Three frozen-ground-related international meetings were held in Alaska in 1997.
The International Symposium on Physics, Chemistry, and Ecology of Seasonally Frozen Soils was held 10–12 June 1997 at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In attendance were 105 people representing 11 countries (Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S.A.).
Peter J. Williams delivered the opening keynote address, entitled The Seasonally Frozen Layer: Geotechnical Significance and Needed Research. The first day included 19 oral and 12 poster presentations on the fate of carbon and phosphorus; soil stability; soil water, gas and solute movement; and northern ecosystems.

The second day commenced with a keynote address by F. Stuart Chapin III on Influence of Frozen Soils on Ecosystem Processes and Their Sensitivity to Climatic Change. There were 21 oral and 13 poster presentations on this day, with topics ranging from nitrate dynamics to watershed hydrology, fauna adaptation, solutions at low temperatures, soil structure, and bioremediation.
The final day concluded with 16 oral and 12 poster presentations on remote sensing; modeling soil frost; compaction; and heat, water and solute movement. On 13 June, 45 participants toured research and engineering facilities in the Fairbanks area, including visits to the Geophysical Institute Synthetic Aperture Radar Facility, Permafrost Tunnel, and Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research Site. See page 33 for information on ordering the proceedings.
In August 1997 the Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks hosted the Eleventh International Symposium and Workshop on Northern Research Basins. In 1975 the national committees of the International Hydrologic Program (IHP) for Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. established a working group on northern research basins (in 1992 Iceland joined the group). The objective of this group is to encourage research and information dissemination on the hydrology of basins in northern latitudes that are affected by snow, ice and frozen ground.
Each meeting has one or more designated themes. Most of these in the past have been process-oriented. The main theme of the 1997 meeting was An Evaluation of Spatial Variability of Hydrologic Processes in the Circumpolar Arctic. The objective was to examine available process-oriented, spatially distributed data sets (water and energy fluxes), and make a comparison amongst them to see if a generalized understanding could be developed. Development of a clear understanding of global scale climatic dynamics is not possible until we complete regionalized comparisons of process interactions and variability.
Forty-four participants from 12 nations (Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) joined in the traveling workshop. The workshop began in Prudhoe Bay with field excursions into the oilfields and continued on to research sites across the North Slope. Two days were spent at the University of Alaska field camp at Toolik Lake. The final day was spent in a symposium on the campus of the UAF. Thirty-nine papers were presented, 17 of which were printed in Volume 1 of the proceedings; a second volume was also published. Twelve of these papers will also be submitted for possible publication in the journal Nordic Hydrology. Copies of the two-volume proceedings are available from Douglas L. Kane, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-5860 (or email ffdlk@aurora.alaska.edu).
The Fifth International Symposium on Cold Regions Development sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the International Association of Cold Regions Development Studies was convened 4–10 May 1997 in Anchorage. See page 33 for information on ordering the proceedings.
The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) published a new monograph in its cold regions engineering series. Edited by Daniel Smith, Cold Regions Utilities is a guide to the basic principles of cold regions environmental engineering. Its focus is on geotechnical and thermal considerations that influence the design of utility systems. Highlighted are problems related to water supply, wastewater, solid waste, and the energy components of infrastructure to cold regions. A major thrust of the publication is its emphasis on thermal design considerations of piped water and sewerage systems in frozen ground. TCCRE is sponsoring the Ninth International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Duluth, Minnesota, on 27–30 September 1998. The theme of the conference is Cold Regions Impacts on Civil Works. Topics encompass issues related to transportation, foundations, geosynthetics, navigation, and utilities in seasonally frozen ground. For more information on ASCE activities and publications
The ASCE Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) published a new monograph in its cold regions engineering series. Edited by Daniel Smith, Cold Regions Utilities is a guide to the basic principles of cold regions environmental engineering. Its focus is on geotechnical and thermal considerations that influence the design of utility systems. Highlighted are problems related to water supply, wastewater, solid waste, and the energy components of infrastructure to cold regions. A major thrust of the publication is its emphasis on thermal design considerations of piped water and sewerage systems in frozen ground. TCCRE is sponsoring the Ninth International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Duluth, Minnesota, on 27–30 September 1998. The theme of the conference is Cold Regions Impacts on Civil Works. Topics encompass issues related to transportation, foundations, geosynthetics, navigation, and utilities in seasonally frozen ground. For more information on ASCE activities and publications visit its Web site: http://www.asce.org or call 800 548 2723/ 703 295 6300.
FROSTFIRE is a new project in Alaska investigating the role of wildfire. It is funded by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. This project is an experimental and regional approach to improve our understanding of boreal feedbacks to climate. The objective of this research is to develop a predictive understanding of the major classes of feedbacks from boreal fire to climate as a basis for improved understanding of the changing role of the boreal forest in the Earth system. The hypotheses to be tested include:

  1. The direct effects of regional warming in Alaska will be to increase fire severity by increasing the flammability and consumption of biomass, especially of the organic soil layer.
  2. The greatest carbon loss due to fire results from post-fire decomposition rather than combustion during the fire.
  3. Increased fire severity has a threshold effect on the loss of permafrost that depends on local microclimate (e.g. slope and aspect).
  4. Fire causes threshold changes in energy exchange with the atmosphere.

The lead investigators on the project include F. Stuart Chapin, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California (fschapin@garnet.berkeley.edu) and David V. Sandberg, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Submitted by Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.apc.org) with contributions by Breton Sharratt (bsharratt@mail.mrsars.usda.gov) Larry Hinzman (ffldh@aurora.alaska.edu) Jon E. Zufelt (jzufelt@crrel.usace.army.mil)