2008 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

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

Argentina (and South American Partners)

A. L. Ahumada, G. Ibánez Palacios and S. Verónica Páez of the Institute of Quaternary Geology (Miguel Lillo Foundation, San Miguel de Tucumán) pursued their exploration and research of the cryogenic environment of Sierra de Aconquija with a special emphasis on fields of thufurs at 4200 m a.s.l. The same working group was the fi rst to document talus rock glaciers of glacigenic origin for Cumbres Calchaquíes (Province of Tucumán), which display active fronts from 4270 m a.s.l. on upwards. Their spatial extent is constrained by the climatic characteristics of the region.

On the western edge of the Puna, at the Nevados de Catreal, in the Province of Catamarca, a preliminary inventory of talus and glaciogenic rock glaciers has been elaborated. Rock glaciers in this region are found at elevations of 4254 – 4898 m a.s.l. Th ese newly discovered areas of rock glacier occurrence increase the knowledge about permafrost distribution of the intracontinental cryosphere in the northwest of Argentina.

During 2008, a joint research project focussing on Andean cryogenic environments was carried out in Argentina by the University of Salzburg (L. Schrott, Austria) and the Geocryology Research Unit of the IANIGLA (D. Trombotto, Mendoza). Th is research includes geophysical soundings with a variety of modern techniques (geoelectrics, ground penetrating radar) and were already carried out by a team of younger researchers (J. Götz, I. Hartmeyer and M. Keuschnig). In the framework of this project, research has begun at the Morenas Coloradas rock glacier and at Paso de Agua Negra (in the Province of San Juan) and students (from the National University of Cuyo, Mariano Castro and from the University of Bonn, Germany, J. H. Bloethe) have received research and professional training at the Geocryology Research Unit in Mendoza. These young researchers are working on periglacial environments in diff erent areas of the Central Andes and are concerned with mapping new areas aff ected by permafrost occurrence. This mapping task was extended to the Cordillera del Tigre in the north of the Province of Mendoza. Mapping permafrost there is particularly interesting because it displays an important rock glacier pattern similar to that mentioned for the Cordón del Plata.

Areas with palaeopermafrost in the northwest of the Province of Chubut, Patagonia, are being investigated by L. Ruiz (IANIGLA, Mendoza) in order to help reconstruct the palaeoclimate of the area. This research will be part of his doctoral thesis to be presented at the University of Buenos Aires.

As part of a new cooperation, the International Center of Earth Sciences (Malargüe, Mendoza), the IANIGLA (D. Trombotto) have been monitoring the volcano-cryogenic contact zone on the active volcano Peteroa, where glaciers retreated considerably due to the high geothermal gradient detected at the rims of the caldera. Permafrost occurrence is indicated by the presence of buried ice in numerous sites where deglaciation has taken place.  

A new joint research project (J. Ruzzante ICES and IANIGLA) about the geocryology of the Peteroa Volcano has been initiated to continue studying the area, mapping permafrost and linking the local cryospheric environment to present water supplies. The project includes the characterization of specific areas according to their vulnerability to volcanic risks and the infl uence of volcanic activity on periglacial environment with high-ice content. The latter is the subject of a master degree at the Unviersity of Cuyo (A. Ramires) in cooperation with the IANIGLA. Future joint research projects together with Germany (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Brazil (National Observatory of Rio de Janeiro) have been presented this year. They focus on this study area in order to better understand the evolution of periglacial processes in the context of global warming and to measure permafrost or ice thickness using radar equipment.

Active layer monitoring of new sites underlain by permafrost (D. Trombotto) has been initiated in Morenas Coloradas (Balcón I Superior) where the permafrost table lies at approximately the 5.5 m depth (corroborated by GPR) and in the south of the Province of San Juan, in the valley of the river Pachón, at 31° 44´S, close to the border between Chile and the Province of Mendoza. The nearby Cerro Mercedario with a height of 6770 m a.s.l. is glaciated. The valleys that are monitored do not exhibit glaciers, but have a great variety of subterranean types of ice associated with landforms such as rock glaciers and cryogenic sedimentary slopes with the occurrence of supersaturated gelifl uction in ice. 

A. Brenning (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) and visiting student G. Azócar from Universidad de Chile are currently investigating the distribution and signifi cance of rock glaciers in the dry Andes of northcentral Chile between 27° and 33°S in collaboration with F. Escobar from the Dirección General de Aguas, Santiago, Chile. Th e water equivalent of rock glaciers exceeds the amount of water stored in glaciers across great parts of the study area. The impact of mining on rock glaciers in the Los Pelambres mine is another issue that is being addressed. First results have been presented at the 4th Alexander von Humboldt Conference in Santiago (November 2008). The Argentine Subcommission of Cryospheric Sciences (ASCS) was founded during the year 2008 and D. Trombotto was nominated president. J. C. Leiva (Glaciology, IANIGLA, Mendoza) and S. Barreira (Antarctic Sea Ice, Servicio Meteorológico de la Armada Argentina, Buenos Aires) are members of the Executive Committee.

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


Comprehensive research on permafrost issues in Austria is currently carried out by nine institutions and by a increasing number of scientists: University of Innsbruck (with two research groups: K. Krainer and J. Stötter), Vienna University of Technology, University of Graz, Graz University of Technology, Joanneum Research (Graz), University of Salzburg, Geological Survey of Austria (Vienna) and by two branches of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (Vienna and Salzburg).

The Innsbruck group around K. Krainer in cooperation with the University of Vienna (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann, G. Blöschl), the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg (M. Staudinger) and the Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer) continued working on their existing project Permafrost in Austria. The project consists of two diff erent parts carried out at two diff erent study sites as reported in the previous issue of Frozen Ground. At the 5 km² study area in the Kaunertal (Ötztal Alps), it is planned to study the present distribution, thickness and ice content of alpine permafrost by applying a combination of methods including mapping, study of aerial photographs, geophysical surveying, ground temperatures etc. In summer 2008 geophysical mapping (seismic refraction) were started at this study area. Profiles were selected by (a) probable and improbable areas of permafrost based on geomorphology and the previously modelled PERMAKART map and by (b) geomorphological classes for near surface materials (talus, rock glacier, moraine, etc.) and their variation in altitude. The analyses of P- and S-waves are used to detect the presence of permafrost. The geophysical indicator together with the corresponding behaviour of BTS should prove (or disprove) the existence of permafrost. At the second study area, Sonnblick, an initial seismic tomography was applied to test the functionality of the pre-installed 15 geophones deployed in three 20 m boreholes in June 2008. Further measurements are planned for September 2008 and in summer 2009 to observe variations of the seismic signals (travel time, amplitude). The comparison of a computed velocity model (P- and S-waves) using the time-lapse inversion will be used to interpret spatial and temporal variations of the permafrost.

The University of Graz (G.K. Lieb, A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer), Graz University of Technology (M. Avian, V. Kaufmann), and Joanneum Research (A. Bauer, H. Proske) continued to work on objectives defi ned within the project ALPCHANGE (for details and published results see www.alpchange.at) in the Hohe Tauern and Niedere Tauern Ranges in central Austria. Most of the measurement devices installed in summer and autumn 2006 worked properly thereby collecting a whole suite of data related to permafrost and rock glacier occurrence and activity. For example, near-ground surface temperature recordings (in total more than 100 sensors) were carried out in diff erent substrates (bedrock, coarse debris, fi ne debris), in diff erent aspects as well as in diff erent altitudes in alpine cirques in order to understand in more detail the ground temperature situation of cirques with permafrost and active rock glaciers. By combining these numeric results with remotely sensed data it is planned to model the thermal situation in the entire cirques. Other local scale activities were for example continuation of the annual geodetic measurements on the Dösen, Hinteres Langtalkar and Weissenkar rock glaciers, resurveying of the rock glacier in the Äusseres Hochebenkar (Tirol) by terrestrial photogrammetry, resurveying of the front of the highly active Hinteres Langtalkar rock glacier by terrestrial laser scanning, geomorphic fi eld mapping, geoelectric measurements (in cooperation with E. Niesner and B. Kühnast, Leoben) and BTS measurements at various study locations in the Hohe Tauern and Niedere Tauern Ranges. At a regional scale, airborne laser scanning was carried out in summer 2008 at three ALPCHANGE study areas thereby focusing on rock glaciers, glaciers and larger-scale solifl uction features in the Hohe Tauern Range. Furthermore, permafrost modelling was carried out for the Carinthian part of the Hohe Tauern Range. Model results were used as one input layer for constructing a geomorphological hazard map of the Großglockner area and will be combined with regional climate scenario models developed by the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz (A. Gobiet) in Graz. Th e Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer and R. Supper) launched an automatic geoelectric monitoring system in the summit area of Sonnblick, an activity which was initiated by ALPCHANGE.

The Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna (W. Schöner, Ch. Kroisleitner) continued permafrost monitoring in the Sonnblick region (project PERSON; see previous report) at two test fi elds (one with Southern and one with Northern aspect) of ground surface temperature measurements with miniature data loggers and additional BTS measurements in March/April each year. The monitoring was extended by a digital snow cover and snow depletion mapping activities which started in spring 2008. Additionally, monitoring of the ice dammed Pilatus Lake north of Mt. Sonnblick was started in summer 2007 thereby including measurement of shape, discharge and ice thickness.

At the University of Salzburg the research group Geomorphology and Environmental Systems (L. Schrott, J.- Ch. Otto, B. Ebohon; cf. www.geomorphology.at) initiated a research project (permalp.at) about permafrost distribution in the Austrian Alps in cooperation with the national government. A major interest is to explore the permafrost distribution in the Austrian Alps, particularly with regard to potential future development and natural hazards in the densely populated mountain ranges. Th us, the fi rst objective of permalp.at is to create a high resolution map of permafrost distribution of the Austrian Central Alps. This knowledge will signifi cantly help to improve planning of infrastructure in high mountain regions. In the research area (Hohe Tauern) several methods will be applied. Apart from geomorphological mapping and the analysis of aerial photographs it is intended to carry out geophysical soundings, to enlarge BTS-measurement sites and to measure ground- and rockwall-temperatures at several test sites. The results will be used to create a new topoclimatic key for the Eastern Alps which can be used to simulate permafrost distribution. The project combines the knowledge of Salzburg’s research group with experiences of several Austrian colleagues (e.g. research group of G. K. Lieb and A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer) and is supported by M. Phillips (SLF, Davos) and F. Keller (ETI, Academia Engiadina, Samedan) from Switzerland.

Finally we want to report briefl y on a new project funded by the European Union through the Alpine Space Program of the European Territorial Cooperation named PermaNET – Permafrost long-term monitoring network launched in mid- July 2008. The project consortium consists of 14 participating institutions. The function of the so-called “lead partner” is carried out by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol, Office for Geology and Building Materials Testing, Italy (V. Mair). Th e four Austrian project participants are: the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg (M. Staudinger, C. Riedl, M. Ungersböck, G. Schauer) and Vienna (W. Schöner, Ch. Kroisleitner), the University of Innsbruck (both Innsbruck permafrost research groups: J. Stötter, M. Monreal, M. Maukisch, F. Petrini-Monteferri and K. Krainer), the University of Graz (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Forest Department (H. Siegel). A fi rst PermaNET-Austria meeting was held in August 2008 in Salzburg. For more details on this new project read the respective paragraph at the national report of Italy or visit www. permanet-alpinespace.eu.

Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer and Gerhard Karl Lieb (andreas.kellerer@uni-graz.at)


Activities related to cold environment in Belgium can be divided in three parts:

  • The building of a Polar Research station on Antarctica The Princess Elisabeth Antarctica“
  • The research of paleoenvironmental remnants of ice wedge casts and sand wedge casts
  • The continuation of the archaeological research of the frozen Scythian tombs in the Altai Mountains (Siberia)

Belgium has a long history of scientific activity in Antarctica, dating back to the fi rst over-wintering in 1897, from which the Belgian Antarctic Expedition returned with an important scientifi c harvest: bathymetrical and hydrological soundings, numerous botanical and zoological samples, a large amount of oceanographical, meteorological, geomagnetic, glaciological and geological observation data. Belgium next returned to the Antarctic sixty years later to build the Baudoin Station which operated until 1967. This was part of Belgium‘s celebrating the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year (IGY). In 2004, the Belgian government commissioned the International Polar Foundation (IPF) to design and construct a new research station in Antarctica. The result was a resarch station called „The Princess Elisabeth Antarctica“, which exact coordinates are 71°57‘ S – 23°20‘ E. The base will be maintained and operated by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Offi ce (BELSPO). The IPF will be involved as a privileged partner taking the lead on related public outreach and educational activities.

In 2008 Gunther Ghysels obtained his PhD (supervisor I. Heyse) with a detailed study of relict wedge phenomena in northern Belgium. Air photos revealed ephemeral network systems comparable with ice wedge casts and sand wedge casts in the present-day periglacial regions. Detailed field work and numerous excavations in combination with OSL dating proved the existence of two periglacial complex network systems that were active during the Last Glacial Maximum at about 20.000 BP and later at about 15.000 BP.

Gent University and in particular the Department of Archaelogy (J. Bourgeois, W. Gheyle), the Department of Geography ( R. Goossens, A. De Wulf ) in collaboration with S. Marchenko (University of Alaska Fairbanks) continued to work on the frozen Scythian tombs in the Altai Mountains. A field campaign was organised in the summer of 2008. More information on this project is available in the Belgium report in Frozen Ground #30.

Irénée Heyse (irenee.heyse@ugent.be)


This Canadian year’s report focuses on IPY permafrost projects. It also includes reports from select other research activities at the Geological Survey of Canada, University of Ottawa, and McGill University. Finally a special item is provided on Don Hayley, in recognition of his 40 years of service to the Canadian and broader permafrost community.


Canadian IPY Activities:

Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP-Canada) – A Canadian Contribution to the International Polar Year – S. Smith, A. Lewkowicz and C. Burn: A collaborative project led by S. Smith (Geological Survey of Canada -GSC), A. Lewkowicz (University of Ottawa) and C. Burn (Carleton University) was one of 44 science and research projects that were selected for funding under the Canadian Government’s IPY program in March 2007. Th is project represents the main Canadian contribution to the International IPY project led by the IPA, Th ermal State of Permafrost (TSP). A primary objective was to develop new sites to address gaps in the existing long-term permafrost monitoring network. Over 80 new boreholes were established bringing the total number to 159. Funding acquired by Canadian government departments under the Northern Energy Development Memorandum to Cabinet (between 2005 and 2007) supported the drilling and instrumentation of about 70 boreholes in the Mackenzie Valley. The IPY program, other funding sources and a number of partnerships facilitated the establishment of new monitoring sites in other regions including the Yukon Territory, northern Manitoba and communities in the Baffin region of Nunavut. Collaboration with communities, mineral exploration companies and the Yukon Geological Survey resulted in the installation of temperature cables to depths of up to 40 m in an altitudinal transect of boreholes to better understand spatial variation in mountain permafrost in the Yukon. Collaboration with the Nunavut government and communities has resulted in an enhanced monitoring network in the Baffin region. Th ere are also plans to establish 4 to 8 sites over the next 1 to 2 years in additional Nunavut communities. Collaboration with Parks Canada resulted in establishment of monitoring sites in northern Manitoba including seven boreholes at the York Factory Heritage site.

Progress was also made on another primary objective to measure permafrost temperatures in new and existing boreholes in Canada during the IPY to provide a ‘snapshot’ of ground thermal conditions, and provide an improved baseline against which to measure change. Data were collected from most of the existing and many new monitoring sites during the fi rst portion of the Polar Year. Baseline information was collected in regions for which little recent information was available, and existing time series were extended, enabling quantifi cation of recent changes in permafrost conditions across the Canadian north. Analyses are underway and are expected to lead to a better understanding of permafrost-climate linkages and to explain variability and change in permafrost conditions. Preliminary project results were presented through posters at NICOP, including some by graduate students involved in the project. Data collection for the entire IPY period was completed in Fall 2008 and snapshot data will be disseminated in Canadian and IPA data products at the IPY early science conference in June 2010 and through a special IPY issue of Permafrost and Periglacial Processes.

Tundra Ecosystems and Perennially Frozen Peatlands – C. Tarnocai: Two major collaborative IPY projects were initiated to study the impact of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems in the permafrost region of Canada. Th e fi rst study, led by G. Henry (UBC), deals with Arctic tundra ecosystems and the second, led by J. Bhatti (Northern Forest Research Centre, NRCAN), deals with forest and peatland ecosystems in the Mackenzie Valley. Th e information obtained during the course of these projects will be published in posters and scientifi c journals. The fi rst study, entitled “Climate Impacts on Canadian Arctic Tundra Ecosystems” (CiCAT), includes a number of subprojects (approximately 32). The subproject led by C. Tarnocai (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) in cooperation with P. Achuff (Parks Canada), G. Broll (University of Vechta, Germany) and J. Gould (Government of Alberta) involves a long-term study of changes in the soils, permafrost, vegetation and thermal regime of High Arctic ecosystems and the eff ect of climate change on the carbon stored in the soils. Data collected during the July 2008 fi eld work in the Lake Hazen and Tanquary Fiord areas of Ellesmere Island revealed the development of an unexpectedly deep thaw never before observed during the past 18 years of this study. This rapid increase in thaw depth is supported by the soil temperature data collected at the Lake Hazen soil climate site. This unprecedented deep thaw triggered retrogressive fl ow slides, detachment slides, and severe landscape changes resulting from the thawing of ice wedges. The second study, entitled “Carbon source–sink and greenhouse gas emissions in forest and peatland ecosystems along the Mackenzie Valley,” includes approximately fi ve subprojects. The subproject led by C. Tarnocai (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) involves carbon dynamics and carbon cycles of perennially frozen peatlands. Coring of these peat deposits was carried out during the 2007 and 2008 fi eld work at the Inuvik, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson research sites. The samples collected at these sites are being radiocarbon dated, analysed and evaluated.

