2012 IPA Country Report

Table of Contents

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

Argentina (and South American Partners)

The Argentine and South American Association of Permafrost (AASP) grew with more cryo-scientists who are working in different parts of the Andes. The Association was also active at the NICOP in Siberia, where South American research projects were presented, e.g. about permafrost modelling in the Patagonian Andes (L. Ruiz) or rock glaciers inventories of the Central Andes of Mendoza (D. Trombotto, G. Lenzano, M. Castro). A new geomorphological periglacial map of Mendoza was also displayed in Salekhard (D. Trombotto and V. Alonso). 


The most important topic in Argentina is the present inventory of rock glaciers of the Andes and neighboring high mountains according to the Federal Law to protect them, seeing rock glaciers as a significant water reservoir for arid and semiarid regions. In this way the fact to protect the Cordón del Plata range as Provincial Park in Mendoza was justified because of its cryospherical system and hydrological value. An ongoing hydrological and geochemical work titled “Research of the cryogenic environment and hydrology of the Peteroa volcano region” (P. Grizas) is part of a project carried out in the upper basin of Malargüe river where many rock glaciers systems are rooted. A new scholarship (E. Bottegal) began with a project about crydynamics in permafrost areas of the Andes and an attempt to find cryosystems comparable with environments on Mars.
During the period 2012 the group of Quaternary Geology, Institute Miguel Lillo Foundation A. L. Ahumada (G. Ibáñez Palacios, M. Toledo, V. Paez Silvia) has intensified its exploration in the Sierra de Santa Victoria, Cordillera Oriental, Salta and Jujuy, at altitudes above 4000 m ASL. In Sierra de Aconquija they are implementing the installation of instrumentation soil temperature readings in an intact rock glacier at 4200 m ASL. They participated in the Workshop on Geomatics 2012 with their progresses and are working on the National Inventory of Glaciers in 4 basins of NW Argentina.
Recently in Arica (Chile) the XXXIII National Congress and the International XVIII Geography Congress with participation of representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Costa Rica was held. Two glaciological presentations are to be mentioned: 1- Glacier pyramid: characteristics and recent evolution of a covered glacier (F. Ferrando A.); and 2- Spatiotemporal variation in the glacial extension at the Sillajhuay mountain between 1989 and 2011, Pica-Colchane Tarapacá region, Chile (Lobos). The Glaciology Group at the “Centro de Estudio Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA, Ch. Kinnard)”, Chile, has been conducting a study on the rock glaciers in the area near the Agua Negra Pass near the Chilean-Argentine border. They concentrated on acquiring long GPR profiles on the “Llano de Las Liebres” rock glacier and on the Tapado debris-covered glacier and rock glacier, as well as conducting superficial geomorphological and sedimentological observations. The objective is to study the internal composition of the rock glaciers, including an estimation of their possible ice content. Preliminary results show that the 2.5km-long “Llano de Las Liebres” has a high ice content in its upper part, which decreases toward the terminus, in agreement with the present climate conditions which put the zero degree isotherm in the middle of the rock glacier. GPR results from the Tapado debris-covered glacier revealed a considerable amount of buried ice near the exposed glacier terminus (60m), pointing to the hydrological significance of these landforms.
The research team GFAM (Complutense Universidad  of Madrid), in collaboration with Kenji Yoshikawa (University of Alaska Fairbanks) has been drilling boreholes (3 to 10 m deep) in tropical volcanoes (Chachani and Coropuna in Peru, and Iztaccihualt, in Mexico) over the past year to monitor permafrost dynamics. The group has also continued to date periglacial landforms -mainly fossil rock glaciers- in those volcanoes, to understand their origin and associate them to paleoclimatic periods and to the deglaciation process of the volcanoes.



The year 2012 was a very active and successful year in permafrost research and activities in Austria. This positive situation is also very much linked to the collaboration of the different members of the Austrian Permafrost Working Group which was found in October 2010 consisting of A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb (both Graz), K. Krainer (Innsbruck), L. Schrott (Salzburg) and H. Hausmann (Vienna).
In the first part of this report I want to list and describe general permafrost activities, events and publications of permafrost researcher in Austria in a chronological order. In the second part I will summarise permafrost research activities carried out by the different relevant research groups in Austria based on brief reports from the individual groups.


Part 1: General permafrost activities in AustriaIn March a special issue in Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography (Volume 94, Issue 1) was published entitled Concepts and implications of environmental change and human impact: Studies from Austrian geomorphological research guest-edited by M. Keiler (Vienna, now Bern), A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer and J.C. Otto (Salzburg). This special issue contains ten contributions; four of them are related to permafrost research in Austria. For details please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geoa.2012.94.issue-1/issuetoc.

Part 2: Reports from the different Austrian permafrost research groups

The nation-wide permafrost project permAfrost – Austrian Permafrost Research Initiative funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, is now in its third year. The Institute of Interdisciplinary Mountain Research (IMR) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences coordinates permAfrost (M. Rutzinger, A. Borsdorf). General information about the project consortium and participating partners was given in the national report of 2010. This permAfrost project is a first initiative to join permafrost-research forces in Austria aiming to establish a nationwide permafrost monitoring program.

The University of Salzburg group of L. Schrott continued to carry out permafrost research within the projects permAfrost (WP3000) and MOREXPERT. Furthermore the permalp.at project has been concluded by 2012. Please refer to the national reports of 2010 and 2011 regarding background and aims of these three projects.
In the MOREXPERT project (I. Hartmeyer, M. Keuschnig, L. Schrott) – carried out in cooperation with alpS (Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Technologies, Innsbruck) and with its study area at the Kitzsteinhorn (3204 m a.s.l.) – instrumentation of various monitoring sites was continued. In 2012 two boreholes (20 m deep) were equipped with a custom-built system for borehole temperature measurement developed by GEODATA Inc. The three remaining boreholes (30 m deep) will be instrumented in 2013. The network of shallow boreholes (10-80 cm deep) at the Kitzsteinhorn summit has been extended to a total number of 30. Two permanently installed ERT profiles by the Geological Survey of Austria (see below) continued to deliver information on ground thermal conditions.
The permalp.at project (L. Schrott, J.-C. Otto, F. Keller, M. Rosner, M. Rupprechter) has been finally concluded by 2012 including a Web GIS application. The main results of this project are published as one paper in the special issue of the Austrian Journal of Earth Sciences mentioned above. As one product, a new permafrost distribution map of the Hohe Tauern Range has been published in cooperation with F. Keller (Academia Engiadina, Switzerland). The permAfrost (WP3000) was successfully continued at study site Kitzsteinhorn (J.-C. Otto) applying BTS und ERT measurements in order to understand permafrost conditions in recently deglaciated glacier forefields.
The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) Salzburg (C. Riedl) and ZAMG Vienna (H. Hausmann, W. Schöner) continued their research at Hoher Sonnblick (3106 m a.s.l.). For details on these projects refer to earlier national reports.
The Geological Survey of Austria, Department of Geophysics (D. Ottowitz, B. Jochum, R. Supper, S. Pfeiler, J-H. Kim) continued the geoelectrical monitoring at the Magnetköpfl (a peak slightly lower than the above mentioned Kitzsteinhorn) at an elevation of 2940 m a.s.l. using the monitoring system Geomon4D. With the exception of three months during winter (January to end of March) the system worked without interruption with a measuring frequency of once a day where a complete geoelectric section consisting of 2500 data points was recorded. The performed geoelectrical monitoring is part of the TEMPEL project.

Graz and Leoben
The group of permafrost researcher in the Federal Province of Styria continued its mountain permafrost research in the Hohe Tauern Range, Niedere Tauern Range and in the Northern Calcareous Alps. By 2012 colleagues from the University of Graz (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb, O. Sass, M. Rode, G. Winkler, M. Pauritsch), Graz University of Technology (M. Avian, V. Kaufmann, A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer), Joanneum Research (A. Bauer, R. Morawetz), and University of Leoben (E. Niesner, B. Kühnast) were involved in relevant activities. Unfortunately E. Niesner passed away in April this year. The main nationally and internationally funded projects are permAfrost (WP4000), Water Resources of Relict Rock Glaciers, and ROCKING ALPS. For details about these projects please see the national reports 2010 and 2011.
permAfrost (WP4000) was successfully continued by A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, M. Avian, V. Kaufmann, and B. Kühnast at three rock glaciers (Weissenkar – see Fig. 1 –, Hinteres Langtalkar, Dösen), one active rock fall site (Mittlerer and Hoher Burgstall, near Pasterze Glacier), and a marginally permafrost site (Hintereggen Valley) applying different continuous monitoring techniques, remote sensing, geodesy, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and geophysics. All mentioned sites area located in the Hohe Tauern Range. At the rock glacier Hinteres Langtalkar an ongoing fast movement of the lower part as well as distinct patterns of mass shifting on the rock glacier’s surface was observed by TLS and geodetic measurements. Rock fall events at two rock faces at the Burgstall area were detected. Furthermore, the initial geodetic measurements of 2010 and 2011 at Leibnitzkopf rock glacier (also Hohe Tauern Range) by V. Kaufmann were continued. A maximum flow velocity of 2.76 m/year was measured at this rock glacier. Increase in mean annual flow velocity at all four rock glaciers mentioned in this paragraph is in conformity and amounts to 5-16% compared to 2010/11.
Research within the project Water Resources of Relict Rock Glaciers was continued by G. Winkler, A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, and M. Pauritsch in the Styrian part of the Niedere Tauern Range. At a regional scale, an inventory of rock glacier catchments was established and a new rock glacier inventory for parts of the Federal Province of Styria was started to elaborate using airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. At a local scale the study focuses on the two rock glaciers Dürrtal and Schöneben where hydrogeological, climate, ground thermal, geophysical (see Fig. 2) and remote sensing-based research is carried out in order to increase the understanding of rock glaciers – particularly relict rock glaciers – in the alpine water cycle; a widely unknown field.
The ROCKING ALPS project (M. Rode., O. Sass) was approved earlier this year. In this project the governing factors of frost weathering and rockfall in alpine regions by applying 2D-geoelectrics, high-resolution moisture monitoring, rock moisture modeling, infrared photography and detailed rock fall mapping using TLS are investigated in the Dachstein area, Northern Calcareous Alps. Since summer 2012, the measurement setup is installed and monitors the temperature and moisture in the rock wall to 30cm depth. Additional rock moisture simulations were carried out at Mt. Sonnblick which was mentioned further above.

The IMR of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Innsbruck coordinates the permAfrost project as mentioned above (M. Rutzinger, A. Borsdorf). Furthermore, the IMR monitors permafrost in the Schrankar (Stubaier Alps, Tyrol) by running temperature loggers and a climate station and conducting BTS-measurements once a year.
The University of Innsbruck group of K. Krainer continued working on two projects funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. These are Permafrost in Austria and permAfrost (WP5000) – The Impact of Climate Change on Alpine Permafrost. The analysis of three ice-cores from two different rock glaciers (Lazaun and Weissenbrunn) in South Tyrol is onoing. For background and aims of both projects above and the ice-core analysis activities refer to the national reports of 2010 and 2011. Furthermore, the Krainer group is involved in the two projects PERMAQUA and C4Austria. Within the framework of the new Interreg IV project PERMAQUA, U. Nickus, H. Thies, K. Krainer, R. Tessadri, E. Schiestl, and V. Schmidt focuse on the impact of alpine permafrost on the chemical and biological properties of high alpine surface waters. Hydrological measurements and geological mapping of distinct rock glacier catchments in Tyrol accomplish the work of this group.
The University of Innsbruck group of J. Stötter continued to carry out research in the permAfrost-WP6000 (C. Klug, M. Spross, J. Stötter) and C4AUSTRIA projects (E. Bollmann, R. Sailer, J. Stötter). The developed ALS-based analytical methods are currently applied to more than 300 rock glaciers in the Austrian Alps. In addition to the remote sensing approaches, geophysical analyses (O. Sass, previously Innsbruck now Graz) are carried out at different study sites (e.g. Rofenberg, Lazaun rock glacier) in the Tyrolean Alps. These results and ground temperature measurements will be used to model permafrost distribution in the alpS project SHIFT (S. Mitterer-Hoinkes) jointly carried out with the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Switzerland. Finally, the MALS project was successfully continued in 2012. For project backgrounds see earlier reports.
The University of Innsbruck group at the Institute of Ecology (K. Koinig, E. Ilyashuk, B. Ilyashuk, G. Köck, R. Lackner, R. Psenner) continues their studies on the influence of melting permafrost on lakes with a focus on aquatic species and sediment cores. The group obtained an additional sediment core from a reference lake and is currently processing samples from all sediment cores and from the recent aquatic samples.

Activities from the ZAMG group in Vienna (W. Schöner, H. Hausmann) on Mt. Sonnblick as well as from the Geological Survey of Austria, Department of Geophysics (D. Ottowitz, B. Jochum, R. Supper, S. Pfeiler, J-H. Kim) on Kitzsteinhorn were mentioned above.
High latitude permafrost research is continued at the Vienna University of Technology (A. Bartsch). The European Space Agency project DUE Permafrost – coordinated by A. Bartsch – has been completed within the first half of 2012. Satellite data have been collected, processed and added value products were made available on circumpolar scale via the PANGAEA repository and a project data portal. These datasets will contribute to the recently started FP7 project PAGE21 lead by AWI, Potsdam, Germany. Vienna University of Technology does continue research on land surface hydrology (seasonal thaw lake dynamics, soil moisture variability in tundra landscapes) from satellite data within this project. In summer 2012, the sites Kytalyk and Spasskaya Pad in Russia have been visited (by E. Högström) and data for validation of satellite data collected.

(andreas.kellerer@uni-graz.at and andreas.kellerer@tugraz.at)



The Canadian permafrost community continues to be active in a number of research initiatives. For example, a new project led by Laval, Arctic Development and Adaptation to Permafrost in Transition (ADAPT), has been initiated. This project involves a team of researchers with the goal to define how changing permafrost and snow conditions affect tundra landscapes, water and wildlife and implications for northern communities and industries depending on these resources.


There has also been considerable activity in northern Canada with respect to natural resource developments and design of major infrastructure. Several mining projects are proposed for northern Canada and a number have been moving through the approval process over the past year. This includes the recently approved Mary River Project on Baffin Island which is an iron ore mine that will require a railway built on permafrost to transport ore to the port site. Environmental assessment hearings were completed this fall for a proposed highway that will traverse areas of ice-rich permafrost between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. The increasing potential for major projects in northern Canada highlights the need for knowledge on permafrost conditions and the expertise of permafrost engineers and scientists. Over the past year there have also been a number of workshops and meetings with a permafrost theme and we highlight some of these in this report.

Cold Regions Engineering 2012, the 15th International Specialty Conference on Cold Regions Engineering, was held in Quebec in August 2012. The conference was chaired by G. Doré (Laval) and was organized by the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering and the American Society for Civil Engineering. The theme of the conference was “Sustainable infrastructure development in a changing cold environment”. Over 80 papers were presented, a majority of which had a permafrost theme and focused on various topics including embankment engineering, foundation design, slope stability and climate change. The keynote address was given by Don Hayley. Peer reviewed scientific papers were published in a proceedings volume edited by G. Doré and B. Morse.

A Permafrost Degradation Workshop was held with the Northern Forum in Quebec in April 2012. This workshop was very much aligned with the “Climate Change Adaptation – Sustainable Technologies” theme of the Northern Forum. Canadian and Russian researchers gave presentations and discussed issues associated with permafrost and communities, transportation and natural resource development and also offered recommendations to deal with the challenges of changing permafrost conditions.

A special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences on “Fundamental and applied research on permafrost in Canada” was published in August 2012. C. Burn (Carleton) was the guest editor of the issue that includes nine papers based on presentations at the 6th Canadian Conference on Permafrost held in Calgary in 2010. Themes included: effect of climate change on permafrost; regional variability in ground conditions; role of running water on permafrost conditions; effects of natural and artificial disturbance.

