During the past year permafrost and periglacial research activities developed by the Spanish research teams were mainly conducted in universities of Barcelona, Complutense de Madrid, Autónoma de Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, León, Valladolid, Extremadura, Santiago de Compostela and Zaragoza.
The works are concentrated on Spanish mountains, the Andes, in the Arctic and Antarctica. All of those are continuations of programs started in previous years under the National Research Programs framework and in participation with the IPY 2007- 2009 (see Frozen Ground #31, p.32-33).
The Soil Thermal Monitoring Network on Iberian Peninsula Mountains initiative, founded at the beginning by Spanish Science and Technology Programme and led by A. Gómez- Ortíz (University of Barcelona) includes several research groups (University of de Barcelona, University Complutense de Madrid, University of Alcalá de Henares, University of León, University of Valladolid, University of Extremadura and University of Zaragoza) and continues its activities. Th is year M. Ramos (University of Alcalá de Henares), F. Salvador (University of Barcelona) and G. T. Vieira (University of Lisbon) have unified criteria on monitoring the thermal regime of soils, and studies have begun in the Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa, Cantabrian Mountains.
On May 19-21, the workshop “Th e maritime Sub-Antarctic as a possible analogue for the Late-Pleistocene of Galicia”, organised by the Department of Geography of the University of Santiago de Compostela and coordinated by Prof. A. Pérez- Alberti and Prof. H. M. French, took place in Santiago de Compostela. The workshop focused on the analysis of landforms and processes related to wet periglacial environments, focusing on the Maritime Antarctica, Tierra del Fuego and Galicia. Th e meeting hosted 15 participants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, UK, and Canada and included lectures by H.M. French, K. Hall and J. Murton. Twelve communications were presented in the scientific sessions and there was a field trip to the Galician Ranges (Xistral, Meira and Ancares) led by M. Valcárcel and A. Pérez-Alberti, where the Late Pleistocene frost action, glacial landscape and sub-nival processes could be analysed.
The periglacial group of the University of Barcelona, Complutense de Madrid and Extremadura and lead by Prof. A. Gómez-Ortíz, continued its investigations in the Sierra Nevada (Southeast Iberian Peninsula, 37º N). It emphasizes monitoring the physical state of relict ice and permafrost trapped in the ancient accumulation area of Corral del Veleta (3150 m a.s.l.). The results confi rm the continued degradation of ice bodies beneath the debris cover in response to the interrelationship between soil temperature, nival coverage and the subsidence of the debris body. In the area sampled the loss of volume of ice since 2001 could be around 10,000 m3.
In the Picos de Europa, the research group from the Universities of Valladolid, Extremadura, Cantabria and St Louis, supported by the Science and Technology Ministry and the Picos de Europa National Park, are researching the evolution of the last remnants of relict ice in the Cantabrian Mountains as well as the periglacial processes associated with ice bodies and the possible presence of sporadic permafrost. Along the same line of research of periglacial and nival features as geoindicators of environmental changes in the Iberian high mountains, the research group is working in the Pyrenees, where it is monitoring the dynamic of several rock glaciers and periglacial processes as well as studying the structure and dynamic of Pyrenean periglacial environments and their recent changes.
The G.I.X.A. Group of the University of Santiago de Compostela, lead by M. Valcárcel pursues its investigations of the eff ects of nival activity in the Sierra de Ancares. The group was involved in several activities of the periglacial community. Most of the fi eldwork was carried out in Tierra del Fuego, lead by A. Pérez Alberti, where the periglacial landforms (patterned ground, rock glaciers, cryonival steps, debris slopes) were studied and mountain permafrost identifi ed. A CALM site was established at 1050 m a.s.l. In the Andes of Mendoza new studies have been initiated to understand the thermal stress on the substrate between 3000 and 4200 m a.s.l.
The research team of the Department of Physical Geography of the University Complutense, leaded by D. Palacios, is continuing with its work on permafrost and rock glacier distribution in Stratovolcanoes of Mexico and southern Peru. Additionally, in collaboration with the Department of Vegetal Biology of the same university, it is carrying out an IPY project on lichen colonization in new areas (deglaciated or post-permafrost areas) in selected bipolar loci.
The Spanish participation in the IPY 2007-2009 takes place in Antarctica (four projects), in the Arctic (six projects) and in subantarctic environments (Andes, one project) in coordinated projects funded by the Spanish Polar Research Program. Th e Spanish participation in permafrost and periglacial research is intergrated in the IPY research programmes: ANTPAS (Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Permafrost), TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost), MERGE (Microbiological and Ecological Responses to Global Environmental Changes in Polar Regions), TARANTELA (Terrestrial Ecosystems in Arctic and Antarctic) and EBA (Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic). Investigations are carried out in the Maritime Antarctica by the groups of Alcalá de Henares and Autónoma de Madrid, and by the group of Santiago de Compostela in Patagonia (see Frozen Ground #31, p. 32-33).
The next meeting of the IPA Spanish Group, the Second Iberian Congress of IPA, will take place at Sigüenza (Guadalajara) in June 2009 and will be organized by the University of Alcalá de Henares.
Enrique Serrano (email@example.com)