PERMOS (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland) has a coordination office. Since January 2007, J. Noetzli and I. Roer support D. Vonder Mühll with the PERMOS implementation.
Thanks to support from the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS), the Federal Office for Environment (FOE) and the Federal Office for Meteorology (MeteoSwitzerland), PERMOS has a half time position for the period for 2007-2010. Meanwhile all PERMOS elements were evaluated. Those elements that will be continued for the next decades will be updated according to a methodological/technological standard. Each element is maintained by one of the Swiss university institute partners. At the same time, the monitoring concept was adapted.
The Swiss Society on Snow, Ice and Permafrost (SIP) () had several excursions and meetings. In February a public open meeting was organized together with the Swiss Alpine Club and Swiss Alpine museum in Bern. In July a workshop and an excursion was organized together with the Swiss Geomorphological Society in the Upper Engadin, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Murtèl borehole. SIP is open to everyone interested in cryospheric research in Switzerland. President M. Hoelzle (firstname.lastname@example.org) is happy to receive applications for membership.
An international group set up a project in the context of a possible acceleration of rock glacier creep due to changing climate. The main goal is the quantification and monitoring of subsurface properties, especially the ice content and water content as relevant parameters. The Gianda Grischa rock glacier, a highly active rock glacier at Piz Julier, Eastern Swiss Alps, is investigated by studying the interplay between kinematic, thermal and textual properties of the creeping permafrost body (R. Frauenfelder, SNF-scholarship, Univ. of Oslo, C. Hauck, Univ. of Karlsruhe, C. Hilbich, Univ. of Jena, and C. Kneisel, Univ. of Würzburg). The aim of the project is a mid-term monitoring of the ice content, active layer thickness, creep velocity and MAGST.
Reports from the Institutes: Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research is developing practical recommendations for the construction of infrastructure on mountain permafrost. In the Alps there are only guidelines for the construction of snow-supporting structures in permafrost, and none for other types of infrastructure such as cableways, mountain huts and pipelines. A combination of information derived from case studies, in-situ measurements, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling is applied in the development of the recommendations, which will cover each construction phase, from permafrost detection to infrastructure maintenance and long-term monitoring. They aim to provide technical solutions to reduce the damage potential as well as the costs and risks involved in the construction and maintenance of high mountain infrastructures in permafrost terrain affected by climate warming. The project is financed by the Swiss Federal Office of Transport and Canton Valais, and is carried out in collaboration with Geotest and with the Swiss Alpine Club (C. Bommer and M. Phillips).
Universities of Fribourg and Lausanne: The Institutes of Geography of the University of Fribourg (R. Delaloye, S. Morard, E. Perruchoud) and Lausanne (C. Lambiel, K. Pieracci, C. Scapozza) focus their investigations on different sediment deposits (rock glaciers, talus slopes, moraines) located in the periglacial belt and in the belt forest of the Swiss Alps. The surface velocities of about ten rock glaciers have been measured with DGPS since 2000 (for the oldest series). Noteworthy are two surging rock glaciers (Tsaté-Moiry and Petit Vélan), for which the measured velocities are about 5 m a-1. Further studies focus on determining the permafrost extension and structure using 1D and 2D geoelectrical and ground surface thermal measurements. A number of permafrost boreholes were drilled in autumn 2007. In October 2006, an excavation (for a ski run) removed the active layer up to the top of the permafrost at Col des Gentianes (2900 m asl), where a 20 m PERMOS borehole is located. The thermal regime at a low elevation talus slope at Dreveneuse (Swiss Prealps) was investigated. Two boreholes proved the presence of extrazonal permafrost about 1000 m asl below the regional lower limit of the discontinuous permafrost. Investigation about the influence of air circulation through talus slopes and relict/ inactive rock glaciers is continuing on several sites.
University of Zurich: Numerical experiments with both idealized and real topographies were conducted to investigate the influence of time and depth scales of past and future transient effects that influence permafrost temperatures below alpine topography. The remaining palaeo-effects from the last ice age and earlier are very small for subsurface permafrost temperatures, whereas transient effects of current and future warming were found to be highly relevant for the subsurface thermal field (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber). For the permafrost research site on the Schilthorn ridge a 4D investigation of the subsurface permafrost conditions has been started that uses a combination of numerical temperature modelling and field measurements of ground temperatures and electrical resistivity tomography (J. Noetzli, C. Hilbich, M. Hoelzle, Ch. Hauck, M. Krauer, S. Gruber). The preparatory study to designate the location of a new permafrost borehole on the Zugspitze, Bavarian Alps, involved a 3D permafrost modelling effort. The 3D thermal field for the Zugspitze crest was calculated based for use in complex topography. The drilling was planned for summer 2007 (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, A. v. Poschinger (Bavarian Environment Agency), W. Haeberli). Studies on the interplay between slope stability and frozen rock are being continued (L. Fischer, J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, Ch. Huggel). Nearly one kilogram of ice was recovered in 2005 from the detachment scar of a rockfall on Matterhorn by Italian researchers and mountain guides (U. Morra, L. Trucco). This ice is now being analyzed (D. Wagenbach (IUP, Heidelberg, Germany), R. Kaegi, S. Gruber).
Ongoing monitoring of rock glacier kinematics is conducted in the Valais (I. Roer, University of Zürich). In addition, I. Roer started to compile an inventory of collapsing active rock glaciers in the Alps with contributions by R. Delaloye (University of Fribourg) and M. Avian (Graz University of Technology).
A profound analysis of rock glacier stratigraphy and ice content was enabled by ski-run construction works near Zermatt, where a complete rock glacier was excavated. Here, geomorphological mapping was combined with geophysical surveys and the extraction of ice-samples (I. Roer, C. Hauck (University of Karlsruhe), C. Hilbich (University of Jena)).
The EU-funded project SuPerForm (Subarctic Periglacial Landforms) dealing with solifluction and gelifluction processes in Swedish Lapland is continued by I. Roer, in collaboration with C. Kneisel (University of Würzburg).
The development and deployment of wireless sensor networks and corresponding hard-/software dedicated to low-power autonomous operation under high-mountain conditions continued within the PERMASENSE project that is part of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) on Mobile Information and Communication Systems (MICS) and co-funded by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The project comprises researchers of the Universities of Zurich and Basel, as well as ETH Zurich (A. Hasler, I. Talzi, S. Gruber, J. Beutel, H.U. Gubler, D. Vonder Mühll, Ch. Tschudin, and L. Thiele).
Ongoing several small projects on energy exchange at the surface and within the active layer are investigated at the Murtél-Corvatsch and Schilthorn sites, Switzerland. Energy fluxes at the surface (including snow) and within the active layer are still poorly understood, but play an essential role in process-oriented research and sensitivity studies with respect to complex interactions and feedback mechanisms within the alpine permafrost system. Circulation of water, and especially air, can cause important lateral fluxes of mass and energy within coarse blocks on steep slopes and result in highly variable and some times extreme thermal offsets between the ground surface and the permafrost table. Measuring and modelling such fluxes together with coupling timedependent surface and subsurface ground thermal conditions in characteristic alpine materials (bedrock, ice-rich debris, blocky debris and fine-grained deposits) constitute the main challenges (M. Hoelzle, S. Gruber, J. Noetzli, M. Hauck, C. Hilbich).
Dani Vonder Mühll (Daniel.VonderMuehll@SystemX.ch)