Several New Zealand programmes were commenced or continued during the past year in the area of permafrost and periglacial processes in both New Zealand and Antarctica. M. B. Scott, K. J. M. Dickinson, A. F. Mark, B. I. P. Barratt, B. J. Sinclair (University of Otago) initiated a study of the invertebrate diversity of threetypes of alpine patterned ground on the Old Man Range of Central Otago.

They are investigating how biodiversity and distribution of invertebrates may be dictated by environmental variables extant in solifluction terraces, soil hummocks and soil stripes. They are also examining microhabitat temperature data to examine seasonal freeze-thaw events responsible for maintaining the patterned ground ground, and thus enable them to develop a better appreciation of the periglacial features and their indigenous biota.

Warren Dickinson (Victoria University of Wellington) is continuing his programme of shallow permafrost drilling in the Dry Valley area of Antarctica. Shallow permafrost drilling was commenced in November 2000 and aims to recover a climate record from Antarctic ground ice, which potentially holds a detailed record spanning 15 million years. The cored material will be used to elucidate climate history from the geochemistry of the ground ice, as well as to provide stratigraphic information.

David Nobes (University of Canterbury) is also working in Antarctica with a project that involves testing the geophysical response of contaminants in soils and permafrost near Scott Base. The aim of his work is to use near-surface geophysical methods to map the vertical and horizontal extent of contaminants in the soil and permafrost.

Iain Campbell and Robert Gibb (Landcare Research) are developing an Antarctic Soils Database with data currently included from around 550 sites ranging from Cape Hallett to the Ellsworth Mountains. When completed, there will be data from about 800 sites from New Zealand soils research in the Transantarctic Mountains and East Antarctica spanning the period 1964 to 1999. The compiled data is held in the New Zealand Landcare Research National Soils Database. Consideration is presently being given as to how other significant soils data sets that have accumulated, and were gathered under the programmes of other countries working in the Antarctic, might be incorporated into this database to enable development of a comprehensive Antarctic Soils Database. Consequently, they ask that scientists planning to describe or sample Antarctic soils could use their format for site and soil description and compile their data in a form that would be readily accepted into the New Zealand Comprehensive Antarctic Soils Database. For enquiries, contact Iain Campbell (iaincampbell@xtra.co.nz) or Robert Gibb (GibbR@landcare.cri.nz)

Paul Augustinus (p.augustinus@auckland.ac.nz)