TSP NORWAY IPY project activities The Norwegian IPY project Permafrost Observatory Project: A contribution to the thermal state of permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (TSP NORWAY) officially started on March 1, 2007, as part of the international IPY TSP cluster project.
The main objective is to measure and model permafrost distribution in Norway and Svalbard, focussing on its thermal state, thickness and associated periglacial processes, including increased knowledge of mountain permafrost distribution related to rockslides and other geohazards. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and 17 scientists and PhD students from seven institutions, companies and research centres in Norway are involved. TSP-Norway project coordinator is H.H. Christiansen, the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). Participating institutions are the Department of Geology (UNIS), Department of Geosciences (University of Oslo), Norwegian Geological Survey (NGU), International Centre for Geohazards (ICG), Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and Opticon Instanes Svalbard. A website () was launched with information on ongoing research activities.
During spring and summer 2007 fieldwork was started in Troms and Finnmark (northern Norway) and in Svalbard. Nine new boreholes have been drilled by the NGU drillrigg, and instrumented for thermal monitoring at mountain sites in Troms and Finnmark. Periodic recalibration of the installed thermistors is possible and the holes remain accessible for other probes in the future. Monitoring sites for measuring movement of rock glaciers and solifluction sheets have been established at Kapp Linné and in the Longyearbyen area, Svalbard. Data will be reported to the first Norwegian Permafrost database NORPERM, located at NGU.
TSP-NORWAY hopes to establish a northern Scandinavia Permafrost Observatory extending into Finland and Sweden during IPY in collaboration with Finnish and Swedish colleagues, and of increased collaboration with Polish and Russian permafrost scientists in Svalbard. H. Juliussen is a TSP NORWAY post. doc., working with periglacial process monitoring, based at UNIS in Svalbard, and database management at the NGU. Norwegian Meteorological Institute activities Data was collected in Jotunheimen, southern Norway, temperature data from the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole (established in 1999) and in Svalbard data from the Janssonhaugen PACE borehole (established in 1998). Collection of the temperature data from the PACE boreholes is organized in a long-term monitoring programme for climatic research. The programme is run by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (K. Isaksen) and the national databases are linked to the GTN-P database. On Dovrefjell, southern Norway, temperature data were collected from 11 boreholes (9 m deep) along an altitudinal transect across the mountain permafrost transition zone as described earlier in Frozen Ground. The objective of the study is to model the trend and variability of mean annual ground temperature (MAGT) and to evaluate the influence of the snow cover on mean annual ground surface temperature (MAGST) in a high mountain terrain (R.S. Ødegård, K. Isaksen, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid). In the same field area data from temperature data loggers were collected as part of a Norwegian monitoring programme for palsa peatlands, co-ordinated by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (A. Hofgaard, K. Isaksen, J.L. Sollid, R.S. Ødegård, H. Farbrot and T. Eiken). In the Møre and Romsdal area, southern Norway, and in the Troms and Finnmark areas, northern Norway, temperature data are collected as part of a permafrost and climate monitoring project co-ordinated by NGU and with the Department of Geosciences on the instability of rock slopes in Norway as described earlier in Frozen Ground (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken and J.L. Sollid).
Geology Department, UNIS activities Permafrost and periglacial studies at the Geology Department at UNIS (H.H. Christiansen, O. Humlum, L. Kristensen, H. Juliussen and J. Ellehauge) centre around various basic types of field data related to snow cover dynamics, geomorphic activity and active layer and permafrost borehole temperatures in the Longyearbyen and Adventdalen valleys, and surrounding mountains. All field data are available for research and education. In northern Norway and on Svalbard, A. Prick continued research on rock temperature monitoring and weathering processes across Troms, in cooperation with UNIS.
