International Permafrost Association Country Reports
Argentina is the second country after Chile in terms of ice cover with approximately 15 percent of the total ice in South America. This fact requires a serious commitment to the protection of this natural resource, as ice masses provide drinking water and irrigation. The IANIGLA has helped to elaborate the Argentine law for the protection of glaciers and rockglaciers. After four years, the law on Protection of Glaciers and Periglacial Environment was finally approved by the government in October 2010. As part of this law a national inventory of ice masses and creeping frozen ground and a monitoring program will be made. The IANIGLA is in charge of the coordination between different research institutes in order to elaborate this inventory and will provide policy makers and the private sector related to water management with updated information. A Spanish glossary of periglacial terms has been elaborated by L. Arenson, P. Wainstein and D. Trombotto and a web page on South American Geocryology is in preparation.
Austrian permafrost researchers have been active in the year 2011. Since the foundation of the Austrian Permafrost Working Group in October 2010, the national committee of IPA-Austria consists of A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer (Uni. Graz and TU Graz), G.K. Lieb (Uni. Graz, K. Krainer (Uni. Innsbruck), L. Schrott (Uni.Salzburg) and H. Hausmann (Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics/ZAMG Vienna and TU Vienna).
The national permafrost project permAfrost – Austrian Permafrost Research Initiative funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, was successfully continued. General information about the project consortium and participating partners was given in the national report of 2010. The permAfrost project is a first step establishing a nationwide permafrost monitoring program in Austria with a running period of three years.
The Canadian permafrost community continues to be active in research initiatives to improve characterization of permafrost conditions and to provide information to better understand the impact of climate change and human activity on the northern landscape. A number of projects have been aimed at providing information that can facilitate the development of climate change adaptation strategies to minimize risk to infrastructure and to minimize environmental impacts of northern development.
Collaborative work between the University of Ottawa (A. Lewkowicz and students M. Duguay and C. Miceli) and Geological Survey of Canada (S. Smith) is leading to a better understanding of the ground thermal conditions along the Alaska Highway corridor in the southern Yukon. A key accomplishment in summer 2011 was the re-instrumentation of several boreholes where ground temperatures were last measured over 30 years ago. The ground temperature data collected from these sites will improve the baseline information on current ground thermal conditions and facilitate analysis to better characterize how conditions are changing. This information is essential for planning development in the corridor.
Permafrost research in China during the years of 2010 and 2011 continues actively on the following issues: permafrost investigations at representative areas, permafrost ecology and hydrology on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP), including that in the Qilian Mountains on the northern edge of the QTP, monitoring and engineering experimental studies of permafrost roadway and railbed along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway (QTH) and Qinghai-Tibet Railways (QTR) from Golmud to Lhasa and along the upgrading Qinghai-Kang (West Sichuan Province) Highway (QKH) from Golmud to Yushu (NH G214), monitoring and modeling studies of permafrost and pipeline engineering in Northeastern China, as well as the study on the extent of permafrost in China during the Last Glaciations Maximum (LGM) and the Megathermal. In the same time, some new science and engineering research programs have been proposed and are under evaluation, such as the cryospheric change and its impact assessment and adaption, Trans-Tianshan Expressway from Urumqi to Yuli. In particular, the experimental station for highway engineering at Huashixia along the QKH has been relocated to the east of Modoi, and a new research base on permafrost environment and cold regions engineering is being built at Mo’he, the northernmost point in Northeastern China. Altogether, 123 boreholes, 30 active layer process sites, 18 automatic weather stations, and 6 carbon cycle sites have been established and in operation for long-term monitoring (Figure 1 and Table 1).
The activities of the Finnish permafrost community are going on both in Eurasia and Greenland. The investigations are based on large empirical field studies, long-term monitoring of permafrost and on spatial modelling. Permafrost studies in Finland are covering a wide range of different activities: e.g. bedrock borehole investigations, spatial modelling of vegetation-frost dynamics, climate change impact assessments based permafrost modelling and greenhouse gas emissions from high-latitude wetlands.
During 2011, the activities of French periglacial communities and permafrost researchers were undertaken in a wide range of approaches (geomorphological field study, physical modelling and numerical approach) and cover several areas (Iceland, Siberia, French Alps).
With Icelandic partners from the Natural Research Centre of Northwestern Iceland (Sauðárkrókur), Denis Mercier (University of Nantes and UMR 6554 Géolittomer), Etienne Cossart (Paris 1 university and UMR 8586 Prodig), Thierry Feuillet (University of Nantes and UMR 6554 Géolittomer) and Armelle Decaulne (UMR CNRS 6042 Geolab, Clermont-Ferrand) pursued in Northern Iceland their researches on spatial distribution of periglacial forms (patterned ground – polygons, circles) and their environmental characteristics (internal and external controls), as well as on dating large paraglacial mass movements.
Meeting of the AK Permafrost in Bonn/Rolandseck in Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, 2011.
The meeting of the German working group on permafrost hosted the final colloquium of the bundle project “Sensitivity of Permafrost to Climate Change” and more than 30 “Alpine and Arctic” talks by young and established scientists. Activities of the AK Permafrost are organized by Lutz Schirrmeister and Michael Krautblatter.
Reports from Potsdam (AWI, GfZ)
Coordinated by the AWI in Potsdam, the EU project “Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century (PAGE21) was launched In November 2011. This large-scale collaborative project aims to understand and quantify the vulnerability of permafrost environments to a changing global climate and to investigate the feedback mechanisms associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost zones. This 4 year program involves 18 research groups from various European countries.
In respect to the 2011, an increase in public (Universities, Research Institutes, Regional bureaus) and private (Fundations, Societies) subjects involved in the lab and field activities can be observed in Italy, as well as the incoming of new enthusiastic researchers with different bias and expertise. So, many activities are in progress in the Italian magma of permafrost and periglacial research, along with initiatives to make more strengthened the cooperation between the different groups.
The Japanese Cold Climate Geomorphology Colloquium had a memorial symposium in May 2011 to celebrate its 40 years anniversary, entitled ‘Research Frontier of Cold Climate Geomorphology’. The symposium was first planned in a special session of the 2011 spring meeting of the Japanese Geographical Society, but the meeting was cancelled due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The symposium was held separately two months later in Tokyo, including about 70 presentations on glacial, periglacial and mountain geomorphology, as well as mountain geoecology. A special issue including 13 papers from the meeting is planned in Journal of Geography (to be published in April 2012).
The Japanese Permafrost Association had a two-day meeting on ‘Dynamics of Frozen Ground’ in 2-3 December 2011 in Sapporo. About 30 scientists and students participated and presented their newest results. The meeting highlighted frost mounds (pingo, lithalsa and palsa) in various regions, dynamics of a polar rock glacier, glacierets and permafrost on Japanese high mountains, databases for frozen ground conditions in Japan and overseas, as well as a geopark project.
During the summer 2011 scientists of the Kyrgyzstan Geocryology Group (KGG) carried out the following activities in permafrost areas:
Murataly Duishenakunov (PhD student at Kyrgyz National University J.Balasagyn, Bishkek and at ZEU, Giessen University, Germany) continued his studies on “Water resources of Central Asia mountainous regions – their importance to the water balance of semiarid regions”. Automatic temperature loggers in permafrost areas were read out and the data was analyzed from sites installed during the previous summer in the upper Kichi- and Chon-Naryn catchments. Additional temperature loggers were installed in the Basin of Kumtor River.