Report from June 1992

The IPA activities in the United States are supported by several organizations and individuals. Financial contributions for the annual IPA fees are provided directly to the IPA Secretary General. Thus far in 1992, contributors include:

  • Association of American Geographers (AAG)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Golder Associates, Bucky Tart, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Streamborn Environment, Bill and Douglas Lovell, Berkeley, California

In addition, several government agencies are providing valuable indirect support of IPA activities, including the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Colorado a grant to provide travel assistance to U.S. authors to attend the Sixth International Conference on Permafrost. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences is hosting the IPA Council meetings in Washington, D.C., in August 1992.

Current membership on the U.S. Committee for IPA includes Bill Lovell, Chairman (Purdue University); Bernard Hallet, Vice Chairman (University of Washington); Ed Link, Secretary (CRREL); George Gryc (USGS), Bucky Tart (Golder Associates and ASCE liaison). Other liaison members are John Zarling (University of Alaska) for the ASME and Ron Abler for the AAG. Bruce Hanshaw is the staff representative from the National Research Council (NRC) and its Board on Earth Sciences and Resources.

The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) recently announced the decision to expand the scope of the former "Committee on Control and Prevention of Frost Action" to include the consideration of permafrost. The reconstituted committee will be the "Committee on Frozen Ground." This decision resulted from an in-depth study by a TCCRE Task Force following the announcement of the NRC's Polar Research Board to discontinue activities of its long-standing Committee on Permafrost. Gary Guymon is thechairman of the newly designated committee. Members of the Task Force were Howard Thomas, David Esch, Frank Sayles and Bucky Tart. Additional information can be obtained from Gary Guymon, Department of Civil Engineering, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, California 927 17.

The NRC's Transportation Research Board Committee on Frost Action (A2L04) met on January 13, 1992, in Washington, D.C., during the TRB Annual Meeting. The Committee is chaired by Tom Kimey, Shannon and Wilson and University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The Committee sponsored and cohosted two sessions at the Annual Meeting entitled "Pavement performance during freezing and thawing" and "Physical and chemical aspects of soil freezing." During the Committee meeting presentations were given on the thermal impact of a chilled buried gas pipeline at high-way crossings, the Minnesota Road Research Project, the Seasonal Monitoring Program of the TRB's Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), and the newly formed Permafrost Technology Foundation in Fairbanks. The Committee periodically reviews research needs associated with freezing and thawing and plans to publish these findings in 1993.

David Esch, currently at the SHRP, reports that a pilot program to evaluate monitoring instrumentation is underway at sites in New York and Idaho. The instrumentation includes five types of soil moisture probes, two temperature measurements systems, an electrical soil resistance frost depth gauge and and a water level monitor. Several designs of Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) probes are included in the evaluation. The results of the pilot project will be utilized at 64 monitoring sites throughout North America. Additional information can be obtained from SHRP, 8 18 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20006 (Fax 202 223 2875).

The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, hosted the 22nd Arctic Workshop and the International Workshop on Classification of Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation March 5-7, 1992. A series of special sessions on the National Science Foundation's new program, Paleoclimate of Arctic Lakes and Estuaries (PALE), reported recent results from throughout the Arctic. The Vegetation workshop resulted in a series of resolutions, including the decision to prepare a circumpolar vegetation map of the Arctic. Initial results from the new Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite were presented for an area in northern Alaska at which hydrological and active layer measurements have been obtained for the past five or more years. Copies of the abstract volume may be still available from INSTAAR, Campus Box 450, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0450.

Bruce Molnia, US Geological Survey, reports the following permafrost activities of the USGS in the Arctic and Alaska. Precision borehole temperature measurements and analysis continue in Northern Alaska. In addition, six automated climate-monitoring stations were installed in 1991 to provide surface energy parameters for further analyzing the permafrost temperature changes. A gas hydrate project is focused on identifying favorable locations for testing gas-hydrate production schemes, examining the flux of methane in permafrost regions and documenting hydrate-related problems associated with oil and gas drilling and production. In a coastal erosion study in northeast Alaska observations reveal a major change in rates of erosion and accretion in the last 200 years. A continuing study in Northern Alaska of the warm period observed between 9000 and 10,000 years ago may provide a possible high latitude analog for future warming scenarios. Additional information on these activities and on other U.S. government research in the Arctic is reported in the journal Arctic Research of the United States (available from the National Science Foundation, DPP, Room 620, Washington, D.C. 20550).

In May 1992 the U.S. and Russia renegotiated their agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection. One program under the joint memorandum is Area X: Arctic and Subarctic Ecosystems. Included are several permafrost activities related to oil and gas development and data and mapping. Dr. Jerry Brown is the co-chair of Area X and can provide additional information.

Report by Jerry Brown

Report from December 1992

A joint US-Russian seminar on cryosols and global change was held in Pushchino, Russia. 15-16 November 1992, following the First International Conference on Cryopedology (see Miscellaneous). The seminar was sponsored by the National Science Foundation under the leadership of Chien Lu Ping, University of Alaska. A total of 18 US scientists attended, including representatives of the Soil Conservation Service and its Soil Survey Division and the LJS Geological Survey. Other international attendees from the conference also participated. Seven topics were addressed. including soil mapping, gas exchange, soil climate, soil organic matter, microbial activity, geochemical cycling, and agriculture and land use. A workshop report will be available.