A new project Climate change effects on high arctic mountain slope processes and their impact on traffic in Svalbard (CRYOSLOPE Svalbard) was started January 1, 2007, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, under the Norklima initiative. Cold mountain slopes are studied along the 40-km main summer and winter transport routes in and around Longyearbyen, Svalbard. The response to projected future climatic changes is investigated, by combining investigations of past geological and geomorphological studies of slope process activity with monitoring of modern active slope processes and meteorology in the slope areas. Collaboration between N. Matsuoka (Univ. Tsukuba, Japan) and H.H. Christiansen on ice-wedge and solifluction dynamics continued in Adventdalen, and was extended to the Kapp Linné site (west coast of Spitsbergen), including the Japanese MSc student T. Watanabe studying ice-wedge dynamics at both sites. Collaboration on collection of field data from two experimental sites for measuring soil creep in Adventdalen with A. Lewkowicz (Univ. Ottawa, Canada) was continued, as was collaboration on the operation of the solifluction station operated by C. Harris (Univ. Cardiff). Thermal conditions of ice-cored moraines deposited by late Holocene surges of the Paulabreen Glacier are investigated by L. Kristensen (UNIS) by means of several boreholes, geoelectrical resistivity and aerial photogrammetry.
The content of ice in the top permafrost will be investigated as part of the 2007-2008 Longyearbyen CO2 reservoir assessment; pilot study of possibilities and geological challenges project (H.H. Christiansen and O. Humlum) using the SINTEF and UNIS new drillrigg. A 850 m deep borehole has been drilled by the coal mine company Store Norske close to sea level in this project in the Longyearbyen area, and the temperature logged by NGU, showing shallow warm permafrost. This project is coordinated by A. Braathen, Geology Department UNIS.
Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo activities In Troms, follow-up investigations to measurements from the early 1990s by J. Tolgensbakk were started in summer 2006 on the Sannjarriep’pi rock glacier, Nordmannvikdalen. The rock glacier lies on the western slope of a 1207 m asl high peak and is situated between 580 and 780 m asl. Previous velocities were determined by terrestrial surveying. Average values for the last 17 years are in the range of a few mm/year. While the rock glacier could still be regarded as “active” during the early 1990s, recent terrestrial survey, geophysical measurements (2D ERT) and MAGST temperature measurements (2006-2007), indicate that today, the rock glacier is in a transitional state from active to inactive, or already virtually inactive. Samples for exposure dating were taken on two conspicuous ridges and at the front of the rock glacier and laboratory preparation of the samples is under way (R. Frauenfelder, H. Farbrot, and J. Tolgensbakk). In southern Norway, research since 2004 on mountain meteorology, snow cover, vegetation, ground temperatures and the interaction between permafrost and glaciers continues and was further extended by new sites in the Rondane Mountains (O. Humlum, H. Juliussen, K.S. Lilleøren, and M. Ferbarlein). The project covers a transect across southern Norway, ranging from maritime environments at the west coast (Sognefjorden - Ålesund) to continental regions near the Swedish border (Femunden - Trysil). Data are obtained by geomorphological mapping, dataloggers and automatic cameras, and are used for ongoing development and validation of a numeric active layer and permafrost models (O. Humlum). H. Farbrot defended his PhD thesis Distribution, thermal regime and geomorphic significance of mountain permafrost in northern Europe – examples from Iceland, northern Norway and Svalbard at the University of Oslo in March 2007. H. Juliussen defended his PhD thesis Near-surface ground thermal regime in permafrost areas of Norway and Svalbard: Processes and geomorphic implications at the University of Oslo in June 2007.
NTNU Department of Geography activities At the north-west coast of Prins Karls Forland, Svalbard, the existing geodetic network on rock glaciers was re-measured in August 2007 by I. Berthling and J. Wasrud, and A. Kääb (Univ. Oslo), following up previous measurements 1996-2000. First results indicate horizontal surface displacements in the order of 2-3 cm/year, similar to those measured earlier. At the same time, 2D resistivity soundings were performed on three of these rock glaciers, complementing earlier 1D resistivity and GPR soundings. Special markers were installed to investigate the movement mechanisms of two rock glaciers. During the same field campaign, a measurement series on stone circles at Kvadehuksletta was started using closerange digital photogrammetry methods. The projects were funded by the Svalbard Science Forum and supported by UNIS.
