Permafrost research in Austria in 2009 was carried out by an increasing number of experienced and younger scientists. The University of Innsbruck group of K. Krainer in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann), the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg/ZAMG Salzburg (M. Staudinger, C. Riedl) and the Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer) continued working on the project Permafrost in Austria. At the study area Krummgampental, Kaunertal (Ötztal Alps) permafrost mapping was continued on unconsolidated sediments (rock glacier, moraines, talus slopes) using a 12 channel seismic recording system with continuous recording modus. Interpretations of velocity-depth functions from 1D-diving wave tomography, 2D seismic refraction analyses and BTS-temperatures were evaluated for permafrost detection. A structural investigation was conducted with GPR (low frequency antennas/15&35MHz). At the study area Sonnblick the observation of P- and S-wave velocity field variations and seismic tomography using 15 borehole geophones was applied.

ZAMG Salzburg also continued working on PermaNET ( For 2009 a laser scan of the north face of Sonnblick was carried out which will be repeated in the following years. For the 3D modelling of the permafrost distribution on Sonnblick long term climate data, present borehole temperature data (20 m) and ground surface measurements were collected and corrected. ZAMG Vienna (W. Schöner) continued working on the project PERSON as another part of the larger permafrost monitoring programme in the Sonnblick region.

Collection of ground surface temperature data and marking the sensor location in the Sonnblick north face at 3100 m a.s.l. (Photograph provided by Gerhard Schauer)

The University of Salzburg group (L. Schrott, J.-Ch. Otto, B. Ebohon) continued working on (; including a Web GIS). At several test sites (Glorer Hütte, Kitzsteinhorn, Gradental, Obersulzbachtal) new data have been gathered by field geophysics (ERT, GPR), ground temperature dataloggers and BTS-measurements.
The University of Innsbruck group of J. Stötter carries out permafrost research within PermaNET, ALS-X (Combination and Evaluation of Airborne Laserscanning and TerraSAR-X Data in Glaciology and Hydrology) and C4AUSTRIA (Climate Change Consequences for the Cryosphere) projects. All projects apply airborne laser scanning/ALS data and relevant tools. Preliminary results show that the high spatial resolution and the precision of the ALS data facilitate the quantification of permafrost degradation.

The Graz group consisting of the University of Graz (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb), Graz University of Technology (M. Avian, V. Kaufmann), and Joanneum Research (A. Bauer), continued working on ALPCHANGE (extended to November 2009; and PermaNET spatially focussing on study areas in the Hohe Tauern and Niedere Tauern Ranges in Austria. In 2006, comprehensive permafrost monitoring networks were installed at six study areas within ALPCHANGE (see previous Frozen Ground issues). All these monitoring activities were continued and extended within PermaNET in 2009. Local scale activities were exemplarily the continuation of the annual geodetic measurements on the Dösen, Hinteres Langtalkar and Weissenkar rock glaciers, field mapping, 2D-geoelectric measurements (in cooperation with J. Götz, University of Salzburg) and BTS measurements at different sites. The resurveying by terrestrial laser scanning/TLS of the front of the Hinteres Langtalkar rock glacier (since 2000) as well as most of its lower two-third as seen from a higher elevated scanner position (first time this year) was carried out by the new TLS system Riegl LMS-Z620. Airborne laser scanning/ALS was carried out in September 2009 at the Pasterze area and the Central Schober Mountains. Finally, within a bilateral project A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer and M. Avian joined colleagues from the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain (D. Palacios, L. M. Tanarro, J. Marcos) for joint fieldwork in the Sierra de Gredos and Sierra Nevada.

Joint fieldwork of Austrian permafrost researcher (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, M. Avian) with Spanish colleagues (D. Palacios, L. M. Tanarro) at the southern most active rock glacier and permafrost site of Europe, at Corral de Veleta in the Sierra Nevada, Spain. (Photograph provided by Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer)

Finally we want to report on a new project that should be approved by the end of 2009. PERMAFROST – Austrian Permafrost Research Initiative is a joint project by four different Austrian permafrost research groups (Graz, Salzburg, 2 x Innsbruck) and a first step in order to establish a permafrost monitoring program in Austria. This project will be funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer and Gerhard Karl Lieb (