In 2007 Russian geocryologists continued theoretical, experimental, field and stationary research in the framework of national and international projects, including work associated with the International Polar Year.
The Earth Cryosphere Institute (SB RAS) participated in an international expedition that took place on the northern portion of West Siberia in August 2007. It was funded by NASA through the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and Russian Academy of Sciences (Siberian Branch), as well as through the Earth Cryosphere Institute (Tyumen) within the framework of the project Application of space-based technologies and models to address land-cover/ land-use change problems on the Yamal Peninsula, Russia. This project is also the intersection of three International Polar Year (IPY) initiatives: (1) Greening of the Arctic (GOA), (2) Cold Land Processes in NEESPI (CLPN) and (3) CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment (CARMA). Sites visited during this expedition form a transect through the natural zones of the Yamal region from the Nadym area (Northern taiga subzone) through the Laborovaya area (southern tundra subzone) to the Vaskiny Dachi research station (typical tundra subzone). Participants from the USA, Russia, Finland, and Switzerland established seven, 50x50 m grids to measure several biomass properties (NDVI, LAI, species composition and species cover), to sample vegetation and soils, and to probe the active layer. Loggers for monitoring the active layer temperature were installed at a depth of 1.0-1.5 m. Based on long-term monitoring data the staff of the Earth Cryosphere Institute conducted a quantitative evaluation of the response of permafrost formations to modern climate changes.
The Institute of Environmental Geoscience, (IEG RAS), Moscow continued the cooperation with the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the framework of the IPY Project of Permafrost observatories: Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP-125). In 2007, the participants observed the temperatures of permafrost and active layer at eight sites as a part of the Mountain Northern Transbaykalia Permafrost Observatory (Chara Region). Now all these sites are equipped with automated logger thermometric systems. The specialists of IEG RAS worked in close cooperation with Moscow State University staff on the problem of numerical simulation of the ground water flow and heat flux under conditions of non-continuous permafrost. This effort has numerous practical applications in actual engineering works of Russian mining and oil and gas companies.
Modelling the influence of climate changes on the thermal state of frozen ground was continued at the Main Geophysical Observatory (MGO). Ground temperature profiles were considered to a depth of 30 m using a onedimensional heat-transfer model, taking into account the annual variability of snow cover thickness and phase transitions. A satisfactory fit has been achieved between modelled and observed changes during the 20th century in the thickness of the active layer during seasonal thawing and freezing.
The statistical evaluation of changes in climate elements and in soil temperatures was conducted at the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology, an agency of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (RAS). It was noted that, given a noticeable increase in annual average air temperatures practically everywhere on the Russian territory, spatio-temporal changes of frozen ground temperatures have not always been synchronous with air temperature changes. The analysis of the spatiotemporal distribution of soil temperatures at depths of 80, 160, and 320 cm as well as air temperatures and snow cover depth was achieved with the use of GIS MapInfo technologies.
A study of the zonation of the Arctic shelf based on conditions of permafrost formation was carried out at the Geocryology Department (MSU). Continental shelves, which were examined, included glaciated shelves (the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea), periglacial shelves (the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea, and the Chukchi Sea), and “by” glacial shelf (a glacial isostatic shelf of the Beaufort Sea). All these shelves are different in the characteristics of cryolithozone. The two common features for all shelves are: 1) the modern position of the permafrost surface is controlled by thermokarst; 2) thermal abrasion contributed to submarine permafrost transgression and its areal extent. New data regarding the structure and properties of deposits has been collected for thermokarst lagoons of the Bykovsky Peninsula. A cross-section of Quaternary deposits was studied on the south shore of the Bolshoi Lyakhovsky Island and at the Oygossky Yar during the 2007 field season. About 200 km of Dmitri Laptev Strait shoreline was examined. Variability in lateral cross-section structures was observed, and similarities and differences in cross-section structure on opposite shores of the strait were detected. Quaternary formations that had not previously been considered were identified and studied.
It was determined that succession in swamp systems includes relatively stable ecological-geocryological evolution stages (ecological-geocryological climaxes). Such climaxes are characterized by a certain geocryological situation, and are the final stages of ascending swamp area development. The main indicators and characteristics of these climaxes for cryolithozone swamp areas were defined.
The principles of permafrost temperature regime formation, under natural climate dynamics, were established based on the data from Marre-Sale station (Western Yamal) and on modelling. It was shown that the ground temperature reacts similarly to annual changes in air temperature.
Research at the Permafrost Institute (SB RAS), a special type of icy formations was identified in the structure of the Yakutian ice complex. “Extranivites” (cryolithogenic snow-patch deposits) occupy a separate place among genetic types of continental sedimentary formations. A leading factor in extranivites accumulation is the process of melt water, sheet wash from the lower edge of one or several drifted snow patches. Field work to study the morphology and hydrological characteristics of the Bykovsky Peninsula offshore continental slope was conducted in August 2007. This data supplemented an earlier geophysical exploration in which the drilling profile identified submarine permafrost. The monitoring of geocryological, hydrogeological and geophysical studies in the zone of constructed objects, as Berkakit-Tommot- Yakutsk railroad, the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, Southern Yakutia hydropower dams and Polar Sea Line’s objects were continued.
In 2007 thanks to IPY the geocryological monitoring survey and educational courses in Russia were enhanced. For the first time the International Educational Permafrost Field Courses in Nadym-Pur-Taz region and in the Tazovsky Peninsula took place. Thirty-four students, graduate students and teachers including 13 Germans and four Americans members participated in these courses. Also the field course along Yenisey River was accomplished (see details in Other News section).
