The Annual Meeting of the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology was held 25-28 April 1994, in Pushchino, Moscow Region at the Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Twenty-six papers were discussed at the Plenary Session. The main subject of the meeting was Global Climate Warming and Permafrost.
Nine sessions of contributed papers (67 papers) dealt with permafrost age and evolution (northern part of European Russia, Transbaikal area, high mountainous regions of the Earth); stability and protection of permafrost; prediction of air temperatures by the different climate scenarios; remote sensing to observe the dynamics of the permafrost and northern ecosystems; trace gases and carbon in soils; thermokarst lakes in tundra; and construction problems related to gas, oil and mining developments. Other papers were devoted to the problem of geothermal stability in Siberia; to the technogenic impact on permafrost, to the geomorphological processes in permafrost such as thermokarst and slope failure; the development of sea and lake shorelines; frost heaving processes; methods of assessment of ice content and stability of the frozen soil, the depth of the active layer; geophysical control of the structure and composition of the frozen soil; and seasonal thaw and freezing of the ground.
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
Between 1990 and 1994 several Dutch research groups cooperated in the Greenland Ice Margin Experiment (GIMEX). This program concentrated on the mass balance of the west Greenland ice sheet and its sensitivity to climatic change, including the Holocene deglaciation history. In the latter part of the program attention was paid to permafrost and its effect on glacial dynamics in the frontal zone of the ice sheet, e.g. on ice-cored moraine formation. In order to study present-day permafrost conditions, temperature data spanning 15 years from a 15-m-deep permafrost profile at Kangerlussuaq airport were analyzed with Danish colleagues. They have been compared with shallow temperature profiles in the study area. In 1993 and 1994 further field studies concentrated on permafrost thickness and distribution, frost mound development (both seasonal and multi-annual), and ice wedge polygons.
The Geological Survey of The Netherlands and the three Departments of Physical Geography of the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht regularly study periglacial and permafrost-related phenomena as part of a mapping program and other investigations in Pleistocene sequences and present-day environments, not just in the Netherlands but also in the Alps and Antarctica.
Submitted by J.J.M. van der Meer
A Geocryology Workshop, the first scientific meeting to be organized by the British National Committee of the International Permafrost Association, was held on 29 March 1994 at the University of Cardiff. The workshop was attended by 16 members, and papers were delivered on a wide range of permafrost-related topics. Papers by Brian Whalley (Belfast) and by Rick Shakesby, John Matthews and Danny McCarroll (Swansea) described new data on the origin of rock glaciers and protalus ramparts. Iain Sutherland (Cardiff) and Colin Ballantyne (St. Andrews) each described studies of rapid periglacial slope adjustments in Norway; Graham Elliot (Reading) illustrated the potential of radiocarbon dating in determining past rates of solifluction and Adrian Humpage (Cardiff) discussed shallow active layer detachment slides on Ellesmere Island, Canada, as analogues for British Quaternary clay slides. Colin Lloyd (Institute of Hydrology) outlined new hydrological research in Spitsbergen, Stephen Gurney (Reading) presented data on cryogenic mounds in Quebec, and Ed Derbyshire (Royal Holloway, London) demonstrated the value of periglacial stratigraphy in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction on the Tibetan Plateau.
On 14 March 1994 Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt gave the oath of office to Dr. Gordon Eaton, who will serve as the 12th Director of the US Geological Survey. Dr. Eaton, an earth scientist, was most recently the Director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and previously an employee of the USGS, President of Iowa State University, and Provost and Vice President at Texas A&M University. Dr. Eaton succeeds Dr. Dallas Peck, who has returned to his research in the Geological Survey. The USGS has the federal government's largest civilian mapping program and the largest water resources scientific and data program, is responsible for the national assessment of energy and minerals resources, and conducts basic and applied research on a wide range of earth science and earth hazard programs. The agency has 10,000 employees working in nearly 200 field offices and headquarters. In addition to its long history of permafrost research, the USGS is supporting the IPA map project and is providing expert assistance and experience for the development of the IPA Geocryological Database project.
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