Canadians were also active participants in the IPY 2012 Conference in Montreal in April 2012. Canadians gave over 30 oral and poster presentations in the “Permafrost on a Warming Planet” sessions co-chaired by M. Angelopoulos (McGill). Also related to IPY, was a special issue (November 2012) of Climatic Change presenting results from the Canadian International Polar Year. Permafrost, including results from the Canadian Thermal State of Permafrost project, was an important component of the cryosphere paper in this issue.

Permafrost is also an important component of a series of Regional Impact Assessment Reports associated with ArcticNet. P. Bonnaventure (Queen’s) is leading the permafrost chapter for the Eastern Canadian Arctic region which complements the permafrost contribution already completed for northern Quebec. State of Knowledge reports including one for permafrost are currently being prepared for the Nunavut General Monitoring Program. These reports will present a regional baseline to support decision making.

Prepared by Sharon Smith, Secretariat Canadian National Committee for the International Permafrost Association


The research activities of the Finnish permafrost community are going on both in Eurasia and Greenland. The studies are based on large empirical field studies and on spatial modelling. Permafrost investigations in Finland are covering a wide range of different activities: e.g. bedrock borehole investigations, spatial modelling of vegetation-frost dynamics, climate change scenario based permafrost modelling and greenhouse gas emissions from high-latitude wetlands.


Finland is an active member of the Perma-Nordnet research network. The Perma-Nordnet will address the relation between thermal, bio-geochemical and hydrological processes in permafrost in Nordic countries. Perma-Nordnet will initiate and catalyse such efforts, as well as to build, carry forward and tighten existing co-operations between the network members. The key instruments are courses on PhD level, and workshops, where both established researcher and students can meet for scientific exchange.

The Top-level Research Initiative (TRI) is the largest joint Nordic research and innovation initiative to date. The initiative aims to involve the very best agencies and institutions in the Nordic region, and promote research and innovation of the highest level, in order to make a Nordic contribution towards solving the global climate crisis. The initiative comprises six sub-programmes, two of which will focus on climate change research. Nordic research collaboration is expected to contribute to responding to challenges in the management of climate change in northern regions. Finnish research teams are strongly represented in the new Nordic Centres of Excellence and research projects of the Top-level Research Initiative launched by the Nordic prime ministers. The Finnish teams studying permafrost in the project “Impacts of a changing cryosphere – depiciting ecosystem-climate feedbacks from permafrost, snow and ice” (DEFROST)” are headed by Pertti Martikainen (University of Eastern Finland) and Timo Vesala (University of Helsinki).

In northern Finland, temperature monitoring of permafrost and active layer continued in Vaisjeaggi palsa mire close to the Kevo research station (J. Hjort from the Department of Geography, University of Oulu). Temperatures are monitored in two shallow boreholes (3 m deep, temperature sensors at 50 cm intervals). Temperatures of active layer are monitored at four depths. In addition, a new palsa monitoring site was instrumented in northwestern Finland close to the Kilpisjärvi research station. The boreholes and active layer are instrumented using Onset TMC-HD temperature sensors and HOBO 8 U12 data loggers.

The project ‘Spatial modelling of periglacial processes under environmental change’ (2008–2012) (J. Hjort and M. Luoto (University of Oulu and University of Helsinki) continued. This project has focused on spatial modelling of periglacial processed based on remote sensing and GIS data. Additionally, Hjort and Luoto have investigated interaction of periglacial processes and ecologic features across altitudinal zones in subarctic landscapes. Moreover, Luoto has continued to investigate dynamics and the main drivers of recent changes in the Arctic vegetation. He has combined vegetation distribution models with periglacial process information in high-latitude landscapes. This project led by Luoto is part of the consortium Impacts of climate change on Arctic environment, ecosystem services and society (CLICHE) funded by the Finnish Research Programme on Climate Change (FICCA), Academy of Finland.

Geological Survey of Finland (Timo Ruskeeniemi) investigated recharge of subglacial meltwaters into bedrock within the international Greenland Analogue Project (GAP) initiated by the Finnish (Posiva) and Swedish (SKB) nuclear waste management companies in collaboration with the NWMO from Canada. So far two bedrock boreholes have been drilled into the study area in western Greenland. Moreover, Geological Survey of Finland (P. Lintinen, H. Vanhala, J. Jokinen) and Mining Geological Company MIREKO continued co-operation in a field of geophysical characterisation of permafrost and talik structures in Northern part of Komi Republic and Nenets Autonomous Region.

Miska Luoto (miska.luoto@helsinki.fi)


During 2012, the activities of the French permafrost community are going on Spitsbergen, Central Norway and Central Yakutia (Russia). Permafrost studies in France are covering a wide range of different activities: e.g. geomorphological field study, field monitoring, laboratory simulation in cold chambers and numerical modelling of water/permafrost interactions.

French Icelandic research team
In 2012, the French-Icelandic research team, with Denis Mercier, Etienne Cossart, Armelle Decaulne, Thierry Feuillet, Julien Coquin, Helgi Páll Jónsson and Þorsteinn Sæmundsson (figure 1), has pursued its researches on the deglaciation in the Skagafjördur area, in the North of Iceland.
A multivariate statistical method (factor analysis of mixed data and hierarchical classification) was used to classify the environmental settings where sorted patterned ground develops. A total of 750 periglacial features, distributed over 75sites, were studied. Nine explanatory variables were assessed by field work and using a digital elevation model, the variables were subdivided into three groups (latitude, topography and soil characteristics) and then integrated into a GIS. Furthermore, a correlation between the environmental variables and anintrinsic variable (patterned ground mesh diameter) was determined by a bivariate test. The results show that sorted patterned ground are spread over three homogenous areas, mostly differentiated by altitude, insolation, grain size characteristics and type of drift. In addition, feature diameters differ significantly from one group to another. Finally, it appears that patterned ground diameters are positively correlated with (i) the proportion of clay to medium silt content (r=0.35), (ii) altitude (r=0.51), and especially with (iii) clast length (r=0.97). This strong relationship with clast length is observed in each homogenous patterned  ground area at both site and feature scales.













Figure 1: Helgi Páll Jónsson, Denis Mercier, Armelle Decaulne, Etienne Cossart, Þorsteinn Sæmundsson, Julien Coquin, Thierry Feuillet) on the field in the Skagafjördur area, in the North of Iceland in July 2012.


An another research program concerns the Höfðahólar rock avalanche. This landslide was investigated on the basis of a geomorphological analysis of its landforms and close surrounding environment. Thanks to sound chronological constraints (14C dating from birch remnants in peat areas that developed within depressions over the chaotic rock-avalanche deposit, tephrochronological sequences resulting from subsequent ash fallouts over the deposit, calibration of an age–depth model of peats and previously dated raised beaches), we define the rock-avalanche implementation with a wider timeframe between 10,200 and 7975 cal. yr BP and with a narrower frame between 9000 and 8195 ± 45 cal. yr BP. Such a well constrained timing proposes one of the most precise datings of an early-Holocene major slope failure in Iceland. This result fits well in the known chronology of the deglaciation in this area and in the prevailing Icelandic theory of a generalized phase of landsliding that occurred shortly after the deglaciation of the area. The main driver for the rock avalanche occurrence is associated to a paraglacial origin; glacio-isostatic rebound, associated to rockwall debuttressing, is thought to be the main factor in the genesis of this Boreal major disequilibrium.

Periglacial dynamics in central Norway – Geolittomer, Nantes.
R. Kerguillec, UMR 6554 Geolittomer, University of Nantes, France, purses researches on actual periglacial dynamics in central Norway, within a thesis of physical geography. Since 2008, four field missions took place in Dovrefjell and Rondane national parks.
The first aim of this topic is the study of the actual functional periglacial belts in these two high mountain areas, and first to locate the exact position of the lower limit of periglacial activity because of its fundamental morphologic and geographic significance. The method used is a morphologic one which consists of the identification of three authentic periglacial belts. For comparison, researches were also carried out on the Norwegian coast, at similar latitude of Dovrefjell/Rondane, to bring periglacial belts altitudinal tendency towards the west into light: L. King (1986) found that permafrost increases in altitude towards the west and, on the other hand, that forest belt decreases in the same direction.

Figure 2: The recent researches in the area of Gamlemsveten, northeast of Ålesund, prove that the active periglacial belt follows the same tendency of decreasing towards the west, and shows a difference of altitude of 300 m in comparison with Dovre-Rondane.


Researches were also carried out on the actual mobility of periglacial belts, especially in Dovrefjell, in relation with the contemporary climatic modifications in mountains environments. Observations took place on the margins of Dovrefjell’s glaciers and at snowpatches sites from Little Ice Age, especially to identify periglacial conquest dynamics on recently deglaciated terrains. Field work was done on these topics during summer 2011 in Rondane and Dovrefjell in collaboration with D. Sellier, UMR 6554 Geolittomer, University of Nantes, France. Fresh periglacial features appear on névé sites, in relation with thawing permafrost since the end of Little Ice Age. Because of their characteristics, they give evidence in favor of contemporary periglacial conquest dynamics.

Permafrost investigations in Central Yakutia – IDES,Orsay.
A detailed analysis of the hydrology of the Lena has been performed by E. Gautier at the Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (Meudon), F. Costard, A. Sejourne, L. Dupeyrat (IDES laboratory, Orsay University) in cooperation with A. Fedorov (Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk). The impact of the breakup on the erosional process on the head of several fluvial islands was analyzed from one of the largest Arctic fluvial systems – the Lena River (Yakutia). The purpose of this work was to reevaluate the role of the thermal erosion during ice breakup of the Lena River. In 2008-2011, a 4-years observation program was initiated to quantify the relative influence of fluvial thermal erosion during the ice breakup of the Lena River. In the case of high water levels, the flood, in permanent contact with the frozen river bank, undergoes efficient thermal and mechanical erosion, sometime through the fall season during a secondary discharge peak. The careful analysis of the annual data shows a high variability of the erosion rate, mostly due to the variability of the duration and timing of the flood season. This program was funded by ANR CLIMAFLU and by GDR Mutations polaires.

In the same area, a detailed study of significant melting of ice-wedges on hillside slopes of thermokarst lakes in Central Yakutia (eastern Siberia) was performed by A. Séjourné (Institute of Geological Sciences, Wroclaw Poland) in collaboration with F. Costard and J. Gargani (IDES laboratory, Orsay University) and A. Fedorov (Permafrost Institute of Yakutsk). The important melting of ice-wedges could lead to formation of amphitheatrical hollows referred as thermocirques (figure 3). The melting of ground-ice on the scarp of thermocirque triggers falls and small mud-flows that induce the retreat of the scarp parallel to itself. The evolution  of thermocirques in Central Yakutia has been little studied and analyzing their formation could help to understand the recent thermokarst in relation to climate change in Central Yakutia. We studied the thermocirques with field surveys in July 2009-2010 and October 2012 to examine the processes and origin of melting of ice-wedges and; photo-interpretation of time series of satellite GeoEye images (50 cm/pixel) to study the temporal evolution of thermocirques.

Figure 3: Thermocirques in central Yakutia. From A. Sejourne, 2012.


The CRYO-SENSORS program in western Spitsbergen – IDES, ORSAY;
The laboratory IDES (Univ Paris-Sud / CNRS) in collaboration the laboratories THEMA and FEMTO (Univ. de Franche Comté/CNRS) have continued their research on the Austrelovenbreen catchment close to Ny Alesund (western Spitsbergen) in the framework of the CRYO-SENSORS program (Funded by ANR and by GDR Mutations polaires). The catchment (10 km2) is optimal for hydrological studies because the drainage system forms a well-defined outlet going downstream. The project aims to study both hydrological and glaciological mass-balances of the catchment. In 2012, specific investigations were conducted in order to study the exchanges between river water and the supra-permafrost water-table. For this purpose, several monitoring have been undertaken in rivers as well as in 2 lines of piezometers (physicochemical characteristics of surface and ground-water, potentiometric level, soil temperature, geophysical investigations). The results show a seasonal evolution of the hydrographs closely linked to climatic factors. Although the meltwater from snow and glacier ice strongly contributes to the outlet flows, the discharge of subglacial river and that of the suprapermafrost water-table also controls the fluxes by constituting a river base flow. The groundwater water-table reaches a thickness up to 1.50 m for an active layer thickness of ca. 2.50 m at maximum. The contribution of the water-table towards the rivers might be consequent as this process proceeds all along during the hydrological season. The combination of hydrochemical and isotopic tracers are helpful to separate all different end-members of the runoff (figure 4).

Figure 4: Evolution of the isotopic composition of the river  water at the outlet of the catchment (summer  2009)


Numerical modeling of a glacier/permafrost system – LSCE/IDES
During past years, LSCE has been developing activities in numerical modeling for permafrost issues involving coupled thermal transfer with water flow in the Cast3M code. The main activities of the present year correspond to two application studies.
– The first deals with the evolution of a river talik during a glaciation cycle within the framework of nuclear wastes storage in the Paris sedimentary basin (Grenier et al. 2012, Hydrogeology Journal). The question behind is how the recharge of the aquifer is modified when the cold climate phase starts. Results obtained on a plain-river sub-unit of the landscape show that the recharge area reduces to the river, provided that the size of the river is larger than a few hundreds of meters, or if water flow from the river to the underground dominates, allowing a vertical channel to remain open due to warmer surface water inputs.
– The second study is a 2D numerical modeling of the evolution of a glacier / permafrost system (2D section along the flowline) to assess the thermal state at the base of the glacier and to understand the hydrology of the water catchment (Roux et al., 2012, TICOP Proceedings, Salekhard, Siberia, June 2012). The case of the Austre Lovenbreen glacier is studied in collaboration with IDES (Univ. Paris Sud, Orsay). A glacier (Thermo-Mechanical) model and a ground thermal model are chained to simulate glacier evolution (retreat of 15 m/y on average) and permafrost development at the glacier front, and to estimate the probability of the glacier to be warm-based. Sensitivity to the input parameter set shows that the glacier bed is most probably still warm but that it should become cold within decades to a century for the scenarios considered (figure 5).

Figure 5: Simulated evolution of glacier ice thickness (positive values) and -0.5°C isotherm depth (negative values) along a flowline profile from mountain top to seashore. Dotted line is the initial ice-thickness (1925). Simulation times are plotted for, 1: 1975, 2: 2025, 3: 2075, and 4: 2125. Dashed is the hypothetical current state (2009). Two extreme initial ground temperature conditions were considered leading to full black and grey lines (with or without initial permafrost close to seashore). From Roux et al. 2012


Coupled groundwater-heat transport model – Sisyphe, Paris VI
2012 showed the completion of both physical experiments and associated numerical modelling carried out at Sisyphe (A. Rivière and A. Jost, UMR CNRS 7619, University Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI), in collaboration with Cerege (J. Gonçalvès, UMR CNRS 7330, University Aix-Marseille) and M2C (M. Font-Ertlen, UMR CNRS 6143, University Caen Basse-Normandie). It allowed the comparison between observed and simulated temperature and pressure over a freeze-thaw cycle at the sand box scale. It focused in particular on the generated overpressures in the subpermafrost aquifer (figure 6).

Figure 6: Results from laboratory experiments and numerical modelling: recorded and simulated subpermafrost hydraulic head response during a freeze-thaw cycle.


The coupled groundwater-heat transport model is now applied on various time and space scales to analyse groundwater-permafrost interactions: (i) at the catchment scale and in the present warming context, to quantify groundwater-river exchanges in periglacial areas subject to thawing permafrost, (ii) at the basin scale, to assess the long-term impact of past permafrost on hydrodynamics in large aquifer system such as the Paris basin (figure 7).



Figure 7: Model results on a cross-section in the Paris basin, France: (a) temperature distribution at 20 ka BP and (b) hydraulic head anomalies (20 ka BP minus initial head difference).