Permafrost Studies on Herschel Island Linked to IPY Project 90 – W. Pollard: Activities undertaken by McGill University’s project “An integrated study of permafrost conditions on Herschel Island, Yukon” are linked to the IPY Project 90: Arctic Circumpolar Coastal Observatory Network (ACCO-Net) and stem from the regional component of a larger endeavour originally planned as an IPY activity (Vulnerability of Ice-Cored Environments (VICE) – #376).

W. Pollard and Ph.D. candidate N. Couture brought a group of four undergraduate students to the Yukon coast to undertake fi eldwork that related to establishing the extent of ground ice on Herschel Island and the impact of its thaw. Each student specialized in one topic. The first is characterizing the permafrost stratigraphy of the Pauline Cove area of Herschel Island to help determine the thaw susceptibility of this area and gain insight into paleoenvironmental conditions. The second project uses ground penetrating radar (GPR) to assess the extent of massive ground ice deposits on Herschel Island and generate a fi rst approximation of ice volume to provide the basis for a prediction of thermokarst. The third examines the re-vegetation and succession patterns of retrogressive thaw slumps, and the fi nal component of the 2008 research is the development of a geographical information system (GIS) that will provide the basis for monitoring the extent and progressive changes in thermokarst and the impact of those changes. All projects make use of baseline data collected from earlier studies on the island.

The research team also included Dr. H. Lantuit and Ph.D. student M. Fritz from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany. The undergraduate projects complement M. Fritz‘s doctoral work which uses a joint approach based on sedimentary, palynological, and stable isotope records to gain insight into the island’s postglacial permafrost history.

Other Activities:

GSC –Atlantic and its Collaborative NearshorePprojects in the Mackenzie Delta – S. Solomon: Work on nearshore permafrost within the bottom fast ice (BFI) zone of the Mackenzie Delta continued with the successful recovery of temperature loggers from beneath the BFI for the third year. This provides an unprecedented time series illustrating extreme interannual variability due to small variations in ice thickness and the rate of ice growth. Funding for these activities is provided by the Natural Resources Canada Program for Energy Development (PERD) and by the Northern Energy Development Program. BFI development through the 2007-08 freeze-up season was monitored using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from a variety of sensors. The availability of fully polarized SAR data in several diff erence frequency bands (C, L, and X-band) is enabling new methods for BFI mapping. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with the Centre for Cold Oceans Resource Engineering. We are also investigating applications of interferometric SAR for mapping BFI and for monitoring subsidence in the Mackenzie Delta. This work is funded by the Canadian Space Agency.

Although not directly permafrost-related, new PERDfunded projects have been initiated to improve our understanding of sediment transport in the coastal regions of the southern Beaufort Sea region and the role that sea-ice may play. Observations during spring break-up indicate that BFI plays a signifi cant role in controlling overfl ow over the sea ice surface during initial stages of the spring freshet. Vigorous upwelling at the edges of BFI mark the locations of overfl ow and small whirlpools (“strudel drains”) concentrated at the seaward edges of BFI and indicate locations of drainage. Strudel scours more than 1 m deep occur in the seabed. Th e strudel drainage process is being modeled by an M.Eng student at the University of Alberta (M. Belanger, under the supervision of F. Hicks and M. Loewen). Dr. M. A. Hoque has joined the GSCA Arctic coastal group as a visiting post-doctoral fellow to help develop models of waves, sediment transport and coastal erosion.

D. Forbes with colleagues from the Geodetic Survey of Canada (J.C. Lavergne and M. Craymer) continued their investigation of vertical ground motion in the Mackenzie Delta region using GPS measurements. Working with B. Moorman and his students, they further examined the applications of ground penetrating radar (GPR) for examining coastal permafrost. C. Stevens (Ph.D. candidate) extended his work on the identifi cation of thermal interfaces in the shallow nearshore region where the ground temperature data was collected. J. Bode (M.Sc. candidate) worked with D. Forbes to examine the role that ground ice may play controlling ground elevation and flooding extent. Nearshore ground temperatures and GPR results were presented at the NICOP in Fairbanks.

University of Ottawa – A. Lewkowicz: A. Lewkowicz and several graduate students undertook additional investigations of the spatial distribution and characteristics of permafrost in the Yukon. In collaboration with B. Etzelmüller (University of Oslo) and as a contribution to the IPY, DC resistivity profi ling was carried out at several thin permafrost sites along the Alaska Highway where permafrost has persisted over the past 44 years. Mt McIntyre, a possible borehole site close to Whitehorse, was also surveyed using this method. To enable predictive spatial modelling, the team completed two years of BTS measurements and latesummer observations of permafrost presence in five study areas across the southern half of the Yukon. Th ese data are currently being analysed and ways to incorporate vegetation and air temperature inversions into the models are being explored. In order to assess the impact of the inversions, air and ground surface temperatures, temperatures near the top of permafrost and snow depths are being recorded at almost 100 sites through the Territory. The potential infl uence is suggested by ground temperatures measured at three new IPY sites that are about 4°C warmer than would be predicted by adjusting nearby weather station data for the elevational diff erence. This is probably because they are unaff ected by the air temperature inversions that impact the weather stations, all of which are located in valley bottoms. A database of almost 1500 rock glaciers is also under construction and will be used to calibrate the spatial model between the study areas. The project, to produce detailed predictions of permafrost probability throughout the discontinuous permafrost areas of the Yukon, is planned for completion by the end of 2009.

McGill University – W. Pollard: There were four different but complementary themes to the permafrost research activities at McGill University led by W. Pollard.

(1) An integrated study of permafrost conditions on Herschel Island, Yukon, is reported above under the Canadian IPY activities.

(2) PERD Project NP 1.2.2: Massive ground ice nature and distribution. In collaboration with R. Gowan (Federal Department of Indian and Northern Aff airs) and funded by the Federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD), the McGill team is also engaged in a project involving the detection and assessment of massive ground ice conditions for a range of environmentally sensitive sites related to hydrocarbon development activities in the Mackenzie Delta region. This project builds on previous PERD funded research on massive ground ice in granular deposits. As in previous PERD work, the team is conducting geophysical surveys using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and capacitive coupled resistivity (CCR). However, this project expands the scope of the earlier work by combining these techniques with frequency domain electromagnetic sounding (FEM), by using diff erent frequency GPR antennae to provide a more detailed view of near-surface ground ice stratigraphy, and by increasing the density of the surveys. In subsequent years, this data will be then be used to model terrain response for hydrocarbon production activities and potential long-term problems related to climate change.

(3) Nature and significance of perennial springs in cold permafrost. In 2008 fieldwork was undertaken at several groups of saline springs on Axel Heiberg Island, three periods of fi eldwork (March, July and September) were undertaken to characterize the response of spring discharge phenomena to seasonal changes. This is an ongoing NSERC funded project focusing on the permafrost hydrology, surface geomorphology and geochemistry of these unique spring systems. This year a series of geophysical surveys were conducted to define the subsurface extent of flow systems. Geochemical research focused on eutectic freezing processes and the formation of hydrated minerals. Th is research is related to the creation of a Mars analogue site funded by the Canadian Space Agency Canadian Analogue Research Network (CARN) Program.

(4) The response of ice-rich permafrost to climate change in the high Arctic. The main focus of this research is the assessment of ground ice distribution and thaw sensitivity of massive ground ice and ice wedge systems. In July 2008 fieldwork was conducted on Axel Heiberg, Ellesmere and Devon Islands. Included were (a) Ph.D. research by T. Haltigin on ice-wedge polygon geometry and detection and (b) M.Sc. research by J. Grom on the microclimate of a retrogressive thaw slump. Haltigin’s research has shown a strong predictive relationship between polygon geometry and the age, geology and ice content. Grom’s research has shown that there is a positive feedback between slump shape and rate of headwall retreat. W. Pollard continued the collection of microclimate data for several sites on Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere Island as well as the annual survey of retrogressive thaw slumps in the Eureka sound Lowlands. This is an ongoing project funded by NSERC and ArcticNet.

GSC-Northern Landslide Hazard Activities in the Mackenzie Valley – R. Couture: In the last three years, the Geological Survey of Canada, through the Natural Resources Canada’s Earth Science Sector Secure Canadian Energy Supply Program, has been providing new geoscience information on regional landslide hazards along a new proposed pipeline corridor in the Mackenzie Valley. A series of publications has been prepared and published in 2008 through traditional Geological Survey of Canada’s publications and scientifi c journal papers and international conferences. A GSC Open File (#5740) contains over 1800 landslides and other natural terrain hazard features (e.g. karstic sink holes, rock glacier) mapped along a proposed gas pipeline route, between Norman Wells and Inuvik, and integrated into a GIS spatial database. A second GSC Open File (#5738) includes high-resolution orthophotos and digital elevation models for three landslide-prone areas along this corridor. These Open Files are available through the following hyperlink http://gsc. nrcan.gc.ca/bookstore/index_e.php. Since 2006, InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) techniques have been used to monitor and better understand landslides and slope behaviour in permafrost that are otherwise difficult to analyse with usual geotechnical tools. D-InSAR (Differential Interferometry) analysis has led to preparation of guidelines for processing InSAR in permafrost environment. Two publications are in preparation for publication in early 2009. Also in 2006, the first ever a set of corner refl ectors (artificial permanent scatters) was installed in Canada at various landslide sites in a permafrost environment with the objectives of monitoring active landslides and slopes using a Point Target InSAR technique, (PT-InSAR). Preparation of guidelines for PT-InSAR in permafrost environment is underway with anticipated publication in 2009.

Recognizing Don Hayley’s 40 years of arctic engineering – EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd.: The staff and Board of Directors of EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. are pleased to congratulate Mr. Don Hayley P.Eng., Director of Arctic Resource Projects for EBA’s Arctic Practice, for 40 years of consulting focused on arctic engineering, primarily related to northern resource development. During this time Don has led numerous feasibility and design studies for projects such as transportation facilities over permafrost terrain, arctic pipelines, northern mining developments, and exploratory oil and gas drilling and production structures. Don is one of Canada’s premiere proponents for responsible northern development. Don founded the Cold Regions Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society and was its first Director. He is a past Chairman of the Canadian National Committee for the International Permafrost Association, and served on the CNC-IPA from 1988 to 2008. Don was a member of IPA Executive Committee from 2003 to 2008. He was named a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) in 2002 and more recently received the prestigious Julian B. Smith Medal from EIC for “Achievement in the Development of Canada”. Don graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University and an M.Sc. from the University of Alberta. He has worked with EBA, a consulting engineering and sciences company practicing in western and northern Canada since 1966, in Edmonton and Peachland throughout his 40 year career. EBA, and indeed members of the Canadian permafrost community, are proud to have Don as a colleague and mentor.

Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)


The majority of the 2008 permafrost and cold regions engineering studies in China were associated with the construction and maintenance of high-elevation highways and railways in Southwestern China (Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) and the construction of a 1,030-km, 813mm-diameter, ambienttemperature crude oil pipeline in Northeastern China. Additional research in permafrost science was focused on augmenting and developing basic long-term data collection at established stations in both areas.

Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Qinghai-Tibet Highway (QTH): The QTH was upgraded during 2003-2007 for hauling the large tonnages of fi ll and construction materials for building the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR). Although the traffi cability has been greatly improved, however, the thaw subsidence resulting from asphaltic pavement continues, the thaw depths have reached more than 10 m beneath the road in some segments. Permafrost temperatures were monitored at more than 100 cross-sections along the QTH. Proposed Qinghai-Tibet Express Highway (QTEH): An express highway (QTEH) has been proposed paralleling the QTH and utilizing the relatively lower relief, but high elevation, naturally occurring engineering corridor from Golmud to Lhasa. A thawed belt has been proposed, however, some designers also are considering alternative routes to avoid congestion and extensive and asymmetrical (old and new lanes) thawing of the permafrost in this relatively narrow engineering corridor.

Qinghai-Kang (Western Sichuan) Highway (QKH): The QKH on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has required major maintenance each year because the permafrost subgrade has been thawing. Several stations, with boreholes and automatic data recording, along the route, were established at Huashixia, Zuimatan and Qingshuihe.

Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (XTH): The Tianshuihai Permafrost Station established in 2007, functioned well during the 2008. More than one-year of data on ground temperatures and weather conditions were obtained and some initial analysis has been done by German and Chinese scientists both in Lanzhou, China, and Heidelberg, Germany.

Qingshuihe-Budongquan Highway (QBH): The QBH is a connecting road between the QTH and the QKH. It traverses a signifi cant amount of permafrost. Th e Sino-German Research Team from Heidelberg and Lanzhou worked together on surveys and investigations using geophysical methods. Two more permafrost stations were established at Quma’he and Chumar’he. Field data have been collected for two years. Th ese data generally include ground temperatures and weather data from automatic stations.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR): The research continued on the verifications of permafrost railbed cooling confi gurations both along the railway and at the experimental stations. To date, the foundation soils have been performing as designed. At some segments, the cooling eff ects have been better than expected, and the permafrost table beneath the railbed has risen into the base of the fi ll.

Muli Coal Mine Railway: During 2007, large-scale development of the Muli Coal Mine in Qinghai was approved, necessitating the building of an 140-km-long coal-transport railway from Reshui to Muli. About 60% of the route is underlain by Drilling permafrost. The permafrost sections are largely located in wetlands on gentle slopes, with high-ice content and warm temperatures of about -1.5 to -0.5 °C. Some mitigative measures such as block-embankments, sometimes strengthened with thermosyphons, and revegetated side protection slopes were adopted for protecting permafrost and ensuring the stability of the railway foundations. The thermal stability of permafrost foundations was monitored, studied and evaluated at six crosssections along the railway. The railway is to be in operation in 2009.

The Qilian Mountains are located on the northeastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The area is rich in mineral resources, and water resources vital for the downstream economy and social development. The evaluation and exploitation for these resources have advanced the research on permafrost in the mountains. During the 1960s, some major surveys were conducted for the development of the Muli coal mine, with some permafrost data. Surveys on permafrost along the highways during the 2004-2005 period and local railway construction during 2007 also accumulated valuable data on permafrost distribution.

Since 2007, the permafrost studies on the southern slopes in the Qilian Mountains has been revived. The presence of permafrost here is closely related to wetlands, and permafrost is ice-rich. Permafrost conditions along the upper tributaries of the Shu’le River on the northern slopes at the western section of the Qilian Mountains were investigated in 2008. The climate is dry, the surface vegetation is sparse and unlike on the southern slopes, the permafrost is generally ice-poor. Permafrost is warmer compared to that at similar elevations on the southern slopes. Three monitoring sites for ground temperatures and two automatic weather stations were installed to study the permafrost.

Northeastern China

Chinese-Russian Unheated Crude Oil Pipeline (CRUCOP): The construction of the 1030-km, 813mm-diameter, unheated (ambient-temperature) crude oil pipeline (CRUCOP) is scheduled to begin in March 2009, and to require about 18 months for completion. The section in China, 953 km, is from Mo’he to Daqing and traverses about 441 km of warm (>-1°C) permafrost. The assessment of the engineering geological conditions, and predictions of frozen foundation soils around the pipeline have been completed. The design of the pipeline construction mode, basically all conventional burial, is closely elaborated with the research results at all phases of survey and design. Environmental concerns and mitigation measures for frost hazards during the construction and operation periods were carefully identifi ed and studied to minimize unnecessary costs to the environments and for construction, maintenance and operational safety. Some results of these studies will be published in a special issue “Pipelines in Permafrost Regions” of the journal Cold Regions Science and Technology.

Mo’he Airport: The other studies include a permafrost survey related to the construction of Mo’he Airport and monitoring of permafrost foundations beneath the runway. This is the fi rst airport in the permafrost regions of China. Although the mean annual air temperature was about -5°C during the past 50 years, the permafrost is warm (>-1°C) and ice-rich. Some excavations for ice-rich permafrost and refilling with coarse blocks were used to ensure the stability of the runway foundation. Several cross-sectional measurements of ground temperatures and deformations of foundation soils were installed in 2007. Some good data have been collected.

Gen’he-Yituli’he Permafrost Station: Eight boreholes were drilled in the Gen’he-Yituli’he area in the middle section of the Da Xing’anling (Hinggan) Mountains in June to July 2008 for measurements on the ground temperatures of various surface coverage conditions in the subarctic taiga forests and wetlands. Two automatic weather stations and soil moisture measurement fi elds were also established for the forested wetlands and shrubcovered wetlands in the Gen’he area. These establishments include the present permafrost station at Gen’he-Yituli’he.

The single borehole about 8 m in depth drilled in the Yituli’he town is only a few meters distance from a former borehole of about 14 m in depth. This damaged and abandoned borehole had a data series from 1981 to 2005. Inactive ice wedges groups were fi rst identified in 1987 and they were re-excavated in 2007 for detailed analysis.

Five boreholes in the Gen’he area are located inside the China Forest Ecological Research Network Station in the Da Xing’anling Mountains, 16 km north of the Gen’he city with a pollution of about 180,000. One borehole was established inside the to-be-abandoned meteorological station in the center of the city. The meteorological station had to be abandoned because of increasing urbanization and its impacts on the representativeness of the collected data. Another borehole was established about 3 km north of the meteorological station, which is in the outskirts of the city. The eight boreholes in the Gen’he areas, two automatic weather stations, and many other setups for forestry studies are aimed at the understanding of the interactions among the boreal ecosystem, permafrost, snow cover, and human activities. In particular, the rapid urbanization has been greatly impacting the permafrost and vegetation in this area.

