In Russia, an ongoing research project on rock glacier flow and thermal regime in central Kamchatka (Y. Sawada, T. Sone, K. Yamagata and K. Fukui) provided ground temperature data and a three-year database on small rock glaciers movement on the basis of a triangulation survey. A research group from Hokkaido University continues monitoring ground surface and active layer energy and water balance near Yakutsk (G. Iwahana et al.).

In Mongolia, a group of researchers from the Japanese Institute of Observational Research for Global Change (M. Ishikawa) and the Institute of Geography in Mongolia (N. Sharkhuu, D. Battogtokh) continue the study of landsurface energy exchange and frozen ground hydrothermal parameters in the southern boundaries of the Eurasian permafrost zone. Intensive observations over a period of two years provided a distinct hydrothermal characterisation of the dry active layer, contrasting energy exchange processes between permafrost and non-permafrost slopes, and methodologies for monitoring frozen ground hydrology. Moreover, a geomorphological field campaign was carried out in the Mongolian Altai mountains (M. Ishikawa, T. Kadota, N. Sharkhuu, G. Davaa, D. Battogtokh). Numerous permafrostrelated landforms including rock glaciers, pingo, solifluction lobes, frost-cracks and polygons were investigated in a deglaciated valley. Miniature temperature loggers were installed at representative sites.

In eastern Tibet, during this third year of the five-year project “Permafrost hydrology in the source area of Yellow River” carried out by a joint group from the Geological Survey of Japan, University of Tsukuba and ETH Zurich (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, T. Sueyoshi, T. Ishii), a long-term observatory was established at Madoi (4273 m asl), aimed at measuring air and soil temperatures (down to 8 m deep), soil moisture and soil thermal properties, precipitation and snow depth. Miniature temperature loggers provided year-round ground surface temperatures at eight localities with different altitudes (3200-4700 m asl). These data combined with seismic sounding results suggest that a large part of the plateau around Madoi (4000-4300 m asl) lies in a marginal permafrost environment and experiences rapid permafrost degradation.

In central Hokkaido (Japan), researchers from Hokkaido University have been monitoring changes in ground ice for four years in a low-altitude block slope where intensive cooling in winter controls the ground-ice growth in the subsequent spring and summer (Y. Sawada). At the beginning of winter 2004, a micrometeorological station was installed in a representative permafrost site in the Daisetsu Mountains (G. Iwahana et al.).

In the Southern Hemisphere, long-term monitoring of air and ground temperatures began in February 2004 at two sites in a coastal area of Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, during the 45th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (H. Miura et al.). Thermal probes installed down to 2 m deep will indicate the active layer thickness and long-term temperature variations in the upper part of permafrost. During the Argentinean Antarctic expedition of the summer 2003-2004, T. Sone and K. Fukui studied permafrost temperature and rock glaciers on James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula). A geodesic survey was conducted on a rock glacier near Ushuaia, Terra del Fuego, Argentina in November 2003 (T. Sone and J. Strelin).

In the Swiss Alps, periglacial processes (frost weathering, solifluction and permafrost creep) have been monitored for the last ten years. The 2004 fieldwork focused on paraglacial slope failures along U-shaped valleys, which possibly followed glacier retreat or permafrost degradation since the last glacial period (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, M. Abe).

Field work in the Alaska Range covers the period 2003–2005 in order to compare rock glacier dynamics in mid-latitude and in sub-polar mountains (A. Ikeda and K. Yoshikawa).

In Longyearbyen (Svalbard), a new international project was started in order to establish a model experimental site for periglacial processes (N. Matsuoka, H. Christiansen and O. Humlum); see also the WG report on Periglacial Landforms, Processes and Climate.

The journal Seppyo (Journal of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice) published in 2004 a special issue on ‘Frozen Ground’ (Vol. 66-2), including a glossary and thirteen papers (one in English and seven Japanese papers with English abstracts) about experimental frost heave, frozen ground engineering and permafrost investigations in Siberia, Mongolia, China and Japan.

The following PhD theses were completed in 2004: Ikeda, A. 2004 (University of Tsukuba): Rock glacier dynamics near the lower limit of mountain permafrost in the Swiss Alps; Iwahana, G. (Hokkaido University): Influence of forest disturbance on the ecosystem energy and water balance in the continuous permafrost zone, Eastern Siberia; Sawada, Y. (Hokkaido University): Extra-zonal permafrost on block slope in Shikaribetsu Mountains, Central Hokkaido, Japan.

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