During the summers of 1995 and 1996 soil scientists from the Institute of Landscape Ecology in Muenster (G. Broll, G. Mueller) carried out fieldwork on permafrost-affected soils in the Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada. This DFG-sponsored project is accomplished in cooperation with Canadian soil scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Branch and Parks Canada. Besides investigations on soil genesis, the study focused on soil ecological interactions. Soil temperatures were measured at different depths. The results of the study will be presented at Yellowknife and at the International Soil Science Society Congress.
In connection with the IGCP 297 (Geocryology of the Americas), correlations of periglacial phenomena among Mexico, South America and Southern Africa were studied by K. Heine, Regensburg. The distinction of permafrost and non-permafrost related periglacial forms and processes and the reconstruction of paleo-temperatures by dating past permafrost-induced phenomena are a main point of this study. Current results show that in central Mexico temperatures rose by about 1.5–2.0°C at 4000 m altitude during the last 150 years. In Ecuador and Bolivia the last glacial maximum (LGM) temperatures at about 4000 m a.s.l. were at least 4.8°C lower than today.
Permafrost-related research by M. Böse, Berlin, focuses on fossil features (mainly sand wedges and ice wedge casts) that indicate permafrost conditions during the Weichselian. A recently investigated site southeast of Berlin contains syngenetic ice wedge casts up to 6.5 m long, in fluvioglacial sands above the palaeobiological site of the Rixdorfer Horizon. These ice wedges document permafrost prior to the LGM. Further studies in Poland may give additional information about the periglacial conditions after deglaciation.
The same group continued field work in the Finnish Subarctic in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Finland. Topics were the occurrence of podzolization and brunification processes in seasonally frozen soils, their dependence on different glacial till deposits and cryoturbation, the classification of permafrost-affected organic soils, and the influence of overgrazing by reindeer on soil ecological processes. Results were presented at the Cryopedology Conference in Syktyvkar, Russia, in August 1997.
R. Baumhauer and Ch. Kneisel (Trier) and W. Haeberli (Zurich) are currently studying the relationship among surface ice, ground ice and permafrost in recently deglaciated terrain in the St. Moritz area of Switzerland and the Paarte/ Kebnekaise area of Sweden. Surface temperature logging and geophysical soundings as well as geomorphological studies are applied in order to investigate these interactions and the origin and the characteristics of the different ice types. BTS measurements and DC resistivity soundings indicate the existence of permafrost/ground ice in the recently de-glaciated glacier forefields.
Mountain permafrost research in Germany is focused on discontinuous permafrost in the Swiss Alps and monitoring is mainly done at the Universities of Giessen, Jena and Heidelberg. Long-term observations include borehole temperature measurements, photogrammetry and geodetical surveys of permafrost creep at selected rock glaciers, as well as systematic inventorying of geophysical data (refraction seismics, DC resistivity soundings, BTS mapping). An important rock glacier site located at Macun (Oberengadin, Swiss Alps) has been studied mainly by Barsch and Hell. The rock glaciers are measured at intervals of between 2 and 5 years; the recent surveys were in 1989, 1992, 1994 and 1997. It is planned to include these data in the IPA CD. Other rock glacier monitoring sites are located at Albana and Val Sassa, and regular surveys at longer intervals are planned there.
L. King (Giessen) and his group continued their studies on permafrost distribution and permafrost-related processes in the Zermatt area, Swiss Alps. In connection with the new European PACE project, numerical modeling of permafrost distribution, geophysical permafrost mapping, and monitoring of the active layer and of ground and bedrock temperatures at construction sites in the permafrost area continue.
At the University of Munich, the working group Stoetter/ Belitz continued studies on alpine permafrost in the Vinschgau and the Oetztal Alps. The latest results show that discontinuous permafrost has decreased about 40% in area during the last 150 years. Erosion and hazard studies continued in connection with climatic change monitoring.
