Research programmes reported in prior issues of Frozen Ground continued and are briefly reviewed. In addition a number of workshops were conducted this year and reports on climate change impacts prepared.

 

The Frostfire project is attempting to develop and further refine our knowledge and modelling capability of fire effects, ecosystem impact, and vegetation recovery in the subarctic boreal forest by examining the impacts of an experimental forest fire. The goal of this project is to determine the impacts and interrelated effects of fire on ecosystem processes and their feedbacks to climate in the relatively small Caribou- Poker Creeks Research Watershed near Fairbanks, Alaska. On-going studies are related to fire science, nutrient dynamics, permafrost and vegetation responses and recovery, climatic influence and feedbacks, and hydrology. Intensive pre-burn surveys quantified fuel status of the soil organic layer and forest canopy throughout the experimental watershed. Data on climatic processes, vegetation distribution, streamflow quantities and chemistry, and permafrost and active layer temperatures were also collected. These data sets are currently being augmented with additional data on microclimate, soil nutrients, ground- and surface-water partitioning in streams, among other parameters. A Frostfire synthesis workshop was convened on 21-23 March 2000 to compile and compare results. Over fifty scientists participated with 43 separate oral or poster presentations. The abstracts of this meeting are available at: http:// www.uaf.edu/water/publications/ffabstrc.pdf. Additional project synthesis activities took place at the Fire Conference 2000 in San Diego, California, November 2000 and in a special session at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California, December 2000.

The NSF ATLAS (Arctic Transitions in the Land Atmosphere System) programme completed its third year of field research and analysis in examining the potential and actual changes occurring in the Alaskan Arctic in response to climatic warming. This research includes integrated analyses of permafrost dynamics, vegetation/climate interactions, trace gass flux measurements, hydrological process studies, and interdependence of snow distribution and ecological community evolution. Many of the active layer measurements under CALM and the shallow borehole, ground temperature measurements are conducted with ATLAS funding. Details of the research programme may be obtained at http://www. laii. uaf.edu/atlas/atlas.html. Summaries of the progress to date were presented in a special session at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, December 2000.

Dan Lawson and colleagues reported that the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) conducts a number of permafrost projects in Alaska. Topics include: stable isotope variations in ground ice as a palaeoclimate indicator, ground water flow and contaminant migration in discontinuous permafrost, GPR and temperature measurements in boreholes, rates of degradation of permafrost and thermokarst formation on the Tanana Flats, and remediation of contaminated soils. Ron Sletten reported that the University of Washington continues a project in the Beacon and Victoria Valleys, Antarctica, investigating polygonized ground and its surface dynamics, and studies of buried ice obtained from co-ring in the Beacon Valley. The ice is on the order of at least several million years, thereby being some of the oldest continuous ice on Earth. Another project is investigating the migration of inorganic contaminants in the active layer and permafrost utilizing laboratory studies and a field site in Alaska. They are collaborating with the Danish scientists at Zackenberg on a study of soils and weathering processes.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Borehole Palaeothermometry programme continues to operate in Greenland and Antarctica. This project seeks to reconstruct surface temperatures in the polar regions for the last 40 kyr and to improve our understanding of the thermal conditions within the permafrost that underlies polar ice sheets. Field work began at Siple Dome, West Antarctica during November 2000; these measurements will continue for another two years. In addition, high-precision borehole temperature measu rements from central Greenland and East Antarctica (Taylor Dome) are continuing to be analysed for climate changes during the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. Gary Clow (USGS) and Bruce Koci (University of Wisconsin) are developing the design for a ‘rapid access’ drill. This drill would be capable of drilling through 3.5 km of polar ice in a week. In-situ measurements or core samples could then be obtained from the underlying permafrost. In northern Alaska, the USGS (Clow) expanded its network of climatemonitoring stations to eight. This network is designed to monitor regional changes in air and active-layer temperatures during the next 10-20 years. All stations are co-located with deep boreholes and are part of the GTN-P network.

