The activities of 1997 concluded in December with two important events. The first was the donation of Arturo Corte’s library to the Argentine Institute for Snow, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences (IANIGLA), which is part of the Geocryology Unit of Mendoza, a regional research center of CONICET. The Library of Ice and Snow, with over 10,000 items on mainly present-day and Pleistocene periglacial processes, is of great importance in South America.
The second event was completion of the book: IANIGLA: 25 Years of Basic and Applied Research on Environmental Sciences, edited by D. Trombotto and R. Villalba and dedicated to Arturo Corte, as the pioneer of environmental studies in Argentina and South America, who recently retired. The book consists of 45 bilingual (Spanish and English) scientific publications, seven of which are dedicated to geocryology and several others of which indirectly concern this field. Publication is awaiting financial arrangements.
Major Canadian activities over the past year centered on the Seventh International Conference on Permafrost through the national, program, field trip and local organizing committees. As indicated in the minutes of the Council meetings, the Canadian Organizing Committee’s final report on the Conference addresses the organization of future Conferences. At the opening ceremonies, Jean-Serge Vincent (Director, Terrain Sciences Division, Geological Survey of Canada) summarized the importance of permafrost research to Canada as well as permafrost regions of the world. Five immediate and essential research thrusts were addressed.
During the past five years, significant progress has been achieved on the following programs:
- Research on dynamic changes of the cryosphere in China
- Geocryological and engineering problems along Highway 214, Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP)
- Studies on the interaction among permafrost, vegetation and the atmosphere on the QTP
- Monitoring active layer processes on the QTP -Engineering geology on the trans-water project from
the Yangtze River to the Yellow River: A western alternative
- Pre-studies on geocryological engineering for construction of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway, from Golmud to Lhasa
- Pre-studies of gas hydrates on the QTP
Funding for the interdisciplinary research project The Arctic Landscape: Interactions and Feedbacks Among Physical, Geographical and Biological Processes has been extended by the Danish Science Research Councils, and the project is continuing through 1999.
A snow fence manipulation experiment run by Bjarne Holm Jacobsen, Bo Elberling and Hanne H. Christiansen started this summer in High Arctic northeast Greenland at Zackenberg. This experiment will study the interaction between physical and chemical properties, particularly the carbon cycle, in the active layer when the snow cover is prolonged.
The Adhering National Body of Finland comprises 11 Finnish scientific societies. It has had three meetings at which the participants have discussed national research activities and meetings as well as international congresses and symposia in the field of interest—frost, permafrost and other phenomena of cold climates. The work has been most interesting because the members represent different fields of science and technology. The Adhering Body began preparations for a Scandinavian workshop in Finnish Lapland entitled Changes in the Permafrost and Periglacial Environment: Scientific and Technical Approach. The tentative dates of the workshop are 20–24 August 1999. The organizing group has met twice. The Chairman of the Adhering National Body is Matti Seppälä of Helsinki University and the Secretary is Martti Eerola of the Finnish National Road Administration.
C. Feis and Ch. Le Coeur continued their studies in Ireland and the Hebrides on the dynamics of slopes in a periglacial climate. A map of the distribution of periglacial features in France has been compiled by S. Courbouleix of BRGM (Orléans). In parallel, he has undertaken a study on the origin of pits and lakes in Sologne as possible thermokarst lakes or palsas. B. Van Vliet Lanoe (University of Lille) studied the evolution of thufurs in Iceland. Research was conducted on thaw–freeze cycles by B. Etlicher (St. Etienne) from granitic weathering products involving fine materials.
An extensive report on German activities has appeared in Frozen Ground No. 21, so only a short summary and new directions are highlighted here. Permafrost research in the terrestrial Arctic is mainly done at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam and in cooperation with several German and international university institutes. The main study areas are southeast Taimyr Peninsula (1994–97), Lena Delta (Laptev Sea project, 1998–2000), Central Yakutia (1997–98), Spitzbergen (Ny Ålesund, 1997–99) and East Greenland (Zackenberg, 1998–2000). Field work in the Laptev Sea project started in July 1998 with 15 German and 15 Russian scientists. In addition, the extent and characteristics of subsea permafrost in the Laptev Sea are being investigated by BGR Hannover and AWI Bremerhaven. Papers and post-ers with results of recent studies in Arctic permafrost were presented at the Yellowknife Conference.
In the last week of June 1998, two PACE boreholes were drilled and equipped with thermistor chains in Stelvio Park in the Italian Alps. The first reached 103 m depth in limestone bedrock. The second, drilled in an active rock glacier, reached the underlying bedrock at about 50 m depth.
An inventory of rock glaciers in the Italian Alps was completed in 1997. A report was given by M. Guglielmin at the Yellowknife Conference.
In April 1998, the Mountain Permafrost Research Group (Chair, N. Matsuoka) was founded within the Japanese Geographical Union. This research group aims at encouraging permafrost studies in the Japanese high mountains where permafrost has been reported only on two volcanoes, Fuji and Daisetsu. However, permafrost is expected to be found on other, non-volcanic mountains, e.g. the Japanese Alps. Programs include mapping of past and present permafrost, monitoring of ground temperature and slope processes, and geophysical soundings.
Observations of the dynamics of cryogenic processes (frost heaving and solifluction) at special polygons and geothermal monitoring of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground in Zailiysky Alatau Range (Northern Tien Shan) and adjoining plains are continuing.
An analysis of climatological data from high-mountain weather stations situated in the Northern Tien Shan for the last 120 years has been undertaken. An increase in annual, summer and winter air temperatures at various altitudes is indicated. An increase in mean annual temperature of 2.1°C for 1880–1996 is observed. This increase in air temperature is accompanied by other climatic effects such as glacier degradation, warming of alpine permafrost, and an increase in the movement rate of rock glaciers.