François Costard



The annual German-language workshop for permafrost scientists and PYRN members was held on October 15 to 17 at the Potsdam Congress Hotel, the anticipated location of the 11th International Permafrost Conference (ICOP 2016). About 60 scientists and students participated in this small meeting covering a wide range of topics, including alpine permafrost, modern and past periglacial environments, organic matter in permafrost and microbiological processes, remote sensing and landscape dynamics, subsea permafrost and coastal dynamics. This meeting functioned as the kickoff for preparations of the ICOP 2016.


Reports from Potsdam (AWI, GfZ)
In 2012, the first expedition of the newly established Helmholtz Young Investigator Group of Hugues Lantuit (COPER, Coastal Permafrost erosion, organic carbon and nutrient release to the Arctic nearshore zone) took place in July and August on Herschel Island (NW Canada). The Expedition was part of the long-term cooperation between the AWI, McGill University and the Geological Survey of Canada (W. Pollard, G. Manson). A weather station and a monitoring flume, already tested in 2010 and 2011, were deployed at the outlet of a retrogressive thaw slump to monitor water and sediment discharge over several weeks in the field. Several resistivity profiles were run in the same slump as well as other locations along the coast to study the distribution and characteristics of massive ground ice. The new research vessel of the AWI, the FS “Christine” was used as a platform to conduct bathymetrical and mapping surveys of the shore face, as well as sampling of the seafloor. Finally, two lakes and polygons located within the late Pleistocene glacial limit and outside of it were sampled in detail to reconstruct the late Holocene climate variability in the area.
Two outcomes of the EU PAGE21 project have been the creation of a Data Management system (DMS) and the Data Mining Catalogue. The object-oriented PAGE21 DMS for permafrost monitoring data is compatible with international standards and associated with the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P). The data mining catalogue is an inventory of available datasets at the 12 PAGE21 sites that will form the bulk of the data to be put into the DMS. PAGE21 has chosen its observing sites to maximize interactions with international initiatives and networks (e.g. GTN-P, INTERACT, ESA DUE Permafrost, FLUXNET). This carefully prepared cooperation with existing networks operating in the Arctic has made it easier to feed input data derived from these networks in the PAGE21 DMS. The first outreach task will consist in continuing engagement of the GTN-P Executive Committee and the National Correspondents to ensure timely reporting of permafrost data into the PAGE21 DMS (workshop in spring 2013). 
An expedition on the Alaskan North Slope at the Itkillik River exposure was undertaken by an international team from the USA, Canada, Russia, and Germany (K. Bjella, A. Breen, D. Fortier, C. Johnson, M. Kanevskiy, Y. Shur, and J. Strauss). The overall aim of field work in May 2012 was to study dynamics and consequences of increasing permafrost degradation as well as quality and quantity of organic matter stored in Alaskan Yedoma. Therefore, samples from the bluff and boreholes were taken to study ice wedge degradation, modern cryosoils, geocryolithology, cryostratigraphy, geochronology, biogeochemistry, and paleoecology.
In April 2012, a team from AWI Potsdam and the Permafrost Institute Yakutsk set out by caravan across the Laptev Sea ice from Tiksi to drill boreholes on and offshore the Buor Khaya Peninsula. Permafrost boreholes were drilled down to 50 m bsl, frozen cores were recovered and ground temperatures measured. Coring and geophysical measurements were mutually corroborated and, together with the cores themselves, will improve our understanding of the evolution of permafrost following coastal erosion. During summer, the main focus of an AWI expedition to Muostakh Island located in the Tiksi Bay (Laptev Sea) was the late Quaternary climate and landscape history based on ground ice and sediment analysis. Moreover, studies on the transport of organic matter from permafrost deposits to the Laptev Sea as well as on coastal erosion were conducted.
The German-Russian project “Polygons in tundra wetlands: State and dynamics under climate variability in Polar Regions (POLYGON)” continued fieldwork in July and August in the Indigirka (Kytalyk site) and in the Kolyma lowlands (Pokhodsk settlement). Permafrost researchers, soil and mire scientists, geographers, and biologists from Potsdam, Hamburg, Greifswald, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Yakutsk participated in this expedition. Meteorological monitoring accompanied intense sampling of the biological inventory of in total 30 polygon ponds. Cryostructures and nutrient contents in permafrost-affected soils of polygon systems were studied in numerous 1-m cores, which were drilled in low-centered polygons and polygon walls. A detailed survey of a model polygon was carried out by estimating surface and vegetation height, active layer depth and plant associations in 1-m-resolution. In addition, thermokarst lakes were limnologically studied by measuring lakes bathymetry, hydrochemistry, and taking short cores from the lake ground.
During 2012 the SPOT Image initiative “Planet Action” supported the Russian-German project “Erosion of the East Siberian Coastline: Measuring the Permafrost Degradation along the Arctic Coast using Satellite Imagery” with new acquisitions of high spatial resolution stereo imagery. In addition, through the Potsdam research cluster PROGRESS, the German Aerospace Center provided large areal coverage RapidEye images for coastal change time series. This enables detailed measuring of recent annual coastal retreat rates and creating estimates of mass fluxes, which had been sparsely available along the ground ice rich Laptev Sea coast. Key coastal monitoring sites are Cape Mamontov Klyk, Buor Khaya Peninsula, and Dmitry Laptev Strait.
A two-week reconnaissance expedition was undertaken by Christine Siegert and Mathias Ulrich (AWI Potsdam) together with the Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Alexander N. Fedorov) to key thermokarst areas around Yakutsk in July 2012. These initial studies are the foundation for the future research project “Short and long-term thermokarst dynamics due to climate changes and human impacts in Central Yakutia, Siberia”, organized by Leipzig University. The SPOT Image initiative “Planet Action” approved new acquisitions of high spatial resolution multispectral SPOT and Pleiades satellite imagery for the project ().
Within the framework of the AWIPEV project KOP132 “Svalbard Permafrost Landforms as Analogues for Mars, SPLAM” a field trip was conducted by the University of Münster (Dennis Reiss, Harald Hiesinger) together with the AWI Potsdam (Mathias Ulrich), the German Aerospace Center (DLR; Ernst Hauber), and the University of Gothenburg (Andreas Johnsson) to investigate periglacial surface structures on the Broegger Peninsula (Svalbard). Studies of analogous terrestrial permafrost landforms were required as reference information for remote sensing data on Mars. These studies included the analysis of solifluction lobes, ice-cored moraines, and sorted patterned ground by Kite Aerial Imagery in high resolution (< 1 cm) of selected sites to continue analysis in 2009 and 2011 for multitemporal studies.
In June and July, the second “Airborne Measurement of Methane” (AIRMETH-2) campaign by Torsten Sachs (GFZ, Potsdam) and Jörg Hartmann (AWI, Bremerhaven) completed the first airborne eddy covariance measurements of methane fluxes from permafrost areas. Barrow, Alaska, served as the staging ground for flux measurements extending across the entire North Slope of Alaska and Inuvik in the Northwest Territories of Canada was the base for measurements covering the Mackenzie Delta and the Yukon Coastal Plain in a collaborative effort with simultaneous ground-based and helicopter surveys by the Geological Survey of Canada. As a part of the collaboration between the recently established Helmholtz Young Investigator Groups TEAM (Trace Gas Exchange in the Earth-Atmosphere System on Multiple Scales) at GFZ and COPER at AWI, the entire coastline, including Herschel Island, was laser-scanned to support coastal erosion studies.  About 52 hours of low level flux transects and roughly 85 vertical profiles up to 1600 m were flown during ten days of good flying conditions. Airborne flux measurements were also conducted by TEAM in collaboration with AWI during the Lena-2012 expedition to the Russian-German Research Station Samoylov. Here, a helicopter-towed micrometeorological measurement system (Helipod) was used to determine the turbulent fluxes of latent and sensible heat as well as CO2 along two transects across the entire Lena River Delta.
In August and September the second field campaign on the Tibetan Plateau was conducted by the groups of Dirk Wagner (GFZ, Potsdam), Michael Schloter (HZUG, Munich) and Thomas Scholten (University Tuebingen)  within the framework of the PERMATRANS (The permafrost transect) project. Our work focuses on the impact of climate change and human activities on the sensitive permafrost-affected geoecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. During this campaign permafrost-affected soils along two transects at altitudes between 4,600 and 5,100 m a.s.l. were sampled for soil ecological and molecular biological analyses.  The results allow an indicator-based interpretation across scales from molecular biology to plot and landscape scale. Feedback mechanisms and the resultant risk potential related to material fluxes and greenhouse gas emission are of particular interest in the scope of a warming Earth.

News from German universities
At the University of Bayreuth (Department of Ecological Microbiology), Katharina Palmer finished her Ph. D. on anoxic greenhouse gas producing microbial processes in peatlands under the supervision of Marcus A. Horn. Two research articles were published this year. Katharina’s work emphasized Palsa peats, cryoturbated peat soils and emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Cryoturbated peat soils are a hitherto underestimated but significant source of nitrous oxide. Study sites were in northwestern Finnish Lapland and near Seida, Russia. Denitrifying microorganisms release nitrous oxide as an intermediate. Such microorganisms are diverse and display a multitude of physiological capabilities related to nitrous oxide production. A key finding was that the diversity of the denitrifying microbial community was associated with contrasting nitrous oxide emission patterns, highlighting the importance of in-depth information on process-associated microbes.
The team from the University of Cologne (Reka Fülöp, Silke Höfle, Janet Rethemeyer) started working in the Lena Delta in 2010. The initial focus was on determining organic matter turnover and stabilization processes in the active layer of polygon rim and centers using lipid and radiocarbon analyses of bulk soil and soil fractions. This work was expanded by the collection of microbial released CO2 and CH4 by PhD student Silke Höfle and postdoctoral researcher Réka-H Fülöp during the field campaigns in 2011 and 2012. The gas samples, derived from maximum permafrost thaw depth, were pumped into a chamber and transferred to two different types of zeolite kept in a helium atmosphere (see picture). In the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the University of Cologne, the CO2 and CH4 samples will be cryogenically cleaned, separated and analyzed using the ETH Zurich Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. The gas sampling, extraction and measurement are ongoing at the University of Cologne. Our collaborators in these projects are scientist from AWI Bremerhaven (G. Mollenhauer) and Potsdam (J. Boike) and University Hamburg (C. Knoblauch, L. Kutzbach).
At the University of Bonn permafrost research is organized by the Group PermaSlope (working group Permafrost and Slope Failure). The former organizer of the group (M. Krautblatter) has now changed to the Technical University of Munich to run the chair of “monitoring, analysis and early warning of landslides” which results in a number of co-organized projects. The project “Influences of Snow Cover on Thermal and Mechanical Processes in steep Permafrost Rockwalls” went to its second year with Ph.D. student Daniel Draebing supervised by M. Krautblatter and M. Phillips (SLF Davos). In the first field work season, geophysical and geotechnical measurements were done at Steintaelli site and an automatic ERT-monitoring system was installed at Gemsstock site (both Swiss Alps).  Laboratory results focusing on p-wave behavior of 22 frozen rocks and resulting ice pressure was published (doi:10.5194/tc-6-1163-2012) and explain the scientific basis for the use of refraction seismics in low-porosity bedrock. Three diploma/master thesis currently investigates the slope movement of a permfrost rockwall using geotechnical methods (C.Halla), the active-layer dynamics using geophysical methods (N. Gorus) and the snow cover distribution by using automatic snow camera photos (C. Bierbaum).Within the Yukon Coast 2012 (BMBF, PI Hughues Lantuit) project M.Krautblatter and M. Angelopolus proceeded to investigate geophysical and geomechanical properties of giant thaw slump son Herschel Island. Our multi-year laboratory efforts on the geomechanics of thawing permafrost rocks have been condensed in a paper on “why permafrost rocks become unstable a rock-ice mechanical model in time and space (DOI: 10.1002/esp.3374).”
Four scientists from the University of Hamburg joined the LENA2012 expedition from 3 July – 5 September 2012 to Samoylov Island in the Lena River Delta. This group consisted of Lars Kutzbach, UHH group leader, studying vertical CO2 and CH4 fluxes from the polygonal landscape; Benjamin R.K. Runkle, post-doc, studying dissolved organic carbon transported through the surface waters of this landscape; Manuel Helbig, M.Sc.-Geography student, researching the hydrology of different micro-topographic units and catchment-scale discharge; and Wiebke Münchberger, M.Sc.-Biology student, studying leaf-gas exchange of the dominant Carex species in this part of the Lena River Delta. This group was also joined in a collaborative relationship by Alexander Sabrekov, Moscow State University, Ph.D. student in the group of Mikhail Glagolev, studying microsite variation in greenhouse gas fluxes. Key activities of this research included installations related to continuous measurements of lateral and vertical fluxes of CO2 and CH4. This instrumentation includes an eddy covariance flux system operated in partnership with Julia Boike (AWI-Potsdam), three discharge weirs to measure lateral water outflow, and continuous dissolved carbon monitoring. Retrieved soil samples have been returned to Germany for analysis of their physical and chemical properties, and will assist in estimating soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks in the Lena River Delta region. Furthermore, two junior scientists from the University of Hamburg (Ph.D. student Fabian Beermann and M.Sc.-Geosciences-student Nils Hanke) joined the expedition to Pokhodsk within the POLYGON project (see above). The focus of the Hamburg group was on the sampling of 1 m soil cores for investigations of nutrient pools and availabilities in the active layer as well as in the permanently frozen ground.

Field work for 3D electrical monitoring of unstable permafrost rocks in the Matter Valley (CH) as part of the project “Influences of snow cover on thermal and mechanical processes in steep permafrost rock walls (ISPR, TU Munich, University of Bonn, SLF Davos)”.


One of three discharge weirs constructed for outflow measurements in the polygonal tundra of Samoylov Island (photo Benjamin Runkle)


The Italian research in the permafrost and periglacial environments was focussed on the entire Alpine arch, the Patagonia coast, the Antarctic and the Svalbard.

Eastern Alps

Arabba Avalanche Center (A. Cagnati, A.Crepaz) continued to monitor the periglacial environment of Piz Boè, in Veneto region, at an altitude of 2900 m a.s.l. AWS, thermistors chain and GST monitoring network (1 Hobo datalogger and 19 iButtons) were logging in the area of Piz Boè. Topographic/theodolite survey was repeated on the rock glacier, to investigate its displacement in the last year. During Summer 2012 water samples were collected (ARPAV and Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes–CNR, Venice-C. Barbante, J. Gabrieli) every week in the shallow lake and in the inlet spring, where a V-shaped weir was applied. The amount of water discharged was determined by continuously measuring the water level by means of an immersed probe. The seasonal snowpack as well as summer liquid precipitations was also sampled and analysed. All the samples has been analysed for pH, conductivity, major ions, trace elements, heavy metals, rare earth elements (REE) and stable isotopes (dD, d18O). Water temperature, level and conductivity dataloggers were also placed in the lake.
In the Dolomites, the activities were focused on a little debris covered glacier that is currently developing under permafrost conditions (Cima Uomo glacier), and, in the area of the Pordoi Pass, on periglacial slope processes and hillslope-scale and catchment-scale hydrological processes. At the first site, topographic and geophysical surveys were carried out with the aim of investigating the dynamics of the debris and the extent and distribution of the residual ice. In addition, GST data collected by mini data-loggers were retrieved for the third consecutive year. In the Pordoi Pass area (Vauz catchment), several types of investigations are in progress (geophysical surveys, GST measurements, snowpack measurements) in order to analyze the processes involved in the slow movement of the ground. Additionally, experimental activities are being carried out in order to understand the fundamental hydrological processes governing the runoff response of hillslopes and catchments at different spatial scale. The activities in the Dolomites are conducted by the universities of Padova (A. Bondesan, M. Borga, A. Carton, G. Dalla Fontana, A. Ninfo, D. Penna, T. Zanoner, G. Zuecco,) and Pavia (R. Seppi), the INOGS Trieste (R. Francese), and with the support of the Geological Survey of the Autonomous Province of Trento.

