost thermal regime and geotechnical stability at the Zugspitze. In cooperation with the local cable-car company, permafrost was observed in foundations and mitigation measures have been evaluated. The interdisciplinary research programme SCREECOS (Scree Ecosystems) continues analysing low altitude sporadic permafrost in highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France (M. Gude). The influence of permafrost on biomass productivity in Siberian boreal forests was evaluated in terms of its contribution to a global carbon budget model (EUproject SIBERIA II, C. Schmullius, Jena).

At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, a physically-based approach was developed to assess the ground-ice content from seismic and geoelectric data sets (C. Hauck). Geophysical permafrost monitoring continues at Schilthorn, Swiss Alps, in collaboration with the University of Zurich (I. Völksch, M. Scherler, M. Hoelzle, C. Hauck) and is aimed at determining the spatial variability of energy exchange processes between atmosphere and permafrost on a 1- to 100-m scale. A permafrost map of the German Alps developed in collaboration with the Freiburg University roughly estimates the distribution of probable and possible permafrost (S. Blasius, C. Hauck, C. Schneider).

At the University of Marburg, Department of Geography, H. Brückner and G. Schellmann are working on beach ridges in Andréeland (Svalbard). On the basis of the observed sequences they propose a scenario for late Pleistocene and Holocene landscape evolution.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, H. Strunk continues his research in the Ob region of western Siberia, together with L. Agafonov, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg. The research topic is the reconstruction of the thermokarst history of the last 500 years (M. Krabisch). The study is based on dendrochronological analysis of living trees (Pinus sibirica).

The Department of Physical Geography, University of Würzburg (C. Kneisel) assesses changes in active layer and permafrost thickness by geoelectrical techniques in the discontinuous permafrost zone of the Swiss Alps. In collaboration with A. Kääb (Zurich) permafrost creep within the Muragl glacier forefield is evaluated using a combined geomorphological, geophysical and photogrammetrical approach. New geophysical and geomorphological permafrost investigations began in a subarctic alpine environment in northern Sweden.

The International Geographical Union established a new Commission on Cold Region Environments, chaired by M. Gude (Jena); see Other News for details.

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


A permafrost monitoring and mapping programme was started in collaboration between the University of Oslo (B. Etzelmüller, O. Humlum), the JFS Geological Services, Iceland (Á. Guümundsson) and the University of Iceland (H. Björnsson).

Four shallow boreholes (between 8 and 24 m) were drilled in central and eastern Iceland, all at around 900 m asl. In addition, a ground surface temperature monitoring programme was established in northern (Trollaskagi) and eastern Iceland (Vopnafjurdur). Studies on permafrost and slope dynamics within the framework of moving rock glaciers, ice-cored moraines and other slope deposits continued using digital photogrammetry on multitemporal air photos

(B. Wangensteen, Á. Guümundsson, A. Kääb, T. Eiken, H. Farbrot, B. Etzelmüller).


Two new working groups started in 2002 within the Italian Association of Geomorphology (AIGEO): one lead by Mauro Guglielmin (Insubria University) about permafrost distribution and slope stability in the Italian mountains, and one about relict periglacial and permafrost features in Italy (mainly in the Apennines and Ligurian Alps).

Adriano Ribolini and other scientists from Pisa University continue geophysical and geomorphological research on rock glaciers in the Maritime Alps. At Genova University, Cristiano Queirolo presented in 2004 a PhD on relict block streams at Mount Beigua (close to Genova). At Pavia University, Roberto Seppi is working on a PhD about the rock glaciers of the Adamello area. Nicoletta Cannone (Milano Bicocca) continues her research on the relationships between vegetation and the disturbance induced by permafrost creep on the slopes and rock glaciers of the Central Italian Alps.

Mauro Guglielmin continues monitoring permafrost temperature at the PACE borehole of Stelvio (3000 m asl) and at the Foscagno rock glacier (2500 m asl). His two projects funded by the Italian Institute of Mountain Research (IMONT) will allow the completion of geophysical investigations at the Foscagno Rock Glacier and in the surroundings of the Val Pola landslide. Three new boreholes (between 16 and 21 m deep) were drilled at different elevations along the Foscagno Rock Glacier and a 24 m deep borehole was drilled close to the Val Pola landslide in order to monitor permafrost in this valley slope that presents a high geological hazard.

Mapping and modelling permafrost distribution in the Aosta Valley started in 2003. This project supported by ARPA Valle d’Aosta and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin) includes the installation of a new CALM site and a new borehole (100 m deep) in permafrost at the end of 2004 in the Cervinia area, and the monitoring of rockwall temperature at around 3900 m asl on the Matterhorn.

Italian research activity in Antarctica continues through the project “Permafrost and Climate Change” lead by M. Guglielmin, in cooperation with seven universities and within the agreements with the British Antarctic Survey (J. Cynan Ellis-Evans, R. Worland), Waikato University (M. Balks), the Alfred Wegener Institute (Hans-W. Hubberten, D. Wagner) and the Istituto Antartico Argentino (J. Strelin).

The established permafrost monitoring network includes five instrumented boreholes in Victoria Land and one borehole on James Ross Island. Shallow boreholes are planned on Signy Island (Maritime Antarctica). Monitoring of the two Victoria Land CALM sites continued. Ongoing research on granite weathering in Northern Victoria Land is now pursued with a particular focus on biological processes and thermal stress by the Milan University (A. Strini), Milano-Bicocca (N. Cannone) and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin). Studies on ground ice distribution, permafrost hydrology, frost blisters and icing blisters have been carried out in collaboration with H. French and A. Lewkowicz (Ottawa University) in Victoria Land. R. Raffi (Rome University) continues her research on ice wedges distribution in Victoria Land.

Relationships between vegetation, active layer and climate change are investigated within the RiSCC framework (Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change in Antarctic Terrestrial and Limnetic Ecosystems) framework by N. Cannone. Over 30 participants from 14 countries took part to the 5th RiSCC workshop held on July 2-8, 2003 at Insubria University with the support of the Programma Nazionale di Ricerca in Antartide (PNRA), the Società Italiana di Ecologia (SITE), the Società Italiana di Botanica (SBI) and the Stelvio National Park.

Mauro Guglielmin (mauro.guglielmin@uninsubria.it)


In Russia, an ongoing research project on rock glacier flow and thermal regime in central Kamchatka (Y. Sawada, T. Sone, K. Yamagata and K. Fukui) provided ground temperature data and a three-year database on small rock glaciers movement on the basis of a triangulation survey. A research group from Hokkaido University continues monitoring ground surface and active layer energy and water balance near Yakutsk (G. Iwahana et al.).

In Mongolia, a group of researchers from the Japanese Institute of Observational Research for Global Change (M. Ishikawa) and the Institute of Geography in Mongolia (N. Sharkhuu, D. Battogtokh) continue the study of landsurface energy exchange and frozen ground hydrothermal parameters in the southern boundaries of the Eurasian permafrost zone. Intensive observations over a period of two years provided a distinct hydrothermal characterisation of the dry active layer, contrasting energy exchange processes between permafrost and non-permafrost slopes, and methodologies for monitoring frozen ground hydrology. Moreover, a geomorphological field campaign was carried out in the Mongolian Altai mountains (M. Ishikawa, T. Kadota, N. Sharkhuu, G. Davaa, D. Battogtokh). Numerous permafrostrelated landforms including rock glaciers, pingo, solifluction lobes, frost-cracks and polygons were investigated in a deglaciated valley. Miniature temperature loggers were installed at representative sites.

In eastern Tibet, during this third year of the five-year project “Permafrost hydrology in the source area of Yellow River” carried out by a joint group from the Geological Survey of Japan, University of Tsukuba and ETH Zurich (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, T. Sueyoshi, T. Ishii), a long-term observatory was established at Madoi (4273 m asl), aimed at measuring air and soil temperatures (down to 8 m deep), soil moisture and soil thermal properties, precipitation and snow depth. Miniature temperature loggers provided year-round ground surface temperatures at eight localities with different altitudes (3200-4700 m asl). These data combined with seismic sounding results suggest that a large part of the plateau around Madoi (4000-4300 m asl) lies in a marginal permafrost environment and experiences rapid permafrost degradation.

In central Hokkaido (Japan), researchers from Hokkaido University have been monitoring changes in ground ice for four years in a low-altitude block slope where intensive cooling in winter controls the ground-ice growth in the subsequent spring and summer (Y. Sawada). At the beginning of winter 2004, a micrometeorological station was installed in a representative permafrost site in the Daisetsu Mountains (G. Iwahana et al.).

In the Southern Hemisphere, long-term monitoring of air and ground temperatures began in February 2004 at two sites in a coastal area of Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, during the 45th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (H. Miura et al.). Thermal probes installed down to 2 m deep will indicate the active layer thickness and long-term temperature variations in the upper part of permafrost. During the Argentinean Antarctic expedition of the summer 2003-2004, T. Sone and K. Fukui studied permafrost temperature and rock glaciers on James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula). A geodesic survey was conducted on a rock glacier near Ushuaia, Terra del Fuego, Argentina in November 2003 (T. Sone and J. Strelin).

