1996

In Svalbard there are several ongoing programs concerning rock glaciers. One project was started by the University of Oslo, Department of Physical Geography, in 1986 in the Ny-Ålesund aream, with monitoring of surface movements of the Bragger rock glacier. The movement is 3-5 cm/year. Another movement monitoring program of two rock glaciers in the Longyearbyen area was started in 1994 by the UNIS (the University Courses on Svalbard). Preliminary results show a surface creep rate of 8-13 cm/year, with a mean surface temperature of -5° to -7°C. Both programs will be continued. This summer a new rock glacier program will be started by the same department on the northern part of Prins Kids Forland, Svalbard, to calculate volume, form and surface changes of selected rock glaciers through historical time. The program is supported by the Norwegian Research Institute.

In 1995, research on permafrost and contemporaneous periglacial processes focused on the following regions: the Polish Antarctic Stations on King George Island; the western coast of Spitsbergen in the Recherche Fjord (Expedition of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University of Lublin); Kaffioyra Plateau (Expedition of Nicolai Copernici University of Torun) and the Polish Polar Station of Hornsund. Research also continued on slope processes in an area where discontinuous permafrost is present on the Kola Peninsula, with the cooperation of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin and the Institute of Marine Biology in Murmansk.

During this past year the Russian Academy of Sciences restructured its permafrost organizations. The National Permafrost Committee and the Scientific Council on Earth  Cryology were combined into the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology. Its chair is Vladimir P. Melnikov. The officers and members of the new council are identified in the accompanying table.
The first annual meeting of the new council was in Pushchino during the International Conference on Fundamental Research of Earth Cryosphere in the Arctic and Subarctic. The conference was organized by the council and was attended by approximately 125 participants, including 10 foreign scientists and engineers. A total of 109 abstracts were published in Russian and English before the conference in a special volume (234 pages).

A five-year research program has been approved by the South African Committee for Antarctic Research on cryogenic landforms and processes on Marion Island, situated at 46°S, southeast of the African  continent in the maritime Subantarctic. The project, led by Jan Boelhouwers and Ian Meiklejohn, aims to assess the environmental controls, active processes and resulting landforms of geomorphological phenomena on the island. The focus is on forms that have a high paleoclimatic indicator value, or have a high environmental impact. Jan Boelhouwers and Stefan Grab undertook their first visit to Marion Island in April and May 1996, during which ground climate and sediment movement monitoring sites were established.

The Permafrost Coordinating Group of the Swiss Academy of Sciences met on 29 April 1996 at VAW-ETH in Zurich.
During the first part of the meeting, the new technology of miniature temperature data loggers was discussed. In fall 1994, the geomorphology group of the Geography Department at the University of Bern had developed such miniature miniature data loggers with a programmable time interval and especially designed for alpine permafrost conditions. These miniature temperature data loggers open new possibilities for monitoring programs and other research projects. Bernhard Krummenacher (University of Bern) carried out a demonstration experiment, described the technical aspects involved, introduced the program for tuning the loggers, and showed first results from field measurements. Martin Hoelzle and This Wegmann (VAW-ETH Zurich) also reported first experiences and results obtained in the area of the Murttl-Corvatsch rock glacier. The bottom temperature of the snow cover (BTS) was monitored  continuously during the winter 1994/1995. Significant differences were observed on the rock glacier (ridge and furrow), in front of it, and beneath and outside a nearby ski run.

The EC-sponsored EPECC project (European Palaeo Environments Climate and Circulation) has been completed. The Free University Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, the University of London and the University of Bonn participated. Palaeoclimatic reconstructions ofwestern and central Europe have been done for a number of time slices within the last 130,000 years. Mean summer, winter and annual temperature patterns have been reconstructed. For the last glacial the main contribution for climatic reconstruction was provided by periglacial structures and phenomena, supplemented with information derived from botanical and beetle remains.

Submitted by Jef Vanderberghe (vanj@geo.vu.nl)

Members of the British National Adhering Body of the IPA have been involved in establishing a new Cryostratigraphy Research Group jointly with the Quaternary Research Association. The CRG was established to promote interdisciplinary research among Quaternary scientists and geomorphologists concerned with periglaciation. The CRG is a fixed-term research group of the QRA, and is affiliated with the British IPA body.
Cryostratigraphy seeks to classify permafrost sequences on the basis of their contained ground ice. Variation in the nature and distribution of ground ice allows identification of cryostratigraphic units whose interpretation and dating may allow reconstruction of past geocryological environments. The British Pleistocene is characterized by repeated growth and decay of permafrost, which caused the formation of distinctive landforms and structures, and disturbed superfcial sediments and bedrock. The application of cryostratigraphy in Quaternary research requires integration of process studies in the modern permafrost zone with traditional Quaternary stratigraphic investigations.

A series of permafrost-related projects have been funded as part of the National Science Foundation's Arctic System Science (ARCSS) program. Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska, solicited and submitted the following summaries.
Progress in developing climatic simulations of large areas in the Arctic is restricted by physical constraints of data collection, by a limited understanding of the interdependence and interaction of the physical and biological processes, and by limitations in our technical ability to extend our measurements and understanding across a range of scales. NSF, as part of its ARCSS global change program, is funding a multi-year program focused on northern Alaska. The program, Land-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions (LAII), involves a group of projects concerned with research on boundary layer processes associated with the vegetative cover, active layer and near-surfice permafrost. Many of the study sites are along the route of the oil pipeline and road to Prudhoe Bay and the adjacent Kuparuk River watershed, in which an intensive vegetation-soil-atmospheric gas exchange program known as the Flux Study of the LAII is underway. Details can be obtained from individuals and the LAII project office at the University of Alaska (patricia@gi.alaska.edu).