Central Alps

In Trentino and in the Mount Ortles areas, the activities initiated over the previous years within several projects continued (Alpine Space PermaNET, PRIN2008, Ortles project, IAEA-coordinated project). The surface displacement of two active rock glaciers in the Adamello-Presanella massif is under measurements since 2001, along with GST measurements since 2004. In addition, one of the rock glaciers (Maroccaro) was surveyed for the fourth time using terrestrial laser scanning. These studies were performed by the universities of Pavia (R. Seppi) and Padova (A. Carton), with the support of the Geological Survey of the Autonomous Province of Trento (S. Cocco, M. Degasperi).
In the Ortles-Cevedale massif, several activities are in progress in Val de La Mare. Here, GST data from several monitoring sites distributed over a wide range of altitudes, at different exposures and on various landforms were retrieved for the second year. In the same area, hydrological investigations started in 2010 in a small permafrost-dominated catchment. The investigations aim at understanding the role of permafrost in this kind of catchments and are focused on the stream-flow regime using stable isotopes as tracers. These activities were performed by the universities of Padova (A. Carton, L. Carturan, G. Dalla Fontana, D. Penna, T. Zanoner, G. Zuecco) and Pavia (R. Seppi) and by the IDPA-CNR of Venezia (J. Gabrieli).
The Museum of Science of Trento (M. Gobbi and V. Lencioni) in cooperation with the Universities of Milano (M. Caccianiga and C. Compostella) and Pavia (R. Seppi) continued the investigations on invertebrate and plant communities living on several glacial and periglacial areas of Trentino. Two active rock glaciers and a debris covered glacier located in the Ortles Cevedale and in the Adamello Presanella groups, with a total of about twenty sampling stations, were selected. The activities aim at describing the plant and arthropod colonization pattern and at testing the effect of several environmental variables (e.g. physical, chemical and organic soil parameters) on the biodiversity and the adaptive responses of the species. A total of two bachelor theses and one master thesis were completed, while two new master theses and a PhD thesis are ongoing.
Permafrost investigations are carried out in the area of Mount Ortles (3905 m asl) by the Geological Office of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (V. Mair, D. Tonidandel) and the University of Pavia (R. Seppi), with the collaboration of Waterstone Geomonitoring srl (G. Dragà, G. Piffer, M. Rinaldi) and ARPA Valle d’Aosta (U. Morra di Cella, P. Pogliotti). These activities are part of an international project on the cryosphere of Mount Ortles coordinated by the Ohio State University (P. Gabrielli, L. Thompson) and the Hydrographic Office of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (R. Dinale). The activities include: 1) ground surface temperature measurements; 2) temperature measurements of rock faces at three depths (10, 30 and 55 cm from the surface); 3) englacial temperature measurements of the Alto dell’Ortles glacier and of a small ice-cap located on the “Hintergrat” ridge, in order to analyze the thermal state of the ice and at the interface between the glacier and the bedrock. The data of the first year showed very low temperatures of the ground (Winter Equilibrium Temperature below -5°C) and the rock faces (Mean Annual Temperature below -2°C) and cold ice conditions of the glaciers. In particular, the base of the Alto dell’Ortles glacier is at about -2.9°C and is therefore frozen to the bedrock.
The main activities in South Tyrol were carried out by the Office for Geology and Building materials testing (V. Mair, K. Lang, D. Tonidandel) from the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, which is assuming the role of the lead partner in the Interreg IV Italy-Austria project “permaqua” (2011-2014). The main goals of this project are to maintain and expand the existing monitoring network and to study the chemical and biological properties of high mountain waters influenced by permafrost. The key activity during the 2012 was the execution of two drill holes through the debris covered glacier of Murfreit on the north side of the Sella massif at 2.700 m above sea level, near the pass Passo Gardena. In the first bore hole (it has a total depth of 45 m) were drilled about 45 m pure ice. In the second bore hole (it has a total depth of 20 m) the ice quantity was much lower. Both drill holes were equipped with inclinometer tube, TDR cable and thermistor chains.

Figure 1. Overview of the debris covered glacier of Murfreit, on the north side of Sella massif.

The other activities during the 2012 were in summary: i) data acquisition, maintenance and implementation of the regional monitoring network: 1) three boreholes trough the active rock glaciers Lazaun (Schnalstal) and Rossbänk (Ultental) equipped with thermistor chains and TDR cable, 2) two borehole in ice (Oberer Ortler Ferner and Hintergrat Ferner) equipped with thermistor chain, 3) two boreholes in rock (Grawand, Schnalstal) equipped with thermistor chain and extensometer); ii) data acquisition of six thermistor chains on different rock faces in the Ortler massif;  iii) surface-movement measurements of the Lazaun rock glacier using D-GPS.
In the Foscagno area (near Bormio), thanks to GST, BTS, snow thickness, vegetation coverage and phenology monitoring, climate change impacts on permafrost-vegetation are monitored since 2007 by N. Cannone, M. Dalle Fratte and M. Guglielmin (University of Varese-Insubria). In the same area permafrost temperature down to 20 m is still monitored. Close to Stelvio Pass the deeper mountain permafrost borehole in Europe (235 m) established within the project Share Stelvio in 2009 is still monitored. The Stelvio National Park and Insubria University (N. Cannone, M. Guglielmin) are preparing (will be ready next summer) a scientific thematic track on the impacts of the climate change on permafrost and vegetation in cold high mountain.

Western Alps

In the Valle d’Aosta Region, the monitoring and study of permafrost phenomena in the year 2012 have been carried out by the following institutions: The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection – ARPA VdA (www.arpa.vda.it), Fondazione Montagna Sicura – FondMS (www.fondms.org), University of Turin – NATRISK (LNSA and geoSITLab) (www.natrisk.org), Politecnico di Torino – DIATI (http://www.polito.it/ateneo/dipartimenti/diati/), National Research Center (Torino) – CNR-IRPI (http://www.irpi.to.cnr.it/).

In 2012 is started the organization of an international conference focused on the long-term monitoring of climate change effects in mountain areas (www.muw2013.it). The event is scheduled for February 20th and 21th 2013, in Valle d’Aosta. Permafrost is one of the main topics.

Within the frameworks of the RiskNat project (ALCOTRA program) a technical handbook about permafrost related hazards (regional analysis and case studies) and other project products has been published online (http://www.risknat-alcotra.org/rna/index.cfm/b-1.html#p5).

ARPA VdA (E. Cremonese, U. Morra di Cella, P. Pogliotti) maintained and implemented the regional permafrost monitoring network. One borehole 10 meter deep has been instrumented on the south face of Matterhorn (Carrel Hut, 3830 m.a.s.l.). One minilogger for the monitoring of ground surface temperature has been placed on the north face of Grandes Jorasses, 4000 m a.s.l.

A comparison of permafrost distribution maps obtained with differing approaches has been carried out in the Cervinia Basin in collaboration with the engineering society Mountain-eering s.r.l. (M. Dall’Amico). The GEOtop model (www.geotop.org) has been used for simulating the long-term thermal response of differing ground materials (bedrock, debris, soil). A new monitoring site to study the interactions between glaciers retreat and permafrost aggradation has been identified and first two boreholes drilled. The site will be implemented during the next years. ARPA VdA is developing the new website of the Alpine Permafrost Database. The site will be online at the beginning of 2013 (www.alpine-permafrostdata.eu).

FondMS (M. Curtaz) has performed stability analysis of the Pellaud Basin (Rhêmes Valley) in collaboration with University of Parma (M. Ferrero). In the framework of the Regional monitoring plan for glacial risks, some periglacial hazardous sites were considered: data collection (photos, ortophotos, previews studies) and analysis (comparison with Alpine Permafrost Index Map and PSInSAR data, photo analysis) were done.

NATRISK-LNSA (M. Freppaz, G. Filippa) and ARPA VdA are carrying out the monitoring of low-elevation permafrost in two talus-slope sites in the Lys valley (Monte Rosa Massif). A project focused on the interaction between snow-cover and ground surface temperatures in different points of the Cervinia Basin is ongoing. The research unit is also involved in the project I-CARE (Impact of Climate change upon water Resources in Alpine area), funded by Politecnico di Milano under the scheme of the “5%0 Award”, and coordinated by D. Bocchiola. Most notably, the activity is focused on the monitoring and modelling the hydrological budget of the Indren glacier area (Monte Rosa), including the surrounding permafrost affected area.

NATRISK-geoSITLab (M. Giardino, L. Perotti, M. Palomba, S. Lucchesi) is implementing a statistic/cartographic approach to slope instabilities in the periglacial environment. Multi-dimensional (spatial, temporal) analysis of slope instabilities (historical data/maps, photointerpretation, geomatics techniques) have been performed in the Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso areas, under the EU-Canada “geoNatHaz” partnership (www.geonathaz.unito.it). Regional trends of enhanced instabilities within permafrost affected areas have been outlined based on inventory data of the Valle d’Aosta.

DIATI (A. Godio) is working, jointly with FondMS, ARPA VdA and GeoDigitalSolutions (spin-off of Parma University), to evaluate the reliability of geophysical methods (seismic and georadar) and laboratory analysis to detect the mechanical properties of the active layer of moraines materials in different seasons, that is under differing thawing and freezing conditions. The field activity is focused on two test sites in Val di Rhemes and Val d’Ayas. The laboratory analysis pointed out a great variability of the P-wave and S-wave velocity values of finer material in frozen condition in the temperature range between -5 and -15 °C.

CNR-IRPI Torino (M.Arattano, V.Coviello, M.Chiarle, G.Mortara), in the framework of the MASSA Project, has continued the activity of recording and analysis of acoustic emissions related to rock mass deformation at Capanna Carrel (3830 m a.s.l., Matterhorn, I), in relation to climatic factors and permafrost degradation, in cooperation with Politecnico di Torino (C.Scavia, C.Occhiena, M.Pirulli), and Arpa VDA. The activity is funded by Regione Valle d’Aosta.

Arpa Piemonte (Dept. “Geology and Natural Hazards”, contact person L. Paro), with the contribution of University of Varese-Insubria (M. Guglielmin), has continued the activities developed during the European project “PermaNet” finished in September 2011. A maintenance of the permafrost monitoring stations in Piedmont Alps has been carried out, along with the recovering of all monitoring sites damaged by water infiltration (details at: http://www.arpa.piemonte.it/news/arpa-per-la-settimana-del-pianeta-terra).

With the aim of permafrost existence evaluation (empirical and physical models validation), BTS surveys in different sites of the Piedmont Alps have been carried out. A geophysical prospection (electrical tomography) was performed in the key site of the Piedmont permafrost monitoring network “Sommeiller Pass” in order to analyze a potential CALM Grid site. A manual measurement of temperature and conductibility of water springs in some high mountain sites is ongoing in order to verify the potential relationship with permafrost and slope instabilities. A strong activity was carried out in the field of modeling. A physical model was implemented with the aim to evaluate the potential distribution of permafrost in Piedmont Alps applying PERMACLIM. Moreover, a new PERMACLIM plug-in for openGIS application is under construction and test. A “Cryotic vulnerability” model was developed and applied to whole Piedmont Alps. This model is based on the comparison between empirical and physical models. Finally, attention has been paid to the analysis of the interrelation between permafrost data, cryotic processes and slope instability in some specific sites (Sampeyre complex landslide and M. Rocciamelone rockslide).

The University of Pisa (A. Ribolini) continued the researches in the Maritime Alps, monitoring the surface ground temperature of a rock glacier, performing GPR and ERT prospections, and sampling boulder form rock glaciers in order to date the age of stabilization by means of the cosmogenic radionuclides methods. This last activity has been carried out within a project financed to the University of Aberdeen (M. Spagnolo, A. Ribolini) by SUERC (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre).

In the Valle d’Aosta Region, the monitoring and study of permafrost phenomena in the year 2012 have been carried out by the following institutions: The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection – ARPA VdA (www.arpa.vda.it), Fondazione Montagna Sicura – FondMS (www.fondms.org), University of Turin – NATRISK (LNSA and geoSITLab) (www.natrisk.org), Politecnico di Torino – DIATI (http://www.polito.it/ateneo/dipartimenti/diati/), National Research Center (Torino) – CNR-IRPI (http://www.irpi.to.cnr.it/).


The study of the sand wedge features along the coast of Argentinean Partagonian is still ongoing and, besides OSL ages, also new radiocarbon dates of carbonate crusts confirmed their formation during the Late Pleistocene. The SEM analysis of surface microtexture of quartz grains of the wedge infillings indicated a depositional environment dominated by aeolian transport. Moreover, the presence in the infillings of volcanic glass-shards generated by Andean explosive eruptions suggested a west component in the paleo-wind direction. The permafrost extension during the Late Pleistocene has been reconsidered including also the coastal areas of central Patagonia (A. Ribolini, University of Pisa).


The Project Permafrost and Climate Change in Antarctica (leaded by M. Guglielmin) is still ongoing through the permafrost monitoring at the Dry Valley and Marble point sites (in cooperation with Waikato University), at Rothera and Signy island (with the cooperation of British Antarctic Survey). In the latter during this campaign will be realized (by Insubria University, F. Baio and L. Paro of Arpa Piemonte) a new borehole of 30 m instrumented for permafrost monitoring upgrading the CALM Grid and the Snow monitoring program already existent. At Mario Zucchelli station M. Guglielmin and Michele Dalle Fratte (Insubria University) have continued the monitoring program of the active layer and permafrost at Oasi and Boulder Clay and in other 4 sites along a latitudinal gradient of 3° of latitude where also the vegetation (mosses and lichens) are monitored too. In this campaign also the study of the weathering processes (tafoni, weathering pits etc) has been developed. Finally a program of CO2 monitoring on different vegetation and active layer conditions is going on.Most of the results of the last 2 years of cooperation with the British Antarctic survey are contained in a special issue of Geomorphology, 2012, 155-156.
In Northern Victoria Lands, Antarctica, R. Raffi and S. Sega (University of Rome) participate to the XXVIII expedition (austral summer 2012-2013) within the framework of Italian Antarctic National Research Program (PNRA). The field activity is carried on Permafrost and Climate Change in Antarctica Research Program. Monitoring of ice-wedge thermal regime, started on 2004, continues at Backer Rocks, Boomerang Glacier and Mount Jackman (Northern Victoria Land) installing new thermistors in boreholes at 160 cm depth, according to standardized protocols for long term permafrost monitoring.

Svalbard (Norway)

M. Guglielmin (University of Varese-Insubria) installed a CALM grid at Ny Alesmund. In the same site, C02 emission measurements and geophysical prospections for the determination of active layer thickness have been performed.


In Alaska, K. Harada (Miyagi University), K. Narita (Akita University), K. Saito (JAMSTEC) and G. Iwahana (IARC, UAF) have carried out researches since 2005 in order to monitor permafrost conditions after severe wildfire. In summer 2012, observations were carried out at the Kougarok site near Nome. Thaw depths, surface roughness were measured from the ground surface. Ground temperatures have been measured since 2007 by data logger. Boring and vegetation surveys were also made. Continuous data of thaw depth and ground temperature could be obtained and the effect of the wildfire to permafrost condition and vegetation recovery will be clarified. K. Saito, G. Iwahana and B. Busey (IARC, USA) installed a fiber-optic distributed temperature monitoring system (DTS) in Poker Flat, which can measure and log the temperature along the cable continuously in time (e.g., every half hour) and space (e.g., 0.5m). The 3-km sensor cable, laid horizontally under different canopy covers and vertically above and below the surface, is expected to provide high-resolution temperature data to evaluate spatial and temporal variations and to bridge scales in observational and modeling research.

Y. Iijima, H. Park (JAMSTEC), A.N. Fedorov, and P, Konstantinov (MPI-SDRAS) established new soil temperature and moisture observational stations from Yakutsk to Chernoshevsky along Vilyuy River basin in eastern Siberia in July and September 2012. Each station set boreholes for soil temperature and frost tube (4.0m depth) and an access tube for soil moisture (2.0m). According to the pit survey of heat and water properties within active layer during the installation, high soil moisture still remained at the deeper part of the active layer at most of the site, and moreover saturated water layer (talik) was formed at some stations. M. Ishikawa, I. Yamahashi (Hokkaido University), Y. Jambaljav (IG-MAS, Mongolia) and S. Westermann (Oslo Univ, Norway) has collected data on the shallow and deep borehole temperatures at more than 100 sites over Mongolia. They will be for spatial permafrost modelling and correlation with remotely sensed data.