In the Swiss Alps, periglacial processes (frost weathering, solifluction and permafrost creep) have been monitored for the last ten years. The 2004 fieldwork focused on paraglacial slope failures along U-shaped valleys, which possibly followed glacier retreat or permafrost degradation since the last glacial period (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, M. Abe).

Field work in the Alaska Range covers the period 2003–2005 in order to compare rock glacier dynamics in mid-latitude and in sub-polar mountains (A. Ikeda and K. Yoshikawa).

In Longyearbyen (Svalbard), a new international project was started in order to establish a model experimental site for periglacial processes (N. Matsuoka, H. Christiansen and O. Humlum); see also the WG report on Periglacial Landforms, Processes and Climate.

The journal Seppyo (Journal of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice) published in 2004 a special issue on ‘Frozen Ground’ (Vol. 66-2), including a glossary and thirteen papers (one in English and seven Japanese papers with English abstracts) about experimental frost heave, frozen ground engineering and permafrost investigations in Siberia, Mongolia, China and Japan.

The following PhD theses were completed in 2004: Ikeda, A. 2004 (University of Tsukuba): Rock glacier dynamics near the lower limit of mountain permafrost in the Swiss Alps; Iwahana, G. (Hokkaido University): Influence of forest disturbance on the ecosystem energy and water balance in the continuous permafrost zone, Eastern Siberia; Sawada, Y. (Hokkaido University): Extra-zonal permafrost on block slope in Shikaribetsu Mountains, Central Hokkaido, Japan.

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


The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory (KAPL) continues its study of cryogenic processes and slope evolution in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains, and continues monitoring temperatures of permafrost and seasonally frozen rocks.

In the Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountains, no significant temperature change was noticed in permafrost at an elevation of 3300–3400 m asl during the last decade. Climate change in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains at various high-altitude zones did not have any noticeable impact on temperature regime of the seasonally frozen rock or on the depth of seasonal freezing.

In the late spring 2004, several rockslides occurred on the loess slopes in the low mountain area of the Zailiyskiy Alatau. These rockslides caused casualties and destroyed several construction sites. It is very likely that these rockslides were affected by the unusual type of seasonal freezing, i.e. by slope cryogenic processes.

A geocryological map (scale 1:25000) of the Malaya Almatinka river basin (Northern Tien Shan) was compiled using GIS. The book Mountain Permafrost: from the Equator to Polar Latitudes by A.P. Gorbunov was published in 2003 in Russian.

Intense glaciers retreat has been observed in the Tien Shan and the Pamir-Alai during the last 50 years. Over this period, in the Northern Tien Shan, the glaciated area was reduced by 30 percent and the periglacial zone consequently encountered some modifications: thermokarst and mudflow became more active on recent moraines. The (KAPL) developed a high interest in these landforms and processes. In the near future, it is planned to monitor rock glacier movement in the Bolshaya Almatinka river basin (Zailiyskiy Alatau Range, Northern Tien Shan).

New information is available about Tashrabat, the oldest building on permafrost in the mountains of Central Asia. It was built in the early 11th century, used for 300 years and recently reconstructed. This massive stone building is located in Kyrgyzstan, in the Atbashi Range near the Tashrabat Pass at 3200 m asl (40852¢ N; 75816¢ E). The perennial frozen state of the “cultural” ground layer, and the ground subsidence at the eastern wall after thawing of the frozen coarse detrital ground was observed in late 1970 during archeological excavations.

Aldar Gorbunov and Eduard Severskiy (permafrost@nets.kz)


The Institute of Geography reports the publication of several maps. Ya. Jambaljav and D. Byambademberel compiled and published the permafrost map of the Ulaanbaatar area (scale 1:100 000), using air photographs, remote sensing and land surface data. This map shows the distribution of mountain permafrost, the presence of permafrost in river valleys and in depressions, and the distribution of seasonally frozen ground.

D. Tumurbaatar, Ya. Jambaljav, D. Byambademberel, D. Battogtokh, D. Solongo published a map of seasonal freezing and thawing of frozen ground in Mongolia at a scale 1:1 500 000. D. Tumurbaatar published a book on seasonally frozen ground and permafrost in Mongolia, and is based on data and material he collected for more than 30 years. N. Sharkhuu reported continued collaboration on several international projects:

The primary goal of the Hövsgöl GEF (Global Environment Facility) project is to study the impacts of nomadic pasture use and climate change on watershed ecosystems, biodiversity and permafrost of the taiga (boreal) forest and steppe of northern Mongolia. During the last two and one-half years, the distribution, temperature and composition of permafrost and the depth of active layers have been studied and mapped by a joint team from Mongolia, Norway and Alaska using 16 shallow (5–10 m deep) boreholes, geophysical (resistivity) and geothermal (surface and ground temperature) measurements at different landscape sites. In October 2004 HOBO data loggers were installed in eight (5–10 m deep) boreholes, installed 10 UTL-1 data loggers under different soil surfaces and six UTL-1 data loggers on surfaces of specially prepared plots, established 15 snow benchmarks on different landscape sites in the Dalbay and Borsog valleys, installed 10 icing benchmarks along the Borsog river channel, and 12 frost-heave benchmarks near boreholes in the Dalbay and Borsog valleys. Ground temperatures in 25 boreholes, located in Hövsgöl project and surrounding areas, were measured.

The Japanese and Mongolian ERONIAR project continued for the third year in Nalaikh and Terelj areas near Ulaanbaatar with M. Ishikawa. Monthly observations were made in a seven-metre deep borehole at the Nalaikh site.

Continued observations at the 30 CALM sites and other GTN-P boreholes.

Within the framework of project on Central Asian permafrost mapping, data loggers are located at sites of differing on altitudes and aspects in the Altai, Hövsgöl, Khangai and Khentei mountain regions. With financial supports from Koyoto University and the Mongolian petroleum authority, monthly leveling measurements for the last two years were performed to study the dynamics of frost heave and thaw settlement of ground in five areas near Ulaanbaatar. Similar measurements were begun at sites in the Hovsgol Lake basin and the Darkhad depression.

D. Tumurbaatar (geo_dgv@magicnet.mn)

New Zealand

New Zealand permafrost research in the Antarctic includes the following activities.

The Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP) “is a framework within which interdisciplinary and international collaborations can be supported logistically towards the common goals of: i) understanding the complex ecosystems that exist along the Antarctic Victoria Land coast; and ii) determining the effects of environmental change on these ecosystems.” (www.lgp.aq/). Five sites along the Victoria Land coast, covering a latitudinal range from 728 to 838 S, are studied in detail in the fields of: limnology and oceanography; marine and terrestrial ecology; physiology and genetics; soil science and microbiology; meteorology and climate modelling; glaciology and geomorphology; sediment- and ice-core palaeoclimatology. The information gained from the different sites along the coast will increase our understanding of polar ecosystems and help create a predictive knowledge of the future effects of environmental change on these ecosystems.

The LGP’s success is dependent on the interdisciplinary aspects of the project and the interaction of researchers at each site, forming a complete picture of the ecosystems studied. The LGP began in the 2003/04 summer with a field camp established at Cape Hallet where researchers from New Zealand, U.S.A. and Italy worked with New Zealand and Italian logistic support. A group led by Jackie Aislabie, of Landcare Research, and Megan Balks from Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato investigated the soils and permafrost, in a much warmer, wetter environment than that experienced further south in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica. Work undertaken included soil description and characterisation, installation of soil moisture and temperature monitoring equipment and installation of dipwells to monitor summer water tables perched on the permafrost. Work at Cape Hallet is planned to continue for the 2004/ 05 and 2005/06 summers then the focus of the LGP is planned to move south to the Darwin Glacier area.

In the 2004/05 summer Malcolm McLeod from Landcare Research, along with Megan Balks and Jim Bockheim, plans to commence field work on a soil mapping project in the Wright Valley. The ultimate goal is to produce interpretive maps of the vulnerability of soils and permafrost to human activities in the region that will contribute to decisions relating to environmental management in the area.

Jackie Aislabie’s research group, in collaboration with USDA, now have a network of seven soil-climate monitoring stations in the Ross Sea Region. Data is downloaded annually and contributed to the CALM project. The stations form a transect along the Antarctic coast (Minna Bluff, Scott Base, Marble Point, and Granite Harbour), with a further transect running inland from Marble Point to the Wright Valley and Mt. Fleming. Stations supported by Ron Sletten of the U.S.A. in Victoria and Beacon Valleys also contribute to the available data set. In the 2005/06 summer we hope to add temperature measurement to 20 m at the Marble Point and Bull Pass sites with the support of Mauro Guglielmin from Italy.

New Zealand has announced its interest in becoming a member of the IPA. The IPA Council plans to act on the request at its June meeting in Potsdam.

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


In Jotunheimen, southern Norway, temperature data from the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole (established in 1999) were collected (K. Isaksen). On Dovrefjell, southern Norway, data collection continued from 11 boreholes in a transect across the permafrost transition zone. These boreholes were drilled and instrumented in October 2001 (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid).

