The International Conference “Cryosphere of Oil-and- Gas-Bearing Provinces” was held in Tyumen, May 23– 27, 2004, in honor of the 60th anniversary of Tyumen district.

Scientists and engineers from Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and U.S.A. participated. For the Russian permafrost community, this conference was an extremely important event as it produced major international discussions about the scientific, engineering, social and environmental issues in northern regions’ development. The Conference resolutions, discussed and approved during the meeting of the Earth Cryology Council reflect the scope of these topics. A draft agreement between representatives of visiting universities, members of the IPA Executive Committee, and officials of the Tyumen State Oil and Gas University provides the basis for future exchanges. A group of Japanese, North American, and Russian participants accompanied by Academician V.P. Melwnikov visited Nadym and the gas field deposits at Yubileinoe, Yamsoveiskoe and Medvezh’e. The field trip was followed by a day-long session entitled “From Science to Practice,” and the preparation of a resolution of cooperation among representatives of the Earth’s Cryology Council, the International Permafrost Association, the Department of Strategic Development «Gazprom» and the «Nadyumgazprom» Gas Enterprise. This included endorsements for the development of the regional observational network using common methods such as those used by GTN-P.

In 2004, Russian permafrost specialists carried out fieldwork, theoretical and experimental research and were partners in a number of international projects (CALM, INTAS, NATO, Russian-German collaboration, among others). One of the main study topics was permafrost evolution in response to climate change and human activity in different regions. Despite contemporary climate warming, several sites showed decreasing active layer thickness. The variations in seasonal thaw depth appear to be poorly correlated with air temperature (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, Moscow State University). Both permafrost degradation was observed close to the southern limit of permafrost as well as its formation. A monitoring site was installed in the Shaksha Lake region in order to investigate the thermal regime of such recently formed permafrost (Chita Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Geocryology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences–SB RAS). Specialists from the Institute of Environmental Geoscience RAS, in cooperation with the Department of Geocryology at MSU, carried out theoretical investigations and modelled permafrost evolution in the context of climate change, with an emphasis on the possible consequences for construction. This work achieved new advances in the study of the early stages of themokarst formation and methods for geocryological prognosis.

The analysis of impacts of climate change in Yakutia was studied considering separately natural and human factors. Ground temperatures and the depth of the permafrost table were forecasted. The studied territory is divided into five zones with different responses of permafrost to climate warming (Department of Geocryology, MSU). Four stages in the development of permafrost from the early Pleistocene until the Holocene were recognised for northeastern Eurasia (Ershov and Maksimova). Data on permafrost characteristics on the southern part of Novaya Zemlya was extended within the database for the radioactive waste disposal sites.

New data were obtained on the mechanisms and kinetics of hydrate and ice forming in methane-saturated ground under gas pressure. Quantitative characteristics were obtained that could be used as evidence for the stability and selfconservation of gas hydrates in dispersed ground at negative temperature (E.M. Chuvilin and others, MSU). Exogenic processes in the Lena River valley during the Holocene were modelled, and their connections with climate change was established. The results are relevant for paleoclimatic reconstructions and for the forecasting of disastrous floods. Permafrost landscapes mapping techniques (using GIS) were improved. Digital maps were prepared for different regions of Yakutia; they show the ice content of surface deposits, the ground temperature, the active layer thickness and moisture content (Permafrost Institute, SB RAS).

V. Tumskoy (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, MSU) reported the widespread occurrence of large massive ice bodies in the Late Pleistocene deposits on the Faddeevsky and the New Siberia Islands and provided genetic interpretations. Members of the Department conducted numerous field observations in order to establish the main causes of structures deformation in the cryolithozone. A set of recommendations on engineering solutions for buildings foundation in the northern regions was prepared, in the perspective of the permafrost conditions disturbances occurring during construction.”