A. Ikeda, R. Nishii (Univ. Tsukuba), G. Iwahana and V. Mironov (Institute of Physical Chemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, Russia) maintained the 10 m-deep borehole on the summit of Mt. Fuji. The borehole temperatures were successfully monitored through the second year (2011-2012), although the data logger failed in the first winter (2010) by lightning. The permafrost is fairly cold, though air temperature has gradually increased since 1980s. We dug a new 3.6 m-deep borehole at a site where volcanic heat had been detected at the surface until 1969. The borehole revealed recent permafrost development at the site.

In Svalbard, N. Matsuoka and T. Watanabe (University of Tsukuba) has continued long-term monitoring on the dynamics of patterned ground (ice-wedge polygons, mudboils and hummocks) and a polar rock glacier, in cooperation with H.H. Christiansen (UNIS, Norway). Ice-wedge dynamics shows a large interannual fluctuation that indicates intensive cracking often associated with ‘warm winter’ during which temporary snow-melt in midwinter is followed by rapid cooling of the ground surface. The summer fieldwork in 2012 also highlighted an analogy of periglacial features between Mars and Svalbard, in cooperation with a Martian geomorphologist A. Johnsson (University of Gotenberg, Sweden).

K. Saito, T. Sueyoshi (JAMSTEC), K. Watanabe (U Mie) and K. Takeda (Obihiro U) started to mine historical domestic measurements of soil temperature and frost depth, for the period 1889 to the present, to build an open database. Under the GRENE Arctic Climate Change Research Project in Japan (FY2011-2015), Japanese researchers on the cold-region terrestrial modeling, K. Saito, T. Sueyoshi and others, initiated community efforts to integrate the physical (e.g., snow, permafrost) and ecological (e.g., vegetation, carbon cycle) processes and to improve terrestrial models for better representation and understanding of the Arctic system.

A special issue on ‘Earth Surface Dynamics in the Cryosphere: Review and Outlook’ (Chief editor: N. Matsuoka) was published in Journal of Geography (publisher: Tokyo Geographical Society), Vol. 121 (2012), collecting 13 papers from a memorial symposium for the 40 years anniversary of the Japanese Cold Climate Geomorphology Colloquium (May 2011). Five papers featured ‘Frozen Ground and Periglaciation’. All are written in Japanese with English abstract. Full texts can be downloaded at J-STAGE: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/jgeography/121/2/_contents.


In the spring of this year, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of Dr N.Lonjid. He was the founder of geocryology in Mongolia. Although tourists and travelers have reported about the existence of permafrost in Mongolia the systematic study of permafrost was launched in 1950s.

This work started in those years by Lonjid (Tsegmid, 2003, Geographic science in Mongolia). He was a head of permafrost division of Geography Institute, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia from 1962 to 1970. He had granted a state honoree by his ice storage in 1989. Number of ice storages was constructed in 1960-1980s in Mongolia under his leadership. He died in 2004 at the age of 82. By the order of the Director of Geographic Institute in February 29, 2012, permafrost laboratory of Geography Institute was renamed as permafrost laboratory named after N.Lonjid, state honored scientist.

Figure 1: on front from left G.Purev, D.Luvsandagva, N.Lkhagdandorj, B.A.Kudryavtsev, N.Lonjid, on backside from left T.Ragchaa, S.Jamsran, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 1969. Photo by Sharkhuu

Through the financial support from Mongolian government the drilling work of 17 boreholes with 30-90m deep is under the ongoing operation. Currently within the scope of international and national projects and programs there are about 100 boreholes in Mongolia for monitoring of permafrost and seasonal frozen ground. This summer the international field team, including professor M.Ishikawa, Hokkaido University, Dr Sebastian Westermann, Oslo University, Dr Ya.Jambaljav, Geography Institute of Mongolia and students from Mongolia and Japan, traveled through Hangai and Hovsgol mountains for on-situ introduction to permafrost distribution. The team visited the sites of permafrost monitoring boreholes on the way and downloaded the data from those boreholes. Visiting the permafrost monitoring boreholes takes about 1.5 months due to bad road condition so we traveled about 8000 km throughout Mongolia for getting data from these boreholes. We would like to express deep appreciation to our colleagues from Japan such as professor T.Ohata, professor M.Ishikawa, Dr Y.Iijima for their all kind of supports. In the scope of cooperation between Japan Agency For Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Hokkaido University and Geography Institute of Mongolia, field work on getting data from permafrost monitoring boreholes has been financed by Japan for the last 3 years.

Figure 2: Internation field team, August, 2012, Northern side of Hangai mountain, photo by Dr Sebastian Westermann.

Monitoring of permafrost temperatures and active layer thickness in forty five (5-200 m deep) boreholes with permafrost in Hovsgol, Hangai and Hentei mountainous regions of Mongolia is continued by N.Sharkhuu since 1996. Ground temperatures in number of the monitoring boreholes were measured 25-45 years ago. In summer soil moisture content at 10-30-50 cm depths and plant biomass are determined at most borehole sites. In winter thickness and density of snow cover are monthly measured at borehole sites near Ulaanbaatar. Besides, monitoring of ground (no-permafrost) temperatures and seasonal freezing depths in 12 boreholes without permafrost in Hentei region is conducted during last 5-42 years. All the monitoring boreholes with and without permafrost in Mongolia are installed by temperature data loggers or permanent thermister strings.
Within the framework of local project on using of natural and artificial icings for purpose of nature reconstruction, Sharkhuu conducts round-year experimental studies on determination of thermal insulation effects of soil surface (snow, ice and vegetation) covers on soil temperature and moisture content in Selbe River upper valley near Ulaanbaatar. In winter time the thermal insulation values of snow and ice covers are recorded by data loggers depending on thickness and density of snow, and on duration and thickness of natural and artificial icings, respectively. In summer time the thermal insulation values of bushes, shrubs, grass and moss covers are also recorded by data loggers depending on height, density and biomass of vegetation cover. Meanwhile, in summer values of soil temperatures and moisture content in all observation and control points are measured three times a month. Distribution, thickness, formation and dynamics of permafrost,  depths and dynamics of seasonal freezing of ground depending on different natural factors in the study area are determined based on data from ground temperature recordings (and measurements) in four 10 m deep boreholes, located along valley cross section.

Jambaljav Yamkhim (jambaljav@gmail.com)

The Netherlands


In the framework of the IPA mapping project of permafrost extent during the last permafrost maximum (LPM) J. Vandenberghe updated permafrost extent maps of Europe with the most recent published information for that period.

Permafrost change

A model for thaw lake expansion has been developed ad VU University and is published in Nature Climate change in 2011. Global scale simulations with this model are being prepared. At TU-Delft, a research group led by Prof. R. Hanssen and Dr. A.J. Hooper is active in applying INSAR radar interferometry to quantify permafrost changes. A study on permafrost changes in northeast Greenland has been completed in 2011.

Carbon exchange from permafrost soils and ecosystems

Research on the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emission of present-day permafrost environments in Northeastern Siberia is conducted by VU University Amsterdam (Prof A.J. Dolman, Dr. J. van Huissteden) and Wageningen University  (Dr. M. Heijmans) in close collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone (IBPC) in Yakutsk (Dr. T.C. Maximov) and Hokkaido University (Prof. A. Sugimoto).
At the Kytalyk reserve near Chokurdagh in the Indigirka lowlands (VU and Wageningen University) research focusses on CO2 and CH4 fluxes of tundra ecosystems on continuous permafrost. With three new PhD projects started in 2010 and funded by Dutch science funding organizations NWO and Darwin Center, and participation in the new EU project PAGE21, funding of carbon cycle observations is guaranteed until 2014. This will result in a decade-long time series of  CO2 and CH4 fluxes, and seven years of research on tundra vegetation ecology. In the new research projects, emphasis is laid on spatial variability of fluxes and the effects of permafrost degradation on the tundra ecosystem and fluxes.
Wageningen University (Frank Berendse, Monique Heijmans) has set up long-term field experiments at the Kytalyk tundra research site in which either vegetation composition or thawing depth has been manipulated to study the feedback of expected shrub expansion on seasonal thawing of permafrost and vice versa. Main result so far is that low shrubs (Betula nana, dwarf birch) reduce thawing so play an important role in protecting the permafrost (Blok et al. 2010).
Closely linked to this research is a modeling project, aiming to improve hydrological aspects of carbon cycle models,  which is part of the EU funded Marie Curie Greencycles Network. With this project, VU university participates in the Permafrost RCN modelling networdk, with the Peatland-VU wetland soil carbon cycle model.
At the “Nymto Park Station” (NPS) in West Siberia in the regional park “Nymto” at 63.7oN, 70.9oE the effect of climate change on the pristine peatland ecosystems and (sub)actual carbon balance of the permafrost boundary zone in Sub-arctic Western Siberia is studied (Yugra State University nd Utrecht University, Prof. W. Bleuten).
The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, NIOZ (Dr. Jens Greinert), is currently chairing the COST Action PERGAMON (ES0902) “Permafrost and gas hydrate related methane release in the Arctic and impact on climate change: European cooperation for long-term monitoring” in which 23 countries with 49 institutes are currently involved. Next to EU countries, Russia, USA, Canada and New Zealand are regular members during the biannual workgroup and management committee meetings. The Action has 6 working groups ranging from atmospheric and remote sensing sciences, to terrestrial studies around methane release from wetlands, to marine studies related to gas hydrate decomposition and permafrost thaw. NIOZ and VU are participating from the Netherlands.
Unfortunaltely the participation of VU University in the Russian Mega-grant programme ‘The carbon balance of Central Siberia and the role of the hydrgeochemistry of the big Siberian rivers in the carbon cycle’, led by the Siberian Federal University of Krasnojarsk and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany has been cancelled as a result of restrictions on import and use of equipment.

Ko van Huissteden (ko.van.huissteden@geo.falw.vu.nl)

New Zealand

The Landcare Research team, led by Dr Jackie Aislabie, have continued their “Environmental Domains” work.  An ongoing soil mapping programme in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica is being led by Malcolm McLeod to improve the soil data-layer. 


Malcolm recently successfully defended his PhD thesis which was focussed around soil mapping in the Wright Valley with interpretive maps of vulnerability of soil to human impacts.  As Jackie is taking on a higher level management role within Landcare Research Fraser Morgan is now taking over leadership of the Antarctic Research programme.  Fraser is a GIS specialist which is a key skill as the programme moves into the development and modelling phase of the Environmental Domains development.

The soil/permafrost climate station network has been added to with two stations installed on the walls of the Wright Valley, one above Don Juan Pond, and one east of Bull Pass to provide data to improve our ability to model climate across the whole landscape (Figure 1).  The new stations complement the seven existing stations that range from sea level at Marble Point to about 1800 m altitude at Mt Fleming on the margin of the polar plateau.  The soil climate monitoring continues to be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Cathy Seybold from USDA.  Holly Goddard is currently undertaking an MSc thesis, in collaboration with Megan Balks and Cathy Seybold, analysing the now very large soil-climate database.  Holly has an Antarctica New Zealand scholarship to support her work.  She recently presented some of her preliminary results at TICOP (the Tenth International Conference on Permafrost) at Salekhard in Russia.  Holly is grateful to the IPA and to the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District of Russia for support that made her attendance at the conference possible. 

Figure 1.  Holly Goddard and Cathy Seybold installing a soil-climate monitoring station on the high wall of the Wright Valley in Antarctica.


Josh Scarrow (Figure 2)  is continuing his MSc write-up of work undertaken in the Central Trans-Antarctic Mountains in the 10-11 summer supervised by Megan Balks at Waikato university and Peter Almond at Lincoln University. Josh, along with Fiona Shanhun (currently completing her PhD at Lincoln University on soil carbonates in the Antarctic) spent the 11/12 Austral summer working with the Australian Antarctic Programme undertaking soil/microbial related fieldwork in the deep field south of Australia’s Davis Station.  Josh is including some microbial DNA analysis work in his thesis, including for the southernmost soil on the planet, in collaboration with Prof. Craig Carey of Waikato University. 

Figure 2.  View of series of lateral moraines adjacent to the Dominion Range, along with photo of Josh Scarrow, in the Central Trans-Antarctic Mountains, Antarctica.


Antarctica New Zealand (the NZ Govt department that looks after Antarctic logistics and related matters) are currently working to establish a new “Antarctic Research Institute” for which they are seeking both New Zealand and international funding.  The proposed institute is intended to become a strong focus for New Zealand Antarctic Research. 

Tanya O’Neill is in the final phases of completing her PhD study of the recovery of Antarctic soils, following physical disturbance.  She is working in collaboration with Megan Balks and Jeronimo Lopez-Martinez. Tanya is presenting some of the results of her studies at the SCAR open Science conference in Portland.


Megan Balks


Sintef, NTNU and UNIS

Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU), University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and SINTEF, with NTNU as the host institution collaborate in the program for Sustainable Arctic Marine and Coastal Technology (SAMCoT). The work is organized with six Work Packages (WP’s) with one (WP6) on Coastal Technology (organized by Sintef) and one (WP1) on Collection and Analysis of Field Data and Properties (organized by UNIS). SAMCoT is partly funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the industry and is planned to be a 8 year program


The goal for WP6 is to develop guidelines needed by the industry for the design of environmentally friendly and sustainable coastal structures and technology. For this purpose there is a need to increase the understanding of physical mechanisms, with regards to ice, waves and warming permafrost, driving and controlling Arctic coastal erosion. Increased knowledge of these matters will form the basis for development and design of sustainable coastal structures and efficient erosion protection measures along permafrost coasts.

SINTEF and WP6 have since the start-up of SAMCoT in spring 2011 been searching for coastal research sites that would fulfil a number of pre-described terms and conditions. A natural choice for first search was Svalbard, where the cooperation between SINTEF and UNIS makes it possible to perform arctic field investigation on permafrost coasts supplied with excellent research infrastructure and easy access to several possible research sites, leading to the establishment of a field site at Vestpynten outside of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in 2012.

Figure 1: Eroding coastline of East-Siberian Sea (Photo: Michail Grigoriev, 2008)

Svalbard is yet not a main focus area regarding study of erosion mechanisms. For this field of research it is more interesting to study rates and erosion mechanisms for Arctic coasts with higher erosion rates, and also higher industrial interest, such as the north Russian coast. The scale of coastal degradation in Russia are exceeding all rates known in Svalbard and the complexity connected to ice features in soil, permafrost temperature and soil/ice/water interactions and processes favors the choice of Russian coasts for the purpose of studying the phenomena of arctic coast erosion. Together with the scientific partner Moscow State University (MSU), SINTEF and WP6 have established a research site at the western coast of Baydratskaya Bay in the summer 2012

1.    Field surveys and site establishment
During the summer 2011 SINTEF performed a coastal survey in the area around Longyearbyen and Svea, in order to take pictures, perform measurements and soil sampling for the purpose of establishing one or two main sites for study of arctic coastal mechanisms and rates. A set of described conditions for choosing sites was used with two scenarios in mind:
Establishment of fully instrumented sites
Establishment of satellites
Figure 2: Svalbard between 78° and 80°N           Figure 3: Visited areas in summer 2012

A fully instrumented site is defined as a site with all possible measurements required for studying erosion and potential erosion driving mechanisms, such waves, currents and sediment transport, temperature, other meteorological data, permafrost properties, permafrost properties and thermal properties. A satellite is described as a site where there are fewer, or none, data collecting installations, only periodic observations and field measurements. After the 2011survey, one main site was chosen; Vestpynten, 3 km west of Longyearbyen. This site was among other possible sites elected due to an interesting profile, exposure against open sea (wave action) and increased erosion over the last years found by analysing aerial photos between 1970’s and 2011. Together with UNIS the site was instrumented during spring season 2012 with thermistorstrings, piezometers and ADCP (deployed by Prof. Aleksy Marchenko, UNIS) for measurement of wave, currents and sea temperatures in the area. For documentation on erosion events a time elapsed camera is installed near the bluff. The PhD-study of Emilie Guegan, at NTNU, with supervisor Prof. Lars Grande is concerned with investigating the erosion mechanisms at Vestpynten.

