PERMOS, the PERmafrost MOnitoring Switzerland, has been further consolidated: In addition to the coordination office, a scientific committee was constituted and met three times. Besides elaboration of data policy, defining governance structures and ensuring quality, it conducted the re-evaluation of the “B”-ranked sites in fall 2009. Standards for the two types of sites, “Thermal Sites” and “Dynamic / Kinematic Sites” are being implemented step by step. As one part of the process, a questionnaire was published on www.permos.ch to receive information from the larger public, when rock fall were observed. Existing rock fall inventories form the base and are complemented by feedback from the questionnaire. In June, the Annual PERMOS meeting was held in Neuchâtel and included an excursion to the Jura permafrost site Creux du Van.
At the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF (www.slf.ch), new practical guidelines for the construction of infrastructure in mountain permafrost were developed in collaboration with various partners; with a special emphasis on site selection and structure design with special technical solutions. The SLF permafrost monitoring network now includes new instrumented boreholes under recently built mountain infrastructure such as pylons, buildings and defense structures. Temperature trends from older boreholes located in complex mountain topography in the Swiss Alps are being analyzed using specially developed Generalized Linear Models. At sites where reference data are available, 3D-laserscanning techniques are being tested to monitor creep, subsidence and erosion rates in different types of mountain permafrost terrain. Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) surveys continued to be made on the Gemsstock ridge (with the University of Bonn). ERT monitoring were carried out (with the University of Fribourg within PERMOS) to observe the rapidly thawing ground ice at the Flüela Pass site, where one of the first Swiss permafrost investigations was carried out in the 1970’s.
The Institute of Geography of the University of Lausanne (www.unil.ch/igul) concentrated its researches on two main topics: study of permafrost extension and characteristics in various alpine landforms and study of permafrost creep. Between September 2008 and 2009, nine new boreholes were drilled on three different talus slopes in the Valais Alps, within the permafrost belt: Petit Mont Rouge (Arolla), Les Attelas (Verbier, including borehole logging) and Les Lapires (Nendaz). Lapires is a joint project with the University of Fribourg. Geophysical surveys (ER and seismic tomography) were carried out with the University of Zurich. Automatic cameras were installed at all sites to observe references to internal air circulation in the scree slopes. Electromagnetic geophysics surveys (EM 31, IP and VLF-R) to map permafrost extent were applied in the Ticino Canton (Southern Swiss Alps). Investigations about relative and semi-absolute dating of alpine periglacial landforms using the Schmidt Hammer were carried out in several sites of the northern and southern Swiss Alps. Movement, deformation and internal structure of creeping permafrost landforms (rock glaciers, frozen moraine) were studied using d-GPS, Terrestrial Laser Scanning (with the Institute of Geomatics and Risk Analysis of the University of Lausanne) and ERT.
At the University of Zurich (www.geo.uzh.ch/en/units/physical-geography-3g), a number of long-term projects involving modeling, measuring, and monitoring in mountain permafrost are being continued. Three new permafrost-related PhD projects have recently started: one concerning uncertainty and validation of physics-based permafrost models, one concerning statistical modeling of permafrost over the Alpine arc combined with local 2D/3D modeling, and one concerning sub-grid computation of permafrost and other cryosphere phenomena in mountains for application on continental scales. The Permasense wireless sensor networks on Matterhorn and Jungfraujoch are measuring and transmitting information on temperature, electric conductivity and crack dilatation. Additionally, the thaw of ice-filled clefts in bedrock is further investigated using laboratory experiments (with the Université de Caen, France. A collaboration with the SLF Davos, the Federal Institute for the Environment (FOEN), the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment, and the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) in Austria has started in the scope of the PermaNET project (Alpine Space, Interreg III). Field sites were instrumented with temperature sensors and a database of alpine-wide permafrost evidences has been set up, which serves for the design and validation of statistical modeling. The occurrence of rock avalanches from glacierized and perennially frozen rock walls in the Central European Alps is investigated in a multi-scale approach. Detailed finite element stability modeling and analyses of high-resolution time-lapse DTMs are combined with regional-scale statistical analyses of detachment zones to evaluate the controlling factors for periglacial rock mass failures (in collaboration with University of Oslo and the ETH Zurich). Terrestrial survey were restarted on the rock glaciers Murtèl and Muragl (Grisons) to quantify permafrost creep rates on an seasonal to annual basis.
At the University of Fribourg, the Department of Geosciences (www.unifr.ch/geoscience/geographie/en/index3.php) established three new “permafrost” faculties in September 2008 (Reynald Delaloye, Martin Hoelzle, Christian Hauck) building a new scientific group called “Alpine Cryosphere & Geomorphology”. The research focus includes mountain permafrost monitoring and modelling, using a variety of geophysical, geodetic and geomorphological methods, as well as subsurface modeling and coupling procedures to Regional Climate Models. Currently 3 PhD students and 2 PostDocs work on various topics ranging from ground-atmosphere modeling, effect of snow cover, geophysical monitoring to kinematics of rock glaciers and unstable permafrost slopes.
Daniel Vonder-Mühll (firstname.lastname@example.org).