Third European Conference on Permafrost, EUCOP III

In 2010 the Norwegian permafrost researchers and engineers focussed on getting the Third European Conference on Permafrost, EUCOP III held at 78°N in Longyearbyen in Svalbard. In addition to the organisation of the conference, the Norwegian contribution to EUCOP III was 42 scientific abstracts, 12 oral presentations and 25 posters. There was 35 scientists and engineers from Norwegian institutions participating in EUCOP III, of which several were master and Ph.D. students from University of Oslo and UNIS. The strong field focus of the conference, being hosted in an area with continuous permafrost, proved to be valuable. Unfortunately we did not manage to organise a longer multi-day excursion, mainly due to missing funding, but all the announced one-day field trips were very well attended. We hope this concept may be further developed at coming permafrost conferences. We want to thank our international colleagues for their assistance with EUCOP III through their contributions in the International Organising Committee, and we wish Portugal all the best with organising EUCOP IV. A full report has been published in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes by H.H. Christiansen and B. Etzelmüller.


EUCOP2010 participants on field excursion to Gruvefjellet above Longyearbyen. Stephan Vogel (to the right) is lecturing on snow avalanches. (Photograph provided by O. Humlum)

TSP Norway IPY project activities

The Permafrost Observatory project: A contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (TSP Norway) was formally terminated in 2010, although the new installations will enable us to continue observations by operating the Nordenskiöldland Permafrost Observatory for the years to come. We have now downloaded the first two year data from all our TSP boreholes from different landforms in Svalbard and northern Norway, and data are on their way into NORPERM, the Norwegian online permafrost database. This database was launched spring 2009, and contains TSP Norway data and other permafrost data from Norway and Svalbard. The database may be accessed from and, respectively.

Geology Department, UNIS

Permafrost and periglacial studies were continued by H.H. Christiansen, H. Juliussen and M. Eckersdorfer, partly within the TSP Norway project. Markus Eckerstorfer continued his Ph.D. study on snow avalanches and meteorological control in Svalbard, working also with the CRYOSLOPE Svalbard (2007-2009) research project data, and partly continuing some key CRYOSLOPE activity.
In 2010 we joined the DEFROST Nordic Centre of Excellence in research network, which is going to focus on impacts of a changing cryosphere - depicting ecosystem-climate feedbacks from permafrost, snow and ice, starting mainly in 2011. We participated in the CryoEx project together with the Universities of Oslo, Ottawa and Carleton.

Physical Geography, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

The CRYOLINK project ( has been continued by B. Etzelmüller, H. Farbrot, O. Humlum, K.S. Lilleøren, T. Hipp and K. Gisnås , together with K. Isaksen ( and R. Ødegård (HiG), focussed upon 15 shallow permafrost boreholes in southern Norway, and with a permanent geoelectrical monitoring station was established at Juvvasshøe in Jotunheimen. In connection with the CRYOLINK project both a permafrost equilibrium and transient model was implemented for Norway, driven by gridded daily air temperature and precipitation data provided by the Norwegian Meteorlogical Insitute and the Norwegian Water and Energy Directorate.
The project on mountain meteorology, snow cover, vegetation, ground temperatures and interaction between permafrost and glaciers in southern Norway continues (O. Humlum), and now covers winters with very different meteorological characteristics.
In 2010 the University of Oslo in collaboration with UNIS received funding for student and faculty member exchange  with the University of Ottawa (A. Lewkowicz) and Carleton University (C. Burn) from SIU (Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Higher Education). The project (CryoEX) facilitates exchange of faculty members and students. At University of Oslo a special field course (GEO9411 - Field course in glacial and periglacial geomorphology/geocryology, 5 ECTS) open for CryoEX students was held by B. Etzelmüller and O. Humlum in August-September.


GEO9411 participants walking towards the firn Juvvassfonn at Juvvasshøe, Jotunheimen, Norway. Juvvassfonn is resting on permafrost and the participants are going to visit a tunnel excavated into the firn surface, extending almost to the base. (Photograph provided by O. Humlum)

Department of Geography, NTNU

On Prins Karls Forland and Kvadehuksletta, Svalbard, data on soil organic carbon contents and age, sorted circle dynamics and rock glacier displacements have been collected for the Dynamics of Carbon Pools in High Arctic Permafrost (CAPP-dyn) project by I. Berthling/A. Peters (NTNU) together with B. Hallet and R. Sletten (University of Washington) and T. Urke (University of Oslo), funded by The Research Council of Norway (RCN). As part of the ESF SedyMONT project led by A. Beylich (NGU/NTNU) and funded by RCN, ground surface temperature monitoring of steep rock walls in the Nordfjord area has started. Monitoring of ground temperatures and thaw consolidation processes continues within the watershed of Vekve in Oppdal, Central Norway (I. Berthling, G. Vatne, W. Larsen, L. Sellevoll). Data on morphometry of solifluction landforms have been collected by I. Berthling/F. Høgaas/P.G. Kielland.

University College at Narvik (NUC), Sintef and engineering companies

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, contains several buildings constructed at around 1950. Several of these buildings are now experiencing severe settlement damages. The settlements are often caused by foundation designs not suited for permafrost areas, by deviations from the original design criterions, or simply that the buildings have exceeded their original life expectancy.  One such building is “Sysselmannsgården”, the residence of the governor of Svalbard. The building is managed by Statsbygg, who acts on behalf of the Norwegian government as property manager and advisor in construction and property affairs. Sweco Norge evaluated the cause of the settlements of Sysselmannsgården and proposed to keep the ground thawed around and beneath the building, and reconstruct the building’s foundation as a pile foundation. The construction work was carried out in 2010.

The Cold Climate Technology Research Centre (CCTRC) in Narvik established a Frost in Ground laboratory (FiG-lab) in 2007. The FiG-lab is the base for the empirical part of an ongoing PhD project at NUC regarding artificial thawing of seasonally frozen ground. The FiG-lab was re-established at a new location during autumn 2010, at the same time implementing new functionality in order to ensure more versatile scientific experiments on frozen ground in the near future.

Geotechnical investigation performed by Sintef at Svalbard, revealed significant growth of ice inside a coarse grained fill. An investigation including sampling and sounding found that eight years after backfill of material on a site in permafrost region, showed the ice layer between active layer and permafrost to grow from an initial thickness of 0 cm to a thickness of 200 cm. This is a result of melt water passing through the 1,5 -2,0 meter thick permeable top layer without any drainage system.