The year 2004 witnessed important advances in glacial, periglacial and permafrost research in the Romanian Carpathians. The Department of Geography at West University, Timisoara, contributed considerably to this progress.

Under the leadership of Petru Urdea, a team composed of Florin Vuia, Mircea Ardelean, Mircea Voiculescu and Marcel Törok-Oance developed the project “Presentday geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Southern Carpathians in the context of global change (2002–2004), as a part of a larger research project financed by the National Council for Scientific Research in Superior Education (CNCSIS). One of the project objectives is to obtain a realistic overview of recent geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Transylvanian Alps with a typology of their occurrence under the perspective of global change. Current geomorphological studies focus primarily on past and present dynamics in periglacial areas. For example, P. Urdea studied the Last Glacial Maximum permafrost extent in the mountains of central Romania (Bihor, Cerna) on the basis of some mapped relict features (block stream and block fields, polygonal soils, stone circle, etc.).

The Timisoara research team recently received financial support from the CNCSIS for another research project, led by Mircea Voiculescu and entitled “Geographical risks in the alpine belt of the Southern Carpathians. GIStechnique applications and mapping of hazards areas”. Another project deals with “Recent geomorphological processes in the alpine domain of the Southern Carpathians in the perspective of global change;” digital terrain models of the Fagaras Mountains, Parâng Mountains and Muntele Mic have been developed for that project. A new member of the Timisoara research team, Lucian Dragut, has just completed his PhD (Cluj-Napoca University), this thesis includes a chapter about ancient glacial and periglacial features. At Pitesti University, Smaranda Toma has started working on a PhD dedicated to the glacial and periglacial geomorphology of the Buda Basin (southern slope of the Fagaras Mountains).

Several conferences were held in Romania in order to support these new advances in geomorphological research. During the 5th International Conference on Geographic Research in the Carpathian-Danube Area (Timisoara, May 17–19, 2002), a round table was organized on the “Trends in morphodynamic processes in the Carpathians alpine areas”. The First International Workshop on Ice Caves took place from February 29 to March 3, 2004, in Capus, Romania. The Speleological Institute Emil Racovic of Cluj-Napoca and the Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy) organized this meeting attended by over 30 scientists coming from 11 countries.

In September 23–26, 2004, on Bâlea Cascad (Fagaras Mountains), an International Workshop on Alpine Geomorphology and Mountain Hazards was organized by the Department of Geography of West University with the support of the Carpatho-Balkan Geomorphology Commission. Scientists from Romania, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia took part.

Glacial and periglacial features and relict permafrost indicators were studied by the Timisoara team in Muntele Mic, by Petru Urdea in the Bihor Mountains, by Petru Urdea and Dorel Gureanu in the Cernei Mountains, by Florin Vuia in the Parâng Mountains, by Mircea Ardelean in the Piule-Iorgovanu Mountains, by Andreea Andra and Alexandru Nedelea (Bucharest University) in the Topolog and Capra Basin (Fagaras Mountains), and by Marcel Mândrescu (University of Suceava) in the Rodnei and Climani Mountains (Eastern Carpathians).

Petru Urdea (urdeap@rectorat.uvt.ro)