The development of permafrost under consolidation was investigated theoretically at the Earth Cryosphere Institute (SB RAS). The heat transfer induced by ice movement can double the effective thermal conductivity of the modelled material. The quantity and quality of material removed by coastal erosion into the sea were determined for the western sector of the Russian Arctic. The approximate estimates were accomplished using geoecological information for coasts along shallow water regions. Rates of seashore recession were established in cooperation with the Arctic Coastal Dynamics (ACD) project (A.A. Vasilyev).

Quantitative estimates were forecasted according to two different climate change scenarios in order to determine the erosion rates of the ice-rich coastlines along the eastern Russian Arctic seas for the first half of the 21st century (Permafrost Institute, SB RAS).

Geotechnical surveys were conducted for engineering investigations of permafrost along the Barents Sea coastline. These included large-scale mapping, determination of physico-mechanical properties of the frozen or cooled salt-rich ground, ecological conditions and other permafrost engineering studies. A complex of medium and smallscale maps was prepared for development of the Timan- Pechora oil and gas field, the Yamal fields and the “Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean” pipelines (Industrial and Research Institute for Construction Engineering).

The Institute “Fundamentproject” provided engineering solutions to the foundations and the monitoring of structures for the Bovanenkovo and Harasaway gas fields (Yamal Peninsula) and for the “Yamal-central regions of Russia” pipeline. These include: refrigeration facilities and heat screens; “orthotropic” overlapping slabs; reinforcing ground surface by geogrids; and the use of large span grillages with increased bearing capacity.

S.A. Koudryavtsev completed investigations on computations of design and construction on frost heaving soils (Petersburg State University for Communication Means). The regularities of permafrost morphology, temperatures, and cryogenic processes and phenomena were generalized along the southern transect “Altai ––Pamir” (Kazakhstan Highmountain Geocryological Laboratory of the Permafrost Institute SB RAS).

  • The 6th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering held in Lanzhou (China) in September 2004 was co-organized with the Permafrost Institute (SB RAS) and other Russian institutions (see details in the China report). In 2004, Russian permafrost researchers took part in the following international meetings:
  • The XIII Glaciological Workshop. Arctic and Antarctic Institute, St. Petersburg
  • The XI International Scientific Conference for Students and Post-graduate Students “Lomonosov 2004”, Section of Geography, Moscow State University.
  • 2nd International Workshop on Circumpolar Vegetation Classification and Mapping, Tromsø, Norway
  • 7th International Workshop on Cold Regions Development, Sapporo, Japan International Congress on High Technologies, Paris 5th International Workshop on Arctic Coastal Dynamics, Montreal

The following monographs were published in Russian in 2004:

  • Alekseev V.R. Engineering Geocryology, Glaciology, Ice Technology. Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute SB RAS, 390 p. Anisimova. Methods of hydrochemistry in the permafrost science (manual). Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute SB RAS, 78 p.
  • Shesternev, D.M. Cryogenic Processes of Zabaikalie. Published in Yakutsk, PI SB RAS, 255 p.
  • Gavriliev, R.I. Thermal Properties of Environmental Components in Cryolithozone (Reference Manual). Yakutsk, Permafrost Institute, SB RAS, 153 p.
  • Cheverev V.G. The Nature of the Soils Cryogenic Properties. Moscow, Scientific World.
  • Development of the Earth Cryosphere. Geography, Society, Environment (this seven-volume monograph is dedicated to the 250th anniversary of MSU). Volume 1. Structure, Dynamics, Evolution of Natural Systems. V.N. Konishchev, Rogov, V.V., Grebenets, V.I., Tumel, N.V., Volodicheva, N.A., Voitkovsky, K.F., Popovnin, V.V., Petrakov, D.A., Oleinikov, A.D., Shpolyanskaya, N.A., Rozenbaum, G.E. (Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, MSU).
  • Slagoda E.A., Cryolithogenic Deposits of the Laptev Sea Coastal Plain: Lithology and Micromorphology.

G.Z. Perlshtein (kriozem@online.ru) and D.O. Sergueev