In March 2015 an excursion to the Morenas Coloradas rock glacier in the Andes of Mendoza was made with the participation of 16 Students from the University of Bonn (Germany) under the direction of Dario Trombotto and Prof. Lothar Schrott (Bonn).

The year 2015 was another busy year for the Austrian permafrost community with national and international meetings and project activities. Similar to our national reports of the previous years, this report consists of two parts. The first part reports about general permafrost activities and events which happened this year in the country. The second part discusses permafrost and periglacial research activities carried out by the different research groups in Austria.

The Canadian Permafrost Community has much to report this year. A key highlight was the 7th Canadian Conference on Permafrost (CanCoP7) held jointly with the 68th Canadian Geotechnical Conference at GEOQuebec and was co-sponsored by the Canadian National Committee for the International Permafrost Association (CNC-IPA) and the Canadian Geotechnical Society. CanCoP7 was dedicated to the memory of J. Ross Mackay and also featured the inaugural Mackay lecture. An entire day was devoted to the Mackay Symposium which featured presentations by our international colleagues as well as Canadians. We were also pleased that a number of students were able to attend. An article in Frozen Ground provides more details on the conference. Other highlights from the past year including reports on a number of permafrost science and engineering projects are provided below.

High-speed railways on deep seasonally frozen ground in China

State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering (SKLFSE), Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAREERI), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lanzhou 730000, China

China has built numerous high-speed railways(HSR) in the past decade (Figure 1). High-speed is defined here as a minimum travel speed of 250km/h. According to a report from the China Railway Co., Ltd., the total length of operating HSR will reach 18,000 km by the end of 2015. Among these HSR lines, the Harbin-Dalian High-Speed Railway, or Hada Railway (HDR), connects Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province and Dalian, the southernmost seaport in Liaoning Province in northeast China. Construction work began on August 23, 2007 and the first commercial services began operating on December 1, 2012.The HDR is the first HSR in China to traverse deep seasonally frozen (>1.5 m) ground (Figure 2).

The Center for Permafrost (CENPERM) at Copenhagen University has continued the investigations at sites in Greenland, Svalbard, Siberia and Sweden. In 2015 a new snow fence experiment was established near Narsarsuaq in South Greenland. These additional snow fences will be used for exploring summer and winter warming effects on soil-plant interactions and should be seen in relation to the existing snow fence experiment established in Blæsedalen at Disko Island in West Greenland. Marked variations at contrasting altitudes and latitudes are expected which represent an uncertainty needed to be constrained before upscaling from plot to landscape and regional scales across sites in Greenland.


The Academy of Finland funded the INFRAHAZARD (Geomorphic sensitivity of the Arctic region: geohazards and infrastructure, 1/2015–12/2018) research consortium (J. Hjort, University of Oulu, and M. Luoto, University of Helsinki). The INFRAHAZARD focuses on the modelling of the Arctic Earth surface systems (ESSs) in a changing climate and production of geographic information system (GIS) -based infrastructure risk maps for decision making and land use planning.

During 2015, 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.

PYRN Germany

On 24 October 2014, PYRN-DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) held its meeting in the frame of the 7th AK Permafrost meeting in Wartaweil/ Lake Ammer with a professional workshop on ”10 steps how to write and publish a paper” chaired by Tress&Tress. Since then, various international meetings and activities were organized by PYRN international.

On the 12th of October 2015, Akureyri, Iceland‘s second city, has hosted the last General Assembly of the European Commission‘s FP7 programme (EC-FP7) project: Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century (Page21). Participants have engaged and secured future initiatives and challenges for permafrost disciplines.

The Italian research in the permafrost and periglacial environments was focused on the entire Alpine arch and in the Antarctic region. It is worth to be noted that since 2012 the Italian permafrost community is self-organized within the PermaItaly initiative with the aim of aggregate, coordinate and promote the mountain permafrost research at national level.