Different aspects of permafrost were investigated in 2011 in three areas: the Tatra Mountains, northern Sweden (the Abisko area) and on Spitsbergen.

The Tatra Mountains are a zone of random occurrence of permafrost. Investigations in the area were carried out by permafrost researchers from the University of Silesia (Sosnowiec) and from the University of Science and Technology (Kraków). The scientists from the University of Silesia studied its structure and ventilation of debris slopes, conducted monitoring of meteorological conditions, snow cover, ground surface temperature, and carried out modeling of the ground surface temperature of the snow cover in a complex topography. In 2011 the University of Science and Technology continued recording (started in 2004) of the ground temperature at the depths of 0, 20 and 50 cm and air temperature at two sites on the northern slopes of Mt. Świnica (1,950 – 2,000 m a.s.l.) and at one site in the Kozia Dolinka valley (1,950 m a.s.l.) in the Tatra Mts. There is also a reference site in Hala Gąsienicowa (1,500 m a.s.l). The temperature is logged permanently all year round at two-hour intervals. For the season of 2011/2012, an additional site for in-snow temperature studies was established on Hala Gąsienicowa. A set of  loggers enable temperature recording at 12 depth points (depending of the snow cover thickness) at 30-minute intervals.

In 2011, W. Dobiński from the Silesian University completed long-term investigations  concerning spatial relationships in the interaction between glaciers and permafrost on Spitsbergen, northern Scandinavia and the Tatra Mountains. A synthesis of the main results was published in the form of a monograph (Permafrost in selected areas of the Tatra mountains, the Scandinavian mountains and Spitsbergen in the light of extensive geophysical studies and climatological analyses,  Prace naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach nr 2850, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, pp. 172, in Polish).

On Spitsbergen, measurements of the active layer depth of permafrost, its thermal conditions, as well as its dynamics were carried out at the sites included in the CALM project (Site P1 Calypsostranda – the base of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (Lublin) (Fig. 1) and Site P2 (A-C) - Kaffiøyra – the station of the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń) (Fig. 2). In both research areas the ground temperature was also measured at standard depths to 1-2 m. In the Kaffiøyra region, such measurements were performed for three different ecotopes: the beach, the moraine and the tundra. In turn, in Calypsostranda the depth of the active layer (besides the CALM site) was also measured in other 22 sites representing different kinds of active surfaces and expositions. Monitoring of solifluction covers was conducted on five slopes having different exposition and inclination. For this purpose a GPS receiver and a Topcon tachymeter were used. All slopes were also scanned using a Topcon GLS-1500 laser scanner (GSL - Geodetic Laser Scanner).

 

 


Fig. 1. Area of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Research Station and the location of the measurement site P1 (Photo by P. Zagórski)

 

 


Fig. 2. Area of the Nicolaus Copernicus University Research Station in Kaffiøyra and location of the measurement sites P2A-C (Photo by A. Araźny)

In addition, in 2011 the permafrost research community from the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan) continued investigation of permafrost and periglacial processes in the basic area around Petuniabukta in Billefjorden (Central Spitsbergen, Svalbard). Main efforts were aimed at maintaining two test areas, “dry” and “wet” (Fig. 3), prepared according to CALM rules, to measure the ground temperature and the thaw depth on raised marine terraces. Further ground temperature measurements were performed in different locations from the valley floor through the outwash plain and glacier marginal zone towards the slopes, where active layer detachments (Fig. 4) were identified and studied in detail. Among other projects considering periglacial processes, studies on aeolian activity and the development of the coast system were undertaken. In a longer time scale a pilot study on weathering of erratic boulders deposited since Pleistocene ice-sheet covers to Little Ice Age advances was introduced and observations of the impact of ground temperature/moisture conditions and periglacial processes on Arctic tundra shrubs growth (Fig. 5) were started as a part of the project “Arctic Shrubs Dendrochronological Potential”. The principal investigators in the above mentioned tasks were Agata Buchwal, Grzegorz Rachlewicz, Krzysztof Rymer, Mateusz Strzelecki and Tomasz Wawrzyniak.

 

 


Fig. 3 – Test area for ground temperature and active layer thickness measurements on the raised marine terrace 5 m a.s.l. near the coast of Petuniabukta (photo by K. Rymer)

 

 


Fig. 4 – Active layer detachment on the slope of Wordiekammen in Ebba Valley (photo by T. Wawrzyniak)

 

 


Fig. 5 – Ground temperature and humidity measurements devices in Ebba Valley on the vegetation growth plot (photo by A. Buchwal)

Besides field research, theoretical and critical studies of permafrost and cryospheric terms and definitions were conducted by W.Dobiński. A clarification and a new usage of selected terms was suggested (Dobinski W., 2011: Kryosphere – Hydrosphere Relationship. Nova Science Publishers Inc., New York, pp. 47).

Rajmund Przybylak
based on annual reports sent by W. Dobiński,  W. Mościcki, G. Rachlewicz, I. Sobota and P. Zagórski

Publications:

  • Dobiński W., 2011: The concept of cryo-conditioning in landscape evolution – comment to the paper published by Ivar Berthling and Bernd Etzelmüller, Quaternary Research 75, 378-384,  Quaternary Research doi.: 10.1016/j.yqres.2011.06.017 (in press).
  • Dobinski W., 2011: Kryosphere – Hydrosphere Relationship. Nova Science Publishers Inc., New York, pp. 47.