Research Activities of the Argentinean, Chilean and Bolivian Mountain Permafrost Community

The Cryosphere session at the XIXth Congreso Geológico Argentino (Córdoba), chaired by Dario Trombotto, Ana Lía Ahumada, Sandra Barreira, Diego Araneo y Carlos Di Prinzio, was attended by more than 40 participants, mostly from Argentina, Chile and Brazil. 13 oral presentations and 10 posters were offered.

The Austrian permafrost research community was rather active in 2014 regarding national research, international research and permafrost-related sessions at earth science conferences held in Austria. As in the previous years, the first part of this report deals with general permafrost activities and events which happened this year. The second part of the report summaries the permafrost and periglacial research activities carried out by the different research groups.

The Canadian permafrost community has been very active over the past year. Plans are underway for the 7th Canadian Permafrost Conference to be held with the 68th Canadian Geotechnical Society Annual Conference in Quebec, September 20-23 2015. Many Canadian permafrost researchers will also participate in the Arctic Change Conference in Ottawa in early December 2014. Highlights from the past year, including reports on a number of permafrost science and engineering projects, are provided below.


In 2014, 12 projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the China Railway Engineering Co., Ltd., the State Grid Co., Ltd., the China Communications Co., Ltd., and the Qinghai Department of Transportation (DOT) were completed.

Concerning permafrost science, major achievements included the assessment of permafrost changes and thaw settlement hazards on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP), the stability of tower foundations for the Qinghai-Tibet DC-Circuit Systems and along National Highway 109 (Golmud to Lhasa), the mapping of changing permafrost conditions along National Highway 214 ( Xi'ning to Yushu (Gyêgu), Qinghai), the response mechanisms of permafrost to climate change and carbon cycling on the QTP, and the design of express highways in northern Northeast China. Concerning the physics and mechanics of frozen ground, accomplishments included completion of programs on physical and mechanical properties of frozen and unfrozen soils near the phase change zone, salt migration processes in cold saline soils and their impact on subgrade deformation, and moisture migration and hydrothermal coupling processes in the active layer beneath highways in permafrost regions.

Danish/Greenlandic contribution the IPA yearly report

The Center for Permafrost (CENPERM) at Copenhagen University now comprises 44 employees, and has continued investigations at sites in Greenland, Svalbard, Siberia and Sweden. In 2014 the existing research sites were expanded with two new sites, and now comprise both agriculture and sheep farming in South Greenland, as well as a new site at Brønlundhus in Peary Land, North Greenland. Furthermore, a new CALM grid was established in Ilulissat, Central West Greenland, in cooperation between CENPERM and the Arctic Technology Centre (ARTEK) at the Technical University of Denmark.

During 2014, the activities of the French permafrost community are going on Western Alps, Iceland and Central Yakutia (Russia). Permafrost studies in France are covering a wide range of different activities: e.g. geomorphological field study, field monitoring, laboratory simulation in cold rooms and numerical modelling of water/permafrost interactions.

These past years, researches conducted by EDYTEM Lab on the rock fall activity in the Mont Blanc Massif have raised hypotheses on the role of permafrost as triggering factor in such hazards. The resulting research questions address permafrost distribution in the steep rock walls of Mont Blanc Massif, and the understanding of its evolution under climate change, from seasonal to long-term responses.

Reports from Potsdam (AWI, GFZ)

Many permafrost research teams used the new Research Station Samoylov Island, operated by the Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, during spring, summer, and fall covering several disciplines and topics. These included carbon storage and turnover, trace gas emissions, permafrost degradation by thermokarst and thermal erosion, surface subsidence, water and energy balance, and long term observational studies. Contact: Anne.Morgenstern@awi.deJulia.boike@awi.de

Arctic Portal

In April 2014, the new Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) website has been launched along with its web-based Data Management System (DMS) - gtnp.org & gtnpdatabase.org. They are hosted at Arctic Portal, Akureyri, north Iceland, and designed in collaboration with the Arctic Portal team, the GTN-P, the International Permafrost Association (IPA) and within the framework of the Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effect on 21st Century (Page21) European 7th Framework project and its partners. The GTN-P DMS offers a standardized repository for permafrost temperature and active layer thawing thickness metadata and times series. Researchers can create, upload, edit, visualize and download standardized datasets, metadata forms, charts and statistics. Tools are further developed to provide data processing, analysis capabilities and data quality control and assurance. The end of the distribution chain delivers, for the first time, highly structured global datasets for permafrost temperature and active layer thawing thickness in NetCDF files, format developed by UNIDATA and used by climate modellers. The horizon of the Page21 project is November 2015 but local funding are sought in order to secure the future of the GTN-P DMS and a full position for data manager of this global network in Iceland.

The Italian research in the permafrost and periglacial environments was focused on the entire Alpine arch and in the Antarctic region.

Eastern Alps

Arabba Avalanche Center (Anselmo Cagnati, Andrea Crepaz) continued to monitor the periglacial environment of Piz Boè, in Veneto region, at an altitude of 2900 m a.s.l..
AWS, thermistors chain and GST monitoring network (20 i-Buttons) worked in the area of Piz Boè. In late Spring 2014 snowpack was about 300 cm high and melted very slowly until July (as 2013), influencing partly summer near-surface temperatures. Nevertheless borehole data showed a continuous increasing trend in the lower part.

In Japan, there is now growing public concerns to the frozen ground. This is because that Japanese government proposed frozen soil wall as one of the effective ways to protect diffusion of contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged by 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. For public enlightenment, the Subcommittee on Ground Freezing of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice has published special document dealt with basic of frozen ground and its engineering applications.