The Geocryology Department (MSU) conducted an experimental study of gas-hydrates formation in fine-dispersed grounds and peculiarities of gas-hydrates containing grounds. Quantitative data on the methanehydrate and carbon dioxide accumulation kinetics in the pore space of frozen grounds were determined. The method of equilibrium water content evaluation for the gas-hydrates containing grounds was developed. The first experimental data on the thermal conductivity of artificial gas-hydrates saturated grounds was obtained. The Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology (MSU) investigated the petroleum content and hydrocarbon component structure in polluted seasonally frozen grounds. The model of cryogenic transformation and migration of the mineral and organic materials in the cryolithozone was developed. The amount of greenhouse gases in permafrost and the level of their emission in different landscape and cryofacies conditions were estimated. The possibility and mechanism of ground ice formation as a result of sea and inshore water interaction was shown.
The Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology, and Cryology (SB RAS) studied the role of cryogenic concentration in buffering solutions. New data on the thermodynamics of groundwater layers and the acidic kinetics of sulphide ores were obtained. The study of mineralogical and geochemical processes with respect to permafrost stability was continued. The influence of the climate change on the cryogenic processes and permafrost structure in the mountain regions of South-Eastern Siberia was studied.
The Atmosphere Physics Institute (RAS) developed a new model of heat and mass transfer in the soils. This model combined high detailed description of process mechanisms with relatively short time of calculations. The National Enterprise Fundamentproekt completed the study of karst activity in permafrost regions. Further, the detailed complex survey for objects in the northern part of Western Siberia was completed (Zapolyarnoye, Urengoyskoye and Bovanenkovskoye gas fields). The geosystem method of zoning by using the matrix analysis of geologic engineering factors was applied to large scale mapping of impact zones on objects in Western Siberia, Yamal Peninsula, Polar Ural and Komi Republic. The Scientific and Industrial Enterprise on the Engineer Geologic and Environmental Monitoring of Transport Objects continued the deformation survey of motor roads in Transbaykalia. The practical recommendations on the contact-line support stability along the Transbaykalia railroad were issued.
The Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology (MSU) obtained results of experimental tests of ground shearing strength along the surface of freezing with different substances. In so doing the different condition of freezing and structural changes in the ground were taken into account. New data on the influence of petroleum abundance on the long-term compression strength was collected. The Department of Geocryology (MSU) expanded the original set of electrical and acoustical measurements in the study of the influence of the oil pollution on the polarization efficiency of the ground. New equipment was tested in the field condition of the Bovanenkovo–Ukhta pipeline. The new method of minimum-rated values measurement of the thawed ground strength was drawn up. It took into account the change of the pore pressure. New regularities in global and regional climate change were explored at the Department of Cryology (MSU). Cryogenic indicators in a loess-like deposit were detected and analyzed in the central part of the Russian Plain and in North America. Predictive research, jointly with the Moscow Energy Institute staff, was conducted on climate change and the dynamics of permafrost formations in northwestern Russia over the next 300 years. Contemporary evolution of minor glaciation forms in the Caucasus and Siberia (Kuztensk Alatau, Byrranga and Putorana mountains) as well as in Transbaikalia (Kodar ridge) were studied. Meteorological data gathering, measurements of the glacier mass balance and river flow discharge in the Kodar Ridge were established and conducted during the joint research with the Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology SB RAS and Institute of Environmental Geoscience (IEG RAS). In addition, basic meteorological and permafrost observations (for temperature and precipitation) were obtained in the surrounding non-glaciated areas (INTAS 06-1000013-8593). The causes for the activation of catastrophic events in mountains were determined. There is a reduction of mountain glaciation and winter snowfall.
The common work of VNIIGAZ-Institute with Department of Geocryology (MSU) and the National Enterprise Fundamentproekt published: STO Gazprom– Method of geocryological survey for the gas fields prospecting and exploitation.
In June 2007 the International Conference Cryogenic Resources of Polar Regions took place in Salekhard (Western Siberia). Geologists, geographers, biologists, medical personnel, civil engineers, soil scientists, climatologists, ecologists, and other specialists participated in this conference. The preliminary results of projects of IPY, educational problems, permafrost variability in continental and offshore regions, arctic hydrosphere and glaciosphere, snow cover variability, vegetation change, environmental problems and cryogenic hazards were discussed during the conference. The proceedings of abstracts were published in English and Russian.
In October 2007 the VII International Symposium on Engineering Problems of Permafrost was held in Chita (Transbaykalia). The questions of the transport impact on the permafrost, the kinetics of cryogenic processes and peculiarities of frozen grounds were considered in this forum.
The journal The Earth Cryosphere is 10 years old. It appears in print four times a year, informing Russian and international scientific community about the most essential and original results of research in the area of permafrost science and engineering. From the first days of founding the journal, the editor-in-chief was Academician V. Melnikov, Executive Secretary is S. Fotiev and editor of the Moscow editorial board is N. Aroutunian. During these ten years 40 issues of the journal containing 447 articles were printed. A total of 472 authors including 44 foreigners have published in the journal. The academicians and corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doctors of sciences, senior specialists of different branches of national economy, students and post-graduates were among them. Editorial staff constantly derived encouragement from representatives of 136 Russian and 36 foreign institutions located in 57 cities in Russia and from 30 foreign cities. The main result of the work of editorial staff, authors and reviewers is the general recognition of the Earth Cryosphere as one of the leading components of the Earth cryology. The question of the journal publishing in English is under consideration.
G. Perlshtein, D. Sergueev, L. Sukhodolskaya and M. Tishkova (firstname.lastname@example.org)