The monitoring programme on Dovrefjell was extended with six new sites to measure ground surface temperatures (R.S. Ødegård and K. Isaksen). In the Møre and Romsdal area of southern Norway and in the Troms and Finnmark areas of northern Norway air- and ground temperatures data were collected (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid). In the mountains of Troms two new 30-m deep boreholes were drilled and instrumented in August 2004 for future collection of temperature data (K. Isaksen and L. H. Blikra). In Svalbard data from the Jansssonhaugen PACE borehole (established in 1998) were collected (K. Isaksen) and the first data from a new 2-m deep borehole on Janssonhaugen (established October 2003) were analysed and compared with the PACE borehole data from the same site. Collection of the temperature data from all these Norwegian boreholes is organized in a long-range monitoring programme. The data are stored at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, by Ketil Isaksen. The borehole thermal monitoring is carried out in cooperation between the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (K. Isaksen), the University of Oslo (T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid, R.S. Ødegård) and the Norwegian Geological Survey (L.H. Blikra).

In Svalbard, Hanne H. Christiansen (University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS) and Ole Humlum (University of Oslo) continued their monitoring programme on mountain meteorology, snow cover and ground temperatures around Longyearbyen. The meteorological station at Janssonhaugen has been collecting hourly data since May 2000, while a station at the mountain plateau Gruvefjellet (477 m asl) has been in operation since August 2002. At the Gruvefjellet station snow cover thickness, geomorphic activity and active layer temperatures are also monitored. The main research activity of Hanne H. Christiansen in 2004 was the collection of the first full year dataset on icewedge dynamics using a multi-technique approach. This demonstrated significant winter activity. Collaboration with Norikazu Matsuoka (University of Tsukuba, Japan) was started extending the field measurements of ice-wedge dynamics. Late Holocene loess deposits with syngenetic ice-wedges have been studied for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in cooperation with Anne Hormes (Uppsala University). Thaw progression is monitored in the UNISCALM site. Here a 10-m liquid-filled borehole has been instrumented for thermal monitoring. The effect of snow and snowdrift on slopes as avalanches are being monitored for enabling better linking between meteorology and avalanche activity. Geophysical measurements of pingos were carried out in Adventdalen by Neil Ross and Charles Harris (Cardiff University) together with H.H. Christiansen. All of these activities were demonstrated during the PACE21 workshop in Longyearbyen, Svalbard in September (see Other News).

In southern Norway, a programme on mountain meteorology, snow cover and ground temperatures was initiated in 2004 in a transect from the humid west coast (Sognefjorden- Ålesund) to the more continental regions at the Swedish border to the east (Femunden-Trysil), making use of a new type of automatic digital camera and dataloggers (O. Humlum, H. Juliussen both University of Oslo). This programme also attempts to map past conditions, making use of existing longmeteorological records, old photographs, written documentation and geomorphic evidence. By this approach, environmental changes back to the final Late Weichselian deglaciation will be investigated (O. Humlum).

In central and eastern Norway (Gaustatoppen, Sølen and Elgå Mountains), the University of Oslo continues for the fourth year its ground surface temperature monitoring and its permafrost mapping programme (E. Heggem, H. Juliussen, B. Etzelmüller, O. Humlum). In northern Norway (Lakselv area, Finnmark), BTS measurements, ground surface temperature monitoring and DC resistivity tomography were started in order to systematically map permafrost limits in the Gaissane Mountains (H. Farbrot, B. Etzelmüller). A regional-scale permafrost map based on meteorological observations over northern Norway was refined and validated at these localities.

In western Norway (Sognefjellet, Fannaråken), a small project on the relationship between small glaciers and permafrost includes ice and ground temperature monitoring and velocities measurements (B. Etzelmüller, J.O. Hagen, H. Uldahl). In Mongolia, a second year of ground surface and ground temperatures were recovered this summer from the Hövsgöl area (E. Heggem).

Scientists from the Department of Earth Science of the University of Bergen in collaboration with Russian colleagues are investigating the Quaternary history of the Pechora Lowland, Polar Urals and the West Siberian Plain in northern Russia. The emphasis is on glacial history (J. Svendsen), including huge ice-dammed lakes (J. Mangerud), that had a considerable influence on permafrost distribution. Numerous lakes were formed by delayed melting of buried glacial ice (M. Henriksen). Glacial ice has survived up to the present day also in the European part of northern Russia (V. Astakhov, J. Svendsen).

At the Geological Survey of Norway Achim Beylich continues his process research on mass transfers, denudation, sediment budgets and relief development in subarctic and arctic environments in Iceland and Lapland. Research on weathering and chemical denudation is carried out in cooperation with the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden (E. Kolstrup, L.B. Pedersen and others). Research on denudation and interactions between geomorphological processes and vegetation cover is in collaboration with the Botanical Institute of Göteborg University, Sweden (U. Molau et al.), the Natural Research Centre of Northwestern Iceland in Saudårkrókur (Sæmundsson), the Kevo Subarctic Research Institute, Finland (S. Neuvonen), and the Institute of Geography of the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany (K.-H. Schmidt). Sedimentation in small arctic lakes of Swedish Lapland is investigated in co-operation with the Department of Geology of the University of Helsinki, Finland. Beylich is the coordinator of the ESF Network SEDIFLUX (see Other News).

Angélique Prick (University of Liège, Belgium) continues monitoring rock temperature and weathering rates in the Longyearbyen area, Svalbard. She started in 2004 a rock temperature monitoring programme across Troms (northern Norway) in collaboration with H.H. Christiansen (UNIS), O. Humlum (University of Oslo) and D. Chaput (School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford).

Kaare Flaate (kflaate@online.no)


Polish research carried out on Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and in the upper parts of the High Tatra Mountains in 2004 focused on permafrost, contemporary morphogenetic processes and periglacial relief, and constitutes a part to the research programmes dedicated to the impact of climate change on the abiotic components of the environment.

Research on Spitsbergen was conducted in the region of Polish Polar Station in Hornsund on Oscar II Land (close to the station of Nicholas Copernicus University of Toruñ) and in Billefjorden (Petuniabukta), i.e. where former research has been conducted by the Adam Mickiewicz University of Pozña. The projects dealt with thermal air currents and dynamics of active layer- permafrost layer, geomorphological processes and matter circulation in the periglacial and glacial geoecosystems. Research in the High Tatra Mountains aimed at reconstructing climatic changes and geomorphological processes above tree line, from the Little Ice Age to the present day, as well as at documenting the presence of permafrost at elevations around 2000 m asl.

The Workshop “Glaciology, geomorphology and sedimentology of the Spitsbergen polar environment” was organized on Spitsbergen in July 2004 by the Arctic Commission of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Geomorphologists Association. Participants attending from Poland, France, Slovenia and the Czech Republic discussed cryosphere issues in the Recherchefjord area (Bellsund, Calypsostranda, i.e. the location of the station of the Maria Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin), in the Kaffioyra coastal plain (station of the Nicholas Copernicus University of Toruñ) and in the Magdalenefiord region (NW Spitsbergen). This workshop led to the publication of a special guidebook, available also in an electronic format, which is based on the results of many years of research in Spitsbergen.

Several scientific conferences dealing with periglacial topics were held in 2004 in Poland. In June 2004, the 53rd Congress of the Polish Geographical Society was organized by the Maria Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin. Some papers in the session “Geomorphological problems of various morphoclimatic zones” presented research results from Spitsbergen on topics such as active layer dynamics and hydrological and geomorphological processes in marginal glaciers zones. In September 2004, the XXX International Polar Symposium, which is also the annual meeting of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society, was organized in Gdynia by the Department of Meteorology and Nautical Oceanography of the Gdynia Maritime Academy. Latest results in Polish Arctic and Antarctic research were presented. Conference Proceedings were published with abstracts of presentations; some of these papers will be published in English in the journal Polish Polar Research (www.polish.polar. pan.pl).

Following the suggestion of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the research project “Structure, evolution and dynamics of lithosphere, cryosphere and biosphere in the Antarctic and the European Arctic” will be carried out in 2004–2007, leading the Polish polar research that will arise in the context of the International Polar Year 2007–2008. One of its main topics is the response of glaciers and permafrost to global change.

Kazimierz Pekala (geomorf@biotop.umcs.lublin.


Present-day periglacial processes and relict features are currently being studied in the Serra da Estrela, Central Portugal, by researchers from the University of Lisbon.

The main emphasis is placed on monitoring ground temperatures, studying the local mountain climates and investigating the relationships between glacial and periglacial relict landforms and deposits, especially these indicating a former occurrence of permafrost. An ongoing collaboration between the Universities of Lisbon and of Alcalá de Henares (project coordinator, Spain) studies the active layer and permafrost temperatures on Livingston Island (South Shetlands, Antarctic). A new project aimed at drilling boreholes has been submitted for evaluation; this project focuses on monitoring and modelling the permafrost evolution and distribution on Livingston and Deception Islands, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Zurich. A committee for the preparation of the International Polar Year is being developed.

Gonçalo Vieira (gtvieira@fl.ul.pt)


The year 2004 witnessed important advances in glacial, periglacial and permafrost research in the Romanian Carpathians. The Department of Geography at West University, Timisoara, contributed considerably to this progress.

