In Alaska, a project on «2004 Forest Fire Impacts to Hydrological Cycles, Permafrost and Ecosystems in Central Alaska» started in 2005 to monitor permafrost conditions after the severe wildfires of 2004 (K. Harada, Miyagi University; Y. Sawada and J. Mori, Hokkaido University).
Observations were carried out at Poker Flat near Fairbanks in May and August. Further observations were conducted in July at Kougarok near Nome, Seward Peninsula, where wildfires occurred in 1997 and 2002. Geophysical sounding was undertaken to investigate permafrost distributions and conditions. Measurements also involved thermal and water conditions in the active layer and ground surface levels. These observations will be continued for three years to obtain data on the variations of permafrost conditions after the wildfires.
A study on rock glaciers also continues in the Brooks Range and Alaska Range (A. Ikeda and K. Yoshikawa). The distribution, structure and thermal conditions of rock glaciers were investigated in the arid part of Alaska, to compare the long-term dynamics of the rock glaciers with that in relatively warm and humid mountains. Preliminary results indicate that snow cover thickness and duration control the supersaturation of ice in rock glaciers.
In eastern Tibet, research continues on «Permafrost Hydrology in the Source Area of Yellow River» (N. Matsuoka, A. Ikeda, T. Sueyoshi, T. Ishii and Y. Uchida). In the fourth year of the 5-year project, year-round data on frozen ground were collected from the observatory at Madoi (4273 m asl) established in 2004. On the Tibetan Plateau, one-dimensional geoelectrical survey was conducted at a number of localities with different altitudes (3200 - 4700 m asl). The data, combined with seismic and ground surface temperature data, suggest that permafrost is lacking or sporadically remaining at depth as relict below 4300 m asl, although previous maps have characterised the region as having continuous permafrost.
The Japanese-Norwegian joint project on «Constructing model experimental sites for periglacial processes» started in 2004 and continues in Svalbard. In 2005, in addition to collecting the first-year data at an ice-wedge site, a 15 m deep borehole was drilled into a rock glacier in the Longyear valley and instrumented with thermal cables and inclinometers (N. Matsuoka, M. Ishikawa, Y. Fukai, T. Watanabe, H.H. Christiansen, O. Humlum and L. Kristensen). Subsurface environment below periglacial topography was also explored by two-dimensional geoelectrical sounding and soil-moisture profiling.
The inter-college study group «Colloquium of Cold Region Geomorphology» has continued over 30 years. Managed by young scientists and students, the activity involves regular and special meetings, field schools and publications of trade books. Professor Takashi Koaze, who was one of the founders of this group and has long led glacial and periglacial geomorphology in Japan, officially retired from Meiji University in March 2005. In honour of Takashi, his former students have organized a book in Japanese, entitled «Learning from Mountains», beautifully designed with a large number of colour photographs of mountain landscapes (published from Kokon-shoin, Tokyo).
Norikazu Matsuoka (firstname.lastname@example.org)