Figure 4: Drilling for installation of thermistorstrings at Vestpynten, spring 2012 (Photo, Magne Wold (SINTEF)

Through the cooperation with MSU, two different areas were evaluated as possible research sites at the Northern Russia coast; Varandey and Baydaratskaya Bay. SINTEF was invited for a survey at Yamal Peninzula in June 2011 for a pre-study of coastal and permafrost challenges in the area. During fall and winter 2011-2012 plans was established for field work to be performed as joint activity Through the cooperation with MSU, two different areas were evaluated as possible research sites at the Northern Russia coast; Varandey and Baydaratskaya Bay. SINTEF was invited for a survey at Yamal Peninzula in June 2011 for a pre-study of coastal and permafrost challenges in the area. During fall and winter 2011-2012 plans was established for field work to be performed as joint activity

Figure 5: Varandey/Pesyakov Island , 2: Baydara Bay

For the Varandey alternative WP1 was included in the planning and left responsibility for all activities with SINTEF as scientific advisor in the preparatory and operatory stage of the excursion. Results from this excursion are not included in this paper.

2.    Data collection
In the first year most of the data collection is related to establish several sets of “zero points” especially connected to profile measurements. UNIS has via the SAMCoT project purchased and gained knowledge of a laser scanner which is a valuable tool for regular scanning with  fixed intervals, at Vestpynten, for the 3D coastal profiling. Operating and analysing results from the scanner is a part of PhD candidate David Wrangborg’s (supervised by Prof Aleksey Marchenko) and Post.doc Anatoly Sinitisins work in the SAMCoT WP1 at UNIS. In Baydaratskaya bay a series of profiles are established as manual measurements, and thermistors are installed and samples drilled, which also makes up the data background for two ongoing PhD studies at MSU.
PhD studies at MSU. For the two field sites mentioned above, both soil sampling, laboratory analyses and thermal profiling is a part of the total study. In Vestpynten a series of thermistor strings, measuring temperatures with short depth intervals, are installed to collect thermal data for the whole project period. In Baydaratskaya bay the temperature are measured on site with pre-defined intervals. An example of the coastal temperature nearby Vestpynten is presented in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Temperature profile near Vestpynten (source: SINTEF)

3. Future research
For the coming years in the SAMCoT project, WP 6, the field at Vestpynten will be followed up for measurements and analyses with regards to erosion, sea properties  and the thermal regime in yearly surveys. Measurements at the satellite sites will be carried out according to initial plans and possible new research fields could be established. For the Baydaratskaya bay site yearly surveys are planned to follow up and expand data collection and analyses for the next years as cooperation activity between SINTEF and MSU.
All data collected from the SAMCoT sites will, as deliverable from task 6.1, be used to couple existing, or establish, modelling tools with purpose to model erosion mechanisms and predict erosion rates.


 Figure 7:Permafrost bluff in Baydaratskaya bay (Photo Anatoly Bruchkov, MSU)

Norwegian Meteorological Institute
At PACE drill site Juvvasshøe in southern Norway two digital network cameras and a snow depth sensor were installed as part of the Klimapark2469 high mountain climate monitoring programme (R. Ødegård, K. Isaksen, E. Finstad). In addition a net radiometer was installed at Juvvasshøe to measure the energy balance between incoming short-wave and long-wave far infrared radiation versus surface-re?ected short-wave and outgoing long-wave radiation. This instrument was financed by the CRYOMET-project, led by University of Oslo (B. Etzelmüller).

A new official weather station was established by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute at the mountain Fannaråki (2062 m a.s.l.) in August 2012. A key objective is to link the old observations (1932-1978) at Fannaråki to currently operating mountain stations and establish a long-term series representative for the high mountains of southern Norway, and to study how the mountain climate has varied over the past 80 years (K. Isaksen, Ø. Nordli). Data is available at yr.no.

On Dovrefjell, southern Norway, collection of temperature data was continued 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 analyse and model the trend and variability of mean annual ground temperatures and to evaluate the influence of the snow cover in a high mountain terrain (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, T. Eiken). 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).
In the Troms and Møre and Romsdal area of northern and southern Norway respectively, temperature data collection were continued in a permafrost and climate monitoring project on unstable rock slopes in Norway. The project was established in 2001. (K. Isaksen, T. Eiken, L.H. Blikra).

Figure 8: New measurement station at Fannaraki (photo: met.no)

Geology Department, UNIS
In 2012 the periglacial research group in the Geology Department of The University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS, bought a medium sized drill rig for obtaining permafrost cores as part of several research projects. It was tested in the polar night of January, and we then ran a 14 day winter drilling campaign in March-April, in which we collected 30 m permafrost cores from various periglacial landforms in the Adventdalen area. In May the drill rig travelled to Greenland enabling collaboration on permafrost coring in the Zackenberg area in NE Greenland in end of summer, where another 14 day permafrost coring campaign was run.

Markus Eckerstorfer has finished his Ph.D. study with the thesis: ‘Snow avalanches in central Svalbard: A field study of meteorological and topographical triggering factors and geomorphological significance’. In the DEFROST Nordic Centre of Excellence research network, Ph.D. student Jordan Mertes established several new field installations during 2012 both in Svalbard and in NE Greenland. EU project PAGE21 Ph.D. stud. Stefanie Härtel has in 2012 collected permafrost cores in Svalbard and NE Greenland totalling 60 m for detailed cryostratigraphical studies. This she is conducting these studies at the University of Copenhagen at Center for Permafrost, CENPERM. This is a Danish basic research centre, in which also Hanne Christiansen has started in a 20 % position in summer 2012, increasing our collaboration between Svalbard and Greenland on permafrost research.
In 2012 we started a new permafrost remote sensing project, coordinated by the Northern Research Institute, Norut in Norway. It is called PermaSAR: SAR detection of permafrost landscape changes in northern Norway and on Svalbard. In this we aim to upscale field based periglacial landform measurements to landscape scale testing how the InSAR technique will work for various landforms.

UNIS is a partner in the Perma-Nordnet Nordic Council of Ministers cooperation programme supported 3 year education and research collaboration project coordinated by Bernd Etzelmuller, University of Oslo. In the Norwegian US collaboration project on permafrost, SVALASKA, funded by the Norwegian Research Councils POLRES programme, 5 US permafrost researchers and senior students attended and/or taught on the SVALASKA & Perma-Nordnet Ph.D. permafrost modeling course based at University of Oslo in June 2012. The SVALASKA US participants also attended the following joint SVALASKA & Perma-Nordnet field excursion across S Norway studying mountain permafrost.

Figure 9: The new permafrost drill rig work in Adventdalen, Svalbard, 3. April 2012

Physical Geography, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

In 2012 a new project was started called “CRYOMET – Bridging models for the terrestrial cryosphere and the atmosphere” (Bernd Etzelmüller, Sebastian Westermann, Thomas V. Schuler). The project collaborates with climate modellers to overcome the scale gap between climate and permafrost models, and main focus is snow cover and snow re-distribution.
The study sites are Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard, Jotunheimen in southern Norway and Iskoras/Finmark in northern Norway. At all sites our permafrost monitoring program has been continued. In Mongolia we have started a new collaboration with Yamkhin Jambaljav, Institute of Geography, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and Mamoro Ishikawa, Graduate School of Environmental Science Hokkaido University, Japan, about permafrost modelling in Mongolia, which included visits and field work participation during summer 2012 (Sebastain Westermann).
A project on mountain meteorology, snow cover, vegetation, ground temperatures and interaction between permafrost and glaciers in southern Norway has been continued (O. Humlum).


Different aspects of permafrost were investigated in 2012 in two areas: the Tatra Mountains and on Spitsbergen.
The Tatra Mountains are a zone of random occurrence of permafrost. Investigations in the area were carried out by permafrost researchers from the University of Silesia (Sosnowiec) and from the University of Science and Technology (Kraków).

The scientists from the University of Silesia studied in 2012 the ground thermal regimes in the sporadic permafrost occurrence zone under climate change conditions (including importance of snow cover and ventilation processes) (Gadek, 2012; Gadek and Leszkiewicz, 2012).
The University of Science and Technology continued in 2012 recording (started in 2004) of the ground temperature at the depths of 0, 20 and 50 cm and air temperature (200 cm agl.) at two sites on the northern slopes of Mt. Swinica (1,950 – 2,000 m a.s.l.) and at one site in the Kozia Dolinka valley (1,950 m a.s.l.) in the Tatra Mts. The temperature was logged permanently all year round at two-hour intervals. In the season of 2012, in-snow temperature studies (started in 2011) were continued in Hala Gasienicowa. A set of  12 loggers measured temperature every 5 cm at 30-minute intervals.
On Spitsbergen, measurements of the active layer depth of permafrost, its thermal conditions, as well as its dynamics were carried out at the sites included in the CALM project (Site P1 Calypsostranda – the base of the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University (Lublin) (Fig. 1) and Site P2 (A-C) – Kaffiøyra – the station of the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Torun) (Fig. 2). In Kaffiøyra the ground temperature was also measured at standard depths to 1-2 m in three different ecotopes: the beach, the moraine and the tundra (see Fig. 2).

Figure 1                                              Figure 2

In addition, the researchers from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan continued during the field season 2012 previous studies on permafrost and periglacial processes in the Ebba valley located on the eastern coast of Petuniabukta, northern tip of Billefiorden in Central Spitsbergen (Svalbard). Investigations were the part of the established long term monitoring of the permafrost active layer temperature measured at two sites (since 2005), four times a day, with the use of thermistors at the depths: dry site – 5; 10; 20; 50; 75; 100 cm below the ground, wet site – 5; 10; 20; 27 cm below the ground. The observations period lasted from July 12 until September 15. Additionally, results from temperature loggers located in vertical ground profiles, collecting data for the overwintering time 2011/2012 at three locations (dry site, wet site and bare-ground site in the central part of the valley) were collected. Loggers, with sampling period 1h, were located at the depths of 5; 10; 20; 50 and 100 cm below the ground, but not all of them revealed the year round record. Additionally to ground temperature registration meteorological data were also collected from automatic weather stations during the summer/fall season of observations and one of the stations, colleting year round data, was located at the altitude of 500 m a.s.l. on one of neighboring glaciers (Svenbreen).
Slope periglacial processes were registered on the example of active layer detachments (ALD) on the southern slope of Ebba valley. The structure of above permafrost table deposition and deformations was described and sediment samples were taken for further analysis. The relation between ALD’s activity and plant cover was registered (in terms of dendro-geomorphology based on Dryas Octopetala and Salix Polaris tree rings differentiation). Eolian processes were investigated in the scope of: 1. their activity in relation to anemometric conditions in different parts of the valley, 2. deposition of eolian sediments within the slope and valley bottom covers, 3. contemporary transported particles trapping and 4. intensity of corasive activity on especially polished for this purpose rock surfaces. (Main investigators involved in the studies were: Agata Buchwal, Jakub Malecki, Grzegorz Rachlewicz, Krzysztof Rymer, Lilianna Siekacz).
Besides field research, theoretical and critical studies of permafrost and cryospheric terms and definitions were conducted by W. Dobinski. A clarification and a new usage of selected terms was suggested (for details see Dobinski W., 2012a-c).



Dobinski W., 2012a, Permafrost. The contemporary meaning of the term and its consequences. Bulletin of Geography, Physical Geography Series, 5 (in press).

Dobinski W., 2012b, Kryosphere and Glacial Permafrost as Its Integral Component. Central European Journal of Geosciences 4, 4, (in press).

Dobinski W., 2012, The concept of cryo-conditioning in landscape evolution – comment to the paper published by Ivar Berthling and Bernd Etzelmüller, Quaternary Research 77, 211-212.

Gadek B., 2012, Debris slopes ventilation in the periglacial zone of the Tatra Mountains (Poland and Slovakia): The indicators. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 74-75, 1-10.

Gadek B., Leszkiewicz J., 2012, Impact of climate warming on the ground surface temperature in the sporadic permafrost zone of the Tatra Mountains, Poland and Slovakia. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 79-80, 75-83.

Rajmund Przybylak

based on annual reports sent by W. Dobinski,  B. Gadek, W. Moscicki, G. Rachlewicz, and P. Zagórski


Portuguese research on contemporary permafrost environments in 2012 developed in the Antarctic Peninsula region (projects SNOWCHANGE and PERMANTAR-2) and Svalbard (Project ANAPOLIS).

Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of periglacial environments has been conducted in the South Shetlands (Project HOLOANTAR) and the Central Cordillera in Portugal (ongoing PhD thesis). Antarctic activities have been framed in the new Portuguese Polar Program (PROPOLAR) funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT). The activities are summarized below. A new 2-year project on focusing on permafrost research in the Antarctic Peninsula region (PERMANTAR-3) has been approved by the FCT and will start in 2013.

The 4th European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP4) to take place in Évora (18-21 June 2014) has been approved as the next IPA Regional Conference, at the IPA Council Meetings during TICOP. The international scientific committee has been implemented and the conference website with the on-line pre-registration form is now available at http://www.eucop4.org.

The project Snowpatch dynamics and the changing permafrost environment (SNOWCHANGE) coordinated by G. Vieira (CEG/IGOT – University of Lisbon) had field activities in January 2012 in Fildes Peninsula (King George Island, Antarctic Peninsula). The objectives of the field work were ground truthing of snow patch properties, terrain types and sediment sampling near snow patches. TerraSAR-X spotlight mode scenes have been acquired at the time of snow pit surveying and are evaluated for assessing their applicability for snow mapping in the cloudy Maritime Antarctic environments. Mapping of lichens using high resolution satellite imagery and their use as bioindicators of snow conditions is being evaluated. An hyperspectral camera has been tested in order to assess on the potential to discriminate vegetation and snow properties. The results of the project will allow to better monitor the dynamics of the snow cover in the region and hence, integrate the data on permafrost modelling.

The project Permafrost and Climate Change in the Maritime Antarctic (PERMANTAR-2 – http://www.antecc.org) coordinated by G. Vieira had field activities from December 2011 to March 2012, with campaigns in Deception Island, Livingston Island, Anvers Island and Cierva Cove. Besides maintenance of existing permafrost and active layer monitoring infrastructure,  electrical resistivity surveying and detailed geomorphological mapping were conducted. Major outcomes of the project during this season were two new permafrost boreholes drilled in collaboration with James Bockheim (University of Wisconsin-Madison) in a cooperative NSF and FCT project. A 15m deep borehole was drilled in bedrock near Palmer Station in Amsler Island and a 16m borehole was drilled in Cierva Cove not far from the Argentinean Station Primavera. In the sequence of these observations, a new regional synthesis has been published in Global and Planetary Change (Bockheim et al. 2013).

The project Analysis of polygonal terrains on Mars based on Earth analogues (ANAPOLIS – http://planetsci-cerena.weebly.com/anapolis.html) coordinated by Pedro Pina (CERENA – Technical University of Lisbon), which is a partnership with Hanne Christiansen (UNIS-Norway) continued its activities in Adventdalen (Svalbard), focusing on characterization and mapping of ice-wedge polygons from high resolution remote sensing and in situ observations.

Late Holocene Evolution of the South Shetlands Permafrost Environment (HOLOANTAR – http://holoantar.weebly.com) is a new project led by Marc Oliva (CEG/IGOT – University of Lisbon) that focus on lake sediment coring and analysis in the South Shetlands. The first campaign took place in King George Island in January-February 2012, with lake coring in Barton and Potter Peninsulas. The second campaign took place in November 2012 in Byers Peninsula (Livingston Island), the largest ice-free area of the South Shetlands, in cooperation with the Brazilean project Criossolos. 4 new cores have been collected suming up over 17 m of sediment.

