Report from July 1990

The Fifth Canadian Permafrost Conference was held at Laval University, Quebec City from 5 to 8 June, 1990. In this three-day period, 51 papers were presented on various topics in permafrost science and permafrost engineering, and several poster presentations were also shown. Nearly all the formal presentations were given by Canadian authors and the conference organizers made an effort to encourage the submission of papers by young Canadian scientists and engineers.  The papers and posters have been published as No. 54 in the Collection Nordicana series of the Centre d'études nordiques, Laval University, with the general title "PERMAFROST - CANADA; Proceedings of the Fifth Canadian Permafrost Conference".

The conference volume was dedicated to Mr. G.H. (Hank) Johnson, a permafrost engineer of many years experience who recently retired from the National Research Council of Canada. Mr. Johnston was also the Honorary President of the conference. The conference opened with a retrospective look at permafrost research in Canada, given by Johnston and a review of the current program of airport construction and permafrost research in northern Québec, given by Mr. Clement Tremblay of the Quebec Department of Transport. The papers were grouped into theme sessions: geocryology, geophysics,
hydrology, processes, thermal regime and climate change, and engineering. The conference concluded with a one-day engineering speciality session, convened jointly by the Permafrost Subcommittee of the National Research Council of Canada and the US Permafrost Committee. This session ended with a panel discussion on research needs and priorities in permafrost engineering. A noteworthy feature of the conference was that all the papers on the program were given, and with a minimum of substitutions of presenters.

Report from July 1990

During 1989 a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Sciences visited the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, where the  Director of the Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology expressed interest in joint permafrost studies with Chinese geocryologists. An invitation to attend the Sixth International Symposium on Ground Freezing, to be held in Beijing on 10-12 September 1991, is to be sent to the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

A joint Sino-Soviet joint expedition to the Chinese and Soviet sides of Tien Shan will take place from June to September 1990. Five scientists from the Soviet Union will take drilling equipment to the Chinese Tien Shan to work on mountain permafrost, and three Chinese scientists (including IPA Vice-President Cheng Guodong) will visit the Soviet Tien Shan. The study will yield a joint monograph titled Permafrost in Tien Shan.

Discussions are under way concerning a joint Sino-US project to drill a 250 m deep borehole on the Qinghan Xizang plateau. This proposal is regarded, as offering a major contribution to research on global change and permafrost, and the plans should be consolidated through a visit to China by Professor Osterkamp in October 1990.

According to the rules, the National Committee on Permafrost Research and Technology in Finland works an IPA interconference period and the member organisations renominated their representatives in 1988 for the new committee. Dr. Matti Seppala (Department of Geography, University of Helsinki) is continuing as Chairman and the new secretary is Mr. Martti Eerola of the Finnish National Road Administration Laboratory.

The following events took place in Finland in 1989: an international ISSMFE symposium "Frost in Geotechnical Engineering", held in Lapland in March, organised by the Finnish Geotechnical Society and Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) - the large proceedings volumes are available on request; the Committee had two meetings with discussions of frost and snow
investigations in Finland; and, the National Road Administration Laboratory produced a film of frost on roads where some of the Committee members were specialists - the film was presented in Finnish TV programmes.

Report from July 1990

Interest in polar science and engineering is growing in France, and the Association Francaise du Pergelisol (founded in March 1988) includes both professionals and research workers. The Association's President is Dr J. Aguirre-Puente, Vice President Professor J. Malaurie, Secretary General Professor A. M. Cames-Pintaux, and Treasurer Dr J. P. Lautridou. General Assemblies
of the Association have been held in January and December 1989, and another is planned for July 1990. Links between the industrial and research communities are promoted by CNRS, and the development of polar industries is encouraged. Polar research in France has traditionally focused on Antarctic co-ordination, but promulgation of Arctic research at a political level is now found. At Ministerial level there is a Franco-Canadian agreement which includes polar research (science and engineering). A symposium on polar engineering organized by the Club "Etudes Arctiques" in February 1989 was a product of such interests, and a further outcome of Franco- Canadian co-operation was a 2-day workshop on Cold Regions Technology held in Paris in March 1989. Other classic scientific research themes include permafrost on the Planet Mars, thermal behaviour of low temperature materials, and acoustics in frozen soils. The French permafrost community is seeking liaison with civil engineering associations.

Report from July 1990

The German Permafrost Group now has a membership of about 50 people, who will receive a twice-yearly German-language newsheet to be distributed with Frozen Ground. Efforts are being made to increase participating contacts with colleagues in the German Democratic Republic.

A large expedition to Svalbard will take place in Summer 1990. About 50 participants will work at Liefdefjorden (Spitzbergen) from 1 June to about 1 September, with a research program including many permafrost topics. This project will probably be continued in summer 1991. Other activities are focused on artificial ground freezing, alpine permafrost, and the permafrost environment of the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica.

