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The Groupe de Recherches Arctiques (GDR 0490) of CNRS was created about 12 years ago to encourage collaboration among specialists from different disciplines. Presently, 12 laboratories are represented by about 20 research workers. The responsible person is Th. Brassard, Laboratoire de Geographie Physique du CNRS, UFR des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Universite de Franche Compte, 30 rue Megevand, F-25030 Besançon.

The GDR scientific activities arise from the geographical interest in Arctic regions and because the GDR has management responsibility for the French Spitsbergen Station. Researchers in early times came to the GDR to receive technical and logistic help to study aspects of the Arctic. Later, teams of research workers and students, acting every year around this station, found common themes of research. Presently there are two principal directions:

  • Evaluation of Arctic geosystems evolution
  • Aboriginal point of view of nature and culture

The whole problem and the motivation of these studies is environmental protection.

The French Institute for Polar Research and Technology (IFRTP) was created recently. The Scientific Council will be constituted before the beginning of 1993, but already a first event attached to this Institute is programmed. The colloquy "Arctic and Antarctic Polar Research-2000 Outlook." organized by the French Academy of Sciences and the IFRTP, was scheduled to be held in Paris from 16-18 December 1992. From 8-10 December 1992, an important congress is to be held in Paris which gathers together all the civil engineering specialties-Les Batisseurs du Cadre de Vie, Premières Assises du Genie Civil. This conference is organized by several partners: ministries, professional federations, contracting authorities and building companies. The scientific organization is the responsibility of two scientific associations: The National Council of Civil Engineers and Scientists and the Liaison Committee of civil Engineering Associations. J. Aguirre-Puente, President of the French Permafrost Association, is a member of the Scientific Committee and Chairman of one of the scientific sessions, "Arctic Works and Use of Ground Freezing in Civil Engineering." The aim of the session is to treat problems encountered in polar regions and under rigorous winter conditions and the use of artificial soil freezing.

With the help of a research contract from the Ministry of Research and Technology, the group Freezing and Sublimation of the Laboratoire d'Aérothermique du CNRS is conducting a study to compare results from numerical models and measurements made in northem Quebec, and to consider physical-chemical phenomena of frost heave in fine-textured soils. The comparison of numerical models and field measurements is the object of collaboration between the Freezing and Sublimation Group and the Northern Studies Centre of the Université Laval de Québec.

Prepared by J. Aguirre-Puente