Two new working groups started in 2002 within the Italian Association of Geomorphology (AIGEO): one lead by Mauro Guglielmin (Insubria University) about permafrost distribution and slope stability in the Italian mountains, and one about relict periglacial and permafrost features in Italy (mainly in the Apennines and Ligurian Alps).

Adriano Ribolini and other scientists from Pisa University continue geophysical and geomorphological research on rock glaciers in the Maritime Alps. At Genova University, Cristiano Queirolo presented in 2004 a PhD on relict block streams at Mount Beigua (close to Genova). At Pavia University, Roberto Seppi is working on a PhD about the rock glaciers of the Adamello area. Nicoletta Cannone (Milano Bicocca) continues her research on the relationships between vegetation and the disturbance induced by permafrost creep on the slopes and rock glaciers of the Central Italian Alps.

Mauro Guglielmin continues monitoring permafrost temperature at the PACE borehole of Stelvio (3000 m asl) and at the Foscagno rock glacier (2500 m asl). His two projects funded by the Italian Institute of Mountain Research (IMONT) will allow the completion of geophysical investigations at the Foscagno Rock Glacier and in the surroundings of the Val Pola landslide. Three new boreholes (between 16 and 21 m deep) were drilled at different elevations along the Foscagno Rock Glacier and a 24 m deep borehole was drilled close to the Val Pola landslide in order to monitor permafrost in this valley slope that presents a high geological hazard.

Mapping and modelling permafrost distribution in the Aosta Valley started in 2003. This project supported by ARPA Valle d’Aosta and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin) includes the installation of a new CALM site and a new borehole (100 m deep) in permafrost at the end of 2004 in the Cervinia area, and the monitoring of rockwall temperature at around 3900 m asl on the Matterhorn.

Italian research activity in Antarctica continues through the project “Permafrost and Climate Change” lead by M. Guglielmin, in cooperation with seven universities and within the agreements with the British Antarctic Survey (J. Cynan Ellis-Evans, R. Worland), Waikato University (M. Balks), the Alfred Wegener Institute (Hans-W. Hubberten, D. Wagner) and the Istituto Antartico Argentino (J. Strelin).

The established permafrost monitoring network includes five instrumented boreholes in Victoria Land and one borehole on James Ross Island. Shallow boreholes are planned on Signy Island (Maritime Antarctica). Monitoring of the two Victoria Land CALM sites continued. Ongoing research on granite weathering in Northern Victoria Land is now pursued with a particular focus on biological processes and thermal stress by the Milan University (A. Strini), Milano-Bicocca (N. Cannone) and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin). Studies on ground ice distribution, permafrost hydrology, frost blisters and icing blisters have been carried out in collaboration with H. French and A. Lewkowicz (Ottawa University) in Victoria Land. R. Raffi (Rome University) continues her research on ice wedges distribution in Victoria Land.

Relationships between vegetation, active layer and climate change are investigated within the RiSCC framework (Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change in Antarctic Terrestrial and Limnetic Ecosystems) framework by N. Cannone. Over 30 participants from 14 countries took part to the 5th RiSCC workshop held on July 2-8, 2003 at Insubria University with the support of the Programma Nazionale di Ricerca in Antartide (PNRA), the Società Italiana di Ecologia (SITE), the Società Italiana di Botanica (SBI) and the Stelvio National Park.

Mauro Guglielmin (mauro.guglielmin@uninsubria.it)