Under the leadership of Petru Urdea, a team composed of Florin Vuia, Mircea Ardelean, Mircea Voiculescu and Marcel Törok-Oance developed the project “Presentday geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Southern Carpathians in the context of global change (2002–2004), as a part of a larger research project financed by the National Council for Scientific Research in Superior Education (CNCSIS). One of the project objectives is to obtain a realistic overview of recent geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Transylvanian Alps with a typology of their occurrence under the perspective of global change. Current geomorphological studies focus primarily on past and present dynamics in periglacial areas. For example, P. Urdea studied the Last Glacial Maximum permafrost extent in the mountains of central Romania (Bihor, Cerna) on the basis of some mapped relict features (block stream and block fields, polygonal soils, stone circle, etc.).

The Timisoara research team recently received financial support from the CNCSIS for another research project, led by Mircea Voiculescu and entitled “Geographical risks in the alpine belt of the Southern Carpathians. GIStechnique applications and mapping of hazards areas”. Another project deals with “Recent geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Southern Carpathians in the perspective of global change;” digital terrain models of the Fagaras Mountains, Parâng Mountains and Muntele Mic have been developed for that project. A new member of the Timisoara research team, Lucian Dragut, has just completed his PhD (Cluj-Napoca University), this thesis includes a chapter about ancient glacial and periglacial features. At Pitesti University, Smaranda Toma has started working on a PhD dedicated to the glacial and periglacial geomorphology of the Buda Basin (southern slope of the Fagaras Mountains).

Several conferences were held in Romania in order to support these new advances in geomorphological research. During the 5th International Conference on Geographic Research in the Carpathian-Danube Area (Timisoara, May 17–19, 2002), a round table was organized on the “Trends in morphodynamic processes in the Carpathians alpine areas”. The First International Workshop on Ice Caves took place from February 29 to March 3, 2004, in Capus, Romania. The Speleological Institute Emil Racovic of Cluj-Napoca and the Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy) organized this meeting attended by over 30 scientists coming from 11 countries.

In September 23–26, 2004, on Bâlea Cascad (Fagaras Mountains), an International Workshop on Alpine Geomorphology and Mountain Hazards was organized by the Department of Geography of West University with the support of the Carpatho-Balkan Geomorphology Commission. Scientists from Romania, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia took part.

Glacial and periglacial features and relict permafrost indicators were studied by the Timisoara team in Muntele Mic, by Petru Urdea in the Bihor Mountains, by Petru Urdea and Dorel Gureanu in the Cernei Mountains, by Florin Vuia in the Parâng Mountains, by Mircea Ardelean in the Piule-Iorgovanu Mountains, by Andreea Andra and Alexandru Nedelea (Bucharest University) in the Topolog and Capra Basin (Fagaras Mountains), and by Marcel Mândrescu (University of Suceava) in the Rodnei and Climani Mountains (Eastern Carpathians).

Petru Urdea (urdeap@rectorat.uvt.ro)


The International Conference “Cryosphere of Oil-and- Gas-Bearing Provinces” was held in Tyumen, May 23– 27, 2004, in honor of the 60th anniversary of Tyumen district.

Scientists and engineers from Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and U.S.A. participated. For the Russian permafrost community, this conference was an extremely important event as it produced major international discussions about the scientific, engineering, social and environmental issues in northern regions’ development. The Conference resolutions, discussed and approved during the meeting of the Earth Cryology Council reflect the scope of these topics. A draft agreement between representatives of visiting universities, members of the IPA Executive Committee, and officials of the Tyumen State Oil and Gas University provides the basis for future exchanges. A group of Japanese, North American, and Russian participants accompanied by Academician V.P. Melwnikov visited Nadym and the gas field deposits at Yubileinoe, Yamsoveiskoe and Medvezh’e. The field trip was followed by a day-long session entitled “From Science to Practice,” and the preparation of a resolution of cooperation among representatives of the Earth’s Cryology Council, the International Permafrost Association, the Department of Strategic Development «Gazprom» and the «Nadyumgazprom» Gas Enterprise. This included endorsements for the development of the regional observational network using common methods such as those used by GTN-P.

In 2004, Russian permafrost specialists carried out fieldwork, theoretical and experimental research and were partners in a number of international projects (CALM, INTAS, NATO, Russian-German collaboration, among others). One of the main study topics was permafrost evolution in response to climate change and human activity in different regions. Despite contemporary climate warming, several sites showed decreasing active layer thickness. The variations in seasonal thaw depth appear to be poorly correlated with air temperature (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, Moscow State University). Both permafrost degradation was observed close to the southern limit of permafrost as well as its formation. A monitoring site was installed in the Shaksha Lake region in order to investigate the thermal regime of such recently formed permafrost (Chita Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Geocryology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences–SB RAS). Specialists from the Institute of Environmental Geoscience RAS, in cooperation with the Department of Geocryology at MSU, carried out theoretical investigations and modelled permafrost evolution in the context of climate change, with an emphasis on the possible consequences for construction. This work achieved new advances in the study of the early stages of themokarst formation and methods for geocryological prognosis.

The analysis of impacts of climate change in Yakutia was studied considering separately natural and human factors. Ground temperatures and the depth of the permafrost table were forecasted. The studied territory is divided into five zones with different responses of permafrost to climate warming (Department of Geocryology, MSU). Four stages in the development of permafrost from the early Pleistocene until the Holocene were recognised for northeastern Eurasia (Ershov and Maksimova). Data on permafrost characteristics on the southern part of Novaya Zemlya was extended within the database for the radioactive waste disposal sites.

New data were obtained on the mechanisms and kinetics of hydrate and ice forming in methane-saturated ground under gas pressure. Quantitative characteristics were obtained that could be used as evidence for the stability and selfconservation of gas hydrates in dispersed ground at negative temperature (E.M. Chuvilin and others, MSU). Exogenic processes in the Lena River valley during the Holocene were modelled, and their connections with climate change was established. The results are relevant for paleoclimatic reconstructions and for the forecasting of disastrous floods. Permafrost landscapes mapping techniques (using GIS) were improved. Digital maps were prepared for different regions of Yakutia; they show the ice content of surface deposits, the ground temperature, the active layer thickness and moisture content (Permafrost Institute, SB RAS).

V. Tumskoy (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, MSU) reported the widespread occurrence of large massive ice bodies in the Late Pleistocene deposits on the Faddeevsky and the New Siberia Islands and provided genetic interpretations. Members of the Department conducted numerous field observations in order to establish the main causes of structures deformation in the cryolithozone. A set of recommendations on engineering solutions for buildings foundation in the northern regions was prepared, in the perspective of the permafrost conditions disturbances occurring during construction.”

The development of permafrost under consolidation was investigated theoretically at the Earth Cryosphere Institute (SB RAS). The heat transfer induced by ice movement can double the effective thermal conductivity of the modelled material. The quantity and quality of material removed by coastal erosion into the sea were determined for the western sector of the Russian Arctic. The approximate estimates were accomplished using geoecological information for coasts along shallow water regions. Rates of seashore recession were established in cooperation with the Arctic Coastal Dynamics (ACD) project (A.A. Vasilyev).

Quantitative estimates were forecasted according to two different climate change scenarios in order to determine the erosion rates of the ice-rich coastlines along the eastern Russian Arctic seas for the first half of the 21st century (Permafrost Institute, SB RAS).

Geotechnical surveys were conducted for engineering investigations of permafrost along the Barents Sea coastline. These included large-scale mapping, determination of physico-mechanical properties of the frozen or cooled salt-rich ground, ecological conditions and other permafrost engineering studies. A complex of medium and smallscale maps was prepared for development of the Timan- Pechora oil and gas field, the Yamal fields and the “Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean” pipelines (Industrial and Research Institute for Construction Engineering).

The Institute “Fundamentproject” provided engineering solutions to the foundations and the monitoring of structures for the Bovanenkovo and Harasaway gas fields (Yamal Peninsula) and for the “Yamal-central regions of Russia” pipeline. These include: refrigeration facilities and heat screens; “orthotropic” overlapping slabs; reinforcing ground surface by geogrids; and the use of large span grillages with increased bearing capacity.

S.A. Koudryavtsev completed investigations on computations of design and construction on frost heaving soils (Petersburg State University for Communication Means). The regularities of permafrost morphology, temperatures, and cryogenic processes and phenomena were generalized along the southern transect “Altai ––Pamir” (Kazakhstan Highmountain Geocryological Laboratory of the Permafrost Institute SB RAS).

