Having finished a four-year research activity of the Mountain Permafrost Research Group in the Association of Japanese Geographers, the members of the research group are extending their research areas from the Japanese mountains to the Asian mountains.

Four projects are involved:

• Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change (M. Ishikawa, Y. Zhang, T. Kadota and A. Sugimoto) observes land-surface hydrological processes in the Khentei Mountains, northeastern Mongolia in collaboration with the Institute of Geography, MAS (N. Sharkhuu) and the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (G. Davaa). This research focuses on the hydro-thermal condition of frozen ground in the southern boundaries of Northeast Eurasian discontinuous permafrost zone. It includes comparative measurements of ground temperatures, moisture and land-surface energy balances both on permafrost and permafrostfree slopes.

• The collaborative project between the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University (leader: T. Sone) and Kamchatka Institute of Ecology and Nature Management (leader: V.P. Vetrova) continues research on permafrost environments of central Kamchatka to investigate the relationship between physical environment and permafrost distribution.

•A joint research group of National Institute of Polar Research in Japan (K. Fukui and Y. Fujii) and the Altai State University (N. Mikhailov, O. Ostanin and D. Troshkin) carried out mountain permafrost research in South Chuyskiy Range, Russian Altai Mountains in August 2003. They identified many active rock glaciers and open system pingos in the range. The distribution of active periglacial rock glaciers suggests that the lower limit of discontinuous permafrost in South Chuyskiy Range is at 1700–1800 m asl.

•Research on permafrost hydrology in the source area of Yellow River, China began in 2002 by a joint group from the Geological Survey of Japan, University of Tsukuba and ETH Zurich. This is a part of a five year project on groundwater circulation in the Yellow River Basin. The research involves: analysis of satellite images; field monitoring of climatic, hydrological and geomorphic conditions; geophysical soundings on permafrost; and simulation of future changes in permafrost and hydrological conditions. Installation of miniature loggers and seismic sounding were undertaken in August 2003 (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, T. Sueyoshi, T. Ishii and Y. Uchida).

Field projects on periglacial geomorphology also progress outside Asia. T. Sone, J. Mori and K. Fukui joined the Argentine project “Cryology in Antarctic Peninsula Region” which is focused on ground temperature monitoring, periglacial processes in Seymour Island and James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula region. The project leader is J.A. Strelin, Institute Antarctico Argentino. Monitoring of periglacial processes continues in the Swiss Alps. A summary of the nine-year monitoring was presented during the 8th ICOP field excursion A3 in Upper Engadin and also during the main conference in Zurich (N. Matsuoka and A. Ikeda). The continuous measurements have highlighted interannual variations in periglacial mass movements; mainly a reflection of snow conditions.

A special issue of Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie (Supplement 130, 2003) entitled “Glaciation and Periglacial in Asian High Mountains” was published. This issue contains papers from a symposium at the “5th International Conference on Geomorphology” held in Tokyo in August 2001, and includes an overview of Asian permafrost and reports on regional permafrost from Japan, Kamchatka and Bhutan. Copies are available for 98 Euro from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Stuttgart (mail@ schweizerbart.de).

Norikazu Matsuoka (matsuoka@atm.geo.tsukuba.ac.jp)