Italian permafrost and periglacial research continues in both in the Alps and in the Southern Hemisphere. A new project entitled ‘Permafrost and Global Change in Antarctica II (PGCAII)’ was recently funded by the Italian National Antarctic Research Programme for two years. The main goals in PGCAII are to study the impacts of Global Change in Antarctica, and to reconstruct the palaeoclimatic evolution of Victoria Land through permafrost analysis.

The Global Change studies will include active-layer monitoring and analysis of the relationships between climate, vegetation cover and active layer, along a transect from the Antarctica Peninsula to South America and in Victoria Land in Antarctica. Relevant sites for the transect will be identifi ed such as Signy at Orchards Islands, Jubany at South Shetland Islands, and Edmonson Point, this last site is also included in the SCAR-RiSCC project. Palaeoclimatic reconstructions will be achieved through the analysis of ground thermal profi les, to study the relationships among climate, vegetation cover and active layer, and the cryostratigraphy of ground ice. Also new methods, such as phylogenetic analysis of bacteria and the study of weathering processes of cryotic rocks, will be used reaching a potential time period of 10 million years.

The existing cooperation with the Instituto Antartico Argentino (L. Jorge Strelin, Cadic) continues with a new international agreement between Insubria University and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). As part of this agreement a new long-term, active-layer monitoring site will be installed in the climatically very sensitive area of Signy Island. Next year Cynan Ellis Evans (BAS), Andrew Hodgson (University of Sheffi eld), Nicoletta Cannone (University of Ferrara) and Mauro Guglielmin (University of Insubria) will carry out a SCAR-RiSCC campaign to set up the permafrost monitoring site and a new CALM grid at Signy Island.

At the SCAR-RiSCC meeting in Hobart, Australia, Mauro Guglielmin proposed a specifi c protocol for monitoring permafrost thermal regimes and active-layer thickness through the Southern Hemisphere Working Group of the IPA.

In the framework of the LTER project cooperation between M. Guglielmin and M. Balks, Waikato University, New Zealand, will be formalised to start joint research next year. In a new project funded by the Italian Mountain Research Institute three new 18-m deep boreholes were drilled in the Foscagno Rock Glacier in the Italian Alps. The boreholes will be instrumented to monitor ground thermal regime. The cores from these boreholes showed different types of ice that, hopefully, will allow reconstruction of the palaeoclimatic history of this rock glacier. New geophysical investigations (electric tomography and radar investigations), experiments with markers and automatic monitoring of spring water fl ow at the foot of the rock glacier ramp, should allow reconstruction of the hydrogeology of this alpine permafrost acquifer.

A doctoral thesis on the analysis of the ancient periglacial features such as block streams and block fi elds in the Ligurian Alps was started at the University of Genova. The Italian Association of Physical Geography and Geomorphology sponsored two Working Groups, one on the study of ancient periglacial features and one on the study of permafrost and active periglacial processess. In November 2001 a workshop on the ‘Relationships between permafrost degradation and slope instability’ was held in Milano organised by ARPA Lombardia. F. Dramis (dramis@uniroma3.it)

M. Guglielmin (cannone.guglielmin@virgilio.it)