Other Permafrost Projects Large-scale synchronous of satellite- and airborne and ground measurements of permafrost, vegetation and snow cover were also planned and conducted along the upper and middle tributaries of the Hei’he Watershed in the middle section of the Qilian Mountains. A transect study profi le from the mountain top at elevations of 4,400 m a.s.l. to the control hydrological section at 3,200 m a.s.l. was established for the long-term study at Binggou Creek. The results will be published in a special issue “WATER” on the Hydrological Processes. 

Huijun Jin (huijunjin2003@yahoo.com)


There are about ten IPY coordinated projects in Finland. The leading projects are Interhemispheric Conjugacy in Geospace Phenomena and their Heliospheric Drivers (ICESTAR/IHY) and Change and variability of Arctic Systems Nordaustlandet, Svalbard (“Kinnvika”). The key participants in Finnish IPY research are the Arctic Centre, Finnish Meteorological Institute, University of Oulu, University of Lapland and Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK).

There are also about 20 institutions acting as partners in international IPY projects/consortiums, e.g. University of Helsinki, Finnish Environmental Institute, Finnish Institute of Marine Research and Geological Survey of Finland. In general, Finnish researchers are engaged with about 100 international IPY projects. More information about the projects, development of research station network and education can be found from the Finnish IPY website (www. ipy-fi nland.fi ). Related to the IPY topics, an international congress was held at the Geological Survey of Finland in Espoo, November 12-13, 2008.

In addition to the above IPY activities, several research projects and groups are working in Finland. Some of these projects started before 2008 but they have not been reported in Frozen Ground previously. The project Spatial modelling of periglacial processes under environmental change (2008–2010) (J. Hjort from the University of Helsinki, Department of Geography, and M. Luoto and M. Marmion both from the University of Oulu, Department of Geography) aims to develop and test novel approaches to model the occurrences and distributional alterations of periglacial processes in response to climate change. The ultimate goal is to make a signifi cant step forward in combining empirical, geographic information (GI) and remote sensing (RS) data to predict and analyze complex geomorphological processes at various spatial scales. The Nordic Permafrost Young Researchers Network’s contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost project in the Nordic countries (PYRN – TSP, 2008–) (J. Hjort) project addresses the burning issue of impacts of increasing global temperatures on terrestrial permafrost. The project will provide young Nordic researchers with the means to conduct simple yet powerful measurements of permafrost conditions either in areas where records of prior observation exist (to establish recent trends) or in new undisturbed areas.

The project Global change impacts on sub-arctic palsa mires and greenhouse gas feedbacks to the climate system (PALSALARM, 2007–2008) (T.R. Carter and S. Fronzek from the Finnish Environment Institute; co-ordinating institute, and M. Luoto and M. Parviainen from the University of Oulu, Thule Institute/ Department of Geography) continued. PALSALARM brings together research groups from four institutions in the Nordic region who have hitherto worked largely independently on diff erent aspects of palsa mires. The central aim of the study is to estimate future changes in the distribution of palsa mires in Fennoscandia, and the implications of these changes for greenhouse gas budgets and nature conservation.

Biogeochemistry research group (P. Martikainen, C. Biasi and M. Repo) of the University of Kuopio continued the greenhouse gas flux measurements initiated in 2007 in discontinuous permafrost zone in Northeast European Russia. Fluxes of CO2, CH4 and N2O at the microsite level were measured from a peat plateau complex and adjacent shrub tundra areas. The studied ecosystem types include thermokarst lakes and soils aff ected by cryoturbation. The aim of the study is to improve our understanding of the flux dynamics and processes behind them in heterogenous Arctic landscape, characterized by the presence of permafrost and freezing and thawing processes. The flux campaigns were part of the EUfunded CARBO-North project, which aims at quantifying the carbon budget in northern Russia in past, present and future conditions (see http://www.carbonorth.net).

At the Geological Survey of Finland, the projects Development of applied geophysical techniques for mapping and monitoring permafrost (H. Vanhala, P. Lintinen, A.E.K. Ojala, H. Hirvas and I. Suppala) and Mapping and monitoring permafrost with geophysical techniques in the Komi Republic, Russia (H. Vanhala, P. Lintinen and I. Suppala) continued. Th ese projects aim to apply and develop geophysical techniques for mapping discontinuous and sporadic permafrost in Northern Finland and Vorkuta, Northwest Russia. An additional objective is the longer-term monitoring of the state of permafrost in the study regions. The first project started in 2004 with a series of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) measurements at the Ridnitsohkka fell in Northern Finland. ERT measurements have repeated 2005 and 2008. In addition to ERT, OhmMapper, GPR and gravity measurements have been used. The second project started in 2007 with a series geophysical measurements (electrical resistivity tomography, ERT and multi-frequency MaxMin Slingram).

Jan Hjort (jan.hjort@helsinki.fi )


Started in 2006, the objective of the Hydro-sensor-FLOWS project (2006-2010, IPY#16) is to investigate the hydrology of the Loven-East Glacier basin (10 km2, Brøgger peninsula, Svalbard) by continuous monitoring of the dynamics of the runoff , the snow cover, the ablation/accumulation limit of the glacier and the glacier itself. The project is coordinated by M. Griselin (UMR Th ema, Besançon) and C. Marlin (UMR IDES, Orsay) in association with SET (Pau), FEMTO (Besançon) and AWI (Potsdam).

During the 2008 field work, we gathered hydroglacio- climatological data for a second complete hydrological year, that allows a comparison with the past year (2006-2007). Th e hydrological year 2007-2008 is different than last year: the winter 2007-2008 was much more snowy and the summer was colder, with less direct radiation. This provides a glaciological balance more favourable for the glacier than in 2006-2007. The volume variation of snow and ice of the glacier is known by the set-up of 30 ice stakes and the 30 snow drill holes. The data obtained by the recorders (multi-parameters probes) set up on the catchment (outlet and two tributaries), as well as those obtained by chemical and isotopic analysis on water samples, allowed us to address the cause-effect relationships between the various parameters involved (climate, geological, hydrological) on the runoff at a daily and hourly time-scale. The data show that the runoff is more dependent on thermal conditions on the glacier than on the amount of precipitation. The flood peaks are controlled both by the amount of heat accumulated on the glaciers of the period 24 hours or 48 hours before the flood and the amount of precipitation if any. The isotopic measurements (O-18 and H-2) have been used to study the origin of water at the outlet: the separation of flows between supra-glacial meltwater at various altitudes and subglacial water is possible.

Since 2007, the CLIMAFLU ANR project is dedicated to the study of the impact of the recent global warming on the erosional process of the largest arctic fluvial system, the Lena River in Yakutia, by means of hydro-climatic data and spatial analysis of fluvial forms mobility. Th is project is coordinated by F. Costard (IDES laboratory, Orsay) and E. Gautier and D. Brunstein (Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, Meudon) in cooperation with Prof. F. Fedorov and P. Konstantinov from the Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk, Russia. The flood plain at the latitude of Yakutsk is dominated by outburst floods within a continuous and deep permafrost zone. On the basis of the satellite image analysis, different sites have been selected, where precise topographic and bathymetric surveys have been conducted in May and August 2008. The use of a laser theodolite on dewatered areas, will allow the elaboration of annual Digital Elevation Models. The comparison of these DEM before and after the annual flood will give precise information about the efficiency of the discharge on the spatial distribution of erosion and sedimentation. The precise topographic and bathymetric surveys are completed by sediment trapping systems. By this way, we will evaluate the annual bank retreat of channels and islands and to quantify the annual deposition. Different data loggers have been used to evaluate the evolution of the permafrost thermal regime with time for the next few years.

Dr. Decaulne (CNRS UMR 6042 Geolab and GDR 3062 Mutations Polaires) develops the Holocene slope activity research in subpolar areas from stratigraphical profi les analysis in Northern Iceland. Results show an increasing activity of mass movements during the last 1000 years, without pronounced climatic signals, but with probable implication from human activity. Also, in a natural hazard and risk mitigation perspective, she pursues her work on geomorphic evidence of past- and present-day snow avalanches and debris fl ows, both in the direct surrounding of inhabited areas and in remote areas to recognise extreme events occurrence and magnitude. This research is carried out in partnership with Dr. Þ. Sæmundsson, director of the Natural Research Center of Northwestern Iceland, Sauðárkrókur, Iceland. Collaboration with S. Conway, Open University, UK, took a step further with the second field season carried in Northwest Iceland on the comparison of terrestrial and Martian debris flows. Dr. Decaulne is also the Geosciences Coordinator within the group of Association of Polar Early Career Scientists. 

The periglacial group of the University of Caen (UMR CNRS 6143) carried out laboratory experiments to address the genesis of Martian gullies observed on sand dunes (collaborator F. Costard, UMR CNRS 8148). Preliminary results suggest that the typical morphology of gullies observed on Mars can best be reproduced by the formation of linear debris flows related to the melting of a near-surface ground ice within silty materials. This physical modelling highlights the role of the periglacial conditions, especially the active-layer thickness during debrisflow formation.

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


The German National Science Foundation (DFG) has funded a coordinated group of projects with the title “Sensitivity of Mountain Permafrost to Climate Change – SPCC”, consisting of fi ve collaborating individual projects. The aim is to bridge the gap between climate simulations and the analysis of surface and subsurface characteristics for an assessment of the sensitivity of mountain permafrost dynamics.

The projects include: “Ground-atmosphere modelling: Strategies to combine RCM and subsurface simulations” (C. Hauck, G. Schädler, Ch. Kottmeier – University Karlsruhe); “Quantitative assessment of permafrost degradation using coupled geophysical and thermal monitoring systems” (R. Mäusbacher, C. Hilbich – University Jena); “Spatial assessment of permafrost characteristics and dynamics in alpine periglacial environments” (C. Kneisel – University Würzburg); “Sensitivity of rock permafrost to regional climate change scenarios and implications for rock wall instability” (R. Dikau, M. Krautblatter – University. Bonn) and “Monitoring and process analysis of permafrost creep and failure in changing temperature regimes” (I. Roer – University Bonn). Main field sites include the Zugspitze (Bavarian Alps) and several stations within the PACE and PERMOS networks in Switzerland (e.g. Murtèl/Corvatsch).

At the University of Bonn, the permafrost research group currently monitors three field sites in permafrost rock walls in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to detect permafrost fluctuations and resulting rock wall instabilities. Rock creep and rockfall are investigated with geodesy, extensometers, and laser scanning. Distribution and changes of rock permafrost are assessed at a stability-relevant scale with ERT (electrical resistivity tomography), P and S-wave refraction seismics and IP (induced polarization), and are referenced by temperature measurements (Krautblatter and Hauck 2007, JGR). At the Zugspitze, seasonal permafrost thaw in a steep north face was monitored monthly over the summer 2007 (M. Krautblatter and S. Verleysdonk). The subproject SORP (Sensitivity Of Rock Permafrost to regional climate change scenarios and implications for rock wall instability) based at the University of Bonn, will be supported by M. Moser and J. Rohn from the Engineering Geology Section at the University of Erlangen and by A. Kemna from the Applied Geophysics Section at the University of Bonn.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Würzburg, C. Kneisel is continuing surface temperature monitoring in northern Sweden along an altitudinal transect. In the Swiss Alps subsurface temperatures are monitored in the Bever Valley. Here, D. Schwindt has started his Ph.D. thesis on geophysical mapping of the extent of small permafrost lenses and evaluation of the interaction of temperature regime with surface and subsurface factors. Geoelectrical monitoring of permafrost characteristics and active layer thickness is continued in the Muragl glacier forefi eld.

At the University of Giessen, the permafrost research group (led by L. King) continued studies in the Matter and Saas Valleys (Swiss Alps). O. Wild specialized on a new permafrost modelling approach, C. C. Maag studied the impact of global warming and building measurements on rock and ice temperatures at Kleinmatterhorn (3820 m a.s.l.), and L. Bödger-Mayrink focused on glacier hazards due to climate change. The Departments of Geography of Giessen and Zurich are continuing the monitoring and analysis of the PACE-data at the Stockhorn (3410 m a.s.l.).

A Chinese-German joint project investigating the Late- Quaternary landscape development on the northern Tibetan Plateau, China, is in progress at the University of Berlin (B. Wünnemann) , the RWTH Aachen (F. Lehmkuhl, G. Stauch), and the AWI Potsdam (B. Diekmann), in cooperation with the University of Lanzhou, and the CAS in Lanzhou and Nanjing. Research topics comprise lake and permafrost dynamics, glacial and periglacial landforms and processes, and the reconstruction of regional climatic change, inferred from terrestrial and lacustrine sedimentary records. The studies are part of the DFG program “Tibetan Plateau: Formation, Climate, Ecosystems – TiP”.

Polar Activities:

The 11th Russian-German Expedition to the research station Samoylov, Lena Delta, took place from July to October 2008. Long-term methane emission measurements of wet polygonal tundra were continued along with the study of the functional microbial ecology of methane-cycling microorganisms using stable-isotope techniques. The ongoing project is a collaboration between scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) (D. Wagner), the Sukachev’s Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk, the Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk, the ETH Zurich, and Hamburg University. The Hamburg University team also performed studies of the N-fluxes in permafrost soils and sediments (E. M. Pfeiff er). Field work on Kurungnakh Island, central Lena Delta, is aimed at understanding the interaction between ice-rich sediments (Yedoma) and morphometry and evolution of lake basins and the related landscape dynamics (A. Morgenstern, M. Ulrich).

An expedition to Seward Peninsula (“East Beringia 2008”) by scientists from the AWI Potsdam, the Senckenberg Research Institute, Weimar, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) followed the NICOP in Fairbanks. Modern tundra vegetation, ostracod associations, sedimentary permafrost sequences including ground ice and electrical resistivity profiling were undertaken near the mouth of the Kitluk River. A second team from the AWI and the UAF (P. P. Overduin, S. Westermann, K. Yoshikawa) studied the near-shore submarine permafrost distribution in the Barrow region by means of Electrical Resistivity Tomography.

In the frame of INTAS-Project “Permafrost dating by cosmogenic 36Cl and 10Be” and IPY Project “Past Permafrost”, the AWI Potsdam (S. Wetterich, L. Schirrmeister) joined the Russian expedition “Beringia” of the IPBPSS Pushchino to the Kolyma River in August 2008. The main aims were to study permafrost sequences along riverbanks and to extract palaeoenvironmental archives and modern ostracod associations and their physico-chemical living conditions. ICDP deep drillings into permafrost and lake sediments of Elgygytgyn Impact Crater, Chukotka, started in autumn 2008 (icdp-online. org). The AWI Potsdam group participated in this drilling project by studying the permafrost history reflected in frozen ground and lake sediments through a multi-proxy approach (sedimentology, mineralogy, ground ice chemical properties, bio-indicators, permafrost borehole geophysical data) (G. Schwamborn, L. Schirrmeister) and with the help of the stable oxygen isotope record from lacustrine diatoms (H. Meyer, B. Chapligin). A new 141.5m deep borehole was drilled in the vicinity of the lake and instrumented with a permanent high temporal resolution temperature logger, which will contribute to the GTN-P network.

AWI continued its collaboration with McGill University, Canada (W. Pollard, N. Couture) with the objective to better understand coastal erosion dynamics of the northern Yukon and associated geochemical fl uxes. AWI also conducted an expedition in August 2008 (H. Lantuit, M. Fritz) to study the palaeoenvironmental history of the Yukon coast and to establish a time frame of the Wisconsin glaciation and ground ice history around Herschel Island.

Within the scope of the Helmholtz Research Alliance “Planetary Evolution and Life”, two new projects started in spring 2008: (1) Physics and Biology of Interfacial Water (D. Wagner), which estimates the role of under-cooled water for the off spring of life in Martian environments. Methanogenic archaea isolated from Siberian permafrost will be used as model organisms in laboratory-based studies. (2) Comparisons of Martian and terrestrial permafrost features (L. Schirrmeister) using morphometric analyses of periglacial structures in key regions on Mars and Earth. The outcome will be based on results from the field campaigns to the Lena Delta in 2008 and to Svalbard in 2009.

The AWI young investigator group SPARC (“Sensitivity of Permafrost in the ARCtic”, J. Boike) focused on field expeditions to maintain ongoing monitoring efforts. It included expeditions to sites in Siberia (Lena Delta) Spitsbergen (Ny-Ålesund), Alaska (Barrow) and Canada (Polar Bear Pass). Measurements comprise meteorological, soil and eddy covariance data, highresolution air photography using balloons, IR thermography imagery, and ERT profiles. Next to these evaporation rates, snow properties and thickness distribution, stream flow, and spatially distributed surface properties were assessed. DEMs and hydrological models of the investigated regions on Spitsbergen and in Siberia are in development.

A new study group on permafrost (Arbeitskreis Permafrost) has been formed within the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Polarforschung (German Society for Polar Research), aimed at scientists from German speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria). At its first annual meeting at AWI Potsdam in October 2008, a large number of ongoing studies relating to polar and mountain permafrost were presented. Follow-up meetings are planned on an annual basis.

Lorenz King and Clemens C. Maag (lorenz.king@geogr.uni-giessen.de)


In 2008, the IPA Italian community was focused on the participation in the NICOP where several Italians were present. The Italian representatives produced three papers as fi rst author (Guglielmin et al., Cannone and Guglielmin, Pogliotti et al.) and another three papers as co-authors on topics ranging from alpine permafrost to Antarctic and Martian permafrost. In addition four extended abstracts were also presented as posters.

