In the Japanese archipelago, a permafrost study on the Fuji volcano (3776 m a.s.l., MAAT= −6°C), which was started last year, was re-designed because of an unexpected high ground temperature that was monitored in two 3-m deep boreholes at the summit area (A. Ikeda, G. Iwahana, T. Sueyoshi, K. Harada, R. Nishii and H. Arai).

In the southern Japanese Alps, an automatic camera has visually recorded movements of surface stones, data which were combined with records of frost heave, soil temperature and moisture to explore the detailed dynamics of solifluction features (N. Matsuoka). Radiocarbon dating of relict rock glaciers around Mt. Ainodake (MAAT= −2°C) indicated the advance of the rock glaciers from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Late Glacial (A. Ikeda and R. Nishii).

Several overseas projects are also going on. In Svalbard, a monitoring campaign is being continued in order to understand the dynamics of ice- and soil-wedge polygons, mudboils and a polar rock glacier with a variety of methods (N. Matsuoka, T. Watanabe), in collaboration with UNIS (H.H. Christiansen) and the University of Oslo (O. Humlum). Detailed (2D and 3D) geophysical sounding was used to detect subsurface frost wedge structures under non-sorted polygons and to illustrate temporal variation in the subsurface moisture regime (T. Watanabe).

In Alaska, a project named ‘2004 Forest Fire Impacts to Hydrological Cycles, Permafrost and Eco Systems in Central Alaska’ is being pursued since 2005 in order to monitor permafrost conditions after severe wildfire (K. Harada, K. Narita, K. Saito). In August 2009, the following observations were carried out at the Kougarok site near Nome, Alaska: thaw depths, surface roughness compared with satellite data and ground temperatures (since 2007). Vegetation surveys were also made in order to characterize the recovery after wildfire at burned sites. Continuous data of thaw depth and ground temperature could be obtained during these investigations and will help to understand the effect of wildfire on permafrost condition and vegetation recovery.

In Siberia, the RIGC (Research Institute for Global Change) in JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science, have started to improve distributed soil moisture and temperature monitoring in the active layer around Yakutsk region since the spring of 2009 in order to better characterize increased soil moisture and altered active layer thermal properties, which are likely due to widespread warming of the surface layer of permafrost in this region. An educational activity, a field science short course ‘Taiga forest ecosystem on permafrost –Role of permafrost zone in a global change–’ for graduate students and young scientists was conducted in the Spasskaya Pad Research Station of the Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone in Yakutsk, Russia from the 1st to the 7th of August 2009. This summer field course was provided by the Global COE Program of Hokkaido University ‘Establishment of Center for Integrated Field Environmental Science’ (http://www.ees.hokudai.ac.jp/gcoe/).

The Japanese Permafrost Association was formally founded as the national organization corresponding to IPA in September 2008, aiming at promoting collaborative research, exchanging information on permafrost monitoring and organizing scientific meetings. In the 2008–09 period, meetings on permafrost and periglacial research were held twice (November 2008 and February 2009) in Sapporo. About 20 scientists and students participated to each meeting.

Norikazu Matsuoka (matsuoka@geoenv.tsukuba.ac.jp).