The Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine research (Hans- W. Hubberten) organised expeditions with 15 German and 15 Russian scientists and technicians to the Lena Delta and the New Siberian Islands in the German-Russian project ‘System Laptev Sea’ from June to September 2002 (team leaders: E.-M. Pfeiffer, L. Schirrmeister, V. Rachold and M.N. Grigoriev).
One team focused on modern processes in permafrost. Major emphasis was put on trace gas fl ux measurements and characterising microorganisms in the carbon cycle. Eddycorrelation tower measurements, providing high-resolution data on methane, carbon dioxide and micro-climatic parameters integrated over a larger area, were carried out during the entire active period, including the transition phases spring-summer and summer-autumn. Additional to microbiological and molecular ecological studies of the micro-fl ora actively participating in the carbon turnover, Holocene and Pleistocene permafrost soil sequences were characterised to estimate the effect of climate change on permafrost landscapes. A second team concentrated on the reconstruction of periglacial processes and landscape development during the late Quaternary in the surroundings of Tiksi, emphasising snow patch processes in the marginal zone of the Kharaulakh mountains and their foreland. A third team studied the coastal dynamics of the New Siberian Islands. Apart from geodetic measurements comparing the actual coastline with older aerial photographs, shoreface profi les were measured down to the 10-m isobaths and sediment samples were taken. Of special interest were frozen terrestrial and marine deposits that probably date back to 400-500 ka BP, as well as the large sand areas of ‘Bunge-Land’. Another topic was related to the IPA-IASC project ACD (Arctic Coastal Dynamics, V. Rachold, see the Coastal and Offshore Permafrost report). Another expedition carried out geomorphological, palaeopedological and geocryological studies in the Verkhoyan Mountains and their piedmont plain (Central Yakutia), team leaders: B. Diekmann and I. Belolyubsky.
The Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Hannover, G. Delisle, and the Centre d’Études Nordiques, Université Laval, Ste- Foy, Québec, M. Allard, continue their monitoring programme of the temperature and pressure fi eld within a palsa east of Umiujaq, eastern shore of Hudson Bay, in Northern Quebec. The data analysis reveal episodic cracking of the permafrost at its base, injection of limited quantities of ground water, followed by refreezing. For the last 24 months slow, but steady warming at rates between 0.03K to 0.05K per year have been recorded within the palsa.
At the Department of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, University of Kaiserslautern, H. Meissner continues research on ‘Behaviour of frozen soils’ to describe a viscous potential for frozen soils depending on variables such as case history, tension level, temperature, water content, pore numbers etc. Experiments are carried out with cubic samples in a ‘True Tri-axial Apparatus’.
At the Department of Geography, University of Bonn, R. Dikau continues the programme ‘Landform – a structured and variable boundary layer’. Research is carried out in the periglacial belt of high mountain geosystems in the Turtmanntal, Valais, Switzerland. Several PhD-theses concentrate on geomorphometric analysis of landforms on different spatial scales (Rasemann), the structure and activity of talus cones (Schreiner), permafrost distribution and sediment budgets (Nyenhuis) and on kinematicsof periglacial features (Roer). In addition to geophysical measurements and observations of ground temperatures the monitoring programme was extended by the installation of a weather station and an automatic camera. Recent developments in airborne data acquisition (High Resolution Stereo Camera) lead to the creation of digital terrain models with a resolution of one meter. This facilitates the analysis of fi ne scale periglacial objects on meso and micro spatial scales.
In the framework of PACE21, permafrost temperature monitoring in the 100 m borehole at Stockhorn plateau is continued by the Institute for Geography, Giessen University by L. King. A meteorological station was installed in June 2002 in co-operation with the Physical Geography Department of the Zurich University, M. Hoelzle. Shallow ground temperature measurement sites were established in the Gornergrat area to monitor the infl uence of substrate character on the ground thermal regime (S. Philippi). First data of the 30-m deep Ritigraben borehole, Grächen- Seetalhorn area, confi rm the existence of more than 30-m deep permafrost. As the subsurface consists of unconsolidated sediments, advective processes play a signifi cant role in the ground thermal regime. Several sensors monitoring rock and air temperatures in the block cover were installed by T. Herz.
At the Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg, A. Schulte analysed alluvial fans formed by slush torrents in northwestern Spitsbergen. Two of these fans, Kvikkåa and Beinbekken, were formed exclusively by the sediment of slush torrents and can therefore be studied as monogenetic geo-archives. A maximum accumulation of 1.5 to 2 m of sediment is assumed to have built up in approximately 11000 years. The low overall sedimentation rates confi rm the large recurrence intervals for slush torrents in Spitsbergen. The Institute of Physical Geography, Freiburg University, H. Gossmann and S. Vogt, continues to host the SCAR Working Group on Geography and Geographic Information project King George Island GIS (KGIS). The KGIS project provides a spatial database for King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, with a focus on high-resolution data sets for the periglacial areas of the island.
Permafrost distribution and thermal conditions in the German Alps and in non-alpine Central Europe are investigated by M. Gude, University of Jena. Studies on alpine permafrost at the Zugspitze were started within the PACE project, and continue with the analysis of distribution, thermal conditions and geo-technical implications. Non-alpine permafrost conditions are investigated in numerous highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France, based on an interdisciplinary research programme covering biology, geophysics, geomorphology, and micrometeorology.
At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, C. Hauck has initiated geophysical and meteorological monitoring to study energy exchange processes between atmosphere and frozen ground.
In 2001 the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, J. Völkel, fi nished the project ‘Changes of the Geo-Biosphere during the last 15.000 years – Continental Sediments as Geo-archives’, focused on periglacial processes forming widespread slope sediments during the Younger Dryas. In the study areas of the Harz, Rhön, Fichtelgebirge and Bayerischer Wald, geomorphodynamic activity on the slopes reported in the literature could not be proved for the Younger Dryas. Another project discusses the means and the dating of the late glacial deglaciation at high altitudes of the Interior Plateaus of British Columbia, Canada.
At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Stuttgart, S. Sander continues the investigations on geomorphic processes in Nordenskiöldland at Svalbard to verify the potential link between climatic change and geomorphic features such as mass movement, debris fl ows and thermal erosion. C. Kneisel at the Department of Physical Geography, University of Trier is maintaining the monitoring of ground temperatures at a site with sporadic permafrost below the timberline in the Upper Engadine, eastern Swiss Alps, to investigate the interaction of the permafrost with the environment.
Lorenz King (firstname.lastname@example.org)