Antarctic research was severely hindered by national funding issues but the download of the data and the maintenance of the automatic permafrost monitoring stations at Boulder Clay and Oasi (M. Guglielmin) and of the ice-wedges monitoring thermal regime (R. Raffi ) were assured. The results of previous Antarctic campaigns (in cooperation with Canadian, German and British colleagues) were nonetheless published in various international journals.

Another focal point for the Italian community has been the preparation of a new European project in the framework of the EU Alpine Space Programme 2007 – 2013: PermaNET (Permafrost Long-term Monitoring Network) that was approved and will be funded. The project aims at establishing a common strategy for dealing with permafrost analyses though the creation of an Alpine-wide monitoring network and of guidelines for the consideration of permafrost in risk and water resources management. The kick-off meeting of the project was held in Bolzano/Bozen on September 4-5. The Project includes five Italian partners: Bolzano Province, lead partner; Arpa Piemonte, Regione Valle d’Aosta (with Arpa VDA and FMS involved), Trento Province and Regione Veneto.

In the Western Alps a first project to map permafrost and correlated landforms was carried out in the framework of cooperation between Arpa Piemonte and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin). A new inventory of the rock glaciers and the protalus rampart of the whole Piemonte was fi nalized and a provisional permafrost map (obtained by empirical models) was obtained and used as first step to the research that Arpa Piemonte and Insubria University (as subcontractor) will continue in the framework of the PermaNET.

A. Ribolini, with his group of Pisa University, pursues the research focused on three diff erent topics (permafrost and ground ice distribution, relationships between rock glaciers and glaciers, freeze-thaw cycles eff ects on alpine geomorphology) in a marginal Mediterranean sector of the Alps as the Maritime Alps. In particular, the Vei del Bouc rock glacier in the Argentera Massif (Maritime Alps) was surveyed using a new highly transportable georadar device, equipped with a 25 MHz antenna and produced by the I.D.S. company (www.ids-spa.it). Preliminary results show a high signal penetration (about 25 m depth) and well visible refl ections at various depths. Shallow ice presence seems to occur in the lodgement till above the apical part of the rock glacier.

In the Cothian Alps, Italy, the DC resistivity tomography surveys carried out on the Col de l’Agnel rock glacier represent the fi rst step of a research program that the Universities of Pisa (A. Ribolini) and Insubria (M. Guglielmin) intend to develop in the Monviso area. Preliminary results report on a near-surface (0-10 m depth) concentration of sediments that are highly to extremely highly resistive (> 2-6 MOm), resting onto slightly frozen and unfrozen debris. An interaction with a glacier potentially present during the Little Ice Age is under examination. The temperature monitoring of Rocca dell’Abisso block field has continued hourly and at diff erent depths, reaching the second year of measurements.

In June 2008 the European project ‘PERMAdataROC’ (INTERREG IIIA – ALCOTRA) was concluded. The Italian partners ARPA Valle d’Aosta (Arpa VDA), CNR-IRPI of Turin and Fondazione Montagna Sicura (FMS – project leader) have been involved. The project led to the development of an integrated strategy for the study and monitoring of rockwall instabilities in high-mountain areas (Mont Blanc Massif and Matterhorn) aff ected by permafrost degradation. The research directions were:

(1) CNR-IRPI, FMS – creation of a database of rockfalls occurred in the Mont Blanc Massif area (at elevation greater than 2000 m a.s.l.) from the past until now. The database will be updated on the basis of reports provided by Alpine Guides and huts owners specifi cally trained to fi ll a survey form describing future events.

(2) ARPA VdA – development and test of strategy for thermal monitoring of near vertical rockwalls in high-mountain environments. A total of seven sites with more than 30 temperature loggers installed have been equipped for the hourly record of: (i) rock temperature at depths of 3, 30 and 55 cm, (ii) air temperature and humidity, (iii) wind speed and direction, and (iv) incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave radiation. Collected data series are actually used for the validation and calibrations of physical based models in collaboration with the Glaciology, Geomorphodynamics & Geocronology Group of the University of Zurich.

(3) CNRS-EDYTEM (France) FMS – development of a monitoring methodology for rockwalls morphological activities in high-mountain environments using frequently repeated LIDAR surveys and terrestrial photogrammetry (see France‘s report). All details about this project are available on the web. (http://www.fondazionemontagnasicura.org/multimedia/ permadataroc/).

During the 2007 and 2008 in the Valle d‘Aosta Region, Northwest Italy, a monitoring site (Cime Bianche, 3100 m a.s.l.), initiated in 2005 through collaboration between ARPA VdA and Insubria University, has been progressively implemented with new instrumentation. The set-up includes: (i) one borehole of 41 m depth equipped with 25 temperature nodes, (ii) one borehole of 6 m depth equipped with 15 temperature nodes, (iii) one CALM grid of 40×10 meters area for soil temperature measurement at 2 and 30 cm depths, (iv) one automatic weather station (MAWS) for the measurements of standard meteorological parameters including snow depth, and (v) one system for the measurement at different depths of the temperature, heat flux and permittivity into the snow pack. Currently more than two years of continuous data series are available.

On the eastern side of Rosa Massif, Insubria University finalized a geophysical and geomorphological investigation in the area of Lago delle Locce to understand the evolution of permafrost and buried ice distribution in the last 30 years comparing the new results with what W. Haeberli and F. Epifani carried out in the 1970’s. In Upper Valtellina, Central Alps, N. Cannone continues the research on the relationship between vegetation and permafrost degradation in the Stelvio area. A new program for monitoring CO2 emissions in permafrost and permafrostfree areas characterized by different vegetation types has been started. M. Guglielmin continues to maintain the monitoring of the Stelvio PACE borehole and two other shallower boreholes on Foscagno rock glacier where the program of monitoring relationships between snow, permafrost and vegetation is being pursued.

The monitoring activity of several rock glaciers located in the Adamello Presanella and Ortles Cevedale mountain groups (Central Italian Alps) continued also in 2008, leaded by R. Seppi (Pavia University) and A. Carton (University of Padova). In particular, the fourth consecutive year of data on the ground near-surface thermal regime were retrieved from ten sites located on rock glaciers. In addition, ten ground surface temperature monitoring sites were set up in the framework of a Ph.D. thesis (L. Carturan, University of Padova). The monitoring activity on the thermal characteristics of several springs discharging from rock glaciers also continued in the two mountain groups.

In collaboration with the local Geological Survey, Autonomous Province of Trento, topographic surveys on two rock glacier were repeated for the sixth year, continuing an activity started in 2001. The thermal and topographic data series were partially processed by M. Zumiani and included in his Master thesis at the University of Padova (tutors: M. Meneghel and R. Seppi).

A study on a rock glacier originating from a Little Ice Age moraine of the now vanished glacier of Cima dell‘Uomo, Bocche Range, Dolomites, has just started. Monitoring of climate, ground surface temperature and geophysical investigation along with survey and mapping are planned (A. Carton, M. Meneghel and R. Seppi). The research group leaded by R. Rigon of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Trento, started to deal with alpine cryosphere since 2004. Part of the research aims at analyzing the hydrological balance and the energy and mass exchange on glaciers (S. Endrizzi). The other branch of the research, mainly conducted through the Ph.D. of M. Dall‘Amico in cooperation with S. Gruber, University of Zürich, is directed to alpine permafrost modelling and aims at simulating the thermal state of soil in high mountain environments. This will be accomplished by the coupled thermal-hydrological model GEOtop customized for permafrost environments.

Mauro Guglielmin (mauro.guglielmin@uninsubria.it)


In the Daisetsu Mountains, Hokkaido, northern Japan, surface energy balance observations have started during the summer 2008, aiming at physically-based understanding of mosaic-like distribution of permafrost (T. Maeda, G. Iwahana, M. Ishikawa, H. Arai and N. Matsuoka).


The automatic weather systems provide concurrent data on radiation components, air temperature, rainfall, humidity and wind components (by sonic anemometer-thermometer) at permafrost and immediately adjacent topermafrost-free sites. Stable isotope analysis was also introduced to evaluate the origin of surface water on summit areas underlain by permafrost (H. Arai, M. Ishikawa, A. Sugimoto, G. Iwahana and T. Maeda). Water was sampled from seasonally and permanently frozen ground, rainfalls, snowmelts and small tributaries.

In the northern Japanese Alps, rockfall activity and supranival debris sliding were investigated (Y. Kariya, Y. Matsunaga, Y. Miyazawa, J. Komori, M. Ishii, G. Sato, K. Tomita and S. Iwata). During the ablation period in 2007, the position, size and lithology of all fallen debris on perennial snow patches in the valley floor were measured every month, and these data were used to estimate the mode and rate of debris production. Supranival block sliding was monitored with an automatic camera. Snow ablation and bedrock thermal regimes were also monitored. In the alpine and subalpine zones of the northern Japanese Alps, geology and geomorphology of landslides were studied (Y. Kariya, G. Sato, J. Komori and K. Tomita). Sedimentological and Quaternary chronological information was newly obtained from the Mt. Shiroumadake and Mt. Chogatake areas. Collected data show that non-sorted chaotic sediments, which have previously been considered to be a glacial origin, are more likely to have originated from a large landslide and/or a debris avalanche.

Intensive field campaigns have been undertaken in the southern Japanese Alps from 2007 to 2008. One group, composed of scientists from Meiji University and other institutions (T. Koyama, A. Amaizawa, N. Takahashi, S. Sawaguchi, M. Aoyama and Y. Sugawara), studied periglacial geomorphology of the Mt. Akaishi-dake area during the summers of 2007 and 2008. Th e topics include mapping of patterned ground, structural analysis and thermal monitoring of solifl uction lobes, as well as thermal and chronological characteristics of rock glaciers. Another group (R. Nishii, N. Matsuoka and A. Ikeda, University of Tsukuba) continued monitoring of rock and soil slope dynamics in the Mt. Ainodake area. Newly introduced techniques are visual recording of stone movement with an automatic camera and diff erential GPS for monitoring annual movement of rock glaciers. Detailed monitoring of rock creep and sliding has also been undertaken on the top of a rockslide by both automatic and periodical manual observations. The data show seasonal variation in rock movement associated mainly with thawing of snow and seasonal frost, as well as with large rainfalls in summer.

A synthetic study on the permafrost of the Fuji volcano, the highest peak in Japan (3776 m asl), was started by postdocs (A. Ikeda, G.. Iwahana, K. Fukui, T. Sueyoshi and Y. Sawada) with the help of senior researchers (T. Tamura, K. Harada and K. Saito), a visiting researcher (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer) and graduate students (T. Watanabe and R. Nishii). In 2008, a 3-m deep borehole and a 2-m automatic weather station were constructed on the summit area. A monitoring network of shallow ground temperature was also set on the north- and south-facing slopes. In addition, hydrological conditions in the pyroclastic rock and lava were examined by applied geophysical methods to estimate permafrost distribution. The project is planned to be enlarged and continued for long-term monitoring of the environmental changes and studying interaction between permafrost and volcanic activity.

Several overseas projects are also on going. Model experimental sites established in Svalbard have provided data on thermal contraction cracking in ice- and soil-wedge polygons, rock weathering and movement of a polar rock glacier, as well as their controlling parameters, with a variety of methods (N. Matsuoka). The project is a collaboration with UNIS (H.H. Christiansen) and University of Oslo (O. Humlum) as part of the IPA periglacial group activity aiming at standardizing monitoring techniques and extending the monitoring network. Detailed geophysical sounding was applied to detect subsurface frost wedge structures under non-sorted polygons with a wide range of diameter and composed of diff erent materials at two locations in Svalbard (T. Watanabe). In August 2008, an educational project related to IPY Project No. 50 (TSP) was conducted in Svalbard, as a part of ‘International University Course on High Arctic Permafrost Landscape Dynamics in Svalbard and Greenland’. Three Japanese graduate students attended the lectures, fi eldwork and laboratory analysis in UNIS, Adventdalen and Kapp Linne, guided by H.H. Christiansen, B. Elberling (Univ. Copenhagen) and N. Matsuoka.

In Alaska, the project ‘2004 Forest Fire Impacts to Hydrological Cycles, Permafrost and Eco Systems in Central Alaska’ has continued since 2005 in order to monitor permafrost conditions after severe wildfire (K. Harada and K. Saito). In August 2008, observations including manual measurements of thaw depth were carried out at the Kougarok site near Nome. Measurements of surface roughness were also conducted to compare with the satellite data. Since 2007 ground temperatures have been monitored with data loggers to obtain continuous data of thaw depth and ground temperature and to understand the effect of the wildfire on the permafrost condition and vegetation recovery. The study area of rock glacier research in Alaska by A. Ikeda was shifted from the Brooks Range in the Arctic to the Alaska Range in the central Alaska after the NICOP. The focus of the study was also changed from distribution characteristics of rock glaciers to the direct monitoring of processes related to debris and ice accumulation on rock glaciers.

Long-term monitoring campaigns still continue in the Swiss Alps. The monitoring focused on frost weathering, heave, creep, solifluction and permafrost creep (N. Matsuoka and A. Ikeda). Differential GPS was newly introduced to monitor annual movement of rock glaciers and solifl uction lobes. K. Fukui, National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) undertook a permafrost research expedition in the South Chuyskiy Range, Russia Altai Mountains, in the summer of 2008. The expedition is joint research between NIPR and Altai State University (Prof. Mikhailov, Dr. Ostanin and Dr. Troshkin). They installed ground temperature sensors in ice wedge polygons in the Akkol Valley, and found a large pingo originated from the Little Ice Age moraine in the Tardura Valley (2100 m a.s.l.) and many rock glaciers in the Yelanzash Valley (2400 m a.s.l.).

Finally, ISOP (Informal Seminar on Permafrost) hosted meetings several times in Sapporo at the Hokkaido University, aiming at exchanging information on permafrost monitoring and planning joint fi eld campaigns.

Norikazu Matsuoka (matsuoka@geoenv.tsukuba.ac.jp)


Over the past 12 years N.Sharkhuu (retired from Institute of Geography, MAS) individually prepared most of permafrost monitoring boreholes in Mongolia, expanding from year to year and conducting permafrost monitoring of Mongolia within the framework of international CALM and GTN-P programs in close collaboration with F. Nelson and N. Shiklomanov from University of Delaware (with its fi nancial and data logger support) and with V. Romanovsky and K. Yoshikawa from University of Alaska Fairbanks (who recently supplied nine HOBO U12 dataloggers). At present, there are 44 CALM and GTN-P boreholes in Mongolia. 23 boreholes are equipped with temperature data loggers.

The Mongolian IPY Expression of Intent # 1129 is the main component of CALM and GTN-P programs in Mongolia, and is part of the IPA contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost IPY Project 50.. This year’s investigations were the continuation of the activities described in Frozen Ground Number 31.

During three weeks in September Romanovsky, Yoshikawa, and N. Sharkhuu, conducted field investigations at almost all borehole sites in the Hovsgol, Hangai and Hentei mountainous regions, In the Hovsgol region we measured permafrost temperatures in 24 boreholes, including precise temperature measurements in three deep boreholes down to depths of 130- 200 m containing 50-150 m thick permafrost. In late May Sharkhuu drilled a 16 m deep borehole on Nalayh pingo top near Ulaanbaatar and collected 100 samples of pingo ice for Yoshikawa’s isotope analysis. We also plan to drill the 20 m high pingo top in the Hovsgol region, where artesian waters under 28 m thick massive ice (or at 32 m depth) was detected during borehole drilling in 1968.

In September, Y. Jambaljav, Institute of Geography, MAS, drilled nine, 10 m deep boreholes for permafrost monitoring in the Mongolian Altai and southern Hangai mountain regions. Based on N.Sharkhuu’s recommendation and old data, most of the drilled boreholes were located at locations where old boreholes were drilled and investigated 24-34 years ago. Ground temperature measurements in the boreholes are planned to start in August 2009. Soil temperature measurements in a series of mainly 2-3 m deep holes at Terelj and Nalayh observation sites near Ulaanbaatar have been running for the last six years within the cooperation framework between Japanese IORGC and Mongolian Institute of Geography.

N.Sharkhuu attended the NICOP in Fairbanks and represented Mongolia at the IPA Council meetings. The main results on TSP and CALM in Mongolia were presented at NICOP sessions and the CALM workshop. N. Sharkhuu wishes to express many thanks to Professor Larry D. Hinzman, director of IARC for sponsorship to attend the NICOP.

Natsagdorj Sharkhuu (sharkhuu_n@yahoo.com)

The Netherlands

In the framework of the study of the ecology of breeding and moulting geese and wader birds using the Northwest-European migration routes, expeditions focusing on permafrost have continued in 2008.

In the delta of the Pyasina River investigations focused on permafrost dynamics and the understanding of the permafrost at Cape East on the Pyasina Delta, Taimyr, northern Siberia (74° 06‘ N, 86° 44‘ E). The research is carried out by Alterra Wageningen UR (B.S. Ebbinge, contact person GBM Pedroli) and the Netherlands Institute of Ecological Research (NIOO, B. Nolet) in collaboration with Russian partners (Heritage Institute, Moscow). In 2008 the percentage of tundra covered by snow was surveyed daily on a 2-km line transect, until snow was completely melted. The thaw depth over the permafrost was measured on the same transect at three dates during the second part of the field season. The vegetation on the transect was surveyed by recording the presence-absence of six indicative plant species.

Active layer thawing was observed to be considerably shallower in 2008 than in 2006 when it was especially intensive. This is mainly due to late spring and late snowmelt in 2008. Spatial variation in active layer thawing is correlated with the type of vegetation. Thawing is shallower where Sphagnum, Eriophorum polystachum and Salix reptans are present, and deeper where Salix polaris and Dupontia fisheri are present.