Periglacial slope deposits of the serra da Estrela (Central Portugal) are being studied by the CEG/IGOT – University of Lisbon and are the subject of the ongoing PhD research by Alexandre Trindade. Research focuses on macro and microfabrics, with an emphasis on micromorphology, with the objective of identifying cryogenic features and the paleo zonation of permafrost in the mountain.
The Luso-Brazilean programe for research on permafrost and terrestrial ecosystems of the Maritime Antarctic, funded by FCT-CAPES, continued during 2012. The project is a partnership of the universities of Lisbon and Évora (Portugal) and Federal of Viçosa and Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Exchanges of researchers and PhD students took place and field campaigns were organized together in the framework of projects Permantar-2, Holoantar and Criossolos. A short course on cryosols took place at the University of Lisbon by Carlos Schaefer and another on electrical resistivity surveying took place at the Federal University of Viçosa by António Correia.

Gonçalo Vieira


A Permafrost Potential Post (aka PPP) In 2012, Romanian geomorphological activities associated on the periglacial and permafrost domain,  generally, continued activities of the previous year.
West University of Timisoara team (Petru Urdea, Alexandru Onaca, Florina Ardelean, Cristian Ardelean, David Serban, Flavius Sârbu, Patrick Chiroiu, Roxana Putan, Mircea Ardelean) focused its work on following aspects:

1. Rock glaciers: BTS measurements in Retezat and Parâng Mountains, ground temperatures monitoring in Retezat, Parâng, Iezer and Tarcu Mountains,  Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) investigations in Detunata Mountain (Apuseni Mountains), Fagaras and Parâng Mountains and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) investigations  in Fagaras and Parâng Mountains;
2. Rock Wall Temperature monitoring in the alpine area of  Fagaras, Retezat (Fig. 1) and Piatra Craiului Mountains;


Fig. 1. Instalation of the thermistors for rock wall temperature monitoring in Retezat Mts.  (Photo, C. Ardelean).

3. Dynamic rates of  solifluction lobes (Fagaras, Sureanu (Fig. 2) and ParângMountains), block streams (Fagaras,Retezat, Parâng and Tarcu Mountains), ploughing blocks (Muntele Mic and Parâng Mountains), earth hummocks (Muntele Mic), scree slope (Fagaras Mountains) and talus cones Parâng Mountains);

Fig. 2. Measurements on the solifluxion lobe in Sureanu Mts.  (Photo, F. Ardelean).

4. Geophysical investigations (ERT, GPR, self potential, magnetic susceptibility, thermal conductivity  and temperatures) of internal structure of periglacial landforms (earth hummocks, solifluction lobes, block streams);
5. Weathering effects on the granitic tor (Muntele Mic);
6. Investigations on  dynamic and ages of slope processes by dendrogeomorphological techniques (Detunata Mountain – Fig. 3 – and Fagaras Mountains).

Fig. 3. Dendrogeomorphological investigations in Detunata Mountain (Photo A. Onaca).

Also, P Urdea made investigations on the glacial and periglacial forms in some area of Southerrn Carpathians, like Gugu Mountains (Godeanu Mountains) (Fig. 4) and Latoritei Mountains, and on the Pleistocene periglacial forms in Vladeasa Mountains (1836 m; Apuseni Mountains) (Fig. 5).

Fig. 4 a & b. Embrionic rockglaciers (a) and solifluction terracetes in Godeanu Mts (b). (Photo P. Urdea).

Fig. 5. Block streams in Vladeasa Mts. (Photo, P. Urdea).

At the University of Bucharest, permafrost and periglacial research successfully continued in 2012 even though no dedicated research project exists yet.
Thermal investigations in rock glaciers and talus slopes (ground surface temperature, bottom temperature of winter snow cover and summer spring temperature) continued and were extended in the Iezer Massif besides the Retezat, Parang and Fagaras. The number of rock glaciers where GST data exist increased to 25 and on four rock glaciers four years of continuous thermal data are already available.
Measurements of permafrost creep were extended to Judele rock glacier from Retezat Mountains, which has a high probability to be active (Fig. 6). 

Fig. 6. Geodetic survey for the identification of permafrost creep on Judele rock glacier from Retezat Massif, august 2012 (Photo,  A. Vespremeanu -Stroe).

The quantification of rock glaciers porosity was initiated by measuring the clasts size and shape on a 16 m2 surface in different places considered representative for two opposed rock glaciers from Parang and Fagaras Massifs.
The investigations at the low altitude permafrost site of Detunata Goala (around 1050 m) from Apuseni Mountains also continued in order to explain the permafrost existence here. In March we performed BTS investigations which were allowed by the unusual thick snow cover, mapping of snow funnels distribution and hourly temperature measurements in snow funnels to reveal the air circulation pattern.
The group involved in periglacial research continued and extended the monitoring of rockwall weathering by periglacial processes in the Southern Carpathians. The thermistors network has been increased to 40 locations where rockwall thermal oscillations are measured on an altitudinal range of 1200 meters, covering the major expositions. Four extensometers are also on the set. Except for analyzing frost propagation and behaviour by depth, exposure and declivity of the rock faces, the challenge is to quantify the intensity of frost weathering on the northern and southern slopes, using our data, and related to the denudation patterns on these exposures. Also, the effect of thermal shock on rock faces during hot summer days in alpine environments is a new topic that we are investigating, using in situ measurements of rock surface temperature, air temperature and humidity, solar radiation. The purpose is to determine the frequency of thermal shock conditions in the months with high thermal values in correspondence with day-time rainfalls and the importance they may have in overall rock weathering in mountain environments (i.e. comparing to freeze-thaw effects). This analysis could also be applied during diurnal frost intervals.
Also, a new attempt is to start a study on the contemporary dynamics of debris flows and rockfalls in the Southern Carpathians, integrating distribution, activity for the first and frequency, susceptibility for the second.
Aurel Persoiu from ,,Stefan cel Mare’’ University of Suceava remained still interested on the specfic problems of perrenial ice caves Scarisoara, Focul Viu and Bortigu (Apuseni Mountains), like cave ice: a new proxy for palaeoprecipitation reconstructions, natural to anthropogenic effect in the last 2000 years, disentangling between karstic and glaciologic processes in caves, Monitoring climatic parameters and stable isotopic composition of water and ice.
At the Annual Symposium on Geomorphology (14-17 June 2012, Baru,  Hunedoara County) , organized by the Dept. of Geography of the West University of Timisoara, a special field trip was dedicated to the glacial and periglacial landform of the Jiul de Vest basin (Western South Carpathians), with special attention to the palsa forms of Soarbele Valley (Godeanu Mountains) (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7.Participant on the ,,palsa’’ field trip, Soarbele Valley (Godeanu Mts.).

Petru Urdea (urdea@cbg.uvt.ro)

South Korea

 Korea Polar Research Institute
A new research project started on June 2011 supported by Korea MEST (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology): Establishment of Circum Arctic Permafrost Environment Change Monitoring Network and Future Prediction Techniques (CAPEC Project, PI Dr. Bang Yong Lee)

Through this project, we have a plan to establish Arctic monitoring nodes to study environmental changes and develop the state-of-the-art observation techniques for terrestrial permafrost region. This monitoring project includes atmosphere-pedosphere-biosphere monitoring system with Ubiquitous Sensor Network (USN) and GPS monitoring. The research aim of this project is (1) Understanding the correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes with soil properties, (2) Estimating the contribution of microbial respiration, and plant photosynthesis and respiration to the CO2 production from soil (3) Understanding geophysical and mechanical behavior of frozen ground correlated with environmental change. On the basis of KAMP (Korea Arctic Multidisciplinary Program) and CAPEC project, we did Arctic exploration on five different research sites in this spring and summer: Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard Archipelago; Zackenberg, Greenland; Barrow and Council, Alaska; and Cambridge Bay, Canada.


We publish a book titled <Arctic Tundra Plants>. This book covers 27 family and 95 species of vascular plants and provides about 530 photos of Arctic plants that grow in Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, Council in Alaska, Zackenberg in Greenland, and Cambridge Bay in Canada during the summers from 2010 to 2012. When comparing the four different regions, some plants are distributed widely across the Arctic regions, and others grow only in specific areas. Some plants grow only in the Arctic and alpine regions, and others grow in temperate region as well as the Arctic tundra.

Arctic Tundra Plants

Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard Archipelago
For continuous and simultaneous monitoring for the exchanges of CO2 and CH4 between the atmosphere and the permafrost, cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS) was added to the eddy covariance system (setup on September, 2011) on Amundsen-Nobile Climate Change Tower through the collaboration with CNR, Italy on May, 2012. Open-path CH4 analyzer was also mounted for its performance comparison with that from CRDS. The eddy covariance system is monitored via. The internet at the KOPRI and its maintenance is performed by CNR colleague and Kings Bay at the site.
We revisited the area of Vestre Lovenbreen where different vegetation types were established to collect soil samples for verifying the results from last year. We also set up five open top chambers (the ITEX corner type) in the area of Dryas octopetala to investigate the effects of warming on plants and soil microbes. We are planning to monitor the warming effects in the long-term period and obtained baseline soil samples this year. In addition, we looked around the Austre Lovenbreen region with Dr. Florian Tolle (Univ. of Franche-Comté) and Alexander Prokop (Univ. of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) for the study of soil and microorganisms along the glacier retreat in next year.

Eddy covariance flux system at a height of 22 m (LHS) and Cavity Ring-down Spectrometer in the cabinet (RHS) at Amundsen-Nobile Climate Change Tower


Zackenberg, Greenland
We have conducted a continuous project of the effects of climate manipulation on soil organic carbon and microbial community since last year. Prof. Anders Michelsen (Univ. of Copenhagen) established climate manipulation plots (treatments: summer warming, shaded, added snow, removed snow, and control) under Salix arctica and Cassiope tetragona in 2004. We collected soil samples from the Cassiope plots last year and from the Salix plots this year.

Field trip in Barrow Environmental Observation (Sungjin Nam from KOPRI)

Barrow, Alaska
One KOPRI member participated in the field trip from the NGEE (Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments) Arctic project in April to learn more about soil coring in permafrost regions. Permafrost coring was conducted in Barrow Environmental Observation (BEO), Alaska during five days. The NGEE Arctic research team collected about 20 permafrost core samples using the SIPRI soil corer and a hydraulic drill rig from two areas with different microtopography in BEO: high-centered polygon and low-centered polygon. We got one permafrost core collected from the center of high-centered polygon. We appreciate Dr. Larry Hinzman (International Arctic Research Center) arranging the trip to BEO for us.

Automated chamber system and Eddy covariance flux system at Council, Alaska


Council, Alaska
To quantify net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE) and to understand the role of each ecosystem component on the NEE at the study site, eddy covariance flux system was setup on late June in 2012 and operated with automated chamber system simultaneously. Eddy covariance flux system consists of 3-D sonic anemometer and open-path CO2/H2O gas analyzer and a net radiometer. In the meanwhile, chamber system, consisting of 15 chambers (40 cm × 30 cm), gas analyzer and control board was operated in main vegetation (i.e. vascular plant and moss, tussock and lichen) near the flux tower. While eddy covariance system is set to be operated from March to October due to lack of power, chamber system is operated from late June to mid September at the moment.
We collected soil cores (about one meter depth) using the SIPRI soil corer in order to investigate differences of microbial community structure and soil properties between the active and permafrost layers. We selected five sites to collect soil core samples based on the last year research results from electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) monitoring system in September (three sites) and from different soil texture (two sites). We took three cores from each site for replication after surveying plant composition and collecting gas samples emitted from ground during 1 hour with 15 minutes intervals.

Soil core sample (about 80 cm depth)

Cambridge Bay, Canada

For long-term monitoring for CO2 and energy exchanges between the atmosphere and the ecosystem at the site, eddy covariance flux system together with a net radiometer was set up at the height of 5 m on a tower of Environment Canada about 50 m away from the climate manipulation plots in early July this year (69o7’47.7″N, 105o3’35.3″W). Maintenance of and data retrieval from the flux system are supported by Hamlet of Cambridge through regular visit to the site every two weeks. In near future, this flux system will be extended to monitor CO2 and CH4 simultaneously.
To monitor the effects of climate change, we set up the climate manipulation plots this year. It is expected that temperature and precipitation will be increasing in this region in the future. Thus, we set up the factorial experiment with the factors of warming and increased precipitation. The hexagon types of open top chambers (OTCs) in 2 m diameter were used to increase temperature, and 2 L of water/plot (area 4 m2) was added every week from mid July to the end of September to manipulate precipitation. The chambers were removed at the end of growing season to avoid the side effects of OTCs during winter and will be reinstalled in next spring. Before setting up the climate manipulation plots, we surveyed the active layer depth with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and plant composition, and collected soil samples (0-5 and 5-10 cm depths) to use baseline data.


Eddy covariance flux system setup on Cambridge Bay on July 1st, 2012 (left picture)

The open top chamber Atmospheric temperature and humidity, soil temperature and moisture have been recorded through several sensors and data loggers (right picture)

Yoo Kyung Lee (yklee@kopri.re.kr)


The Spanish groups of IPA-Spain continue with the periglacial researches beginning in the last years. The researches are centered in Antarctica, Arctic, Andes and Iberian mountains. During 2012 several activities have been developed by means of big efforts of researcher caused by the lack of funds and financial support for research in Spain, which is seriously endangering the continuity of research on the cryosphere and the Spanish community participation in the activities of the IPA.


The University of Barcelona (leaded by Dr. Antonio Gómez Ortiz) continues monitoring works in the Corral del Veleta rock glacier (Sierra Nevada, 3150 m). From 2001 the rock glacier dynamic and the relict ice and permafrost degradation is studied. The results show an unbalanced behaviour. Between 2009 and 2011 any movement nor degradation was measured because the snow cover (2,5 m depth) remained all summer. During 2011-2012 period the rock glacier newly moved and degraded, recording degradation values around  32 cm at its central in the central part.

The research team GFAM (Complutense University), in collaboration with KenjiYoshikawa (University of Alaska Fairbanks) has been drilling boreholes (3 to 10 m depth) in tropical volcanoes (Chachani and Coropuna in Peru, and Iztaccihualt, in Mexico) over the past year to monitor permafrost dynamics. Another part of the work has been the study of different active rock glaciers in the Trollaskagi peninsula,in northern Iceland,using lichenometry and photogrammetry to study their origin and dynamics. The group has also continued to date periglacial landforms, mainly relict rock glaciers in different climatic settings (Arctic, Template and Tropical mountains), to understand their origin and relationship to paleoclimatic periods and to the deglaciation process of the mountains where they are found.
During 2009 the PANGEA Research group (University of Valladolid, collaborating with University of Extremadura, University of Basque Country, Saint Louis University and CES-ALFA Speleological Studies Centre), have made several field work in Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains. Appling DGPS, Laser-Scanner and soils thermal regimes (dattalogger) have been studied the dynamic and permafrost distribution on high mountain environments. Control on protalus lobe, rock glaciers, debris lobes and cones, ice-patches and ice caves have been developed during the 2012 summer. This year have finished works on rock glaciers, where the group is working during the last 10 years (Posets) and six years (Maladeta).

Photo 1. Field work by Laser Scanning on rock glaciers in the La Paúl valley, Posets Massifs, Pyrenees, Spain.

During summer 2012 have been made by first time combined works of thermography and laser scanner in ice caves, and orthotermographies of Castil Ice Cave (Photo 2.) in the Picos de Europa have been obtained. Finally, Ramón Pellitero, researcher of the University of Valladolid has presented his doctoral thesis which deals with ancient cold environments, current periglacial processes and the snow processes in the mountains of Alto Carrión (Cantabrian Mountain, Spain).

Photo 2. Laser-Scanner works and TDM in the Castil Ice Cave (Picos de Europa, Spain) made by Manuel Gómez (UVa) and Fernando Sampere (UEX) as part of the project.

