The 2nd European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP II) organized by the AWI and the ESF PACE 21 project will be held June 12–16, 2005, in Potsdam, Germany. The scientific steering committee is chaired by Charles Harris, and the local organizing committee by Hans-W. Hubberten. Permafrost scientists from Europe and other countries are invited to attend the conference and present results in the wide field of permafrost research and engineering (www.awi-potsdam.de/EUCOP).

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI-Potsdam) carried out a multidisciplinary study of the coastal region of Cape Mamontov Klyk (Western Laptev Sea) in summer 2003 (L. Schirrmeister, M. Grigoriev). The main topic of the new Russian-German project “Process studies of permafrost dynamics in the Laptev Sea” is transition processes from terrestrial to submarine permafrost. A joint Russian/German expedition focused on geocryological and sedimentological investigations, periglacial morphology, palaeosols, modern periglacial surface conditions, coastal dynamics, and hydrological and palaeontological studies. Other topics included palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, interpretation of remote sensing data, methane budget calculations and permafrost transformation. The 7th expedition to the Lena River Delta (May–July 2004, D. Wagner) focused on trace gas flux measurements and the microbial community involved in the carbon turnover during the thawing of the active layer. Micrometeorological eddy covariance measurements providing turbulent flux data (heat, water, CO2, and CH4) in the atmospheric boundary layer were carried out for the spring-summer period.

Late Quaternary environment and palaeoclimate in central Yakutia are investigated by the AWI (B. Diekmann) and the Aachen University (F. Lehmkuhl) with partners from the Permafrost Institute Yakutsk (V.V. Kunitzki, V. Spector) and the Yakutsk State University (L. Pestryakova, A. Prokopiev). Fieldwork in 2002 and 2003 in the Verkhoyansk Mountains and in 2004 in the alass region northeast of Yakutsk studied the development of periglacial and glacial landscapes, lacustrine systems, as well as permafrost complexes and ground ice features. During the summers 2003 and 2004 joint expeditions of palaeolimnologists of AWI (T. Kumke) and Yakutsk State University (L. Pestryakova) investigated 47 lakes in the Central Yakutian lowlands in order to establish a calibration dataset for diatoms and chironomids for quantitative reconstructions of the Yakutia palaeoenvironments.

In Spring 2003, scientists from the AWI-Potsdam (H. Meyer) sampled permafrost tunnels in Fairbanks and Barrow with the support of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (K. Yoshikawa and J. Brown). The objective was to apply in Alaska the experience acquired on complex Late Quaternary permafrost deposits in Siberia. Stable isotope analysis of ice wedges was the main research topic. Hydrological studies were carried out during the summer on the North Slope of Alaska within a collaboration between the Water and Environmental Research Center (UAF, L. Hinzman) and AWI (J. Boike). The modelling of smallscale hydrological processes was supported by several other field measurements.

The Institute for Geography at the Giessen University (L. King) continues monitoring ground temperature in the periglacial belt of the Matter Valley, Swiss Alps. Shallow ground temperatures measured in two test areas since 2002 indicates that discontinuous permafrost occurrence corresponds with coarse-textured surface deposits. The influence of coarse cover layers on ground thermal regime even exceeds that of snow cover thickness and duration (S. Philippi, T. Herz). In summer 2004, 65 temperature sensors were installed between the ground surface to a depth of 100 cm near the existing PACE borehole sites at the Stockhorn Plateau site, in order to demonstrate the influence of topographical effects on the ground thermal regime.

M. Gude (Jena) continues investigating permafrost thermal regime and geotechnical stability at the Zugspitze. In cooperation with the local cable-car company, permafrost was observed in foundations and mitigation measures have been evaluated. The interdisciplinary research programme SCREECOS (Scree Ecosystems) continues analysing low altitude sporadic permafrost in highland scree slopes in Germany, Czech Republic and France (M. Gude). The influence of permafrost on biomass productivity in Siberian boreal forests was evaluated in terms of its contribution to a global carbon budget model (EUproject SIBERIA II, C. Schmullius, Jena).

At the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, University of Karlsruhe, a physically-based approach was developed to assess the ground-ice content from seismic and geoelectric data sets (C. Hauck). Geophysical permafrost monitoring continues at Schilthorn, Swiss Alps, in collaboration with the University of Zurich (I. Völksch, M. Scherler, M. Hoelzle, C. Hauck) and is aimed at determining the spatial variability of energy exchange processes between atmosphere and permafrost on a 1- to 100-m scale. A permafrost map of the German Alps developed in collaboration with the Freiburg University roughly estimates the distribution of probable and possible permafrost (S. Blasius, C. Hauck, C. Schneider).

At the University of Marburg, Department of Geography, H. Brückner and G. Schellmann are working on beach ridges in Andréeland (Svalbard). On the basis of the observed sequences they propose a scenario for late Pleistocene and Holocene landscape evolution.

At the Department of Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, H. Strunk continues his research in the Ob region of western Siberia, together with L. Agafonov, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg. The research topic is the reconstruction of the thermokarst history of the last 500 years (M. Krabisch). The study is based on dendrochronological analysis of living trees (Pinus sibirica).

The Department of Physical Geography, University of Würzburg (C. Kneisel) assesses changes in active layer and permafrost thickness by geoelectrical techniques in the discontinuous permafrost zone of the Swiss Alps. In collaboration with A. Kääb (Zurich) permafrost creep within the Muragl glacier forefield is evaluated using a combined geomorphological, geophysical and photogrammetrical approach. New geophysical and geomorphological permafrost investigations began in a subarctic alpine environment in northern Sweden.

The International Geographical Union established a new Commission on Cold Region Environments, chaired by M. Gude (Jena); see Other News for details.

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