Research on carbon and water exchange of taiga and tundra ecosystems in eastern Siberia was performed in cooperative projects with the Institute for Biological Problems Cryolithozone (IBPC) of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk and the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, Department of Hydrology and Geo- Environmental Sciences. Recently, the University of Utrecht (paleoecology) and Wageningen University (vegetation Ecology) have been involved. This project is partly funded by the Dutch Organization of Scientifi c Research (NWO), the Darwin Centre for Biogeology and the NWO Dutch-Russian Scientific Cooperation Fund .

In a larch/birch forest near Yakutsk (Spasskaya Pad Field Station) and on a tundra site near Chokhurdakh in the Indigirka lowlands (Kytalyk Reserve) flux measurements have been made with eddy correlation towers. From 2004 onwards, this research has been extended with flux chamber measurements of methane fluxes and a survey of active layer thickness and temperature. The aim is to estimate the annual exchange rates and their interannual variability, and to determine the sensitivity to environmental factors of the fluxes.

Apart from a methane flux measurement campaign on tundra and floodplain environments and on thermokarst lakes, vegetation ecological experiments were set up and lake bottom sediments were sampled for paleoecological research. Also a site was established for long-term monitoring of active layer thickness. In the summer of 2008, for the first time eddy covariance measurements using a cavity ringdown laser system were successfully set up and operated at the tundra site.

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

New Zealand

At least five New Zealanders attended the NICOP in Alaska, a highlight being the presentation of the fi rst TransAntarctic Mountain region soil and permafrost maps as a contribution to ANTPAS (the Antarctic Permafrost and Soil Group) (Balks et al., Bockheim et al., McLeod et al., in the NICOP proceedings).

New Zealand has two Ph.D. students leading and commencing Antarctic soil and permafrost related fi eld projects this summer. T. O‘Neill, from the University of Waikato is investigating impacts of human activities on Antarctic soils and permafrost and will be travelling to the Ross Sea Region, with M. Balks. F. Shanhun, from Lincoln University, will be studying carbonates in the soils with P. Almond, S. Smith and J. Bockheim.

Two researchers at Canterbury University, S. Allen and I. Owens, have been undertaking permafrost research in the Southern Alps, in collaboration with C. Huggel of Switzerland. They are investigating the distribution of mountain permafrost, a relatively unresearched area in New Zealand.

M. Balks was invited to give the prestigious „Norm Taylor Memorial Lecture“ at the joint New Zealand and Australian Soil Science Society‘s conference in December this year. She will be highlighting the Antarctic and Arctic permafrost work in her lecture entitled „Footprints at the ends of the Earth; impacts and management of human activities on frozen soils“. This will be an opportunity to raise the profile of frozen ground research to the wider Australasian soils community.

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


TSP Norway IPY project activities: The Permafrost Observatory project: A contribution to the thermal state of permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (TSP Norway) was introduced in the last issue.


In the 2007-2008 winter we had a drilling campaign in Svalbard from February to May, and established 12 new boreholes, with a total of 173 m. The deepest borehole is 39 m. Eight boreholes in different landforms are located in the Longyearbyen area in central Svalbard, and three on the strandfl at in the Kapp Linne area, western Svalbard and one in Ny Ålesund, NW Svalbard. All boreholes are now instrumented with thermistor strings, and two are online in the Longyearbyen area.

In the 2008 summer, fieldwork focused on downloading data from the boreholes and from periglacial landformmonitoring both in northern Norway and in Svalbard. In northern Norway geophysical investigations were carried out to delimit permafrost in collaboration with international TSP partners from Universities of Karlsruhe (C. Hauck) and Jena (C. Hilbich), Germany, and the University of Ottawa, Canada (A. Lewkowicz). Year round observations of diff erent periglacial landforms are running intensively in the Longyearbyen area involving several students doing fieldwork, study of active layer thawing, water/ice content from resistivity measurements, icewedge activity, solifluction activity and rock glacier thermal processes.

The ‘International University Course on High Arctic Permafrost Landscape Dynamics’ was run very successfully as a UNIS course with support from TSP Norway and the Nordic Council of Ministers, with 10 students obtaining more than 20m of sediment cores from the permafrost in Svalbard and Zackenberg, NE Greenland. Lecturers were H.H. Christiansen and B. Elberling (both UNIS). Japanese students participated in the Svalbard part of the course led by N. Matsuoka.

The NORPERM, the first Norwegian permafrost database, has reached its version 1.0, and is ready for the first full year of permafrost and active layer temperature data to be entered into the database during autumn 2008. Th e project made several presentations at AGU in December 2007, and at EGU and at NICOP in 2008 in addition to having many visitors especially in Svalbard and at our website: www.tspnorway.com. TSP Norway partners will play a strong role in organizing the Third European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP) in Svalbard in June 2010.

Geology Department, UNIS: Permafrost and periglacial studies were carried out by a group (H.H. Christiansen, H. Juliussen, L. Kristensen, U. Neumann and M. Eckersdorfer) partly under the TSP Norway project, but also under the CRYOSLOPE Svalbard project (www. skred-svalbard.no). Th e CRYOSLOPE Svalbard project started data analyses after observing 332 avalanches in 1.5 years in the 40-km, most-used snow mobile tracks around Longyearbyen. Permafrost and periglacial studies at the Geology Department at UNIS (H.H. Christiansen, O. Humlum, L. Kristensen, H. Juliussen and J. Ellehauge) continued (see previous issues of Frozen Ground for project description).

Collaboration with N. Matsuoka, University of Tsukuba, Japan, C. Harris, University of Cardiff and A. Lewkowicz, University of Ottawa, continued on ice-wedge dynamics and solifluction in Svalbard.

The intensive graduate course AG-330 Permafrost and Periglacial Environments was presented for the second time in April 2008 with 22 students. The PYRN, coordinated in Norway by H. Juliussen, arranged several talks and events for students at UNIS to raise the awareness of permafrost studies and research possibilities. On August 1, and after aproximately one year, H. Farbrot f nished working part time for the IPA Secretariat. The Secretariat moved to the Alfred Wegener Institute starting in autumn 2008.

Technology Department UNIS, NTNU and SINTEF research collaboration: The collaboration on the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) to eff ectively survey permafrost areas and locate pure ice structures within the subsoil continued (see previous issue of Frozen Ground). In 2007 and 2008 the Efficient Soil Investigative Methods on Permafrost (ESIMP) included several fi eld surveys in Adventsdalen, Svalbard. This year a 3D ground penetrating radar was used to investigate potential benefi ts over normal 2D GPR. SINTEFs geotechnical drilling rig was used to verify the results from the GPR. The work is carried out partly by students at UNIS and SINTEF personnel.

The work connected to the Ph.D. study of F. Caline (supervised by L. Grande UNIS/NTNU) continued in 2008 mainly with registration of behaviour of the geotextile bags of diff erent material exposed to the development of sea ice and the ice break up. This work is sponsored by a group of Norwegian and French companies and institutions and aims at developing environmental friendly coastal protection in areas with ice, waves and water currents.

Master thesis in Road Building on Permafrost in Arctic climate exposed to snow avalanches and snow drift: In 2008 two students took their Masters degrees in Arcticrelated topics at The University Centre in Svalbard. M. Bratt Pedersen studied the principles of building roads on permafrost on steep terrain, and as a practical subject she focused on a new road to Mine No. 7 in Advent Valley, 15 km southeast of Longyearbyen. Ø. Skeie Hellum studied the principles of building roads on snow-drifted and avalanche exposed areas, and as a practical subject he focused on location and design of the new road to Mine No. 7. Their work has been of high interest to the mining company “Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani” as their access road currently has problems with frequent avalanches, winter maintenance winter, and slope stability. Their supervisor at UNIS was Associate Professor Dr. J. O. Larsen.

Physical Geography, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo: In 2008 B. Etzelmüller, H. Farbrot and K. Lilleøren gathered the first year’s data series from the various TSP-sites in Northern Norway within the TSP Norway IPY project. Some shallow boreholes were also drilled and instrumented at the Nordnes site, Troms. Th e new CRYOLINK-project (B. Etzelmüller, O. Humlum) funded by the Norwegian Research Council started August 1,2008, and 15 shallow boreholes were drilled along altitudinal transects in southern Norway. At five of the new sites, automatic cameras and soil moisture logging equipment were installed.

In addition, the University of Oslo in collaboration with UNIS received substantial funding for student and faculty member exchange with the University of Ottawa (A. Lewkowicz) and Carleton University (C. Burn) from SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation on Higher Education). The project covers the terrestrial cryosphere including permafrost, and was launched during a meeting in Ottawa in October 2008.

Within the EU-funded project BRAHMATWINN the mountain permafrost distribution of the Brahmaputra River basin was modelled. A rock glacier inventory was compiled using high-resolution satellite imagery over a test area in the Himalayas and compared to the modelled permafrost distribution. Roughly, the lower permafrost limit was found to be at an elevation of about 5000-5500 m a.s.l., depending on aspect. (R. Frauenfelder, A. Kääb, University of Oslo; M. Hoelzle, University of Zurich).

A new project (CORRIA) was started to develop and apply improved image processing algorithms for cross-correlation of repeat images in order to measure displacements on, among others, rock glaciers. (A. Kääb and two Ph.D. students with funding by the Norwegian Research Council).

Research since 2004 on mountain meteorology, snow cover, vegetation, ground temperatures and the interaction between permafrost and glaciers continues (O. Humlum, H. Juliussen, K.S. Lilleøren, M. Ferbarlein); see previous issues of Frozen Ground for project description.

Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norwegian Geological Survey and other research Institutions: In the Troms and Møre and Romsdal areas of northern and southern Norway, respectively, temperature data are collected as part of a permafrost and climate monitoring project on the instability of rock slopes in Norway. The project was established in 2001. A series of temperature data loggers were installed to monitor the temperature of the ground, the surface and the air. Exposed sites with minimal winter-snow accumulation are preferred to optimise comparability and to ensure that the thermal properties are not extensively complex (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, H. Farbrot, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid).

On Dovrefjell, southern Norway, temperature data was collected from 11 boreholes (9 m deep) along an altitudinal transect across the mountain permafrost transition zone. These boreholes were drilled and instrumented in October 2001. The objective of the study is to model the trend and variability of mean annual ground temperature (MAGT) and to evaluate the influence of the snow cover on mean annual ground surface temperature (MAGST) in a high mountain terrain. The trend and variability of MAGT and MAGST are of particular relevance in the interpretation of ground temperature measurements from just a few seasons. This work is also relevant to understand the climate/cryosphere interactions in general. An additional deep (100 m) borehole is planned to be drilled on Dovrefj ell (R.S. Ødegård, K. Isaksen, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid).

In the same field area data from temperature data loggers was collected as part of a Norwegian monitoring programme for palsa peatlands, co-ordinated by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (A. Hofgaard, K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid).

In Jotunheimen, southern Norway, temperature data from the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole (established in 1999) was collected and in Svalbard data from the Janssonhaugen PACE borehole (established in 1998) was collected. Collection of the temperature data from the PACE boreholes is organized in a long-term monitoring programme for climatic research. The programme is run by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (K. Isaksen) and the national databases are linked to the GTNP database.

Permafrost Young Researchers Network<. In September 2008, the Permafrost Young Researchers Network’s Contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost Project in the Nordic Countries (PYRN-TSP) established two, 30m deep boreholes in debris and bedrock at Iškoras (572 m a.s.l.), in Finnmark, northern Norway. A thermistors chain connected to datalogger were installed (K. Isaksen, M. Johansson, H. Farbrot, B. Etzelmüller, H. H. Christiansen). The inner part of Finnmark (Finnmarksvidda) is a plain with strong continentally and has the lowest mean annual air temperature (MAAT) when reduced to sea level in Norway. Finnmarsvidda has strong temperature inversions, and the permafrost and climate at elevated locations are poorly known. These activities are in close cooperation with the Norwegian funded TSP NORWAY IPY project.

Arctic Council‘s Cryosphere Project SWIPA (Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic): H. Christiansen and A. Instanes are Norwegian representatives in the Arctic Council‘s cryosphere project SWIPA (Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic). The project is in many ways a continuation of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) project. The main objective of the section related to permafrost is twofold: (i) Evaluation of the impacts of changes in permafrost characteristics, distribution and extent and attribution of changes, and (ii) Strategies for adaptation to changes in permafrost regions. The final report will be published in 2011.

Gisle Håland (gish@statoilhydro.com) and Ole Humlum (ole. humlum@geo.uio.no)


In 2008, Polish studies of land cryosphere (permafrost and glaciers) were carried out in the polar regions of the Arctic on Spitsbergen and of the Western Antarctic (King George Island, Southern Shetlands) at the Polish polar stations and in the mountains areas of central and northern Europe (High Tatra Mountains and Scandinavian Mountains in the Abisko region).

The investigations in the polar regions were carried out under the fourth International Polar Year 2007/2009 in which Poland participated. On Spitsbergen, the project:” The dynamic response of Arctic glaciers to global warming ” (GLACIODYN) focused on the dynamics of evolution of Arctic glaciers moving towards the sea under the conditions of climate change and sea level rise. The Polish team included the scientists representing: University of Silesia, Faculty of Earth Science, Sosnowiec; Nicholas Copernicus University, Torun; Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan; Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin; Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw; and AGH University of Science and Technology, Cracow. The project was supervised by J. Jania ( University of Silesia). Field investigations as well as remote sensing and geophysical techniques were used to obtain information on glacier characteristics. A large number of data were obtained in the field to identify the mechanisms responsible for dynamic response of glaciers to climate change and to create processbased quantitative physical models as well as numerical ones for glacier response. These results will help to refi ne estimates on the contribution of Arctic glaciers to sea level rise.

Within the international program “Change and variability of the Arctic Systems, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard” (KINNVIKA), geophysical investigations of the structure of permafrost and the thickness of its active layer as well as deposits of late sedimentation basins in the Murchinson Fiord region began. Th ey were supervised by P. Glowacki and carried out by an interdisciplinary team from the Institute of Geophysics and the Institute of Geological Science, Polish Academy of Science, as well as the University of Silesia.

The interdisciplinary team headed by K. Migala from Wroclaw University carried out investigations within the international program “Fundamental causes of local climates as the basis of ecosystems diff erentiations and dynamics in the area of West Spitsbergen, Svalbard” (TOPOCLIM). Its aim was to determine the spatial structure of air temperature field as the identification of the driving mechanisms of periglacial ecosystems in western Spitsbergen.

Several investigations were carried out at the Polish Academy of Science stations which operates year-round in both the Arctic on Spitsbergen at the Polish Polar Station, Hornsund and in the Antarctic at the Polish Station Henryk Arctowski on King George Island, South Shetlands). During the summer season, interdisciplinary investigations of periglacial phenomena took place in the areas surrounding the stations/bases located on Spitsbergen and belonging to Polish universities.

Measurements of active permafrost layer thickness and thermal fl uxes (CALM project) were also performed near Polish stations and university expedition bases: Hornsund Polish Polar Station, Calypsostranda base of Maria Curie- Sklodowska University expeditions, Kaffi oyra station of Nicholas Copernicus University, and Petuniabukta base of Adam Mickiewicz University expeditions).

Grants from the Ministry of Education (No N306052 32/3405) and the EU ATANS (Fp 6506004) permitted the initiation of comparative studies on permafrost occurrence in the mountainous region of the High Tatra, in the mountains of northern Sweden in the vicinity of Abisko, as well as in the Hornsund Fiord region on Spitsbergen. The leaders of this project are: W.Dobinski and B.Gadek from the Faculty of Earth Science, University of Silesia and S.Kedzia from the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Geomorphology and Hydrology of Mountains and Uplands, Polish Academy of Science, Cracow. Th e results of these investigations were presented at conferences (Wroclaw, Madrid, Moscow and Fairbanks).

Following a suggestion from the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, a system of common investigations called “Multidisciplinary studies of polar region geoecosystem” was created to bring together ten units belonging to the Polish Academy of Science and universities carrying out investigations in the Arctic. Its aim is to create the conditions for the active participation of Polish researchers in international investigations of polar regions, collaboration in scientifi c staff training, coordination of investigations, rational use of apparatus, help with application of new methods and control of information flow. The investigations undertaken under this framework in 2008 dealt with:

  • monitoring of the environment in the European Marine Biodiversity Research, Svalbard sites;
  • palaeo and contemporary marine and lake deposits as a source of information about changing climate;
  • understanding of glacial and periglacial geosystems under changing climate conditions;
  • effects of research stations in polar regions on the environment in their vicinity.

Financial means for coordination, accomplishment of common investigations were provided by the Ministry of Education (Resolution No 35/E-41/BWSN-0081/2008).

Of significant importance for Polish explorers of the north and the south polar zones was the XXXII International Polar Symposium of the Polar Club of Polish Geographical Society held in Wroclaw on May 23-24, 2008, under the subject ”Natural Environment of Polar Regions”. It was organized by the Faculty of Earth Science and Environment Formation, Wroclaw University under the chairmanship of J.Pereym; a meteorologist and Spitsbergen explorer. It should be stressed that Professor A. Jahn (1915-1999), the initiator and first president of the Polar Club, the famous explorer of periglacial zone, organizer of research expeditions to Spitsbergen and Greenland, a researcher that contributed largely to the history of International Permafrost Association, was closely connected with this University. The XXXII Symposium was attended by over 150 participants from all Polish scientific centers carrying out investigations in polar regions as well as foreign scientists. One of the participants was Prof. Jon Ove Hagen from Norway who was awarded the title “Doctor Honoris Causa” at the University of Silesia in May 2008. Papers and posters were presented at the Symposium. Most of them were published in a special monograph “Natural Environment of Polar Regions”. It consists of 28 papers (summaries in English) from various fields of science about the earth system (geomorphology, geology, glaciology, geodesy, hydrology, climatology) as well as biotic environment of the Arctic and the Antarctic. It should be also emphasised that the polar symposia have been held since 1974 and play an essential role as far as presentation of the latest investigations, exchange of experiences and integration of investigations in polar regions are concerned.

