The Mountain Permafrost Research Group of the Association of Japanese Geographers completed a four-year research project.
The research areas covered were: Japanese mountains including Hokkaido (M. Ishikawa, Y. Sawada, T. Sone, H. Matsumoto, N. Takahashi, K. Hirakawa and Y. Ono) and Japanese Alps (K. Fukui, M. Aoyama, A. Ikeda, S. Iwata and N. Matsuoka); other Asian mountains including Kamchatka (T. Sone and K. Yamagata) and Himalaya (T. Watanabe, M. Ishikawa, S. Iwata and C. Narama); Swiss Alps (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, K. Hirakawa and T. Watanabe); and Antarctica (T. Sone, J. Mori, K. Fukui and H. Miura). The research topics focused on internal structure of rock glaciers, block slopes, frost mounds and other terrain underlain by permafrost, modelling of local andregional permafrost distribution, climatic and rock controls on rock glacier dynamics, various weathering and slope processes associated with permafrost or seasonal frost and recognition of permafrost indicators and reconstruction of palaeo-periglacial environments. The activities also involved annual meetings in Tokyo and fi eld excursions in Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps. In addition, a co-sponsoring symposium ‘Glaciation and periglaciation of Asian high mountains’ took place during the 5th International Conference on Geomorphology in Tokyo 2001. A special issue Mountain glaciation and mountain permafrost in Asia was published in the Journal of Geography, Vol. 111, August 2002, Tokyo Geographical Society, in association with the Study Group on Quaternary Glaciation in Japan. Seven papers (in Japanese) from this issue highlighted mountain permafrost. Papers in English will soon be available in another special issue to be published at the end of 2002 in Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, which contains papers from the 5th ICG symposia: six papers concern the research group activities. The outcomes from the research group also involved a doctoral thesis by M. Ishikawa, December 2001, Hokkaido University, entitled ‘Distribution of mountain permafrost in the Daisetsu Mountains, Hokkaido, Northern Japan’. Several other doctoral theses will be completed in the coming years.
The ice-fire experiment group (M. Fukuda) conducts post-boreal forest fi re research in Eastern Siberia along the Lena River. The research focused on the thermal impact to the permafrost after forest fi re as well as the effect on greenhouse gases such as methane.
The Yukon River Watershed Water and Energy Exchange group (N. Ishikawa) completed year two of a three-year research project in Alaska. Y. Kodama and Y. Ishii, Hokkaido University, measured CO2 fl ux and runoff discharge from a permafrost-dominated watershed at Caribou- Poker Creeks Research Watershed north of Fairbanks. They also joined fi eld research on open-system pingo drilling by K. Yoshikawa, University of Alaska in the same watershed. Pingo ice was observed 7.5 m below a surface layer of retransported silt deposits. Massive ice extended to bedrock, 23.5 m deep. A one-inch PVC casing was installed in one of the boreholes to measure temperature. T. Sato of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention and T. Ozeki, Hokkaido University, studied the impact of snow on permafrost also at Caribou-Poker Creeks Research Watershed. Sato maintains a meteorological tower and extensive snow surveys at this site.