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A meeting was held in January 1998 at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. Fourteen representatives from universities and research institutes working with permafrost were present:

  • Norwegian Geotechnical Institute
  • University of Oslo, Department of Geography
  • Norwegian University for Science and Technology
  • University Studies on Svalbard
  • Norwegian Polar Research Institute
  • Norwegian Road Research Laboratory

The aim of the meeting was to establish better cooperation between organizations engaged in education, research, planning and operation of facilities in permafrost. The intent is to find the best solutions (technically, economically, environmentally) to problems arising from human activity in permafrost regions.
The participants documented their present activities:

  • Arctic Oil Spills on Russian Permafrost Soils, Norwegian Research Council, NFR program
  • Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE), EU program
  • Understanding Land Surface Processes in the Arctic (LAAP), EU program
  • Dynamics of the Seasonal Snow Cover in the Arctic (ALV), NFR program
  • Climate Change, Use of Permafrost Data as an Indicator
  • Studies of Rock Glaciers on Svalbard
  • Svea Permafrost Station, Svalbard
  • Pollution Problems on Permafrost
  • Student projects and thesis work on slope stability, solifluction, rock glaciers, frost action in soils, hydrology, pollution and offshore ice loads

Better cooperation can obviously bring more data to light. Some areas like engineering geology mapping and field observations on structures need more attention.
Information has been a problem since the publishing of Frost i Jord ceased some years ago. It is necessary to use existing journals more actively. A “local” newsletter may be needed to make activities better known.
The University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS), a private foundation established by the Norwegian government and owned by Norway's four universities, is located in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. The objective of the foundation is to offer university courses and to perform research relevant to Svalbard's geographical location in the high Arctic. The courses complement the teaching given by the mainland universities, and they form part of the standard courses of study that lead to examinations and degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. UNIS began operation in autumn 1993 when its first 23 students attended courses in Arctic Geology and Arctic Geophysics. In autumn 1994 the subjects offered were expanded to include Arctic Biology, and a total of 33 students were admitted. The Arctic Technology program was introduced in the autumn of 1996, and today there are 18 technology students at UNIS: 14 undergraduate, 2 graduate M.Sc., and 2 Ph.D. In spring 1998 UNIS had a total of 129 students from 17 different countries.
The Arctic Technology program at UNIS aims at providing students an understanding of the pristine environment and the technology required for sustainable industrial development and exploitation of the biological and mineral resources of the region. Two courses that focus on permafrost and frozen ground related problems are Frozen Ground Engineering for Arctic Infrastructure and Arctic Water Resources Management. Other courses are: Thermo-Mechanical Properties of Materials, Pollution in the Arctic, and Arctic Offshore Engineering. Contact: Professor Truls Molmann, UNIS, P.O. Box 156, Longyearbyen 9170, Norway.

Kaare Flaate (kaare.flaate@vegdir.vegvesen.telemax.no) Truls Molmann (truls@unis.no)