A coastal permafrost drilling transect was undertaken in the western Laptev Sea in April 2003 under the framework of the Russian-German cooperation in the Laptev Sea (Hubberten, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam). The Russian team was headed by M.N. Grigoriev (Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk).

A transect perpendicular to the shoreline and consisting of 15 permafrost boreholes with depths of up to 30 m was drilled. The sixth expedition to the Lena River Delta took place in July 2003 under the leadership of the AWI-Potsdam. Microbial methane production and turnover rates during the freeze back and thawing of the active layer were investigated. Within the scope of the Expedition “Lena-New Siberian Island–2002” the Late Pleistocene permafrost sediments were drilled and transported in the frozen state to Germany. A joint Russian–American–German expedition took place between May and late August to Lake Elgygytgyn in northeastern Siberia. German scientists from Leipzig University and AWI carried out seismic studies of the sedimentary sequence of this impact crater lake, permafrost studies surrounding the lake, observations of the recent hydrological system, and coring of sediments. A Russian-German joint project investigating the Lateand Middle Quaternary in the Verkhojansk Mountains, Yakutia, is currently in progress by the Universities of Bayreuth and Aachen, and the AWI Potsdam. Research topics include periglacial and glacial forms and processes, and the Late Quaternary climatic change derived from ice wedges, relict soils and glacial sediments.

The research group of the Department of Geography, University of Bonn (R. Dikau) continues geomorphological and permafrost research in Turtmanntal, Valais, Switzerland. A Ph.D. thesis on morphometric landscape analysis (Rasemann) was completed, and another Ph.D. project started (Otto). The main focus is on permafrost and rock glacier distribution. The permafrost distribution and sediment storage of rock glaciers by means of geophysical methods and the analysis landscape structure is carried out by M. Nyenhuis. I. Roer continues the monitoring of rock glacier kinematics using remote sensing techniques and terrestrial surveying.

The Institute for Geography, University of Giessen (L. King) continues permafrost temperature monitoring in the Matter Valley, Stockhorn Plateau and Ritigraben. Shallow ground temperature data recorded at Gornergrat at 3000 m asl indicates that permafrost is confined to coarse materials, while it is absent in fine-grained substrates (S. Philippi). However, temperature measurements at Ritigraben block slope (T. Herz) at only 2615 m asl are remarkably cold, mainly due to differences in snow cover development and depth.

Permafrost investigations continued in various projects in the Department of Geography in Jena. A new model routine called CLOUDMAP as part of PERMAMAP (M. Hoelzle, ETH) accounts for the higher amount of diffuse radiation in the northern Alps and calculates the distribution of permafrost by use of global radiation as the controlling factor. This routine was developed by O. Mustafa and M. Gude (Jena) within the EU-project PACE. Studies on alpine permafrost distribution and its geotechnical significance at the highest peak in Germany (Zugspitze, 2964 m asl), started by M. Gude and D. Barsch (Heidelberg) within the PACE project, continue in cooperation with the Bavarian Geological Survey and a local tourist company. Non-alpine sporadic permafrost is investigated in highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France (M. Gude) in the interdisciplinary Scree Ecosystems research programme (SCREECOS). Terrestrial biosphere modelling focuses on the influence of permafrost on biomass productivity in northern areas (Ch. Schmullius, EU-project SIBERIA II) in cooperation with Ch. Beer, M. Gude (Jena) and W. Lucht (Potsdam).

At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, new geophysical investigation and data processing schemes are being developed for ground-ice detection and permafrost monitoring in mountain regions (C. Hauck). Field studies are conducted at sites with likely permafrost occurrence in Germany and Switzerland in collaboration with the Universities of Würzburg (C. Kneisel), Jena (M. Gude), Freiburg (C. Schneider), Zurich (M. Hoelzle) and ETH Zurich (H. Maurer). High-altitude sites are investigated (e.g. Schilthorn, Swiss Alps) as well as those with isolated ground-ice occurrences at low altitude (e.g. in middle mountain ranges). Numerical experiments of the energy exchange processes between permafrost and atmosphere are conducted using different coupled ground-atmosphere models.

At the Department of Geo- and Agroecology, ISPA, University of Vechta, G. Broll continues the long-term ecosystem monitoring in the Canadian Arctic. Research is carried out in the Auyuittuq National Park (Baffin Island) and the Quttinirpaaq National Park (Ellesmere Island) in cooperation with C. Tarnocai (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa) and J. Gould (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada). In Finnish Lapland, research continues on soil ecological investigations in the treeline ecotone, in cooperation with F.-K. Holtmeier (University of Münster, Germany) and within the EU framework LAPBIAT. Research on interactions between soil and vegetation in West Greenland (Kangerlussuaq) was completed in 2002 (Ph.D. thesis by U. Ozols).

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, H. Strunk continues his research in the Ob region in western Siberia, together with L. Agafonov, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg. The topics of research are the reconstruction of the thermokarst history of the last 500 years (M. Krabisch) and the reconstruction of the corresponding summer temperatures (M. Staudinger). Both studies are based on dendrochronological analysis of living trees (Pinus sibirica). Initial results indicate that summer temperatures in western Siberia between 1610 and 1640 AD were about 4°C higher than today.

At the Institute of Physical Geography, Freiburg University, H. Gossmann and S. Vogt continue to host the project King George Island GIS (KGIS), SCAR Geospatial Information Group. 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.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Stuttgart, the field investigations on geomorphic processes in Nordenski Öldland at Svalbard (Ph.D. thesis by S. Sander) verify the potential link between climatic change and geomorphic features. As part of a DFG project, M. Boese and C. Klose (Berlin) are researching the postglacial and recent morphodynamics in the Nanhuta Mountains (Taiwan). A meteorological station was established at 3540 m asl.

Field work on a GIS-based, three dimensional ecological model and an environmental atlas of the Yakutsk region (East Siberia) was started by J. Venzke, Bremen, and a Ph.D. thesis by C. Borowy in cooperation with V. Makarov, Permafrost Institute. A. Beylich, Department of Earth Sciences, Üppsala University, continues geomorphological research in the subarctic and arctic periglacial environments of Iceland and Lapland. The German Research Foundation-funded project “Mass transfers, sediment budgets and relief development in periglacial geosystems” is carried out in cooperation with the Department of Earth Sciences, Üppsala University (E. Kolstrup, H. Seppä, L.B. Pedersen), the Botanical Institute of Göteborg University (U. Molau ), the Natural Research Centre in Saudarkrokur, Iceland (Sæmundsson), Kevo Subarctic Research Institute, Finland (S. Neuvonen), and the Institute of Geography, University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany (K.-H. Schmidt). A. Beylich is coordinating the interdisciplinary Network “Sedimentary Source-to-Sink- Fluxes in Cold Environments” (SEDIFLUX).

Lorenz King (lorenz.king@geo.uni-giessen.de)