The Bulletin of the Royal Spanish Society of Natural History (issue # 99) recently published 16 papers related to permafrost and periglacial research carried out on the Iberian Peninsula.
The presented topics include nivation dynamics, permafrost mapping, the relationship between climate and periglacial activity, rock glaciers, periglacial features, the consequences of the Little Ice Age, and ecosystem restoration in periglacial environments. These papers refer to projects carried out in the Pyrenees, Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de la Estrella, Sierra Nevada, Mexico and the Antarctic. This bulletin presents also an in-depth analysis of recent developments in permafrost and periglacial research on the Iberian Peninsula.
Ongoing research continued in many areas. Researchers from the Universidad de Zaragoza recently achieved important progress in permafrost prospecting on the north face of Peña Telera (Pyrenees) using geoelectric surveying and BTS. A research group from the Universidad de Leon is working on the origin and morphology of currently inactive rock glaciers in the Cantabrian Range have set up an experimental station to measure the intensity of periglacial activity in areas surrounding glaciers. The Universidad Complutense de Madrid continues monitoring geomorphological processes related to snow cover in Sierra de Guadarrama. A multidisciplinary team led by the Universidad de Barcelona is currently monitoring cold climate processes in the cirque area of Corral del Veleta, Sierra Nevada, with a particular interest for the active-layer thermal characteristics, active rock glaciers dynamics and the geomorphological impact of snow cover. Temperature monitoring continues in the boreholes drilled and instrumented for the PACE project.
Outside the Iberian Peninsula, the GIFA group from the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares is monitoring the temporal evolution of the thermal gradient in the active layer on Livingston Island (South Shetlands, Antarctic). Temperatures in two boreholes are presently being monitored: one 2.3 m deep at Incinerador, with sensors at 5, 15, 40, 90, 150 and 230 cm, and one at Sofia, 1.1 m deep with sensors at 5, 15, 40 and 90 cm. Air temperature is continuously recorded at three different altitudes (15, 115 and 275 m asl). All these sensors have been recording data without interruption since 2000.
The team at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid was involved in a research project on the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico.The project focused on the impact of volcanic activity on permafrost distribution and the subsequent consequences on geomorphological dynamics on active volcanoes, with a special emphasis on lahars generation. A one-metre deep observational network was established at elevations between 4100 and 4900 m on the Popocatepetl and on a neighboring inactive volcano Ixtachihualt. Sensors were installed in the boreholes at 15 and 100 cm depth. Complete information about the project is available (www.ucm.es/info/agr/lahar). The same team is conducting similar research in the Andes on other volcanoes includUniing Parinacota (Chile, Bolivia), Misti and Chachani (Peru).
The group from the University of Valladolid continues its work in the Pyrenees (Posets and Monte Perdido) by monitoring present-day periglacial processes and mapping permafrost distribution. Recently, similar investigations were initiated in Picos de Europa (Cantabrian Range) and Picos de Urbian (Iberian Range), both in northern Spain. The group from the University of Valladolid continues its work in the Pyrenees (Posets and Monte Perdido) by monitoring present-day periglacial rocesses and mapping permafrost distribution. Recently, similar investigations were initiated in Picos de Europa (Cantabrian Range) and Picos de Urbian (Iberian Range), both in northern Spain.
In Antarctica, the Universities of Valladolid and Autónoma de Madrid are working on periglacial processes, and the interactions of permafrost, landforms, soils, and fresh water. Field work in 2003 and 2004 was on Byers Peninsuala (Livingston Island) and Elephant Island, South Shetland Island. The work is coordinated with the SCAR activities (PAG and RISCC), the IPA Antarctic Working Group, and GTN-P/CALM.
Spain and Portugal have proposed to the IPA that a new membership be established that combines the two countries into a new Iberian member. We await the Council decision in June 2005.
David Palacios (email@example.com) and Javier de Pedraza