NTNU, SINTEF and Arctic Technology Department, UNIS research collaboration Increasing focus on oil and gas exploitation, and also on the consequences of climate change in the Arctic region, cause a demand for sustainable and environmental friendly construction methods, durable in harsh Arctic conditions with permafrost, heavy ice loads and strong currents. Scarce availability of high quality construction materials such as gravel and bedrock, strongly limits the use of conventional shoreline protection techniques. In response to these challenges, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure and The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, together with The University Centre in Svalbard, Department of Technology, UNIS, the coal mining company SNSK and several industrial partners have ongoing projects investigating the potential of using geosynthetics as a mean of shoreline and erosion control measures in the Arctic. This work aims at developing new products, structural solutions and construction techniques and includes laboratory tests, numerical analyses and a full-scale test field. Two field test sites are located in the coal mining community Svea in Svalbard. With its position Svalbard is very representative of the conditions along the shorelines towards the Barents Sea. Geotextile bags, made of different fabrics and filled at site with locally available material, are placed protecting an embankment and quay structures where heavy ice loads and strong currents and waves occur. The experiences so far have been very promising. The PhD study by F. Caline, supervised by L. Grande at NTNU/UNIS, is a major part of the research project involving geosynthetics in Arctic erosion control. MSc students at NTNU/UNIS are currently also involved in collecting and organizing existing ground investigation data from Longyearbyen, and to use georadar in detecting ice formations in the permafrost, and this summer a student also performed a comparative study of temperature measurements from Svalbard. UNIS and SNSK cooperates with respect to avalanche mapping and avalanche protection in Longyearbyen proper, around coal mine no. 7 as well as in the Svea area. SINTEF and NTNU will also focus on soil investigations in the Arctic and other cold regions with permafrost. SINTEF has recently, with financial support from the Norwegian oil company Statoil, procured a geotechnical drill rig, which is in Svalbard for use in research projects for SINTEF, NTNU, UNIS and others. A core sampler, made at NTNU, is able to take high quality samples of fine-grained sediments with permafrost. The drill rig has been used together with georadar and other geophysical methods to map permafrost, a research project which continues.
The association of Cryosphere research in Norway, CRYONOR CRYONOR, the network of Norwegian cryosphere scientists held the 2007 meeting, September 19-22, in Folldal. Excursion focus was on the large ice-dammed lakes existing in this part of Norway during the Late Weichselian, and how glaciers and permafrost controlled these huge water bodies. On March 27 CRYONOR organized a one-day seminar at the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, entitled Climate change and the terrestrial cryosphere of mountainous and arctic regions with invited keynote talks by C. Burn and W. Haeberli. The CRYONOR webpage () has more information.
Education and outreach A new AG-330 ‘Permafrost and Periglacial Environments’ course was run for the first time for four weeks starting in early April at UNIS, celebrating the start of the IPY. The course had students from Norway, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Japan. During the course the students were offered lectures by seven different lecturers, all involved in the international IPY project Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP). Students used snow mobile excursions to study different permafrost conditions and periglacial landforms, such as, e.g., the open system pingos in Reindalen. They also did fieldwork to study the ice-content and frost heave in the active layer at a solifluction site in Endalen, and studied how the periglacial landforms such as the debris flows, rockfalls, and snow avalanches form the slopes in the Longyear valley. The students each produced an essay on how a periglacial landform or the permafrost itself is influenced by climate change. This course will be offered again in April 2008.
The IPY EoI no. 24, the International University Course on High Arctic Permafrost Landscape Dynamics in Svalbard and Peary Land, which is part of the TSP IPY project, have submitted an application for Nordic Council financial support for conducting a special IPY permafrost university course, starting in Svalbard and continuing to Zackenberg in northeast Greenland in summer 2008. The result of this application will decide if this course can be held across the north Atlantic during the IPY summer of 2008.
H. Juliussen is the national PYRN coordinator, and within the TSP NORWAY project PYRN activities are included. Angelique Prick was replaced in the IPA Secretariat by Herman Farbrot October 1.