The periglacial group of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany (Christine Siegert, Julia Boike), was involved in a number of permafrost activities in 1997. A project in Central Yakutia was initiated in cooperation with the Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk. The main aim is to acquire high resolution data to reconstruct the Holocene climate through thermokarst lake sediments using stable isotope compositions of the aquatic fauna and autochthonous plant remains. Within the project Late Quaternary Environmental History of Central Siberia a final expedition took place in the vicinity of Norilsk. In cooperation with the Geocryology Department, University of Moscow, and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, deep sediments from Lama Lake were recovered and geocryological studies were carried out in the lake catchment. At Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, a long-term project on thermal and hydrologic dynamics of the active layer was started in cooperation with the Soil Physics Group, University of Hohenheim and the Norsk Polar Institut, Tromsö and Oslo. The first sites were instrumented in August and data are continuously recorded. During a two-week pilot expedition to Zackenberg, East Greenland, basic data for a project on geochemical processes and weathering were collected in cooperation with the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Polar Center.
Matthias Kuhle (Göttingen) continued his studies on periglacial keyforms and indicators of permafrost and their relationships with the Ice Age glacier surfaces in Asia. In the mountains bordering the Tibetan Plateau (the Himalaya in the south, the Quilian Shan in the north, and the Kunlun), periglacial keyforms and indicators of permafrost have been found between 4400 and 5400 m a.s.l. in the form of patterned ground, polygonal frost cracks and pingos. These periglacial macroforms show arctic dimensions. The key-forms occur in corresponding topographic positions on valley floors, on saddles at valley heads, and on valley shoulders, where the Ice Age deglaciation came to an end early. In striking contrast are the central Tibetan areas where permafrost is present, but neither patterned ground, frost cracks, pingos, nor slopes covered with thick frost debris occur as periglacial keyforms. The author considers these observations to be an indication of an extended Ice Age inland glacier cover which, as a result of its thickness, lasted far into the Late Glacial.
The present German–Russian collaboration in the Laptev Sea has identified new direct and indirect evidence of ice-bonded offshore permafrost extending from the current shoreline to the edge of the continental slope. Nikolai Romanovskii (Moscow State University) and Felix Are (St. Petersburg) have been collaborating with Hans Hubberten (AWI, Pots-dam) and Heidi Kassens (GEOMAR, Kiel). Utilizing recent geophysical observations and existing Russian data and publications, the extent of ice-bonded offshore relict permafrost has been further evaluated. Paleo-environmental scenarios of permafrost formation and evolution during the last glacial cycle (past 110,000 years) have been developed. Mathematical modeling of offshore permafrost evolution is underway. A map forecasting offshore permafrost and subsea talik distribution of the Laptev Sea shelf was prepared and exhibits continuous relic permafrost distribution to the 60 m water depth, and discontinuous permafrost to the edge of the shelf. The proposed German program, Laptev Sea System 2000, includes investigations of offshore ice-bonded permafrost, paleo-environmental evidence, modeling of gas hydrates, and thermo-erosion studies. Results are very important for planning the location and operations of the Nansen Drilling Program.
German engineers successfully constructed several tunnels employing artificial freezing techniques: Farlach Tunnel in Mannheim and subway tunnels in Düsseldorf. They also applied artificial freezing techniques in restoration work at the leaning tower of Pisa. Results of various projects were discussed at the International Ground Freezing Symposium in Lulea, Sweden.
The German National Permafrost Committee (DNP/ IPA) met in Jena on 31 October and 1 November 1997. New results from permafrost studies in the Arctic, Antarctic and high mountain areas were presented by the following scientists: K. Hinz and G. Delisle, BGR Hannover (seismic evidence of subsea permafrost and numerical simulation of permafrost development in the Laptev Sea, respectively); E.-M. Pfeiffer, Hamburg (cryosols, Taimyr Peninsula); Ch. Siegert and H.W. Hubberten, AGI Potsdam (results of permafrost studies of the AWI in Taimyr and Yakutia); B. Hagedorn, AGI Potsdam (processes in cryosols, Taimyr); H. Gossmann, Freiburg (Dynamic Processes in Antarctic Geosystems—DYPAG); L. King, Giessen (Permafrost and Climate in Europe—PACE); Ch. Kneisel, Trier (ground ice in glacier orefields, St. Moritz). Nine papers have been submitted for the Seventh International Conference on Permafrost.
Submitted by Lorenz King (firstname.lastname@example.org)