Kazimierz Pekala (kazimierz.pekala@interia.pl)


The International Polar Year has provided the framework for a strong development of permafrost science in Portugal and in 2008 signifi cant developments have been achieved:

  • collaboration between permafrost research groups in the framework of the IPA
  • implementation of the PERMANTAR project (National Polar Program – ProPolar)
  • Permafrost research in the Maritime Antarctic
  • Permafrost research in Arctic Canada
  • Research on the polygonal patterns of Mars
  • Education and Outreach
  • full membership at the IPA.

The dynamics created by the IPY enabled contacts between diff erent groups conducting permafrost research and their organization in the framework of IPA-Portugal. Permafrost research groups have been identified at: University of Lisbon (CEG – Monitoring, mapping, modeling, climate and CEGUL – Geophysics, climate modeling); University of Évora (CGE – ground heat fl ux, geophysics); IPIMAR (Chemistry, contaminants); and Technical University of Lisbon (CERENA – Polygonal networks in Mars).

The implementation of the National Polar Program took place in early 2008 with the funding of fi ve projects, one of which on permafrost research. The project PERMANTAR – Permafrost and Climate Change in the Maritime Antarctic, lead by Gonçalo Vieira, University of Lisbon, involves an international partnership with the Universities of Évora (Portugal), Alcalá de Henares (Spain), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Valladolid (Spain), Autonomous of Madrid (Spain), Zurich (Switzerland) and Karlsruhe (Germany), as well as with the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute. Th e projects focus on the implementation of a network of permafrost monitoring boreholes, CALM-S sites and geomorphological monitoring sites in Livingston and Deception Islands (Maritime Antarctic). An eff ort is also being conducted on the downscaling of mesoscale climate data (i.e. ERA-40, ERA-interim) and modeling (HTESSEL) of ground temperatures for comparison with borehole data in the South Shetlands. The project runs from March 2008 to March 2010 and is a partner of the Spanish funded PERMAMODEL project. PERMANTAR is included in ANTPAS and TSP.

In January and February 2008 the PERMADRILL (Portugal) – PERMAMODEL (Spain) projects lead by the Universities of Lisbon and Alcalá combined eff orts for a large campaign on Livingston and Deception Islands. The Spanish, Bulgarian and Argentinean Antarctic programs were involved. Several longterm monitoring boreholes were installed in Livingston Island: Gulbenkian-Permamode (l1-25m), Gulbenkian-Permamode (l2-15m), Ohridski1 (6m) and Papagalo (5m). In Deception Island field work focused on geophysical surveying (ERT) of permafrost distribution, geomorphological mapping and maintenance of the CALM-S site at Crater Lake. A new 20- 30m borehole at Crater Lake is being planned for early 2009 in collaboration with David Gilichinsky, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Arctic Canada: The research by the IPIMAR team focused on thermokarst lakes and on releases of carbon dioxide and methane gases. The role of the thawing permafrost in the trace element contaminants cycle was also of special interest due to the possible impact on the Arctic food web. IPIMAR research on permafrost focused in Northern Québec. A campaign was conducted in April 2008 in the region of Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik, with the coordination of Laurier Poissant, Environment Canada. Samples of snow, ice, water and sediments were collected in diverse aquatic and land systems such as Great Whale River, Hudson Bay and a thermokarst lake in a palsa peatland near Kuujjuarapik. Samples have been analyzed for carbon, nutrients and trace element contents. Measurements of carbon dioxide, methane and mercury gases were also made in the snow pack and permafrost. The analytical work is still in progress, but the first results indicate that the impact of permafrost thawing in the global geochemical cycles could have been underestimated.

Mars polygonal patterns: The CERENA team at Instituto Superior Técnico began a project for the automated mapping and characterization of polygonal networks on the surface of Mars, with the aim of identifying those that are of periglacial origin. During 2008, its activities included a survey of high spatial resolution images (better than 6 meters/pixel) acquired between 1998 and 2006 by NASA Mars Global Surveyor, whose centers were located above 50º of latitude (north and south). Almost 16,000 images were scrutinized, and more than 1000 polygonal networks detected; of those, however, less than 200 were deemed acceptable for the application of an automated procedure. The use of an automated method for this analysis is fully justified by the number of polygons in each network that can reach the thousands. The mapping phase consists of the segmentation of the network based on image analysis techniques. Although there are some developments yet to be implemented, the early results were good enough to advance into the characterization of the networks. This is done by the extraction of geometric and topological parameters from the identified polygons. The aim is to establish a classifi cation scheme for the networks that could be related to their origin and dynamics. A comparative analysis with terrestrial analogues, for which field data can be obtained is planned and will surely lead to a much better understanding of this type of features.

The IPY Education and Outreach project LATITUDE60!, Coordinated by the universities of Lisbon and Algarve, included several activities relating to permafrost: lectures in schools and institutes, display of the Antarctic permafrost research film (“+ a Sul”), preparation of a new film on permafrost research, international videoconferences (IGLO), weekends with polar scientists in the mountains, publication of brochures in national newspaper, collaboration with writers with the inclusion of Antarctic permafrost research in a volume from a best-seller adventure book collection for kids, collectors agenda of the national post company with permafrost themes included weekend of polar science with ca. 7,000 visitors, visit to Svalbard with journalists with an emphasis on TSP-Norway program, and appearances on radio and TV broadcasts. The E&O program has been a major success and has also contributed to the public understanding of the importance of implementing the National Polar Program. Weekend with polar scientists in the Portuguese mountains. Project LATITUDE60! (Photo provided by the project LATITUDE60!)

Following the strengthening of Portuguese permafrost research in the past decade, Portugal membership at the IPA has been upgraded from Associate to Full member, following a proposal by the Centre for Geographical Studies of the University of Lisbon that is the National Adhering Body to the Association.

Gonçalo Vieira, João Canário, Marta Nogueira and Pedro Pina (gtelesvieira@gmail.com)


In 2008, the activities of the members of Romanian Permafrost and Periglacial Research Group continued in all regions of the Romanian Carpathians.

The projects stemming from the Research Grant provided by the CNCSIS (National Council for Superior Education Scientific Research) and entitled “The impact of the climatic changes upon the Holocene and present dynamics of the alpine environment from the Romanian Carpathians”. Implications in the risk management and landscape’s arrangement: MEDALP” led by P. Urdea, West University of Timisoara, and A. Vespremeanu- Stroie, University of Bucharest, were completed in September. Some results of this project can be viewed at http://www.cbg. uvt.ro/geografi e/cercetare/granturi/medalp/medalp.htm. 

Investigations also continued in the Transsylvanian Alps (Retezat, Fagaras, Godeanu and Sureanu Mountains) and in the highest area of the Eastern Carpathians (Rodnei Mountains). The application of 2D electrical resistivity tomography were performed in conjunction with measurements on rock glaciers, solifluction terraces, on moraines and thermokarst depressions in the Fagaras Mountains, on scree slopes, moraines, thermokarst depressions and glacial overdeepening in the Godeanu Mountains, and on depression filled with postglacial sediments in the Rodnei Mountains. Core samples were also retrived from glacial lake Lala Mare and from the thermokarst depression Stiol in the Rodnei Mountains and from Sureanu Lake (Sureanu Mountains). 

The study of temperature regime of the ground and rocks are carried out year-round at the network of permanent sites established at high altitude in the Eastern and Southern Carpathians. Over 100 data loggers for temperatures and humidity have been installed. Concurrently, Basal Temperature of Snow (BTS) measurements and water springs temperatures were performed on rock glaciers in the Retezat Mountains.

At the Department of Geography, West University of Timisoara, P. Urdea and his team (M. Torok-Oance, M. Ardelean, F. Ardelean, A. Onaca) are continuing frost heaving and depth of frost monitoring program in the Muntele Mic area, and have implemented a program using thermal photography and infrared cameras in the investigation of periglacial forms.

A. Persoiu and B. Onac from Department of Geology and Speological Institute “E. Racovitza’’ Cluj –Napoca are pursuing a multidisciplinary study of ice caves, a particular form of sporadic permafrost and/or extra-zonal permafrost, focusing on the isotope hydrological monitoring in Bortig Ice Cave (in cooperation with I. Fórizs, Z. Kern, B. Nagy, P. László, University of Budapest, Hungary) , the relation between paleoclimate and perennial ice accumulations and climate changes, as observed in ice dynamics in Scarisoara Cave (Apuseni Mountains). O. Pop (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca) is beginning a program of dendrochronology on debris fl ows in Calimani Mountains (Eastern Carpathians).

The Institute of Geography of the Romanian Academy in cooperation with six other universities (including University of Bucharest, University “Babes- Bolyai” Cluj Napoca, West University of Timisoara, University of Oradea) organized the IAG Regional Conference on Geomorphology ”Landslides, Floods and Global Environmental Change in Mountain Regions” with a separate workshop ”Climate Change and Extreme Events in Mountain Regions”. 150 scientists from 30 countries participated in the oral and poster sessions, and in the three field excursions. The excursion 3 ,”Vertical zonation of fl oods and mass movements in the Carpathians Mountains” was focused on the geomorphologic specifi city of the central part of the Fagaras Mountains, Bâlea area. The team of West University of Timisoara presented the results of 2D electrical resistivity tomography investigation on rock glaciers, scree slopes, solifl uction lobes, fossil patterned ground and glacial overdeepening depression fi lled with postglacial sediments in the Bâlea-Capra area.

Petru Urdea (urdea@cbg.uvt.ro)


In 2008, the investigations of Russian geocryologists were carried out on a wide variety of topics, and focused on the analysis of the spatial-temporal characteristics of the cryosphere, its reaction to the global and regional climate change and to human-induced impacts.

Russian organizations implemented the monitoring of the thermal state of the permafrost and geotechnical monitoring of frozen ground. As a result, several procedures and regulations related to permafrost engineering in industrial projects for insurance purposes were implemented.

It was established that since the second half of the 1990s, mean annual permafrost temperatures have stabilized (and in places decreased), in spite of climate warming and an increase of permafrost temperatures in the 1970-1980s. At the same time, a deepening of the active layer up to depths of 5-9 m was recorded in forest tundra. At this location, however, recent observations have not unambiguously confirmed the tendency towards permafrost degradation although evident signs of frost processes and permafrost table fluctuations are observed (Earth Cryosphere Institute, SB RAS).

Monitoring of the dynamics of the shores of the Kara Sea continued under extreme climate change conditions. Expeditions on the shores of the Yenisei Bay and the Baidoratskaya Bay of the Kara Sea provided the first data on the temperature and permafrost dynamics of contemporary accumulative formations. Unique cryogenic formations were studied in new exposures of coastal outcrops of the Kara Sea during their intensive retreat in 2008. As a result, a thoroughly revised conception of the region’s cryogenesis was established (Earth Cryosphere Institute SB RAS, Lomonosov Moscow State University, All-Russian Research Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of the World Ocean).

For the first time, the respective role of cryogenic processes (thermoabrasion, thermodenudation, thermokarst, solifl uction, thermosuff osion, as well as lateral, bottom and regressive thermoerosion) in the erosion of the coast has been quantitatively substantiated (Melnikov Permafrost Institute, SB RAS).

The Institute “Fundamentproekt”, together with the Stockholm University conducted geocryological research in the northern alpine part of Sweden, including the field geocryology and soil-botanical mapping, drilling, temperature investigations, thus providing a unique insight into Swedish permafrost.

In 2008, a map of the assessment of the permafrostecological hazard sensitivity for the oil-and-gas field territories of the Nadym-Purovskoye interfluve (Lomonosov Moscow State University), a 1:1,000,000 hydrogeological map of Central Yakutia, and a 1:500,000 scale map of distribution of rock glaciers of the Djangarskii Alatoo (Melnikov Permafrost Institute) were produced. A suite of 1:200,000 maps (of geomorphological structure, of engineering-geological Sakhalin- Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline route was also prepared (Geological Research Institute for Construction).

The Institute of Geoecology, RAS (IGE) carried out research integrating probabilistic and deterministic approaches for long-term geocryological forecast. The influence of the heterogeneity of snow cover on the thermal state of permafrost was highlighted.

Calculations of the geothermal heat flow in the discontinuous and continuous permafrost zones of the Vilyui syncline of the Siberian platform were conducted. Using these calculations, the fluctuations of the phase boundary (decrease of the permafrost thickness) were estimated and a database on heat flow was created (Melnikov Permafrost Institute, Institute of Oil-and-Gas Geology and Geophysics, SB RAS).

The regional structure of the altitudinal zonation in the mountains of the Djangarskii Alatoo was studied by the Kazakhstan Alpine Geocryological Laboratory and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute, SB RAS. Permafrost is thought to underlain as much as 54, 000 km2 in the area, and the volume of ground ice is estimated as 21.5 km3.

New data on degradation (dispersion, amorphization) of clay minerals during the process of cryolithogenesis was obtained by the Chair, Cryolithology and Glaciology, Department of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University.

An experimental set-up was tested and experiments on studying the peculiarities of ice motion inside the cavity of porous ceramics under the infl uence of temperature and pressure gradients of liquid were performed (Earth Cryosphere Institute, SB RAS). The effect of self-preservation of gas hydrate was studied in detail both experimentally and theoretically. The process preserves relic gas hydrates in the permafrost at the depth of 150-200m which is typically beyond the zone of its normal thermodynamical stability (Earth Cryosphere Institute, SB RAS). The mechanisms of ice accumulation and its role in the formation on the structure and the composition of cryogenic formations were examined experimentally at the Earth Cryosphere Institute, SB RAS.

The possibilties of CO2 burial in gaseous or liquid state in the West Siberian cryolithozone was analyzed at the Institute of Oil-and-Gas Geology and Geophysics, SB RAS. Subpermafrost reservoirs were found to be of interest especially in continuous permafrost regions (north of 65-66°N).

In all seas of the Arctic region, except for the Chuckchi Sea, it was found that the occurrence of relic gas hydrate accumulation, confined to shelf permafrost, is possible (Scientifi c Research Institute of Natural Gas and Gas Technologies).

Young Researchers: In the framework of the International Youth Scientific Forum, 32 students and post-graduates participated in activities devoted to the 100th anniversary of Academician P.I. Melnikov and organized by the Melnikov Permafrost Institute SB RAS (Yakutsk), the Earth Cryosphere Institute SB RAS (Tyumen), and the Institute of Geoecology RAS (Moscow). Included were observations of permafrost temperatures at 10 sites at the Mountain North-Baikal Permafrost steady-state-station (Chara).

In July, research on cryogenic processes of ground ice in outcrops of the deposits of the 50-meter terrace of the Aldan river (Mamontova Mountain) were completed, including sampling for biochemical and microbiological analyses with the assistance of students and post-graduates of the Tyumen institute of Cryogenic resources, Tyumen Scientifi c Center SB RAS, Tyumen State Oil-and-Gas University, University of Hokkaido (Japan), Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine SB RAS (Novosibirsk), Institute of Applied Ecology of North (Yakutsk), Moscow and Yakutsk State University.

In August, a field excursion took place along the Yakutsk- Skovorodino-Chara route with the objective to revisit sites where local (Central Yakutia and Skovorodinskaya experimentalpermafrost station) and regional (Lena-Aldan Plateaux, Southern Yakutia, Udokan and Kalar Mountain Ridges) geocryological research was performed during the twentieth century. Students and research assistants of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute SB RAS (Yakutsk), the Institute of Geoecology (Moscow), the Institute of Cryogenic Resources (Tyumen), the Yakutsk State University, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Tyumen State Oil-and-Gas University, and a French university took part in the trip.

The most outstanding publications of 2008 are:

  • Fundamentals of Geocryology. Part 6. Geocryological prediction and ecological problems in cryolithozone./edited by Ershov E.D., MSU Publishing House, 2008, 768p.
  • Roman L.T., Tsernant A.A., Poleshchuck V.L., Tseeva A.N., Levanov N.I. Construction on filled-up ground in cryolithozone. Edited by Roman L.T., Tsernant A.A., Economy, Construction, Transport Publishing House. 2008, 323 p.
  • Parmusin S.Yu. Effective nature management in cryolithozone. MSU Publishing House, 2008, 172 p.
  • Pavlov A.V. Monitoring of cryolithozone. Novosibirsk: Nauka Publishing House, 2008.
  • Shpolyanskaya N.A. Global climate change and evolution of cryolithozone. Tutorial. MSU Publishing House, 2008, 130 p.

The following conferences were convened: International Conference: Cryogenic resources of Polar and Alpine regions. State and outlook of engineering geocryology, April 21-24, Tyumen. Scientifi c-and-Practical Conference: Hydrogeology, engineering geology, geocryology and geoecology of Transbaikalia and contiguous territories, September 24-27, 2008. Chita. Northern Social and Environmental Congress: International Polar Year in Russia, Arctic Science Summit Week, March 26- April 2, 2008, Syktyvkar, Russia International Conference: Russian contribution to the International Polar Year, September 2-7, 2008, Sochi, Russia

Dmitriy Drozdov (ds_drozdov@mail.ru)


During the past year permafrost and periglacial research activities developed by the Spanish research teams were mainly conducted in universities of Barcelona, Complutense de Madrid, Autónoma de Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, León, Valladolid, Extremadura, Santiago de Compostela and Zaragoza.