  • The 6th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering held in Lanzhou (China) in September 2004 was co-organized with the Permafrost Institute (SB RAS) and other Russian institutions (see details in the China report). In 2004, Russian permafrost researchers took part in the following international meetings:
  • The XIII Glaciological Workshop. Arctic and Antarctic Institute, St. Petersburg
  • The XI International Scientific Conference for Students and Post-graduate Students “Lomonosov 2004”, Section of Geography, Moscow State University.
  • 2nd International Workshop on Circumpolar Vegetation Classification and Mapping, Tromsø, Norway
  • 7th International Workshop on Cold Regions Development, Sapporo, Japan International Congress on High Technologies, Paris 5th International Workshop on Arctic Coastal Dynamics, Montreal

The following monographs were published in Russian in 2004:

  • Alekseev V.R. Engineering Geocryology, Glaciology, Ice Technology. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute SB RAS, 390 p. Anisimova. Methods of hydrochemistry in the permafrost science (manual). Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute SB RAS, 78 p.
  • Shesternev, D.M. Cryogenic Processes of Zabaikalie. Published in Yakutsk, PI SB RAS, 255 p.
  • Gavriliev, R.I. Thermal Properties of Environmental Components in Cryolithozone (Reference Manual). Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute, SB RAS, 153 p.
  • Cheverev V.G. The Nature of the Soils Cryogenic Properties. Moscow, Scientific World.
  • Development of the Earth Cryosphere. Geography, Society, Environment (this seven-volume monograph is dedicated to the 250th anniversary of MSU). Volume 1. Structure, Dynamics, Evolution of Natural Systems. V.N. Konishchev, Rogov, V.V., Grebenets, V.I., Tumel, N.V., Volodicheva, N.A., Voitkovsky, K.F., Popovnin, V.V., Petrakov, D.A., Oleinikov, A.D., Shpolyanskaya, N.A., Rozenbaum, G.E. (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, MSU).
  • Slagoda E.A., Cryolithogenic Deposits of the Laptev Sea Coastal Plain: Lithology and Micromorphology.

G.Z. Perlshtein (kriozem@online.ru) and D.O. Sergueev


The Bulletin of the Royal Spanish Society of Natural History (issue # 99) recently published 16 papers related to permafrost and periglacial research carried out on the Iberian Peninsula.

The presented topics include nivation dynamics, permafrost mapping, the relationship between climate and periglacial activity, rock glaciers, periglacial features, the consequences of the Little Ice Age, and ecosystem restoration in periglacial environments. These papers refer to projects carried out in the Pyrenees, Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de la Estrella, Sierra Nevada, Mexico and the Antarctic. This bulletin presents also an in-depth analysis of recent developments in permafrost and periglacial research on the Iberian Peninsula.

Ongoing research continued in many areas. Researchers from the Universidad de Zaragoza recently achieved important progress in permafrost prospecting on the north face of Peña Telera (Pyrenees) using geoelectric surveying and BTS. A research group from the Universidad de Leon is working on the origin and morphology of currently inactive rock glaciers in the Cantabrian Range have set up an experimental station to measure the intensity of periglacial activity in areas surrounding glaciers. The Universidad Complutense de Madrid continues monitoring geomorphological processes related to snow cover in Sierra de Guadarrama. A multidisciplinary team led by the Universidad de Barcelona is currently monitoring cold climate processes in the cirque area of Corral del Veleta, Sierra Nevada, with a particular interest for the active-layer thermal characteristics, active rock glaciers dynamics and the geomorphological impact of snow cover. Temperature monitoring continues in the boreholes drilled and instrumented for the PACE project.

Outside the Iberian Peninsula, the GIFA group from the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares is monitoring the temporal evolution of the thermal gradient in the active layer on Livingston Island (South Shetlands, Antarctic). Temperatures in two boreholes are presently being monitored: one 2.3 m deep at Incinerador, with sensors at 5, 15, 40, 90, 150 and 230 cm, and one at Sofia, 1.1 m deep with sensors at 5, 15, 40 and 90 cm. Air temperature is continuously recorded at three different altitudes (15, 115 and 275 m asl). All these sensors have been recording data without interruption since 2000.

The team at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid was involved in a research project on the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico.The project focused on the impact of volcanic activity on permafrost distribution and the subsequent consequences on geomorphological dynamics on active volcanoes, with a special emphasis on lahars generation. A one-metre deep observational network was established at elevations between 4100 and 4900 m on the Popocatepetl and on a neighboring inactive volcano Ixtachihualt. Sensors were installed in the boreholes at 15 and 100 cm depth. Complete information about the project is available (www.ucm.es/info/agr/lahar). The same team is conducting similar research in the Andes on other volcanoes includUniing Parinacota (Chile, Bolivia), Misti and Chachani (Peru).

The group from the University of Valladolid continues its work in the Pyrenees (Posets and Monte Perdido) by monitoring present-day periglacial processes and mapping permafrost distribution. Recently, similar investigations were initiated in Picos de Europa (Cantabrian Range) and Picos de Urbian (Iberian Range), both in northern Spain. The group from the University of Valladolid continues its work in the Pyrenees (Posets and Monte Perdido) by monitoring present-day periglacial rocesses and mapping permafrost distribution. Recently, similar investigations were initiated in Picos de Europa (Cantabrian Range) and Picos de Urbian (Iberian Range), both in northern Spain.

In Antarctica, the Universities of Valladolid and Autónoma de Madrid are working on periglacial processes, and the interactions of permafrost, landforms, soils, and fresh water. Field work in 2003 and 2004 was on Byers Peninsuala (Livingston Island) and Elephant Island, South Shetland Island. The work is coordinated with the SCAR activities (PAG and RISCC), the IPA Antarctic Working Group, and GTN-P/CALM.

Spain and Portugal have proposed to the IPA that a new membership be established that combines the two countries into a new Iberian member. We await the Council decision in June 2005.

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


Over the past 20 years, the Department of Physical Geography, Lund University, acted informally as the Adhering Body to IPA, and was assisted in recent years by the Abisko Research Station (ANS) and the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In May 2004 the South Swedish Geographical Society (SSGS) formally agreed to act as the National Adhering Body to the IPA, and to provide the annual contribution to IPA and travel costs to IPA meetings for the Council member. The SSGS is a long-standing permanent NGO with board members from the public, the regional administration and Lund University. Under the South Swedish Geographical Society a small national committee “for permafrost and periglacial studies” with participants from the Swedish Academy of Sciences /ANS, and the major universities will be formed. A major Nordic geographical conference in May 2005 (www.ngm.cc/) will be the venue for the first meeting of the new committee. The national committee will elect the Swedish Council member and through its chairman/secretary will conduct the IPA business. The SSGS produces the Swedish Geographical Yearbook (Svensk Geografisk Årsbok). The next issue has the theme “Effects of Climatic Change in Nature and Society” with Jonas Akerman as editor.

Torbjörn Johansson, Jonas Åkerman and Torben R. Christensen (GeoBiosphere Science Centre, Lund University) and Patrick Crill (Stockholm University) report the following for the Abisko site in northern Sweden. During 2004 the CALM grid at Stordalen and surrounding mire has been intensively surveyed using real time kinematic (RTK) GPS technique with an accuracy of +/- 2 cm in height (+/- 2 ppm, distance related noise) and +/- 1 cm in x and y wise (+/- 1 ppm). A total of approximately 10,000 points were surveyed over the whole mire (ca. 16 ha). We have now created opportunities to follow the permafrost degradation and thermokarst features change on the site at a centimetre scale (point). The general resolution is approximately 10 meters. The microtopography data is used in a carbon flux perspective to quantify “hot spots” on the mire. During the summer months vegetation mapping within the CALM grid has been completed. Implications of already observed changes for CH4 emissions for thawing permafrost at the landscape scale were published. A PhD studentship on permafrost dynamics and its implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been announced and will commence in January 2005.

Peter Kuhry, at the University of Stockholm (peter. kuhry@natgeo.su.se) since 2003, reports on his previous work at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi (Finland) where he coordinated several EU and Finnish research projects in Northeast European Russia, mostly in the Usa River Basin. A series of published papers dealt with the longterm (Holocene) history of permafrost dynamics in the area, regional climate modelling and permafrost simulation, GISbased river discharge modelling and fluvial morphology in a permafrost environment, regional permafrost mapping and changes in permafrost conditions for the period of recent warming, GIS-based regional soil mapping including the distribution of cryosols as well as soil carbon allocation, measurement of carbon fluxes in a permafrost environment, GIS-based modelling of the arctic treeline in relation to climate and ground conditions, and the distribution of infrastructure in relation to present and future permafrost conditions. Kuhry’s present efforts are focusing on the distribution at the regional and landscape levels of soil organic matter quantity and quality in permafrost soils and sensitivity to climate change. Britta Sannel started her PhD studies in August 2004 on the topic of temporal and spatial dynamics of peat plateau/ thermokarst complexes‚which includes plant macrofossil studies, remote sensing and ground monitoring of peat plateau areas in Scandinavia, Canada and Russia.

Jonas Åkerman (Jonas.Akerman@nateko.lu.se)


The “Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS)” is operated by the eight Swiss university institutes involved in permafrost research and financially supported by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS), the Federal Office for Water and Geology (FOWG) and the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL).

The pilot phase of PERMOS was extended until the end of 2005 and will be incorporated later on into the official federal environmental monitoring. The biannual report 2000- 2002 was published in 2004 and can be downloaded from (www.permos.ch).

The Swiss permafrost community met in February 2004 in Davos. Several presentations about ongoing projects and fruitful discussions made this two-day event a big success. The following activities are reported by several institutes: At the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), Martina Lütschg is finishing her PhD thesis entitled “A model and field analysis of the mutual influence of snow cover and alpine permafrost” in which the SNOWPACK model is used to simulate the effects of different snow cover characteristics and ground types on permafrost distribution and, based on field data, laboratory measurements and various climate change scenarios.