Tim Collett (USGS) reported that the USGS and the U.S. Department of Energy, in cooperation with industry, are assessing the occurrence, recoverability, and energy resource potential of permafrost-associated, natural gas hydrate accumulations in the Prudhoe Bay-Kuparuk River area of northern Alaska. Two known gas hydrate accumulations, Eileen and Tarn, are being evaluated. The initial phase of this study includes mapping the distribution of gas hydrates. In the second phase of the project, the USGS will propose drilling a test well to evaluate the production characteristics of these gas hydrate accumulations.

The NSF Arctic System Science Programme sponsored a workshop to document the current state of knowledge of arctic hydrology and identify and describe the gaps in knowledge that are most limiting to a better understanding of the Arctic water and energy balances. The workshop was held 18-20 September 2000 at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, California. The convenors of the workshop were Charles Vorosmarty (University of New Hampshire) and Larry Hinzman (University of Alaska-Fairbanks). Thirty-three scientists participated in this workshop and review. The research needs document is planned to be published by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U. S. (ARCUS) in early 2001. The Workshop on International Permafrost Monitoring and Database Management was sponsored and held at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, 11-14 June 2000. Twenty-five specialists from Canada, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States attended. The workshop builds on current activities of the IPA to develop the Global Terrestrial Network- Permafrost (GTN-P) of the WMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Details are reported elsewhere in this issue of Frozen Ground.

A series of regional reports by the National Assessment Synthesis Team (NAST) of the U.S. Global Change Research Programme are currently being published. The report Potential Consequences of Climate and Change for Alaska discusses potential effects on permafrost. The NAST reports will be available on: www.gcrio.org/nationalassessment. A workshop organised by Orson Smith entitled ‘The Warming World: Effects on the Alaska Infrastructure’ was held at the University of Alaska-Anchorage 5-6 January 2000. The report is available at: http://www. engr.uaa.ala-ska.edu/infrastructure/. A Workshop on Cold Regions Engineering chaired by Ted Vinson was held at the University of Alaska-Anchorage in 19-21 June 2000 and attended by 126 participants including seven Canadians. The objective of the workshop was to identify and prioritise cold regions engineering research needs in the new millennium in North America.

Rupert (Bucky) Tart reported that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) held its annual Civil Engineering Conference and Exposition in Seattle, 18- 21 October 2000. The Conference theme was‘Seattle 2000 - Passages to Century 21’. The ASCE’s Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) was an active participant in the Conference given the proximity of the Conference to Alaska, the location of many of the nation’s major cold regions projects. TCRRE sponsored six sessions at the Conference on the topics of: South Pole Station Redevelopment, Ground Freezing in Civil Engineering Projects, Global Warming Effects of Civil Engineering Projects, Challenges of Civil Engineers Working in the Former Soviet Union, and Approaches to Difficult Problems in Cold Regions. The TCCRE Executive Committee and the following seven TCCRE Committees also met in Seattle: Programmes, Frozen Ground, Environment and Public Health, Foundations and Structures, Transportation and Infrastructure, Hydraulics and Hydrology, and Education. Topics discussed included developing programmes on cold regions pipelines for the ASCE 2001 annual convention to be held in Houston; revisions to existing TCCRE monographs and the completion of new monographs; and how TCCRE can participate in the VIII ICOP. The Speciality Conference will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2002, with the theme ‘Remediation and Repair of Structures and Foundations’.

Recognising that extreme environments are ever more important sources of freshwater, and that additional hydrologic research and data collection are needed in these areas, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) sponsored a speciality conference on ‘Water Resources in Extreme Environments’ 1-3 May 2000, in Anchorage, Alaska. The convenors of the conference were Douglas L. Kane, Technical Chairman (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and James Thrall, Conference General Chair (Meridian Management, Inc.). Most of the world’s population is concentrated in areas where freshwater resources may already be, or may soon become, inadequate to meet the demand for water. When this happens water must be imported from other areas or a dispersal of the population will occur. Source areas of additional freshwater are often in extreme environments such as mountains, plateaus, and polar regions.

The proceedings bring together papers and posters presented at the conference and are available via http://www .awra.org/proceedings/paper.html#extreme. A meeting of the U.S. and Russian scientists was held in Seattle in November under the Russian- American Initiative on Shelf-Land Environments (RAISE) programme. Field studies and modelling of coastal and subsea permafrost are included in the programme.

Jerry Brown (jerrybrown@igc.org) Larry Hinzman (ffldh@uaf.edu)