The works are concentrated on Spanish mountains, the Andes, in the Arctic and Antarctica. All of those are continuations of programs started in previous years under the National Research Programs framework and in participation with the IPY 2007- 2009 (see Frozen Ground #31, p.32-33).

The Soil Thermal Monitoring Network on Iberian Peninsula Mountains initiative, founded at the beginning by Spanish Science and Technology Programme and led by A. Gómez- Ortíz (University of Barcelona) includes several research groups (University of de Barcelona, University Complutense de Madrid, University of Alcalá de Henares, University of León, University of Valladolid, University of Extremadura and University of Zaragoza) and continues its activities. Th is year M. Ramos (University of Alcalá de Henares), F. Salvador (University of Barcelona) and G. T. Vieira (University of Lisbon) have unified criteria on monitoring the thermal regime of soils, and studies have begun in the Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa, Cantabrian Mountains.

On May 19-21, the workshop “Th e maritime Sub-Antarctic as a possible analogue for the Late-Pleistocene of Galicia”, organised by the Department of Geography of the University of Santiago de Compostela and coordinated by Prof. A. Pérez- Alberti and Prof. H. M. French, took place in Santiago de Compostela. The workshop focused on the analysis of landforms and processes related to wet periglacial environments, focusing on the Maritime Antarctica, Tierra del Fuego and Galicia. Th e meeting hosted 15 participants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, UK, and Canada and included lectures by H.M. French, K. Hall and J. Murton. Twelve communications were presented in the scientific sessions and there was a field trip to the Galician Ranges (Xistral, Meira and Ancares) led by M. Valcárcel and A. Pérez-Alberti, where the Late Pleistocene frost action, glacial landscape and sub-nival processes could be analysed.

The periglacial group of the University of Barcelona, Complutense de Madrid and Extremadura and lead by Prof. A. Gómez-Ortíz, continued its investigations in the Sierra Nevada (Southeast Iberian Peninsula, 37º N). It emphasizes monitoring the physical state of relict ice and permafrost trapped in the ancient accumulation area of Corral del Veleta (3150 m a.s.l.). The results confi rm the continued degradation of ice bodies beneath the debris cover in response to the interrelationship between soil temperature, nival coverage and the subsidence of the debris body. In the area sampled the loss of volume of ice since 2001 could be around 10,000 m3.

In the Picos de Europa, the research group from the Universities of Valladolid, Extremadura, Cantabria and St Louis, supported by the Science and Technology Ministry and the Picos de Europa National Park, are researching the evolution of the last remnants of relict ice in the Cantabrian Mountains as well as the periglacial processes associated with ice bodies and the possible presence of sporadic permafrost. Along the same line of research of periglacial and nival features as geoindicators of environmental changes in the Iberian high mountains, the research group is working in the Pyrenees, where it is monitoring the dynamic of several rock glaciers and periglacial processes as well as studying the structure and dynamic of Pyrenean periglacial environments and their recent changes.

The G.I.X.A. Group of the University of Santiago de Compostela, lead by M. Valcárcel pursues its investigations of the eff ects of nival activity in the Sierra de Ancares. The group was involved in several activities of the periglacial community. Most of the fi eldwork was carried out in Tierra del Fuego, lead by A. Pérez Alberti, where the periglacial landforms (patterned ground, rock glaciers, cryonival steps, debris slopes) were studied and mountain permafrost identifi ed. A CALM site was established at 1050 m a.s.l. In the Andes of Mendoza new studies have been initiated to understand the thermal stress on the substrate between 3000 and 4200 m a.s.l.

The research team of the Department of Physical Geography of the University Complutense, leaded by D. Palacios, is continuing with its work on permafrost and rock glacier distribution in Stratovolcanoes of Mexico and southern Peru. Additionally, in collaboration with the Department of Vegetal Biology of the same university, it is carrying out an IPY project on lichen colonization in new areas (deglaciated or post-permafrost areas) in selected bipolar loci.

The Spanish participation in the IPY 2007-2009 takes place in Antarctica (four projects), in the Arctic (six projects) and in subantarctic environments (Andes, one project) in coordinated projects funded by the Spanish Polar Research Program. Th e Spanish participation in permafrost and periglacial research is intergrated in the IPY research programmes: ANTPAS (Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Permafrost), TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost), MERGE (Microbiological and Ecological Responses to Global Environmental Changes in Polar Regions), TARANTELA (Terrestrial Ecosystems in Arctic and Antarctic) and EBA (Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic). Investigations are carried out in the Maritime Antarctica by the groups of Alcalá de Henares and Autónoma de Madrid, and by the group of Santiago de Compostela in Patagonia (see Frozen Ground #31, p. 32-33).

The next meeting of the IPA Spanish Group, the Second Iberian Congress of IPA, will take place at Sigüenza (Guadalajara) in June 2009 and will be organized by the University of Alcalá de Henares.

Enrique Serrano (serranoe@fyl.uva.es)


H. Ridefelt and J. Boelhouwers at Uppsala University are continuing a project on spatial modeling of solifl uction processes in the Abisko region, northern Sweden.

A gridbased regional model outlines the occurrences of solifluction landforms and a solifluction activity map based on terrain classifi cation was developed. A study on mountain permafrost distribution in the same region was completed during 2008 and is to be published by Ridefelt et al. in the December issue of Norsk Geografi sk Tidskrift. A new method of assessing long-term movement rates of solifluction on a regional scale through photo analysis is presented in a submitted manuscript (Ridefelt et al.). Jan Boelhouwers initiated a workshop on biogeomorphological processes and environments of subantarctic and sub-arctic ecosystems. The workshop was held at the Låktatjåkka Mountain Station in Sweden in August 2008 with Swedish participants from Uppsala University and Lund University and South African participants from Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria and University of Fort Hare. Else Kolstrup continued researches on stone heave under boreal-temperate climate conditions.

At Stockholm University, the Ph.D. project of B. Sannel on temporal and spatial dynamics of peat plateau / thermokarst lake complexes started in August 2004 (supervisor P. Kuhry) and includes plant macrofossil studies, remote sensing and ground monitoring of peat plateau areas in Sweden, Canada and Russia. In 2008 two papers were published on Holocene permafrost stability, and variable peat accumulation and decay rates in west-central Canadian peat plateaus. The new permafrost monitoring site in a remote peat plateau / thermokarst lake complex in Tavvavuoma, northernmost Sweden, was maintained since 2005. The setup consists of a meteorological station, a camera, nine snow stakes and nine shallow boreholes (2 m). In September 2008 an additional 6 m deep borehole was drilled into the peat plateau. M. Johansson and J. Åkerman, at the University of Lund participated in the live web event “IPY Polar Science Day” on June 18 with a presentation about the “thermal state of the Swedish permafrost”. Th e live sessions connected kids all over the world with scientists, preferably in the field at the time, followed by time for on-line questions.

The GeoBiosphere Science Centre of the Lund University continued and expanded its activities in the Abisko area. The “Nordic Centre for Studies of Ecosystem Carbon Exchange and its Interaction with the Climate System” (NECC) has two monitoring sites in the Stordalen area. The CARBOMONT project “Effects of land-use changes on sources, sinks and fl uxes of carbon in European mountain areas” and the ELSA project “Exchange processes between the land surface and the atmosphere” have intensive and important fi eld activities in the Abisko area, especially in and around the Stordalen bog. For these projects the status and dynamics of the active layer and the permafrost in the bogs are of great importance.

The old “IPA Abisko area active layer transect” is maintained in co-operation with the Abisko Research Station. J. Åkerman and M. Johansson are still maintaining 10 of the originally 12 CALM sites along the 100 km east-west transect. Two sites have been abandoned as all permafrost has disappeared. The three, high level (850-950 m.a.s.l.) sites have again been included and air and ground surveyed (both in 2007 and 2008). The active layer sites have now been monitored since 1978 and annual basic data is presented within the CALM reporting system.

In April 2008, five new boreholes were drilled in the Abisko area by M. Johansson through the Permafrost Young Researchers Network’s (PYRN) contribution to TSP. The boreholes were between 6 and 16 meter deep and were drilled closed to the old boreholes established in the 1980s by J. Åkerman. Preliminary results from the boreholes show that the permafrost thickness is decreasing from below as well as from above. The snow manipulation experiment, where future climate is simulated by adding snow on a peat mire, has been running for three years now. Data are now being analyzed and the experiment has worked well, with a clear change in the active layer thickness and vegetation observed. The snow fences are soon to be reinstalled for another season. The vegetation removal experiment was initiated last year on a mire and will continue for another year. The influence of removal of different vegetation types (dwarf shrubs, gramanoids and mosses) and the diff rent vegetation types on active layer thickness and ground temperatures, are being measured.

The Arctic Council of Ministers has requested a report on the current status of various aspects of the Arctic’s Cryosphere. The major sections are the Greenland Ice Sheet, Arctic Sea Ice and the Terrestrial Cryosphere, which consists of the chapters Snow, Permafrost, Glaciers and Ice Caps, Hydrology. Sweden together with Canada is coordinating the terrestrial cryosphere component and Sweden (T. Callaghan and M. Johansson) is leading the snow and permafrost chapters. The project will fi nish by the end of 2010.

A symposium on “Global change impacts on Nordic subarctic palsa mires and greenhouse gas feedbacks in the climate system” was held in Abisko on October 28-30, 2008.

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


On June 6, 2008, the Federal Council announced that the essential climate variables, among which glaciers, which are surveyed by the world glacier monitoring service in Zurich, now include permafrost.

Permafrost monitoring is implemented through PERMOS (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland) which has been set up for the last ten years through the Swiss permafrost scientists. PERMOS consists of about 20 sites where temperatures in boreholes, at the ground surface and in steep rock walls and in the air, and snow cover and ER tomography are monitored. At about 10 dynamics sites creep movements of rock glaciers are monitored; in addition, debris flows and rock falls are registered and archived. PERMOS has eventually found its place and funds within the frame of the National GCOS Office.

PERMOS has already set up its coordination office. After the pilot phase a thorough evaluation of the concept and all potential elements were accomplished and those are being implemented. PERMOS has continued its eff orts towards a standardized and consolidated monitoring network. The PERMOS report for the monitoring period 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 was published. Data on kinematics were updated for the rock glaciers Gruben and Murtél by the analysis of aerial photographs of the last decade. An operational geophysical monitoring network using electrical resistivity tomography was installed and is operated by C. Hilbich, R. Delaloye and C. Hauck to monitor long-term freeze and thaw processes at four diff erent mountain permafrost sites. In mid-September 2008, the University of Berne organized a seminar for the 20-years anniversary of the PERMOS site Furggentälti/Gemmi. Main results of the research and monitoring activities are published in the series of the Geographical Institute of the University on Berne.

Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research: The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF is actively involved in the new ‘EXTREMES’ project (Spatial extremes and environmental sustainability: statistical methods and applications in geophysics and the environment) aiming to enhance the understanding of extreme environmental events. Data from the SLF permafrost and snow cover monitoring networks is being analyzed with advanced spatial extremal models in order to improve forecasting and risk analysis. (J. Blanchet; E. Zenklusen Mutter; M. Lehning; C. Marty, M. Phillips). Part of the EU project “Hydrosys”, which aims to provide a system infrastructure using hand-held devices for the on-site monitoring of events related to permafrost degradation and infrastructure stability has just been launched at SLF. (M. Kern-Luetschg, M. Lehning). Both projects are supported by the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability of the ETH Domain. The SLF permafrost-monitoring network is functioning well, with borehole- and surface-temperature measurements in different types of natural and artificially disturbed alpine terrain. Techniques such as 3D laser scanning, InSAR or borehole deformation measurements are being applied at several locations to investigate mass movements. A selection of the sites is part of the Swiss PERMOS network (M. Phillips, A. Rist). Practical recommendations for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure in mountain permafrost continue to be developed and will be published in 2009. Case studies, interviews with practitioners and measurements on various types of mountain infrastructure are being carried out to develop these (C. Bommer, M. Phillips).

University of Lausanne: The Institute of Geography of the University of Lausanne (C. Lambiel, C. Scapozza continues its researches on different permafrost-related alpine landforms. The surface velocities of about ten rock glaciers have been measured with DGPS since 2000 (for the oldest series). After the slowing down which occurred between 2004 and 2007, a small increase of the velocities could be observed. Interesting to note was the extreme values of the Tsaté-Moiry rock glacier which showed local velocities of 13 m a-1 in summer 2007. Terrestrial Laser Scanning (Lidar) was carried out on three diff erent landforms (rock glaciers and moraine). The precision of the measurements and the diff erent processes which could be identifi ed (creep, sliding, thawing) showed the great potential of the method for the study of creeping permafrost. Th e monitoring of the ground surface temperatures is carried out at eight sites. About 120 mini dataloggers are currently being used. In autumn 2008, boreholes were drilled in Les Attelas talus slopes (Verbier), in order to get direct information on the permafrost properties and to study the thermal regime of the slope. It will permit the calibration of the geoelectrical data (2D permanent profi le), which clearly indicates the presence of permafrost in the lower third of the slope and its absence upslope. In the frozen moraine at Col des Gentianes (2900 m a.s.l.), the ground temperature borehole monitoring is completed by geoelectrical measurements. The analysis of ground ice found in an excavation with thin sections showed that sedimentary and congelation ice is present in the moraine.

University of Fribourg: Three new faculties well known in the permafrost community of Switzerland started at the Institute for Geography, University of Fribourg in September 2008: R. Delaloye, C. Hauck and M. Hoelzle. C. Hauck and M. Hoelzle are sharing a full professorship. Th is is an important step that ensures the continuation of permafrost research for the next future.

University of Zurich: A number of long-term projects involving modeling, measuring, and monitoring processes of energy exchange and dynamics in mountain permafrost are carried out by the Glaciology, Geomorphodynamics and Geochronology Group at the University of Zurich. Many projects have been described in previous issues of Frozen Ground and new developments are outlined below. Experimentation with improved transient 3D temperature modeling techniques in alpine permafrost was continued to investigate the eff ect of past and future climate change on subsurface temperatures in steep terrain (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, and W. Haeberli). The permafrost distribution in the Schilthorn Ridge was investigated by combining numerical temperature modeling, ground temperature measurements, and electrical resistivity tomography. The combination of these approaches bears potential to improve modeling and validation strategies (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, and M. Hoelzle, in collaboration with C. Hilbich, Univ. of Jena and C. Hauck).

A helicopter-borne LiDAR survey of the Monte Rosa east face was conducted in September 2007. This LiDAR data together with a time series of photogrammetric high-resolution DTMs starting in 1956 provide a basis for morphometric analyses and studies of glaciation history as well as investigations of slope instabilities in both permafrost-containing bedrock and steep glaciers (L. Fischer, C. Huggel, and W. Haeberli).

The thawing of steep bedrock induced by running water in clift systems as well as dilation of cracks related to cryospheric processes are investigated with a new PermaSense prototype deployment on Matterhorn. PermaSense is a collaborative project developing wireless sensor networks for autonomous operation in harsh environments (A. Hasler and S. Gruber, in collaboration with ETH Zurich, University of Basel, and EPF Lausanne).

In a study carried out at the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m a.s.l., France), rock surface ages using 10Be and their spectral properties in homogenous lithology were compared. Results could be a fi rst step to place modern observations on rock fall activity on permafrost slopes into a long-term perspective by interpreting the surface color as an age proxy (R. Böhlert, S. Gruber, and others, in collaboration with the Institute for Particle Physics, ETH Zurich, and EDYTEM, Univ. Savoie).

Processes of energy exchange at the surface, in the active layer, and in the subsurface are further investigated, monitored, and modeled at the borehole sites Murtèl-Corvatsch, Schilthorn and Stockhorn (S. Gruber, W. Haeberli, A. Hasler, M. Hoelzle, J. Noetzli, and students from the Institute of Geography at the University of Zurich, in collaboration with the universities of Fribourg, Jena, and Karlsruhe and with PERMOS).

Within a NASA funded IPY project in the Copper River region (Wrangell/St. Elias national park, Alaska, USA) led by J. Kargel (University of Arizona), a rockglacier monitoring of horizontal displacements and ground surface temperatures was started in July 2008 (M. Hoelzle and I. Roer, in cooperation with R. Frauenfelder, NGI Oslo, and A. Kääb, Univ. Oslo). In addition, rock avalanche dynamics from glacierized and                                                                          perennially frozen rock walls are investigated (L. Fischer and C. Huggel).

Dani Vonder Mühll (Daniel.vondermuehll@systemsx.ch)

United Kingdom

In August 2008 S. Gurney (University of Reading) conducted a pilot project in the far north of Finland based at the Kevo Sub-Arctic Research Institute with colleagues R. Mourne (University of the West of England) and J. Käyhkö (University of Turku, Finland). The project aims to investigate methane production from collapsing palsas. A palsa mire not previously investigated was identified and preliminary data obtained. The work was funded through the LAPBIAT scheme of the EU Sixth Framework Programme ‘Structuring the European Research Area Specific Programme’.

