On June 6, 2008, the Federal Council announced that the essential climate variables, among which glaciers, which are surveyed by the world glacier monitoring service in Zurich, now include permafrost.
Permafrost monitoring is implemented through PERMOS (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland) which has been set up for the last ten years through the Swiss permafrost scientists. PERMOS consists of about 20 sites where temperatures in boreholes, at the ground surface and in steep rock walls and in the air, and snow cover and ER tomography are monitored. At about 10 dynamics sites creep movements of rock glaciers are monitored; in addition, debris flows and rock falls are registered and archived. PERMOS has eventually found its place and funds within the frame of the National GCOS Office.
PERMOS has already set up its coordination office. After the pilot phase a thorough evaluation of the concept and all potential elements were accomplished and those are being implemented. PERMOS has continued its eff orts towards a standardized and consolidated monitoring network. The PERMOS report for the monitoring period 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 was published. Data on kinematics were updated for the rock glaciers Gruben and Murtél by the analysis of aerial photographs of the last decade. An operational geophysical monitoring network using electrical resistivity tomography was installed and is operated by C. Hilbich, R. Delaloye and C. Hauck to monitor long-term freeze and thaw processes at four diff erent mountain permafrost sites. In mid-September 2008, the University of Berne organized a seminar for the 20-years anniversary of the PERMOS site Furggentälti/Gemmi. Main results of the research and monitoring activities are published in the series of the Geographical Institute of the University on Berne.
Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research: The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF is actively involved in the new ‘EXTREMES’ project (Spatial extremes and environmental sustainability: statistical methods and applications in geophysics and the environment) aiming to enhance the understanding of extreme environmental events. Data from the SLF permafrost and snow cover monitoring networks is being analyzed with advanced spatial extremal models in order to improve forecasting and risk analysis. (J. Blanchet; E. Zenklusen Mutter; M. Lehning; C. Marty, M. Phillips). Part of the EU project “Hydrosys”, which aims to provide a system infrastructure using hand-held devices for the on-site monitoring of events related to permafrost degradation and infrastructure stability has just been launched at SLF. (M. Kern-Luetschg, M. Lehning). Both projects are supported by the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability of the ETH Domain. The SLF permafrost-monitoring network is functioning well, with borehole- and surface-temperature measurements in different types of natural and artificially disturbed alpine terrain. Techniques such as 3D laser scanning, InSAR or borehole deformation measurements are being applied at several locations to investigate mass movements. A selection of the sites is part of the Swiss PERMOS network (M. Phillips, A. Rist). Practical recommendations for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure in mountain permafrost continue to be developed and will be published in 2009. Case studies, interviews with practitioners and measurements on various types of mountain infrastructure are being carried out to develop these (C. Bommer, M. Phillips).
University of Lausanne: The Institute of Geography of the University of Lausanne (C. Lambiel, C. Scapozza continues its researches on different permafrost-related alpine landforms. The surface velocities of about ten rock glaciers have been measured with DGPS since 2000 (for the oldest series). After the slowing down which occurred between 2004 and 2007, a small increase of the velocities could be observed. Interesting to note was the extreme values of the Tsaté-Moiry rock glacier which showed local velocities of 13 m a-1 in summer 2007. Terrestrial Laser Scanning (Lidar) was carried out on three diff erent landforms (rock glaciers and moraine). The precision of the measurements and the diff erent processes which could be identifi ed (creep, sliding, thawing) showed the great potential of the method for the study of creeping permafrost. Th e monitoring of the ground surface temperatures is carried out at eight sites. About 120 mini dataloggers are currently being used. In autumn 2008, boreholes were drilled in Les Attelas talus slopes (Verbier), in order to get direct information on the permafrost properties and to study the thermal regime of the slope. It will permit the calibration of the geoelectrical data (2D permanent profi le), which clearly indicates the presence of permafrost in the lower third of the slope and its absence upslope. In the frozen moraine at Col des Gentianes (2900 m a.s.l.), the ground temperature borehole monitoring is completed by geoelectrical measurements. The analysis of ground ice found in an excavation with thin sections showed that sedimentary and congelation ice is present in the moraine.
University of Fribourg: Three new faculties well known in the permafrost community of Switzerland started at the Institute for Geography, University of Fribourg in September 2008: R. Delaloye, C. Hauck and M. Hoelzle. C. Hauck and M. Hoelzle are sharing a full professorship. Th is is an important step that ensures the continuation of permafrost research for the next future.
University of Zurich: A number of long-term projects involving modeling, measuring, and monitoring processes of energy exchange and dynamics in mountain permafrost are carried out by the Glaciology, Geomorphodynamics and Geochronology Group at the University of Zurich. Many projects have been described in previous issues of Frozen Ground and new developments are outlined below. Experimentation with improved transient 3D temperature modeling techniques in alpine permafrost was continued to investigate the eff ect of past and future climate change on subsurface temperatures in steep terrain (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, and W. Haeberli). The permafrost distribution in the Schilthorn Ridge was investigated by combining numerical temperature modeling, ground temperature measurements, and electrical resistivity tomography. The combination of these approaches bears potential to improve modeling and validation strategies (J. Noetzli, S. Gruber, and M. Hoelzle, in collaboration with C. Hilbich, Univ. of Jena and C. Hauck).
A helicopter-borne LiDAR survey of the Monte Rosa east face was conducted in September 2007. This LiDAR data together with a time series of photogrammetric high-resolution DTMs starting in 1956 provide a basis for morphometric analyses and studies of glaciation history as well as investigations of slope instabilities in both permafrost-containing bedrock and steep glaciers (L. Fischer, C. Huggel, and W. Haeberli).
The thawing of steep bedrock induced by running water in clift systems as well as dilation of cracks related to cryospheric processes are investigated with a new PermaSense prototype deployment on Matterhorn. PermaSense is a collaborative project developing wireless sensor networks for autonomous operation in harsh environments (A. Hasler and S. Gruber, in collaboration with ETH Zurich, University of Basel, and EPF Lausanne).
In a study carried out at the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m a.s.l., France), rock surface ages using 10Be and their spectral properties in homogenous lithology were compared. Results could be a fi rst step to place modern observations on rock fall activity on permafrost slopes into a long-term perspective by interpreting the surface color as an age proxy (R. Böhlert, S. Gruber, and others, in collaboration with the Institute for Particle Physics, ETH Zurich, and EDYTEM, Univ. Savoie).
Processes of energy exchange at the surface, in the active layer, and in the subsurface are further investigated, monitored, and modeled at the borehole sites Murtèl-Corvatsch, Schilthorn and Stockhorn (S. Gruber, W. Haeberli, A. Hasler, M. Hoelzle, J. Noetzli, and students from the Institute of Geography at the University of Zurich, in collaboration with the universities of Fribourg, Jena, and Karlsruhe and with PERMOS).
Within a NASA funded IPY project in the Copper River region (Wrangell/St. Elias national park, Alaska, USA) led by J. Kargel (University of Arizona), a rockglacier monitoring of horizontal displacements and ground surface temperatures was started in July 2008 (M. Hoelzle and I. Roer, in cooperation with R. Frauenfelder, NGI Oslo, and A. Kääb, Univ. Oslo). In addition, rock avalanche dynamics from glacierized and perennially frozen rock walls are investigated (L. Fischer and C. Huggel).
Dani Vonder Mühll (Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org)