International Permafrost Association Country Reports
The new "Grupo Argentino de Geomorfologos" (GAG) was founded in 1994 and has now affiliated with the International Association of Geomorphologists. The GAG has 13 different research fields, among them Periglacial Geomorphology. The
GAG will organize the First Argentine Meeting of Geomorphology in 1996 in the city of Salta (NOA, Argentine Northwest).
The host will be the National University of Salta (F. Rivelli). The GAG meeting, which coincides with the 6th meeting of the Argentine Association for Permafrost (AAP), will discuss different topics, advance geocryology in Argentina, and address financial problems for research projects, because of the continuing economic difficulties.
D. Trombotto moved from Patagonia to IANIGLA, where he will be in charge of its Geocryology Group and represent the AAP in the IPA. The Mendoza-based group is working on the following topics:
Report from June 1995
Permafrost and National Defence in Northern Canada
Engineers with the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) have had an interest in permafrost and the special problems it presents ever since their experience with it during World War II. During the war, American army engineers and civilian contractors built the Alaska Highway and CANOL road and pipeline system across northwestern Canada, to ensure a secure supply of fuel and other materiel for Alaska. Canadian military officers were attached to the construction effort, and many got their first exposure to the problems of thaw settlement in disturbed, ice-rich, fine-grained soils at that time (S. Thompson, personal communication, 1973). T. Lloyd provides a description of the problems encountered at the first site of Camp CANOL, across the Mackenzie River, just downstream of Norman Wells (Oil in the Mackenzie. Geographical Review, 34(2): 275-307, 1944). The camp signals area, which was enclosed by a fence and so remained undisturbed, soon developed into an island several feet higher than the surrounding sea of mud (T. Lloyd, personal communication, 1972).
Report from June 1995
The Chinese National Workshop on Cryosphere and Global Change was held on 5-7 May 1995 at the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. About 50 Chinese glaciologists and geocryologists attended. Abstracts have been published in Chinese and the proceedings will be published at the end of this year.
In order to systematically investigate the response of permafrost to the construction and operation of highways in cold regions, an in-situ experiment and observation site is being constructed on the Qing-Kang No. 214 highway by the Transportation Bureau of Qinghai Province in cooperation with the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences. More information will appear in future news bulletins.
Submitted by Zhu Yuanlin
J. Aguirre-Puente, President of the French IPA association, participated in a meeting (May 1995) of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR). The institute wishes to establish a link with the IPA, the common theme being global change. The IIR has a commission to study the environmental problems caused by CFCs. The next international conference of the IIR will be held at the Hague 20-25 August 1996. The IIR contact is L. Lucas, Director, 117 Boulevard Maleshebes, 75017 Paris, France.
There is an active periglacial commission of the National Committee of Geography that includes French geomorphologists who work on fossil and active processes (Alps, Andes, Arctic, Antarctic). They conduct a field trip and hold a two-day symposium each year and results are published. M. Fort, Secretary, Geography, University Paris may be contacted for details. One discussion concerned the extent and depth of Weichselian permafrost; several papers addressed modeling and comparisons with field evidence. This also relates to studies in the EEC Program on paleoclimatic evolution during the Weichselian (in loess) with classic dating and other measurements (14C, 13C, 18O), and new techniques compared with the Vostok core. Many papers concerning fossil frost processes in relation to paleoclimate and paleogeography have been published.
Submitted by J.-P. Lautridou
A joint Russian-German expedition was carried out from July to September 1994 on the Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia. Hydrological, cryopedological and paleogeographical permafrost studies were undertaken by scientists of the Potsdam Research Department of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Institute of Polar Ecology, Kiel (IPÖ) and the Institute of Soil Sciences, Hamburg University (HH) together with Russian counterparts. The investigations are part of an ongoing German- Russian project on the Late Quaternary environmental history of Central Siberia.
In 1995 the Laboratory of Geocryology of the International Centre of Geoecology of Mountain Countries in Arid Regions (ICGM) continued and extended the regular observations on the program of geocryological monitoring. Main attention was focused on the thermal regime of permafrost and seasonal freezing-thawing under different natural conditions of the Northern Tien Shan (Zailiysky Alatau). Climate changes result in permafrost "warming," increased seasonal thawing depth, reduction of thickness, and disappearance of the "pereletoks" at the lower boundary. Despite considerable year-to-year fluctuation there is a general trend of rising mean annual temperature and reduction of the layer of seasonal freezing.
The following is the first technical report received from Mongolia. Additional infirmation may be obtained from the author
at the Institute of Geography and Geocryology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulanbator, Mongolia, 210620.
In 1992-93, in order to develop a new method to decrease the depth and duration of seasonal freezing in the area of the Baganuur coal deposit, N. Sharkhuu carried out temperature observations on freezing processes using insulation covers over gravels and sands. Sawdust 15 and 35 cm thick was used. The depth of seasonal freezing for gravel and sand was 4.1 m (moisture content 5%, mean annual temperature -2°C). The sawdust had a moisture content of 55% and a density of 0.17 g/cm3. The temperature observations give the following results: decrease of the date from the beginning of freezing and from the ending of thawing and reduction of the depth of seasonal freezing of ground for the sawdust covers with thickness of 35 cm to 2.6 m, with changes from 43 to 52 days. The results obtained show that this method is suitable for development of coal deposit earthworks under the conditions in Mongolia.
For the past 30 years, several soil scientists from New Zealand have been studying soils in Antarctica to determine their properties and their significance in respect to weathering processes, glacial history and landscape evolution.
The soils are Cold Desert soils, formed in the coldest and driest environment on Earth. Notwithstanding the severe climate, where mean annual temperatures for much of the continent range from -15°C to -50°C, significant variation in soil properties has existed, largely as a function of available moisture. A distinctive feature of the soils is their very great age. Some land surfaces are now considered to date from the middle Miocene or earlier. The extreme aridity and great age of these soils provide a unique background for the study of cryopedology and geocryology.
Studies of permafrost and periglacial phenomena in 1994 were carried out during expeditions to Spitzbergen and King George Island (Antarctica) as well as the Kola Peninsula. These were continuations of programs started in previous years.
On Spitzbergen studies were carried out on Weddell Jarlsberg Land in the regions of Hornsund and Bellsund Fiords. They included problems of tundra freezing and thawing as well as the temperature of active layer and near-surface permafrost. The annual research programme was carried out by teams from Wroclaw University, Nicolai Copernici University in Torun, and the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, and were coordinated by A. Jahn.
In recent years, research on permafrost and periglacial phenomena has been undertaken by several Romanian geomorphologists. Under the coordination of Petru Urdea, a team from the University of Timisoara carried out summer temperature measurements of springs situated at the base of rock glaciers, and talus cones in the Retezat and Fâgâras Mountains, and used BTS measurements to map periglacial forms from the Surianu (L. Drâgut), Lotrului (C. Ancuta) and Tarcu Mountains (C. Gruia), where the temperature of the springwater suggests the possibility of permafrost.
In September and October 1994, together with Jocopo Passoti (University of Milan), measurements were made of soil temperature from the high zone of the Fâgâras and Retezat Mountains.
D. Calin (Bucarest) and M. Florea (Brasov) have prepared a Geomorphological Risk Map of the Negoiu Zone (Fâgâras Mountains).
A data bank covering quantitative and qualitative characteristics of permafrost, periglacial processes and landforms in the Romanian Carpathians, as well as monitoring of the permafrost, has been initiated as part of the IPA/GGD.
Submitted by Petru Urdea
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