Members of the GEOPANT-2011 project (Research Group on Geosciences and Antarctica, UAM), take part in the fieldwork in South Shetland Island during the winter 2012-2013. Leaded by Jerónimo López-Martínez (University Autónoma of Madrid), Juan José Durán (IGME), Thomas Schmidt (CIEMAT) and Tanya O´Neill (University of Waikato) are working on the field about distribution of permafrost and groundwater flows, and also the effects of human activities on soil and terrain surface. The methodology applied in the human impact have been developed and applied previously in East Antarctica, and now it will be applied in Maritime Antarctica. The field work is oriented also to obtain field data to work with Radarsat-2 satellite images on periglacial and permafrost environments in ice free areas of Maritime Antarctica.

Marc Oliva, leader of the project Holocene Environmental Change in the Maritime Antarctic. Interactions between permafrost and the lacustrine environment  HOLOANTAR, developed in the University of Lisbon, and member of the University of Barcelona research Group have been working in Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island. The Byers expedition has been formed by a multidisciplinary group collaborating researchers of the Earth Science Institute Jaume Almera (CSIC) and they are worked in obtain lake sediments cores of the Byers peninsula lacustrine complex. The main objective of fieldwork is to derive high-resolution proxy data from Byers lake sediments and reconstruct, for the past, the landscape changes. The influence of permafrost and active layer dynamics in the area in the last millennium will be interpreted taking into account the relationship between the current geomorphological processes.

Department of Physics of the University of Alcalá de Henares develop research in Antarctic leaded by Miguel Ramos, in collaboration with the University of Lisbon,  focusing on the study of the evolution of the thermal active layer in polar permafrost of Livingston (62º39’S, 60º21’W) and Deception (62º43’S, 60º57’W) islands in the Maritime Antarctic. The works are coordinates with international networks CALM-S (Circum-polar Active Layer Monitoring) and GTN-P (Global Terrestrial Network – Permafrost) in order to attain long-term data series. Two researchers of the Antarctic Project ANTARPERMA (University of Alcalá de Henares), Miguel Ángel de Pablo, leader of the project, and Antonio Molina, have participated in the Antarctic fieldwork. The objective of 2012-2013 fieldwork is to maintain the equipments to soil and permafrost measurements, to add new measurements on active layer depth and collect data on experiments begin the last fieldwork.

Miguel Ramos (University of Alcalá de Henares), an active partner of the IPA is, from 2012, the President of the Crysopheric Sciences Spanish Comission, dependent of the Fomento Ministry (Spain Government). From 25 to 28 June was held in San Sebastián (Spain) the 7ª Spain-Portugal Assembly on Geodesy and Geophiscis where a session related to permafrost and glaciology was developed.

The biannual hispano-portuguese workshop, the “IV Iberian Meeting on Permafrost” will hold on June 2013, in the Pyrenees, organized by the University of Barcelona Research Group (2009SGR868). Participants in this event will cover topics as alpine permafrost, past periglacial environments, polar permafrost and periglacial proceses and landscape dynamics in the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, Cantabrian Mountains, central System, Antarctica, Arctic and Andean Cordillera or Mars, joint to other news subjects of Iberian young researchers.

Enrique Serrano

United Kingdom

NERC Arctic Research Programme
Two permafrost grants have been awarded in 2012 as part of NERC’s Arctic Research Programme 2010–15:

Carbon Cycling Linkages of Permafrost Systems (CYCLOPS). The ultimate aim of the proposed project is to develop, parameterise and evaluate a detailed process-based model of vegetation-soil-permafrost interactions using data collected through directed field campaigns in the discontinuous and sporadic permafrost zones of western Canada, and data available from Alaskan tundra in the continuous permafrost zone. Site selection near Whitehorse and Yellowknife, in collaboration with Toni Lewkowicz (Ottawa), Chris Burn (Carleton) and Steve Wolfe (Geological Survey of Canada), was carried out in August 2012. The project is lead by Mathew Williams (Edinburgh), in collaboration with Gareth Phoenix (Sheffield), Iain Hartley and Dan Charman (Exeter), Richard Essery (Edinburgh) and Julian Murton (Sussex).

Permafrost catchments in transition: hydrological controls on carbon cycling and greenhouse gas budgets (HYDRA). The key objective is to quantify and understand the biotic and abiotic controls on C fluxes in permafrost environments, with particular emphasis on the interface between the water and C cycles, and on the implications for global radiative-forcing. Sites reconnaissance in the Whitehorse and Inuvik areas of Canada was carried out during August and September of 2012, with Project Partners Steve Kokelj (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), Toni Lewkowicz (Ottawa) and Phil Marsh (Environment Canada). The project is lead by Phil Wookey (Sheffield), in collaboration with Jens Subke (Stirling), Mike Billett and Kerry Dinsmore (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Doerthe Tetzlaff and Pete Smith (Aberdeen), and Bob Baxter (Durham).


Monitoring the thermal state of permafrost by automated time-lapse Capacitive Resistivity Imaging

At the University of Sussex Permafrost Laboratory, geophysical experiments are ongoing as part of the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Technology Proof of Concept Programme. The aim of the experiments is to test the technical feasibility of undertaking time-lapse tomographic measurements using permanent, in-situ capacitive sensors to remotely monitor permafrost temperatures. The sensors are placed on the rock surface, as distinct from galvanic sensors drilled into the rock and subject to ice-induced disturbance or variable electrical contact. Results from capacitive sensors are compared with those from galvanic electrodes used for time-lapse Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) in blocks of soft and hard limestone subject to one-sided and two-sided freezing. It is hoped that this will lead to significant improvements in monitoring capability, both for permafrost simulation experiments in the laboratory and for practical applications in the field (e.g. monitoring of thaw-sensitive alpine permafrost in Europe). The research has been funded by a NERC grant to Oliver Kuras, Paul Wilkinson, Phil Meldrum, Ed Haslam and Simon Holyoake (British Geological Survey), Julian Murton (University of Sussex) and Michael Krautblatter (Technical University of Munich), and is being carried out by this interdisciplinary team, which also includes Tim Cane, Phil Watson and Barry Jackson (University of Sussex). Preliminary results were presented at the December 2012 AGU meeting.

Please contact the Working Party Officers if you have any queries or suggestions related to the Working Party: Chair, Chris Martin (christopher.martin@uk.bp.com); Editor, Prof. Jim Griffiths (jim.griffiths@plymouth.ac.uk); or Secretary, Anna Morley (anna.morley@arup.com).

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

United States of America


Members of USPA assisted in review and final page production of several TICOP proceedings volumes and with the financial assistance of BP and Arctic Foundations Inc.


Dave Swanson, National Park Service, Fairbanks, Alaska, continued monitoring the growth of retrogressive thaw slumps across the Noatak National Preserve in northwestern Alaska by 3D stereo-photo analysis. The NPS now has three years of data at 18 slumps. Many slumps continued rapid growth by escarpment retreat of over 20 m between 2011 and 2012.
NPS physical scientists Pam Sousanes and Ken Hill completed installation of 15 climate monitoring stations distributed around the five National Parks in northwestern Alaska. In addition to atmospheric climate data, these stations collect soil temperatures year-round down to 50 cm depth. In addition, the USDA-NRCS SNOTEL station in the Noatak National Preserve has recently been upgraded with soil temperature sensors.

Figure 1: Aerial photograph of a retrogressive thaw slump on the Noatak River in the Noatak National Preserve, September, 2012. The escarpment of this slump retreated as much as 30 m between July 2011 and September 2012, releasing approximately 50,000 m3 of material as the slump grew to cover 3.5 ha

The University of Alaska Anchorage offers on-line Arctic Engineering courses, including Frozen Ground Engineering, to graduate level students around the world (http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/schoolofengineering/programs/arctic/) The courses are also listed in the University of the Arctic Catalogue and are available to all students in the member institutions. The ASTM International is publishing a Selected Technical Papers (STP), an online and printed publication on the papers submitted to the ASTM International Symposium on Mechanical Properties of Frozen Soil held in Jacksonville, Florida, Jan. 31, 2013. Contact the Symposium Chair at HKZUbeck@ uaa.alsaka.edu with questions.


Adrian McCallum, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, worked with the Australian Antarctic Division in identifying options for sustained use of a road over permanent ice at Australia’s Casey Station, Antarctica. The road to the Station consists of gravel that is deposited seasonally over 2 to 3 m of perennial ice. However, ongoing maintenance of the road is unsustainable because local-sourcing of gravel will shortly not be possible. Therefore, implementation of a ‘passive’, thermally isolated road over the existing or similar road alignment was recommended; a design that: preserves the integrity of the ice sub-grade through the use of insulation, isolates the erosive and warming effect of melt water, provides the means for retention and preservation of a gravel drainage layer, and allows for ongoing use by both wheeled and tracked vehicles. Adoption of well-established northern hemisphere practices in Antarctica can assist in the cost-effective development and sustainment of polar infrastructure.


Figure 2: Image shows excavation of site to verify stratigraphy suggested via GPR.

Permafrost microbial ecology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Janet K. Jansson, Senior Staff Scientist and Ecosystems Biology Program Lead in the Earth Sciences Division, LBNL and co-workers have several ongoing projects focused on the impact of climate change on permafrost in the arctic. The projects include the DOE-funded Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) –Arctic, that is coordinated by Stan Wullschleger at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with several DOE Lab and University participants. The Jansson lab has been working closely with several members of the NGEE consortium, including biogeochemists (David Graham, ORNL, Margaret Torn, LBNL), geophysicists (Susan Hubbard, LBNL) and climate modelers (William Riley, LBNL) to focus on the microbial community response to changing landscape features, such as polygon formations, near Barrow, Alaska. The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) recently awarded NGEE with a Community Sequencing Project (CSP) to cover sequencing costs associated with NGEE. In addition, Jansson is collaborating with Mark Waldrop (USGS) to determine the impact of fire and natural thaw on permafrost communities in central Alaska. She also has several international research collaborations focused on permafrost microbiology.

Prof. Lise Øvreås, a visiting Fulbright Arctic Chair from Bergen, Norway is visiting the Jansson laboratory to study permafrost microbes in intact cores collected from Svalbard, Norway. Jansson is currently an Adjunct Professor in the recently launched Danish Center of Excellence for permafrost research (CENPERM). Carsten Jacobsen and other members of the CENPERM center are studying the impact of climate change on permafrost in Greenland. Jansson and her collaborators aim to compare data collected from the different arctic locations to determine geographic patterns in the microbial response to climate change.

Circumarctic Lake Observation Network. As part of NSF’s Arctic Observation Network initiative, three teams began collecting data from lakes on the Alaskan North Slope in April 2012. The CALON winter group included Chris Arp, Guido Grosse, Ben Jones, and Ben Gaglioti working on an eastern transect of lake sites, as well as Ken Hinkel, Richard Beck, and Doug Whiteman working on a western transect, and John Lenters and Brittany Potter working on an intensively studied “focus lake” in Barrow.  From each of the 56 lakes, lake ice thickness, snow depth, and water samples were collected for biogeochemical analysis. In each lake, a string of sensors were deployed to measure near-surface and lake bed temperature, as well as water depth.  Meteorological stations were deployed at 9 nodal sites.  In summer, the teams returned to service and redeploy the data loggers, collect sonar data to map lake bathymetry, install lake bed temperature sensors, and collect water samples for biogeochemical analysis by Karen Frey and Amy Townsend-Small. An additional CALON group (Wendy Eisner and Chris Cuomo) interviewed Inupiaq natives to document their observations on environmental changes to lakes, rivers, and the tundra.  The group headed by John Lenters also deployed a comprehensive data buoy on the focus lake in Barrow to make detailed water and energy balance measurements.  The CALON project had extensive outreach components and researchers gave talks to the local communities and schools in Barrow and Atqasuk. The project field data and remote sensing imagery is organized by Changjoo Kim and Hongxing Liu, and will be archived on the A-CADIS site.

Kenji Yoshikawa, Water and Environmental Research Center and the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks,  established permafrost monitoring sites in 256 communities in Alaska as part of a permafrost outreach network that includes Little Diomede and St. Lawrence Islands, as well as 10 communities in Yukon, Canada, working with Laxton (Yukon Geological Survey), 23 educational departments in Russia with Khalilova (RAS) and 26 schools in Japan with Harada (Miyagi University). The results of these works will be published as a ground temperature resource book in spring 2013. The book will be delivered to the communities. As part of this outreach program, we have developed K–12 class lessons, including a video series called “TunnelMan” (final episode [episode 5] released in June 2012) to educate students about permafrost. Yoshikawa (UAF) plan to establish a permafrost outreach network in Arctic Canada during spring, 2013-2015, traveling 6000 km by snowmobile along the Northwest Passage and traveling inland as well, which should cover most northern communities in Canada. Yoshikawa, Bolton (UAF) and international science team visited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, to retrieve data, take new measurements, and establish a satellite-based datalogger near the Northern Ice Field. This expedition was part of the GLOBE program that involved five teenage students including two students and two teachers from Alaska. All of the students successfully reached the summit, as in the 2009 and 2010 campaigns. Yoshikawa, INGEMET (Instituto Geologico Minero y Metalurgico) (Masías and Apaza), and the Universidad Complutense Madrid (Ubeda) team revisited the Peruvian Andes (Nevado Chachani and Colopuna) to drill, retrieve data, take new measurements, and establish a satellite-based datalogger near the south-facing slope of Nevado Colopuna at 5300 m.

Figure 3:Installations of satellite based communication datalogger at Peruvian Andes

Figure 4: Frost tube installation in Yakutsk school

Nikolay Shiklomanov of George Washington University (GWU) reports on the GWU/UD – CALM III activities in Alaska and Russia.  The 2012 field team consisted of Dima Streletskiy (GWU), Anna Klene (University of Montana), Fritz Nelson (University of Delaware), two GWU students (K. Nyland, T. Swales) and Vasily Kokorev (State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia).
The GWU/UD team measured active-layer thickness and ground temperature at a series of CALM sites representative of the diverse climatic and landscape conditions on the North Slope of Alaska and the Seward Peninsula.  Ground subsidence monitoring by means of differential GPS was conducted at several sites.  Anna Klene and Kelsey Nyland conducted a series of interviews in Barrow as part of an ongoing project focusing on changes in the thermal regime in traditional Inupiat ice-cellars.  The GWU CALM project also facilitated annual observations at 86 Russian sites.  All data collected under the CALM project are available at CALM webpage at www.gwu.edu/~calm. 
Numerous CALM related presentations were made at the AAG meeting in New York,  IPY meeting in Montreal, and TICOP in Salekhard.  Streletskiy organized a session titled “Russian permafrost regions: Past and current research activities” at AAG.  Kelsey Nyland’s poster received the first place award in the Cryospheric Changes in Polar Regions session in Montreal. Dima Streletskiy was one of the teachers of the International Permafrost Class organized immediately after the TICOP.  More than 30 students from six countries participated in the course.  Students were introduced to permafrost and landscape research methods in natural and technogenically modified landscapes, including site evaluations, temperature and active-layer monitoring, methods of construction on permafrost, and related topics.  Emphasis was placed on relationships between permafrost and other natural processes and environmental factors.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a collaborative project between GWU and the University of New Hampshire titled “Interactions between air temperature, permafrost and hydrology in the high latitudes of Eurasia”.  This three-year project is aimed at understanding how increases in air temperature can promote changes in the magnitude and timing of river flow and describe the physical processes driving these changes. An interdisciplinary Arctic research group was formed in the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies within the GWU Elliot School of International affairs to facilitate research on the complex interactions between climatic, political, and economic drivers of changes in Russian permafrost-affected urban communities.  This initiative was supported by the NSF funded five-year project “Building a research network for promoting Arctic urban sustainability in Russia”.  The objective of this research coordination network is to advance a new research frontier by expanding understanding of Arctic urban sustainability in Russia.

Report compiled by Anna Liljedahl (akliljedahl@alaska.edu)