The stability of the snow cover in permafrost and nonpermafrost sites was analyzed by Marcia Phillips and Jürg Schweizer, using data from extensive snowpack stability tests obtained during two winters in Davos and longterm SLF avalanche statistics.

Armin Rist is analyzing new data about water in the active layer of a scree slope. In parallel, a laboratory experiment simulates the effects of water on the ground thermal regime and on slope stability. Slope stability tests were carried out in the field in collaboration with Sarah M. Springman (ETH Zurich) in summer 2004.

Three new boreholes have been added to the SLF monitoring network, making a total of 15 instrumented boreholes in alpine permafrost. Marcia Phillips continues to monitor the performance of snow-supporting structures in creeping permafrost terrain.

The Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group (University of Zurich) investigates the influence of groundsurface characteristics on the active layer thermal regime, in a coarse, bouldery matrix, in order to better understand the non-conductive processes. The analyses are based on data from shallow boreholes as well as from single thermistors and wind sensors placed in the active layer (S. Hanson, M. Oswald, M. Hoelzle).

Rock wall temperature data are used as a validation for the new programme TEBAL, which was developed from the former energy balance programme PERMEBAL to obtain spatial information about temperatures in rock walls. A particular emphasis was placed on investigating permafrost thawing and alpine rock walls destabilization that occurred during the hot summer of 2003. Moreover, hyperspectral remote sensing data are used for characterizing accurately surface parameters such as albedo (S. Gruber, D. Schläpfer, M. Hoelzle).

The summer 2003 rock falls and several older documented events were investigated in the perspective of permafrost degradation in steep rock walls. GIS-based models were developed to simulate these events (J. Noetzli, W. Haeberli, M.Hoelzle). Airborne GPR measurements of the spatial snow depth distribution in the Corvatsch- Furtschellas area were compared to ground measurements and with simulation results from the model TEBAL (A. Hasler, S. Gruber, R. Purves, M. Hoelzle).

In the context of the necessary assessment of the possible impacts of the predicted climatic change on mountain permafrost, the most promising tools for obtaining information about future atmospheric conditions are the Regional Climate Models (RCM). In order to use RCM data in permafrost modelling, a methodology is being established for downscaling the gridded output of RCMs, which will have a spatial resolution of 56 km (N. Salzmann, F. Paul, M. Hoelzle).

In order to better understand the intra-regional variability in rock glacier distribution, several numerical modelling approaches were applied in a study region in the eastern Swiss Alps. Among others, a dynamic model was created that allows a 4D simulation of talus-derived, rock glacier occurrence. The modelling of their spatio-temporal development and distribution shows very promising results (R. Frauenfelder, W. Haeberli, M. Hoelzle, B. Schneider, University of Basel, and B. Etzelmüller, University of Oslo).

A combined study on the development of transverse ridges on rock glaciers including high precision field surveys and physical laboratory experiments revealed that these forms are advected downstreams with a speed that approximates the overall rock glacier surface velocity. Surface speeds turned out to exhibit local maxima on top of individual ridges. In a field study on the advance mechanisms of rock glaciers a novel measurement approach allowed the determination of the ice content and the vertical velocity profile near the front. Photogrammetric measurements of speed and thickness of selected rock glaciers were continued within the PERMOS monitoring network and pointed out an increase in surface speed for most of the observed individuals (A. Kääb).

An initial explorative study of permafrost distribution in the Kazbek massif (North Ossetia, eastern Caucasus) was initiated within a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in response to the catastrophic Kolka-Karmadon rock/ice avalanche that occurred on September 20, 2002 on Dzhimarai-khokh Peak (4780 m asl) (S. Zgraggen-Oswald, R. Frauenfelder, C. Huggel, A. Kääb, W. Haeberli).

The Institutes of Geography of the University of Lausanne (C. Lambiel, E. Reynard) and Fribourg (R. Delaloye) have been collaborating closely in alpine permafrost research in Switzerland for the last years. Reynald Delaloye presented a PhD thesis about mountain permafrost in peripheral areas. Thermal regime and permafrost occurrence in talus slopes are studied in low elevation sites (J. Dorthe, S. Morard) and in the alpine discontinuous permafrost belt (K. Pieraci). In order to learn more about the influence of air circulation on thermal regime, a shallow borehole (about 20 m) will be drilled and instrumented in autumn 2004, for the first time in a low altitude talus slope (at 1550 m asl in the Combe de Dreveneuse, Valais Prealps).

Surface displacements are monitored at some alpine permafrost features (active and inactive rock glaciers, frozen deposits in Little Ice Age glacier forefields, talus slopes) using GPS (E. Perruchoud) and photogrammetry (J.-P. Dousse, in collaboration with A. Kääb and R. Lugon, at K. Bösch, Institute Sion). GPS surveys have been carried out at six sites since 2000. Global accelerations were observed between 2000 and 2003. Surface velocities seemed to keep increasing between 2003 and 2004. The photogrammetry study of the Rechy rock glacier (Valais) has been carried out since 1986 on the basis of high resolution aerial photographs taken every four to five years.

Permafrost thermal monitoring is conducuted in two boreholes (Lapires and Gentianes). Using the building site of a snow supporting structure, a new shallow borehole (20 m) was drilled in bedrock in summer 2004 (Pointe du Tsaté, 3070 m asl). BTS and GST (ground surface temperature) monitoring have gone on at 15 sites since 1996 (for the longest BTS series) and 1997 (for GST). Some of these measurements are included in PERMOS. One of the most interesting results came from an inactive rock glacier (Alpage de Mille, Valais Alps), where the nine-years BTS series indicated a winter ascending air circulation throughout the whole rock glacier. Assessing the thermal effect of such a process is a challenging perspective for further research.

Daniel VonderMuehll (Daniel.VonderMuehll@unibas.ch)

United Kingdom

A meeting of the International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on Climatic Changes and Periglacial Environments was held on August 19, 2004 during the IGU Congress in Glasgow, Scotland.

The meeting was organized by Julian Murton and attended by some 30 participants, including speakers from the U.S.A., South Africa, Russia, Finland, Ukraine, Germany, Belgium and the U.K.. The theme of the meeting was “Climatic Impacts on Periglacial Environments.” It began with an excellent keynote lecture by Fritz Nelson (University of Delaware, U.S.A.) on climatic warming and its impacts in highlatitude permafrost regions. This was the last meeting of the IGU ‘periglacial’ commission, which has promoted periglacial research for the past 55 years. Jef Vandenberghe (Chair of this commission; Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) thanked the participants and welcomed Martin Gude and Christer Jonasson as co-chairs of the newly-approved IGU commission on Cold Regions Environments.

A new series of physical modelling experiments, led by Charles Harris and funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), is currently being set up at the CNRS Centre de Géomorpologie, Caen, France. The experiments will simulate and monitor solifluction processes and rates in a cold active layer compared with seasonally frozen ground in non-permafrost terrain. This work involves collaboration between the universities of Cardiff (C. Harris), Dundee (M. Davies), Sussex (J. Murton) and Caen (M. Font, J-C. Ozouf).

Another large-scale laboratory modelling study in the Caen cold rooms, also funded by the NERC, concerns bedrock fracture by ice segregation. The study, led by Julian Murton, is currently determining behaviour of porous bedrock (a variety of sandstones and limestones) to one-sided freezing (seasonal frost) and two-sided freezing (permafrost). The overall objective is to acquire data for testing a numerical model of rock fracture by growth of segregated ice. Collaborators on this research are from the universities of Sussex (J. Murton), Caen (J-C. Ozouf, J-P. Coutard), and Alaska at Fairbanks (R. Peterson).

Field investigations of contemporary frost action are being undertaken on the mountains of northern England by the University of Durham. Jeff Warburton has developed a simple time series model to predict the ground thermal regime of a sorted stripe field from air temperature data.

The initial results have been useful in developing a second field programme in the Northern Lake District that will refine the thermal regime model and look more closely at the temperature interactions between fine and coarse stripes. Continuous recording of fine stripe heave using a non-contact sensor will provide data to examine the relationship between frost action and soil thermal conditions.

A second study in the Lake District by Jeff Warburton and collaborator Richard Johnson (University of Central Lancashire) is also underway to investigate the post-wildfire effects of frost on the breakdown of bare, crusted soils. This NERC funded project will use laboratory simulation experiments to determine rates of crust breakdown under different freeze-thaw conditions.

Julian Murton (j.b.murton@sussex.ac.uk)

United States of America

The Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union was held in San Francisco, California, December 13–17. A number of oral and poster sessions on all aspects of the cryosphere were convened under the auspices of the Cryosphere Committee. Included were sessions on the role of permafrost coasts in the Arctic system; changes in frozen ground, environmental and climatic impacts; paleoecological approaches to Late Quaternary climate change; and Arctic freshwater cycles.

