In collaboration among the Swiss Academy for Sciences (SAS), the Swiss Alpine Club, ETH Zurich and the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg, a project was set up to establish a concept for the Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network. The stations are separated into three levels—low, middle and high-cost stations—mainly focusing on the thermal regime of the permafrost. Additional information is expected from other long-term observations like photogrammetry, borehole deformation, hydrology, etc.
Following the restructuring of the Glaciological Commission of SAS at the beginning of 1997, the task of this body has been expanded with respect to snow and permafrost. Delegates for glacier observation (M. Hoelzle) and for perma-frost (D. Vonder Mühll) were appointed. The latter is in charge of connecting with international organizations, and acts as the national contact for the IPA, the Swiss Coordinating Group on Permafrost of the SAS.

Since there was much new information to report following publication of Frozen Ground No. 21 in December 1997, it was decided to produce a newsletter for the Swiss Coordinating Group on Permafrost of the SAS, called Permafrost News Flash. Articles in several languages report what’s going on in Working Groups and projects dealing with permafrost. The Permafrost News Flash is to be published as needed, at least once a year.
The EU-project Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE) officially started on 1 December 1997. Twenty-two scientists attended the first coordinating meeting, held 22–25 March in St. Moritz.
On 3 May 1998 the 100-m-deep borehole at Hanssonhaugen in Svalbard was established. A thermistor chain was lowered on 7 May, and has been reading temperatures since. The drilling was a collaboration between Norwegian and Swiss partners.
The Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland includes tables relating to phenomena linked to hydrology. The Swiss Coordinating Group on Permafrost was asked to provide a table for the atlas on permafrost. The table has been co-produced by six institutes and will be published in early 1999.
The ETH Research Commission funded a three-year project in which the Institute of Geotechnics (S. Springman), the Institute of Geophysics (H.R. Maurer), and the VAW
(D. Vonder Mühll) will investigate the Muragl rock glacier as an example of a creeping permafrost body. Boreholes, core analysis, cross-hole geophysics, and long-term monitoring will be performed.
Matthias Wegmann defended his Ph.D. thesis on Rock Stability in Permafrost. He measured a number of geotechnical parameters such as temperature and deformation in the crest near Jungfraujoch. In addition, he investigated the thermal behavior using numerical models.
Two Ph.D. students working on permafrost at the Universities of Lausanne and Fribourg are about to finish their theses. Others have just started or will shortly start their work.

 

Daniel Vonder Mühll (vdmuehll@vaw.baum.ethz.ch)