In 2015 three groups were engaged in periglacial geomorphology and permafrost researches, of the West University of Timişoara, Bucharest University and University ,,Babeş-Bolyai” Cluj-Napoca. The group of periglacial researchers from West University of Timişoara (P. Urdea, A. Onaca, F. Ardelean, A. C. Ardelean, R. Şerban, R. Puţan, F. Sîrbu, B. Magori) continued to study permafrost distribution and other significant periglacial landforms in Southern Carpathians.

The main goal of the approach was to capture the current amplitude of periglacial processes from Southern Carpathians, taking into account the complex relationship between the detailed morphology of analyzed landforms, their internal structure and their thermal regime and actual movement. To achieve this goal, several test sites were chosen for detailed analysis of selected periglacial phenomena – e.g. frost effect and needle ice (Fig. 1) and structures like earth hummocks, solifluction lobes, ploughing blocks, rock streams (Fig. 2), rock glaciers and fossil soil stripes (Fig. 3) etc. Investigations were conducted on ERT, GPR, thermal conductivity, magnetic susceptibility, particle size analysis, water content, mineralogical and geochemical analysis.

needle ice

Figure 1. Needles ice on Ștevia Valley, (Retezat Mountains, 04.10.2015 (Photo P. Urdea).

rock stream

Figure 2. Rock streams on the Western slope on Valereasa Mountain, Retezat Mountains (Photo P. Urdea).

fossil soil streep cross section

Figure 3. Fossil soil stripes cross-section on Paltina Mountain, Făgăraş Mountains (Photo P. Urdea).

Some of the results formed the basis for five papers, important for Romanian geomorphological community, by the novelty of the approach: 1. Onaca, A., Ardelean, A.C., Urdea, P., Ardelean, F., Sîrbu, F., (2015) Detection of mountain permafrost by combining conventional geophysical methods and thermal monitoring in the Retezat Mountains, Romania, Cold Regions Science and Technology 119, 111–123; 2. Șerban,R.D., Onaca, A., Urdea, P., Popescu, M. (2015), Multivariate prediction model for block streams occurrence in Retezat mountains (Southern Carpathians), Carpathian Journal of Earth and Environmental Sciences, 10, 1, 263 – 272; 3. Șerban, R.D., Sipos, G., Popescu, M.,Urdea, P., Onaca, A., Ladányi, Z. (2015) Comparative grain-size measurements for validating sampling and pretreatment techniques in terms of solifluction landforms, Southern Carpathians, Romania, Journal of Environmental Geography, 8, 1–2, 39–47; 4. Ardelean, A.C., Onaca, A., Urdea, P., Șerban, R.D., Sîrbu, F. (2015), A first estimate of permafrost distribution from BTS measurements in the Romanian Carpathians (Retezat Mountains), Géomorphologie, Relief, Processus, Environnement, 21, 4, 297-312; 5. Chiroiu, P., Stoffel, M., Onaca, A., Urdea, P., 2015, Testing dendrogeomorphic approaches and thresholds to reconstruct snow avalanche activity in the Făgăraş Mountains (Romanian Carpathians), Quaternary Geochronology, 27, 1-10.
Also, the undersigned made field investigations on the periglacial forms în Latoriţei Mountains (Southern Carpathians) and on relict periglacial forms in a middle mountain area of the Romanian Carpathians, like Poiana Rusca.
With excellent qualificatives, under the coordination of the undersigned, in the last year was sustained three PhD theses by R. Putan ,,Periglacial processes and forms in Capra basin, Făgărăs Mountains” (201 p.), P. Chiroiu ,,Dendrogeomorfological study on the slope processes in Northern-central area of Făgăraş Mountains” (235 p.), and A.C. Ardelean ,,Sediment budget quantification and denudation rate in Doamnei Valley (Făgăraş Mountains),(166 p.).
In 2015 the periglacial research team from Faculty of Geography, University of Bucharest (Răzvan Popescu, Mirela Vasile, Alfred Vespremeanu-Stroe, Nicolae Cruceru) performed a comparative study of low altitude permafrost sites from Central Europe and Romania with the aim to assess the role of slope, morphology and grain size of the deposits upon the efficiency of the chimney circulation and ground overcooling. Another goal was to evaluate the relation between chimney circulation and tree ring annual growth rates. Thus, several field measurements were applied including topographic survey, grain size quantification and dendrogeomorphologic investigations. New experiments using smoke generators were performed at Detunata Goală low altitude permafrost scree (Apuseni Mountains, Romania) in order to detect the underground air circulation paths during the cold. Frost weathering monitoring within the periglacial belt of the Romanian Carpathians continued in 2015. Hourly near-surface rock temperatures were continuously registered in about 20 locations, in order to obtain a multi-annual behavior of rock thermal regime and to assess the control factors that act on freeze-thaw magnitude.

Also, A. Munteanu (Bucharest University) and O. Pop (University ,,Babeş-Bolyai” Cluj-Napoca) analyzed the phenomenon of avalanches and falling rocks by means dendrogeomorfological and dendrochronological techniques in Piatra Craiului Mountains.
In September, at the University of Bucharest, was sustained two PhD theses by Mirela Vasile “Processes and forms of rock thermal weathering in areas from the Southern Carpathians and Măcin Mountains” and Răzvan Popescu ,,Phenomenology of permafrost in the Romanian Carpathians” and at University ,,Babeş-Bolyai” Cluj-Napoca, Roxana Văidean presented his PhD thesis ,,Middle and upper basin of Râu Mare, dendrogeopmorphological study’’, focused on the debris flow phenomenon in three basins of Retezat Mountains.
Members of the West University of Timişoara teams attended with papers in a special sessions, P. 38 ,,Periglacial processes in high mountain environments” held at the European Geographical Conference EUGEO 2015 (Budapest, 30.08-02.09.2015. On the other hand a team from our university, Mircea Voiculescu, Marcel Törok –Oance and Florina Ardelean, attend, together with four other institutions in Bucharest in the grant ,,Remote sensing, model and in-situ data fusion for snowpack parameters and related hazards in a climate change perspective (SnowBall)’’

Report prepared by Petru Urdea (petru.urdea@e-uvt.ro)