The U.S. Permafrost Association held its annual Board and Members meetings during the AGU Meetings. President Tart and incoming President Vladimir Romanovsky chaired the business meeting. Plans for the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost (NICOP) in June 2008 were reviewed including the formation of the U.S. National Committee for NICOP. The annual elections resulted in the new members of the Board of Directors: F.E. Nelson (President-Elect), David Norton (Member) and Jon Zufelt (Secretary). During the year the USPA was represented at several meetings of the American Geological Institute (AGI). USPA is one of the 43 Member Society Council of the AGI (www.agiweb.org). USPA cosponsored the Alaska Section’s American Water Resources Association conference in Fairbanks in April.

F.E. Nelson provided the following report on the Association of American Geographers (AAG). The AAG held its national meeting March 15–19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., marking its Centennial Anniversary in the city of its original convention. With more than 7500 members, the AAG is one of the largest national geographical organizations in the world with members from 62 countries. The AAG is organized around a series of 54 Specialty Groups representing core areas of geographical research. The group of most interest in permafrost is the Cryosphere Specialty Group, formed in the mid-1990s by H. Jesse Walker. Other AAG subdivisions with topical interests overlapping those of IPA include the Climate, Geomorphology, Mountain, Biogeography, and Water Resources Specialty Groups.

The Cryosphere Specialty Group sponsored seven sessions associated with the theme “Celebrating a Century of Physical Geography” (CCPG), and involved 60 contributing authors. They were co-sponsored by the Geomorphology, Climate, and Biogeography Specialty Groups, and the Archives and Association History Committee. Many of the papers delivered in the CCPG sessions will be published in several special issues of the journal Physical Geography edited by Dorothy Sack. CCPG also sponsored an evening reception attended by more than 300 people.

The AAG Centennial Meeting also featured several sessions addressing contemporary cold-regions topics under the title “Cryosphere in the 21st Century.” Organized by Alan Frei (Hunter College), these sessions incorporated presentations on permafrost, periglacial geomorphology, glaciology, sea ice, cold climates, and snow cover. The AAG’s 2005 annual meeting will be held April 5-9, in Denver, Colorado. More than 50 presentations on various aspects of the cryosphere are scheduled (www. aag.org).

Rupert (Bucky) Tart provided the following report on recent activities of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Technical Council on Cold Regions (TCCRE) accomplished the following this year:

  • Completed and published a new 492-page monograph titled “Thermal Analysis, Construction and Monitoring Methods for Frozen Ground”.
  • Co-hosted the 12th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering (ICCRE) held in Edmonton, Alberta, on May 16–19, 2004, in cooperation with the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Three TCCRE members (Tom Krzewinski, Bucky Tart and Hanalee Zubeck) accompanied ASCE president Pat Galloway on a visit to Finland on June 26– 30, 2004. They assisted by making presentations to Finnish engineers at various meetings.
  • TCCRE members arranged sessions and gave presentations at the Winter Cities Conference held in Anchorage on February 18-20, 2004.
  • Three TCCRE awards were presented at the Edmonton Cold Regions Conference, including the Eb Rice Memorial Lecture award to Dr. Robert Carlson of UAF, the Can-AM CE Amity award to Mr. James C. McDougall of North 60 Engineering in Calgary, and the Harold R. Peyton award to Dr. Dan Smith of the University of Alberta.

TCCRE EXCOM and the various TCCRE committees met once during the year, just prior to the 12th ICCRE at Edmonton, Alberta and again in Duluth on October 30 to develop next year’s budget. TCCRE is continuing to work on organizing the upcoming 13th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering at Bangor, Maine in 2006, planning and preparation of several new Cold Regions Monographs, and planning and editing papers for the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering. Dave Esch is the incoming Chairman of the TCCRE and Bucky Tart is the new Vice Chairman.

Fritz Nelson and Kolia Shiklomanov report that the University of Delaware Permafrost Group (UDPG) continues its research on active-layer processes in northern Alaska. Two new grants were approved by the U.S. National Science Foundation; the CALM grant to extend support for Eurasian and Alaskan sites for an additional five years, and a collaborative grant with Tingjun Zhang (University of Colorado), Vlad Romanovsky (University of Alaska), and Oleg Anisimov (State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg) to compare and evaluate modelling strategies for mapping permafrost under climate-change scenarios. Anna Klene moved to the University of Montana’s geography programme and continues her work in northern Alaska. Cathy Seybold (Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA) has taken over management of instrumental arrays from Ron Paetzold. Dmitri Streletskiy, a master’s student in geocryology at Moscow State University spent two semesters and the 2004 field season with UDPG. Mary Lemcke completed her MS thesis on sediment-filled wedges in central Delaware. Andrea Wedo is conducting a quantitative study of the sediments in a large boulder field in east-central Pennsylvania. Michael Walegur maintains a network of climate instruments at high elevation for a transect from Maine to North Carolina. Kim Gregg completed a thesis on the paleoclimatic implications of blockfield distribution in the Appalachian. Mark Demitroff, who works collaboratively on paleoperiglacial problems in southern New Jersey with Hugh French, has joined us as a graduate student. Silvia Cruzatt, is installing CALM-type instrumental arrays at high elevation in the Peruvian Andes. Fritz Nelson delivered the Blackwell Geomorphology and Society address at the AAG conference and a plenary lecture at the 30th Congress in Glasgow, Scotland.

Larry Hinzman reports that the faculty and staff of the University of Alaska Water and Environmental Research Center continued studies in various aspects of permafrost hydrology. Daniel White is leading an investigation to document the long-term changes in water resource use on the Seward Peninsula. A component of this project is to model the current permafrost distribution as well as that in 1900 and 2100 and determine the consequent impacts on the hydrology. Kenji Yoshikawa continues his studies on periglacial processes including aufeis development, pingo formation and polygon networks. Horacio Toniolo and Debasmita Misra have initiated studies on sediment transport during thermokarst formation. Douglas Kane is continuing the long-term study of permafrost hydrology in the Kuparuk watershed. We also continue studies to examine the impact of wildfires on permafrost regime and the effects of thermokarsting on the local hydrology.

Vladimir Romanovsky (Geophysical Institute, UAF) reports that the Permafrost Laboratory continued to collect data on the active layer and permafrost temperatures at more than 60 locations within Alaska and in the Canadian Arctic. During the last year, two new permafrost observatories were established. One in Gakona area where air, active layer and permafrost (down to 30 metres) temperatures and soil moisture (down to 5 metres) are measured at hourly resolution. Another site was established near Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island, Canada, as part of Walker’s Biocomplexity project. We also continued the modelling of permafrost dynamics, both at site-specific and spatially distributed levels. Modelling of permafrost dynamics at four different sites on Seward Peninsula was undertaken. The modelling results explained the differences in permafrost evolution at the locations were permafrost presently exists and where it is absent. Spatially distributed model of permafrost dynamics was established for northern Alaska (north from 648N) for the time period between 1900 and 2100.

Tom Osterkamp reports that permafrost temperatures have been measured in boreholes along a north-south transect of Alaska for a quarter century. These measurements show a recent and strong warming at all the sites except one. In cooperation with Janet Jorgenson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, additional measurements of permafrost temperatures were made over a two decade period (1985–2004) in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Interpretation of these measurements indicates that the century-long warming documented for the central and western Arctic has also occurred in the region near Barter Island and in this area north of the Brooks Range.

Gary Clow and Frank Urban (U.S. Geological Survey) continued to expand the Department of the Interior’s network of active-layer monitoring stations in northern Alaska under the GTN-P programme. A major upgrade to the network to improve its long-term reliability was completed during August 2004. Three additional stations were also installed, bringing the total number of DOI active-layer monitoring stations in northern Alaska to 14; ten in the NPRA while the remaining four are in the ANWR. Improvements to DOI’s GTN-P deep borehole array in the NPRA was also initiated in anticipation of the TSP campaign. The use of coiled tubing technology to drill new deep boreholes in permafrost is being investigated.

Tim Collett, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), reports that under the U.S. Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds laboratory and field research on both Arctic and marine gas hydrates. Among the current Arctic studies, British Petroleum Exploration Alaska and DOE have undertaken a project to characterize, quantify, and determine the commercial viability of gas hydrates and associated free gas resources in the Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk River, and Milne Point field areas in northern Alaska. The University of Alaska in Fairbanks, the University of Arizona in Tucson, and U.S. Geological Survey are also participating in the Alaska British Petroleum project. Also in northern Alaska the Bureau of Land Management, the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, and the USGS are assessing and characterizing the resource potential of selected gas-hydrate/free-gas accumulations on public lands. Information from this study will then be used to assess and characterize the gas hydrate potential in the NPRA, ANWR, and the State lands. The goal of this joint work is to assess the economically recoverable resource potential of gas hydrates and associated free gas accumulations in northern Alaska by 2007.

D.A. Walker (UAF) reports that a team of 24 people from Fairbanks and other organizations worked at Inuvik and Mould Bay, Prince Patrick Island, during the period July 12–27, 2004, as part of the NSF project “Biocomplexity associated with biogeochemical cycles in arctic frostboil ecosystems. The main objective of the research is to investigate frost-boil ecosystems along a climate gradient from the coldest parts of the Arctic to the northern boreal forest. This year the project established three new 10-¥10-m grids: one near Inuvik in a lichen-woodland and two at Mould Bay. Patterned-ground formation includes the development of contraction cracks, differential frost heave, and the development of a vegetation mat. The strength of these processes varies across the climate gradient and interact to form small non-sorted polygons, sorted and non-sorted circles, and large well-vegetated mounds.