Fieldwork in the Mason Bay area of the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, western Arctic Canada, logged and sampled the Pleistocene Kidluit Formation and examined massiveice exposures and fl uvial gravels. The Kidluit Formation is hypothesised to record the former deposits of the palaeo- Porcupine River, which fl owed from the north Yukon into the Arctic Ocean until its path was blocked by the Mackenzie lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Late Wisconsinan, diverting it into the Yukon River system. Preliminary optical dating by M. Bateman (Sheffield) indicates an Early to Mid Wisconsinan age for the Kidluit Formation. New evidence found in 2008 indicates that the formation incorporates glacial material (facetted and striated clasts) that is older than the last, Late Wisconsinan glaciation. This glaciation now needs to be correlated with one from the Yukon. Massive-ice exposures at Crumbling Point (Summer Island) and around Mason Bay are opening up due to thaw slumping, off ering ideal conditions for calibrating geophysical mapping of ice and glacitectonite, to elucidate understanding of interactions between permafrost and the Mackenzie palaeo-ice-stream.

Fieldwork undertaken by S. Hitchens (Sheffi eld) during this summer was integral to a regional study of the Late Pleistocene periglacial environment of East Anglia that had begun in the central Breckland area, around Thetford, in December 2006. This study extended north and south in the region during the summer. The central thrust of the research is to constrain the chronology for periglacial aeolian activity and patterned ground formation using optical luminescence techniques that have only recently been directed to work in this part of the UK. Periglacial stripes were examined and sampled in trial pits in Cambridgeshire and northwest Norfolk. Currently the sediments are being prepared for optical analysis at the dating facility at Sheffield University and will contribute to the greater body of data being generated from samples collected in the Breckland area.

In August 2008 Professor Charles Harris retired from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. Over a long and distinguished career, Charles has made many important contributions to permafrost science, periglacial geomorphology and Quaternary geology, in terms of research, teaching and administration. Highlights include his seminal research on the understanding of periglacial hillslope processes and deposits, his leadership of the European PACE project, his editorial contributions to Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, and his guidance as Vice-President to the IPA. In addition Charles has for many years provided excellent leadership for the UK permafrost and periglacial community. We wish him a happy and fulfilling retirement in south Wales.


We regret to note the death of G. Larminie in October 2008. He was Alaska manager of BP Oil Corporation in the early 1970s and Director of the British Geological Survey in the late 1980s. He served on many polar advisory groups, was a supporter of interdisciplinary research, and appreciated the role of permafrost in northern petroleum exploration and development.

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

United States of America

The U.S. Permafrost Association (USPA) served as the parent organization for the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost. A U.S. National Committee was established under the USPA to assist the University of Alaska’s Local Organizing Committee as a co-sponsor and co-organizer of NICOP. Approximately 700 people, including 160 young investigators, from 31 countries participated.

The 2008 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union took place in San Francisco, California, December 15–19. There were over 60 presentations dealing specifi cally with frozen ground amongst the 686 abstracts presented in 34 Cryosphere sessions. Additional 45 cryospheric presentations took place in four Union sessions, as well as additional presentations in other focus groups. Reports and posters covered climate change in Polar Regions, rapid Arctic change, the International Polar Year, and remote sensing, specifi cally including terrestrial permafrost. The U.S. Permafrost Association held its annual meeting during AGU and voted on its new Board of Directors. New officers elected were J. W. Rooney as president-elect, O. Frauenfeld as secretary, and T. Douglas as board member at-large. The USPA treasurer M. Lilly, upon his retirement, was recognized for his dedicated services and contributions to permafrost communities. J. Zarling was appointed by the USPA board to serve the remaining year of Lilly’s term.

The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers took place April 15–19 in Boston. Th e AAG’s Cryosphere Specialty Group (CrSG) sponsored 15 sessions on topics including cryospheric student fi eld work, paleoclimatology, soils, the Arctic carbon and water cycles, glaciers, hydroclimatology, and mountain environments. The annual CrSG awards were presented. The 2008 Francois Emile Matthews Award went to J. Brown, President of the International Permafrost Association in recognition of his contributions to permafrost, and cryospheric science in general. The R. S. Tarr Illustrated Student Paper Award went to Texas A&M University’s J. Morris, for her presentation on “Impurities in Snow: Effects on Spectral Albedo of Prairie Snowpacks,” with co-author A. Klein.

T. Krzewinski reports the Technical Council on Cold Region Engineering (TCCRE) contributed signifi cantly to NICOP as cosponsors, paper reviewers, in fi eld trips, and facilitating publication of the ASCE TCCRE Frozen In Time – Permafrost and Engineering Problems (see pages 3-5). Krzewinski was appointed as the U.S. Representative to the IPA. Upcoming TCCRE-related events include the ASCE’s 14th International Specialty Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Duluth, Minnesota, September of 2009; CSCE “Circum-Polar Engineering Conference 2010” in Yellowknife in September; ISCORD 2010 in July in Yakutia, Russia, with plans for hosting ISCORD 2013 in Anchorage, Alaska; ASCE’s 15th International Specialty Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in 2011 in Quebec; and participation in TICOP in 2012. TCCRE Committee Meetings were held in Fairbanks during NICOP. TCCRE, represented by T. Krzewinski and E. Clarke, is participating in the Standards Committee, responsible for updating the Standard on Frost Protected Shallow Foundations (FPSF). TCCRE Technical and Administrative Committees are accepting new members, (contact tkrzewinski@golder.com or 907-341-6103). TCCRE, representing ASCE, is supporting a new PBS Documentary “Challenges of Transportation Infrastructure Design and Construction in Alaska,” with a focus on highways and railroads. Together with B. Connor of UAF, K. Korri of ADOT, and T. Brooks of the Alaska Railroad, T. Krzewinski is leading the eff orts for ASCE. Publications include the Quarterly Journal on Cold Regions Engineering (ASCE), Proceedings of ISCORD 2007 (available on CD from RIL), and Proceedings of the 13th Conference (on CD from ASCE). The 2004 TCCRE Monograph “Thermal Analysis, Construction and Monitoring Methods for Frozen Ground” is available through ASCE, with future ones in preparation. See publications section for detailed information on these publications.

K. Hinkel (University of Cincinnati) and collaborators J. Lenters (University of Nebraska) and Y. Sheng (University of California, Los Angeles) began work on the NSF-funded project on dynamics of lakes on the Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain. W. Eisner and C. Cuomo continued to explore the intersection of Inupiat knowledge and environmental change on the North Slope by interviewing elders from Barrow and Nuiqsuit. R. Beck and his IT group (University of Cincinnati) installed a 700 Mhz long-range (16-mile diameter) wireless Internet system at the new Barrow Arctic Research Center (BARC) to be used for NSF projects, U.S. Coast Guard ships, aircraft, and fi eld scientists. They also developed and tested a solar and wind power system for remote monitoring sites, developed and tested a GPS-enabled real-time satellite tracking system for lake surface current monitoring, developed a TCP/ IP-based geo-referenced video and high-resolution still imaging system, developed a low-cost, networked ground camera and meteorological station, installed a real-time permafrost temperature monitoring system for the BARC foundation.

N. Shiklomanov, F. Nelson, D. Streletskiy (University of Delaware Permafrost Group-UDPG), A. Klene (University of Montana), and C. Seybold (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) visited the main CALM sites in Alaska’s North Slope and Seward Peninsula during August and September. Ph.D. student M. Demitroff continues his paleoperiglacial studies in the Mid-Atlantic States with H. French. Demitroff and Streletskiy both gave invited lectures recently at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Nelson and Demitroff were invited attendees at the “Tough Choices” conference in Berlin during early October, where they presented on permafrost and its interrelations with landuse decisions in the U.S.A. UDPG graduate students A. Wedo, M. Schimek, and S. Cruzatt are nearing completion of their M.S. theses dealing, respectively, with periglacial blockfi elds in Pennsylvania, topoclimatic eff ects on the active layer in northern Alaska, and the soil climate of the high Peruvian Andes. UDPG students and staff contributed to ten NICOP presentations and Proceedings papers. With assistance from Streletskiy and Nelson, Shiklomanov organized the second CALM Workshop in conjunction with NICOP (see page 7). In cooperation with the American Geographical Society, the University of Delaware is sponsoring the W.S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, a series of lectures, seminars, fi lms, museum exhibitions, and other activities celebrating the current IPY and the University’s multiple contributions to it. The series, named for a former UD President with extensive fi eld experience in Greenland and Alaska, was organized by Nelson.

V. Romanovsky and the UAF permafrost group at the Geophysical Institute and International Arctic Research Center (K. Yoshikawa, S. Marchenko, D. Nicolsky, R. Daanen, G. Grosse, and A. Kholodov) report continued activities on permafrost and active layer projects in Alaska, instrumentation of boreholes and acquisition of subsurface temperature data from circum-arctic permafrost regions (Thermal State of Permafrost- TSP), and permafrost modeling in Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland. Under the NSF TSP-sponsored project a network of boreholes are being instrumented for long-term temperature observations in the Russian Arctic, Antarctic, and Alaska. More than 90 new boreholes were instrumented in Russia, and more than 60 existing Alaskan permafrost observatories were continued. Marchenko, in collaboration with a team from the Kazakhstan Institute of Geography, conducted mountain permafrost research in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains. A map of permafrost temperature distribution was generated for the Altai Mountain region. A. Kholodov, in collaboration with the Institute of Physical-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science RAS, participated in an expedition to Northern Yakutia where a new borehole was instrumented and 2006– 2007 data from the loggers were downloaded. G. Grosse conducted fieldwork in the Seward Peninsula with colleagues from Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, to study thermokarst lake dynamics and landscape processes employing GIS and multi-temporal remote sensing data. Grosse is maintaining and developing the Permafrost Young Researchers Network Thesis Bibliography (PYRN-Bib, www.pyrn.org). R. Daanen modeled the Greenland permafrost history, driven by high-resolution climate simulations, in collaboration with Danish permafrost researchers from the Technical University of Denmark, Greenland (ASIAQ) and the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). A new EPSCoR study to understand lobate debris fl ows in the Brooks Range was initiated. Work continued on the Alaska Peatland Experiment (APEX), focusing on hydrology and cold climate eff ects on carbon accumulation.

K. Yoshikawa (UAF Institute of Northern Engineering) and fellow researchers visited 92 native village schools in Alaska to install shallow (up to 6 meters deep) permafrost cables and active-layer frost tubes. The stations are adjacent to schools in Alaska as well as in schools in several other countries. Monitoring permafrost temperature and seasonal thaw allows students to collect, analyze, and share data. In spring 2008, 25 villages in Western Alaska (Emmonak Kivalina) were visited by snow machines and with a light-weight, rotary percussion drill. A movie-based permafrost education curricula and lessons are developed in the “Tunnel Man Series” (www.uaf. edu/permafrost). This outreach project is supported by the University of Alaska’s EPSCoR, NASA, and NSF IPY-TSP programs.

Colleagues T. Zhang, O. W. Frauenfeld, R. G. Barry, K. Schaefer, and M. Parsons at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), University of Colorado at Boulder, continue to document changes in permafrost and seasonally frozen ground in the Siberian Arctic and Subarctic. Together with D. Gilichinsky from the Russian Academy of Sciences they have digitized and archived soil temperatures from more than 420 stations across Russia (available from the Frozen Ground Data Center). Frauenfeld and Zhang continue to study the impact of synoptic-scale circulation on the soil thermal regime and frozen ground over the Eurasian high latitudes. Zhang and Schaefer are working on soil temperature reemergence, and impacts of soil freezing and thawing processes and snow cover on carbon exchange between the land surface and the atmosphere in cold seasons/cold regions using a coupled SibCASA model. As part of an IPY project, Zhang joined N. Panikov (Dartmouth College) to investigate microbial processes in permafrost. Zhang is working closely with Q. Wu and colleagues from Lanzhou, China, on changes in permafrost along the Qinghai-Tibetan Railway. Zhang and colleagues continue work on detecting soil freeze/thaw status using passive microwave remote sensing data and ultimately developing a comprehensive frozen soil algorithm for global soil freeze/thaw studies. Zhang, with help from H. Baker (Canada) and G. Cheng (CAREERI/CAS, China), was guest editor for a special permafrost engineering issue of Cold Regions Science and Technology. Zhang and B. Sheffi eld developed a frozen ground outreach website entitled “All About Frozen Ground” (www.nsidc.org/frozenground). The NSIDC FGDC continues to serve permafrost and cold regions science communities, and the general public with data and information issues. Roger Barry, NSIDC Director since 1982, retired from the position in April 2008, but remains as Director, WDC for Glaciology, Boulder, and Distinguished Professor of Geography.

A sequence of IPY Polar Day activities were organized including press releases, contacts with experts in several languages, activities for teachers, on-line community participation, webconferencing events, and links to researchers. The June 18 IPY Day focused on Land and Life, with permafrost research as a focal point. J. Brown prepared an introduction to permafrost for a general audience. Three live web events took place. The Live from IPY Event, hosted through ARCUS’ PolarTREC program, included an overall summary of the global importance of permafrost (V. Romanovsky, UAF), followed by coastal erosion (C. Wobus, University of Colorado), and information on how life can exist within permafrost and other polar terrestrial environments (J. Baeseman, McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER). In addition to these, and live events in Europe, a classroom activity was designed for teachers that demonstrate the concept of ice wedges within permafrost and how thawing permafrost can aff ect ecosystems. For more information on this Polar Day or to listen to the archived events and download the activity, visit: http://www.ipy.org/index.php?/ipy/detail/land_life.

The High Alpine and Arctic Research Program (HAARP) at Texas A&M University is co-directed by J. Rick Giardino and J. Vitek. H. Zhan, R. Kaiser, and J. Degenhardt are working with HAARP, as are graduate research assistants N. Regmi, K. Zhuang, A. Lee, D. Rodosovich, and T. Brunk. Researchers continue to focus on multiscale aspects of alpine and arctic landscapes in Colorado and Alaska and on monitoring global warming impacts on rock glaciers in the San Juan Mountains. Ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic induction meters are employed to investigate internal structure and water pathways of rock glaciers in Yankee Boy Basin in the San Juan and California rock glacier, and Mount Mestas in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. HAARP is also using 3-D visualization of GPR data to model landslide movement along the slopes of Grand Mesa. Researchers continue to monitor stone polygons to extend the existing thirty-year record. Investigations also include climate change-watershed relationships and water quality issues in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument and mapping rock glaciers and debris flows in the Savage River basin in Denali National Park.

N. Mölders and D. PaiMazumder (University of Alaska Fairbanks) examined the impact of ecosystem albedo changes on permafrost distribution and dynamics using the Community Climate System Model (CCSM). The albedo change data used in these investigations stem from Terrestrial Ecosystems Model (TEM) simulations provided by E. Euskirchen (UAF). Preliminary results show that the TEM-simulated albedo changes over the Pan-Arctic aff ect soil temperatures year-round and not only in summer when the ecosystem has a different albedo. The greatest soil temperature changes occur in fall and decrease towards spring, then increase again. Mölders and G. Kramm (UAF) also examined the performance of the Hydro- Th ermodynamic Soil Vegetation Scheme (HTSVS) using data from a site in Yakutsk, Siberia.

G. Doré, (Laval University) and H. Zubeck (University of Alaska Anchorage) have co-authored a book on Cold Regions Pavement Engineering published by McGraw-Hill and ASCE Press (available from ASCE or online bookstores). See details in the publications section The Thematic Network on Arctic Engineering and Science (TN AES) has been established at the University of the Arctic. The focus of the network is to develop sustainable technologies through engineering and science that improve the quality of life and allow for natural resource development in the North. For more information, contact S. Knutsson (Sven.Knutsson@ltu.se) from Luleå University of Technology, or H. Zubeck (Hannele.Zubeck@uaa.alaska.edu). The ASTM International sub-committee D.18.19 on Frozen Soil and Rock is looking for new members, officers, and volunteers for reviewing or authoring standards (contact H. Zubeck).

J. Cherry (UAF’s International Arctic Research Center and the Institute of Northern Engineering) manages the hydrometeorological station network on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Th is network was built by L. Hinzman and collaborators during the NSF-supported Arctic Transitions in the Land- Atmosphere System (ATLAS). With funding from the Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and NSF’s Arctic Research Support and Logistics program, Cherry is upgrading, recalibrating, and replacing sensors at these sites in Northwestern Alaska, and collaborating with the University of Delaware and UAF to maintain active layer and soil temperature monitoring at sites on the Seward Peninsula.

K. Bjella (CRREL Fairbanks) reports that an estimated 400 NICOP participants visited the Permafrost Tunnel in Fox, Alaska. At the CRREL Fairbanks Permafrost Experiment Station (FPES or Farmers Loop Site), a laterally loaded pile investigation was initiated by UAF personnel and funded by State of Alaska DOT. Bjella conducted a subsurface investigation of permafrost at Thule Air Force Base, Greenland, utilizing geophysical techniques and test pits to ascertain the distribution and depth of massive ice under the runway. B. Astley and J. Zufelt (CRREL Anchorage) are investigating permafrost at Shishmaref, as part of an erosion control study for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District. Astley mapped the depth to permafrost at a groundwater contamination site on Fort Wainwright to determine local groundwater flow pathways and to test the applicability of several geophysical techniques. M. Sturm (CRREL Fairbanks) and his partners at the University of Alaska and Colorado State are studying snow cover in Barrow and Toolik Lake to understand the winter water balance. These results will be the first detailed descriptions of the winter blanket of snow on polygonal ground, and will be useful in assessing the thermal insulation value of the snow.

The U.S. permafrost community mourns the passing of USGS Geologist George Gryc on April 27, 2008; James V. Drew of the University of Alaska Fairbanks on July 9, 2008; botanist and forest ecologist Leslie “Les” A. Viereck on August 31, 2008; and Bertrand Dee Tanner of Campbell Scientifi c on September 16, 2008.

Oliver W. Frauenfeld (oliverf@colorado.edu); USPA Secretary