1997

Several major geocryological and cryopedological conference were held in Russia this year. The results of the Cryopedology ‘97: Second International Conference held in Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic are reported in the Cryosol Working Group report (page 26).
The annual permafrost conference in Pushchino was held 21–25 April 1997 under the title International Conference on the Problems of Earth Cryosphere (Basic and Applied Studies). A total of 162 abstracts were submitted by researchers from various regions of Russia, North America, Asia and Europe. Registered participants totaled 140 Russian and 30 foreign. The conference included plenary and sectional sessions, symposia, a roundtable discussion, and the annual meeting of the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (CSCEC RAS). An abstract volume in Russian and English was available and copies can be obtained from the council.

The Southern African Permafrost Group (SAPG) is involved in three major projects; mountain geomorphology, mountain environments, and soil frost research on Marion Island. Apart from the research carried out on Marion Island, the major emphasis is on relict features and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. A particularly pleasing aspect is that the community appears to be growing at a student level. There are at least five Masters and Ph.D. students doing periglacial research under the leadership of the SAPG members.

The Spanish group of the IPA hosted a conference on present cold frozen processes from 17–20 July 1997, in Andorra. Forty-five Spanish and Portuguese specialists in permafrost and ice-related natural processes participated. The 23 papers that were submitted will be published in a special volume. The papers addressed a variety of aspects, including snow distribution in Spanish mountain ranges; the formation of protalus ramparts in the Gredos, Cantabrian and Pyrenees mountain ranges; periglacial processes associated with the active layer in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada; research conducted by Spanish scientists on current permafrost-related processes in the Antarctic and northern Sweden; present activity associated with periglacial processes in Portuguese mountain ranges; and data collection linked to geomorphologic processes related to permafrost. The conference closed with a synthesis of the status of current studies on periglacialism and permafrost in the Iberian Peninsula and the projection of future lines of research. The next meeting of the Spanish group of the IPA will be held in Albarracin (Teruel, Spain) in July 1999.

The former Glacier Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS) has been restructured. The scope of the new Glaciological Commission includes all naturally existing ice, in particular glaciers, snow and permafrost. According to this extension, several new members joined the commission. There is a delegate for glaciers (Martin Hoelzle) and one for permafrost (Daniel Vonder Mühll), who act as national correspondents for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and the IPA, respectively. A Swiss permafrost monitoring network is being established. It will be maintained by the Glaciological Commission like the already existing glacier monitoring network. Besides SAS and the universities, the Swiss Alpine Club supports the development of the concept for the permafrost network.

The Utrecht University (Koster) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Vandenberghe/Kasse) will take part in the EC-funded project TUNDRA (Tundra Degradation in the Rus¬sian Arctic) within the framework of the Environment and Climate program. The project is coordinated by Peter Kuhry (Arctic Center, Rovaniemi, Finland) and has as a general objective to obtain net fluxes for carbon and fresh water from an arctic catchment under base-case and global change scenarios. The Dutch contribution will concern climate change and the hydrological cycle. Its specific aim is to develop a GIS-based hydrological model of the Usa catchment which will provide seasonal to annual water and sediment budgets under natural conditions (based on the variability of the last 2000 years) and global change scenarios. Validation will take place at four selected field sites through comparson of model output with long-term records from hydrographic stations in the Usa basin.

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

The U.K. Adhering National Body organized a two-day workshop at the University of Cardiff, 16–17 December 1997, in association with the IPA Periglacial Processes and Environments Working Group and the Cryostratigraphy Working Group of the Quaternary Research Association. The workshop theme on the first day is periglacial processes, landforms and cryostratigraphy, and on the second day, monitoring and modeling periglacial processes. The second day includes a visit to the Cardiff Geotechnical Centrifuge Center in the School of Engineering, where participants can see the new cryogenic testing facility used in scaled physical modeling. Participants from the following countries are attending the conference: Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. and U.S.A. A detailed report of the meeting will be included in the next issue of Frozen Ground.

Three frozen-ground-related international meetings were held in Alaska in 1997.
The International Symposium on Physics, Chemistry, and Ecology of Seasonally Frozen Soils was held 10–12 June 1997 at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In attendance were 105 people representing 11 countries (Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S.A.).
Peter J. Williams delivered the opening keynote address, entitled The Seasonally Frozen Layer: Geotechnical Significance and Needed Research. The first day included 19 oral and 12 poster presentations on the fate of carbon and phosphorus; soil stability; soil water, gas and solute movement; and northern ecosystems.