Ron Sletten, Bernard Hallet, Birgit Hagedorn (University of Washington) undertook the third year of the multidisciplinary NSF study in the vicinity of the Thule Air Base, Greenland. The project “Biocomplexity of carbon cycling in the High Arctic” is conducted with Jeff Welker (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Heidi Seltzer and Patrick Sullivan (Colorado State University), and Josh Schimel (the University of California, Santa Barbara). The primary goals are to investigate physical, chemical, and biological interactions and feedback on carbon flux, weathering, and ecosystem dynamics. Study sites are established along a vegetation-density transect from sea level to the ice cap. We have continuous monitoring of meteorology, soil temperature to 1.4 m, soil water content utilizing true TDR, river stage, and snow depth. In summer 2004, we used a backhoe to excavate a 30-m long, 1.5-m wide, approximately 1-m deep trench (below the frost table) across a series of non-sorted stripes to study cryoturbation and its role in burying carbon (see photo). Jennifer Horwath, PhD student, is assessing the below ground carbon content to below the base of the active layer (approx 1 m). Preliminary results indicate that current estimates of organic carbon in High Arctic systems may be underestimated since previous estimates did not account for organics moved to depth via cryoturbation. Heather Heuser, also a PhD student, is studying the history of the Thule area by analyzing 18O in diatoms from lake cores.

The University of Washington group continued work in Antarctic focusing on the contraction crack dynamics and renewal rates in polygon-covered surfaces in the Dry Valleys. In a recent paper (Ng, et al.) the age of sublimation till overlying buried ice in Beacon Valley suggests that till formed during ice sublimation occurred in the past several hundred thousand years; this is inconsistent with other reports of this ice being over 8 million years old. For further information see (http://depts.washington.edu/icylands).

Ron Paetzold (retired, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) reports that there are seven active CALM soil climate stations in Antarctica: Scott Base, Marble Point, Bull Pass, Victoria Valley, Mt. Fleming, Minna Bluff, and Granite Harbour. Routine maintenance was performed on and data retrieved from these stations in January 2004. CDs with the processed data for these stations are available.

Nicole Mölders and her group at the Geophysical Institute evaluated the frozen soil/permafrost module of the Hydro-Thermodynamic Soil-Vegetation Scheme (HTSVS), which is applied in several weather prediction models and has been implemented in the Community Climate System Model (CCSM). They compared simulated and observed soil temperatures for various sites in the Baltic region (from the WINTEX/NOPEX campaign) and Alaska to detect and remove model shortcomings. Narapusetty, a graduate student is currently working on the development of an improved numerical scheme for the frozen soil/permafrost module to better capture the discontinuities in soil variables and parameters along the freezing line.

Leslie A. Viereck, Boreal Ecology Cooperative Research Unit, Fairbanks, with the help of the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological research (LTER) contiues to maintain three of the interior Alaska CALM sites; Pearl Creek (since 1965), Wickersham fire site (since 1971), and the FP5C site. A Wickersham fire poster on the effect of wildfire and fireline construction on the annual depth of thaw in a blackspruce/permafrost site in interior Alaska (a 33-year record) showed contrary to our original prediction that a shallow active layer did not return to the site by a gradual freezing back from the lower depth, but rather by the formation of a layer of seasonal frost that eventually remained frozen throughout the entire year.

Craig Tweedle of the Arctic Ecology Laboratory, Michigan State University in collaboration with Nuna Technologies indicates significant developments on the Barrow Area Information Database and Internet Map Server (BAID-IMS, (ims.arcticscience.org/) and the Circumarctic Environmental Observatories Network Internet Map Server (CEON-IMS, (www.ceonims.org/). Each application has the same basic GIS functions, which allow users to query and search site-based information, select and buffer features (points, lines, polygons), measure distance, change units (feet, metres, miles, and kilometers), identify features, change scale (by zooming in or zooming out) and print. BAID-IMS covers a total area of the application of approximately 280,000 km2. The CEONIMS application extends from 45 degrees north and includes circum-arctic thematic data such as bathymetry and topography, land cover and permafrost, some satellitederived products. For example, users can link to more than 3500 WMO stations reporting real time weather data and long-term climatic averages north of 45 degrees north.

Tingjun Zhang reports on a number of frozen ground activities at the National Snow and Ice Data Center/WDC for Glaciology, University of Colorado at Boulder. The NSF-funded project with Zhang, Roger Barry, David Gilichinsky continues to recover, collect, digitize, and archive historical soil temperatures for up to 400 stations from the Former Soviet Union. Based on in-situ measurements, thawing index, and numerical modelling, Zhang investigated the spatial and temporal variability of active layer thickness over the Russian Arctic drainage basin. Zhang and Armstrong for the NASA/NOAA GEWEX American Prediction Program (GAPP) investigated the spatial and temporal variations of seasonally frozen ground in the contiguous United States. Using passive microwave remote sensing data and numerical modelling, they developed the NSIDC Frozen Soil Algorithm to detect near-surface (<10 cm) soil freeze-thaw cycles in the Northern Hemisphere. Zhang and Barry continue the IARC-funded Permafrost Data Assembly project. This activity is producing value-added products such as gridded soil temperature, active layer thickness, permafrost distribution, snow thickness and air temperature for the region north of 508N. Zhang with Nikolai Shiklomanov (University of Delaware) are involved in a permafrost modelling comparison at selected locations and regions. Dr. Svetlana Chudinova, Pushchino, was a NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at NSIDC working on the effects of 20th century climate change on the soil temperature regimes in the regions of perennially and seasonally-frozen ground of Russia.

Torre Jorgenson, ABR, Fairbanks, compiled for the Nature Conservancy a new ecosystems map of northern Alaska. It and more detailed US reports are posted on the USPA web site (www.uspermafrost.org). Please sign up to receive information on the 2008 conference.

Lynn Everett (everett.2@osu.edu); USPA Secretary Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.org)

The Netherlands

The Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and the Wageningen University are investigating the carbon and water of taiga and tundra ecosystems in eastern Siberia, and in collaboration with the Institute for Biological Problems Cryolithozone of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk.


Measurements are taken using eddy correlation systems and soil flux chambers in a larch / birch forest near Yakutsk (Spasskaya Pad Field Station) and on a tundra site near Chokhurdakh in the Indigyrka lowlands (Kytalyk Reserve). In 2004, this research embedded in the EU TCOS project (Terrestrial Carbon Observation System) has been extended with flux chamber measurements of methane fluxes and survey of active layer thickness and temperature. The objective is to estimate the annual exchange rates and to determine the sensitivity of the fluxes to environmental factors. The methane flux measurements will also be used in modelling their link with the last glacial climate and past permafrost changes. The first modelling results were published in Quaternary Science Reviews 23 (J. van Huissteden).

Joint research between the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (Jef Vandenberghe), the State Hydrological Institute and the Institute of Limnology at St. Petersburg continued with the support of the Russian-Dutch research cooperation programme. Different methods of relating changes in vegetation and permafrost to climate changes were compared and applied to the post-glacial environments of western and eastern Europe; a related database will be available by internet. Changes in river patterns of northwest Russia that could be expected from potential changes in environmental and climatic conditions were calculated according to methods previously applied for Holocene variability.

In May 2004, the new interdisciplinary research project “The effect of climate change on the pristine peatland ecosystems and (sub)actual carbon balance of the permafrost boundary zone in Sub-arctic Western Siberia (CASUS)” was established between the Utrecht University (W. Bleuten, The Netherlands), the University of Kuopio (Finland), the Ural State University (Russia), the Tomsk State University (Russia) and the Institute of Soil Science and Agro-chemistry (RAS Novosibirsk). CASUS focuses on the annual carbon balance of sub-arctic peatland areas of Western Siberia; initially estimated in three key areas by ground flux measurements in the main mire types and in surface water. The point trace gas fluxes of mires will be validated with measurements of net primary production and recent carbon accumulation. GIS combined with land unit classification using multispectral satellite images will allow the evaluation of area fluxes, which in turn will be compared with the interpretation of hyper-spectral satellite images in terms of carbon gas concentrations in the lower atmosphere. The effects of climate change as predicted by IPCC scenarios on the carbon balance of sub-arctic peatland of Western Siberia will be evaluated. In August, the Siberian partners organized a field expedition for selecting sites in the continuous permafrost zone; extensive methane flux was almost absent. This confirms the hypothesis on the loss of trapped methane in the region of degrading permafrost. The thawing at the top of the permafrost explains the rapid changes in hydrological conditions leading to the appearance and disappearance of lakes, which in turn complicates the interpolation procedures concerning trace gas fluxes over large areas.

A new international website was opened for scientific discussions concerning vegetation-pattern, hydrology, hydrochemistry, microbiology, biogeochemistry (including Carbon and Nutrient cycling) and climate (change) of northern pristine peatland areas (http://www.peatresearch. com). We kindly invite colleagues to join this network by sending an email with their name, logo and link-address to: w.borren@geog.uu.nl

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