Most permafrost related research in Austria is carried out by the University of Innsbruck, the two Universities in Graz, Joanneum Research (Graz), the Geological Survey of Austria (Vienna), and the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (Vienna & Salzburg).

The Innsbruck group (Karl Krainer) is continuing rock glacier monitoring in the western Stubai and Oetztal Alps (hydrology, GPS-measurement of surface flow velocities) at the three rock glaciers Reichenkar, Ölgrube, and Kaiserberg. Furthermore, investigations in northern Italy / South Tyrol focus on mapping, temperatures, BTS, and hydrology of active rock glaciers in the Ulten and Schnals Valleys (Central Alps) and in the Mt. Hohe Gaisl area (eastern Dolomites).

The University of Graz (Inst. of Geography and Regional Sciences; Inst. of Physics – Dep. of Geophysics, Astrophysics and Meteorology; Inst. of Earth Sciences – Dep. of Geology and Palaeontology) and the Graz University of Technology (Inst. of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry) started in June 2006 a new three year project highly relevant for permafrost research in the central Alps of Austria: «ALPCHANGE - Climate Change and Impacts in Southern Austrian Alpine Regions», which is led by Gerhard K. Lieb and supported by the Austrian Science Fund. ALPCHANGE aims to quantify past and present landscape dynamics in climate-sensitive glacial and periglacial alpine environments caused by the ongoing climate change. ALPCHANGE provides an integrative and comprehensive analysis of monitoring data describing four dynamic landscape parameters - permafrost, snow, geomorphology and glaciers - in terms of the ongoing climate change. For this project, meteorological stations and temperature data loggers were installed on the surface, below the surface or in close vicinity of active and inactive rock glaciers as well as slopes underlain by permafrost (www.uni-graz.at/alpchange).

The Institute of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry (Graz Univ. of Technology) continued annual geodetic measurements on Doesen, Hinteres Langtalkar and Weissenkar rock glaciers. Furthermore, the front of the highly active Hinteres Langtalkar rock glacier was resurveyed (annually since 2000) by terrestrial laser scanning (Riegl LPM-2k Long Range Laser Scanner and the software GeoScanner) by Joanneum Research, Graz (Arnold Bauer), and ALPCHANGE research fellows (Michael Avian, Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer). Beside the activities in the Hohe Tauern, the Graz group is continuing permafrost related research (rock glacier mapping, temperature data loggers, BTS) on lower mountains of eastern Austria (Niedere Tauern).

Within the framework of ALPCHANGE, the Geological Survey of Austria carried out geoelectrical surveys (led by Alexander Römer) in the Mt. Hoher Sonnblick summit (3106 m asl). This mountain is famous for its long standing meteorologically observatory (since 1886) located at the mountain summit and operated by the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics.

The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics and the Sonnblick Association started recently a permafrost research project (led by Michael Staudinger and Wolfgang Schöner). Ongoing slope instability problems in the summit area are the main reasons for the initiation of this project. Three 20 m and one 10 m boreholes were drilled in September 2005 along a sloping north-south profile. In 2005, the 10 m borehole was equipped with 6 extensometers; in August 2006, each of the three 20 m boreholes were instrumented with five geophones and 25 temperature sensors. Miniature temperature data loggers and the BTS-method will also be used for permafrost studies in the Hoher Sonnblick area.

The 9th International Symposium on High Mountain Remote Sensing Cartography (HMRSC-IX) was organised in Graz by Viktor Kaufmann (Graz Univ. of Technology) and Wolfgang Sulzer (Univ. of Graz), September 14-22, 2006, with 80 scientists from 18 countries attending. This bi-annual symposium had two days of paper and poster presentations and a four-day field excursion. 63 contributions were presented in sessions on: remote sensing (RS) techniques, morphological mapping, monitoring of environmental and global change, permafrost studies and rock glacier monitoring, high mountain cartography and 3D relief models, hybrid solutions of GIS and RS, methodological improvements concerning HMRSC and education. Further information at <www.uni-graz.ac.at/geowww/hmrsc/hmrsc_9>

Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer and Gerhard K. Lieb (andreas.kellerer@uni-graz.at)