The Italian Adhering Body of the International Permafrost Association is constituted of 36 researchers belonging to several Universities and Research Centres.

A systematic study of Italian rock glaciers by means of both aerial photographic analysis and field survey is still in progress. In this framework, geomorphological surveys of periglacial features were carried out in the Monviso area (Western Alps) together with french colleagues and in Valfurva (Western Alps); for these latter studies geophysical investigations were
also executed on some rock glaciers. In addition, fieldwork was carried out in the Valle d'Aosta (Western Alps) to determine the importance of soils for datings of geomorphological events (glacier changes, floods, landslides, debris flows, avalanches, solifluction, etc.) in an alpine environment. Moreover, some researchers of the Adhering Body participated in the last expedition of the Italian Antarctica Project and another two will collaborate in the next one (1989-90). The Group, together with colleagues from Switzerland and Austria, is also planning a post-congress excursion in the Eastern Alps for the Meeting of the IPA Working Group "Mountain Permafrost", organized by W. Haeberli for September 1991.

Report from July 1990

A meeting on the techniques of permafrost study was held on 22 March 1990 at the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Sapporo. 25 members assembled and discussed boring techniques for permafrost and long term data logging methods under cold environment conditions. The performances of three different models of solid state memory type recording systems were reported. Kadec system of Kona System Co. in Sapporo was tested at the temperature of -70°C and verified its performance under severe conditions. At east Antarctica this model was used by the Japanese Antarctica Research Expedition. JARE reported that two years' temperature data at one-hour intervals were obtained by this model.

Dr. Fukuda of the Institute of Low Temperature Science and his group undertook a field survey on the topic of permafrost occurrence in the Antarctic peninsula area with special relationship to global climatic changes. This field expedition was financially supported by the Ministry of Education of Japan, and was organized in cooperation with the University of Chile and the Instituto Antarctico Argenlino. Four Japanese, two Argentine members and one Chilean member conducted their fieldwork at King George Island, Seymour Island and James Ross Island. At more than 30 locations, the electrical grounding surveys were made to locate the permafrost table there. The high solute concentration in permafrost layers was estimated from the results of the survey. Mr. T. Yoshikawa of the Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, conducted a field survey on the genesis of pingos in east Greenland.

The Norwegian Journal Frost i Jord (Frost Action in Soils) will cease to be published. The first issue was published in 1970 as part of a large research programme on frost action in soils. It was later taken over by the Norwegian Committee on Permafrost. The activity of this committee has been reduced after the V International Conference on Permafrost in Trondheim in 1988. The last volume was issued in 1988 after the IPA-Conference. We wish to thank all contributors and readers of the journal during its 20 years of life.

Report from the U. S. S. R.

The annual meeting of the Scientific Council for Earth Cryology of the USSR Academy of Sciences was held in March 1989 in Moscow. About 90 papers and posters were discussed at seven sessions. The Plenary papers were: Geochemical processes and mineral resources in the recent and ancient zones of gas hydrates; The development of the oil-gas industry on the North and the aims of the geocryological ecological researchers; The problem of icings; The problems of geocryological researches in Yamal peninsula; A theory of the soil cryogenesis; Northern hydrology; Numerical modelling of the interaction between cryolithozone and gas-hydrate deposit; The Cryosphere as a component of the water exchange system; The geocryological researches in the Arctic.

The same meeting of the Scientific Council was held in March 1990 in Moscow. 70 papers and posters were discussed at 8 sessions. The Plenary papers were: Climate change and permafrost; Temperature profiles and thickness of permafrost
influenced by local conditions; Changes of recent permafrost caused by climate fluctuations; Quaternary glaciation in the permafrost area in middle Asia mountains; A genesis and age of the underground ice of the Novosibirskie islands; Engineering-ecological measures by oil-gas industry constructions. The conference "Geoecology, problems and decisions" was held in April 1990 in Moscow (Department of Geology of the USSR). At the session "The ecological problems in the Cryolithozone", 5 papers were discussed: The sensibility of northern ecosystems to a technogenic impact in permafrost area;
Ecology and a development of the Cryolitozone; Problems of the landuse by a development of the Yamal Peninsula; geoecological research on permafrost field stations; geocryological research by mining in permafrost area.

A special invitational visit was made by Professor T.L. Péwé to Madrid, Spain, to lecture on the background of the IPA to the new IPA group in Spain. Many scientists and engineers are greatly interested in the subject of past and present permafrost and other periglacial phenomena, not only in Spain but in Antarctica, the US and Mexico, where members of the Spanish committee are working.
An enthusiastic group of Spanish researchers (see photo) conducted a day-long field excursion west of Madrid with Dr. Péwé to view inactive mass movement periglacial phenomena and Quaternary loess deposits with strikingly developed paleosols.

Submitted by T.L. Péwé