This report summarizes activities for the period 1993– 1998. Many of the earlier activities were reported in detail in previous issues of Frozen Ground. Annual meetings of the Council on Earth Cryology were held in Pushchino, Moscow region, in late April of each year at the Institute of Soil Sciences and Photosynthesis, Russian Academy of Sciences. The 1993 meeting resulted in 80 papers on the subjects of general and engineering geocryology. In 1994, 93 papers were presented, many of which concerned global climate warming and permafrost. In 1995 the main topic of the meeting was evolutionary geocryological processes in the Arctic regions and global changes of the environment and climate in permafrost areas. A number of foreign scientists participated in the meetings.
In 1996, the Russian Academy of Sciences restructured its permafrost organizations. The National Permafrost Committee and the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology were combined as the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology, chaired by Vladimir P. Melnikov. The first annual meeting of the new Council was held 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 in a special volume (234 pages).
On 3–5 June 1996 the First Conference of Geocryologists of Russia was held at Moscow State University. It was organized and sponsored by 16 main geocryological institutions of Russia and chaired by E.D. Ershov and co-chairs
V.V. Baulin and R.M. Kamensky. A total of 165 reports were published in three pre-conference volumes in Russian.
In 1997, several major geocryological and cryopedological conferences were held in Russia as reported in Frozen Ground No. 21. Cryopedology ‘97: Second International Conference was held in Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic.
The annual meeting in Pushchino entitled International Conference on the Problems of Earth Cryosphere (Basic and Applied Studies) resulted in 162 abstracts. There were a total of 140 Russian and 30 foreign participants.
The 1998 conference in Puschino was dedicated to the 90th birthday of Academician P.I. Melnikov, who died in 1994. Plenary lectures covered Melnikov’s main research interests. The main sessions contained 151 papers, with abstracts published in Russian and English.
Analysis of the five-year cycle of Pushchino conferences shows increased reporting activity by Russian geocryologists. Several topics gained more attention (monitoring, geoinformation, modeling, trace gases, offshore permafrost, microorganisms in permafrost). Some traditional permafrost studies were less active (regional studies, permafrost survey, hydrogeocryology). Studies that can contribute to solving the problem of permafrost response to global climate change were of great interest (periglacial processes prediction, active-layer dynamics). Less interest in applied ecological studies was compensated by greater activity in engineering studies in connection with construction stability.
Among other activities in the last five years was the publication starting in 1997 of the new quarterly Russian journal Earth Cryosphere (see Publications, pages 39–40, for more information and contents of the 1998 volume).
The Geocryological Map of the U.S.S.R (1:2,500,000) with explanatory note (edited by E.D. Ershov) in 16 sheets was published in December 1996. The map summarizes the results of a 25-year research effort by the Geocryology Department, Faculty of Geology, Moscow State University (see Publications).
Program 18, Environment and Global Climate Change, and its permafrost component included the assessment or estimate of the influence of climate change on the cryolithozone; monitoring of the cryolithozone; and methods and measures to protect construction and the environment in the North. Numerous institutes, universities and private contractors are involved. The program is financed by the Ministry of Science under the direction of Yuri Israel and Academician George Golitsin. The permafrost program was initially directed by Academician P.I. Melnikov and the Scientific Council on Earth Cryology.
Cooperation of Russian permafrost scientists and German geoscientists started in 1995 (N.N. Romanovskii, F. Are) in the framework of the Russian–German project Laptev Sea System (1994–96). The results of investigations showed the influence of cryogenic processes in the evolution of the Laptev Sea system’s environment. Coastal and offshore permafrost investigations, including field, laboratory and modeling studies, are included in the next joint project, Laptev Sea 2000 (1998–2000). German collaborators are H.W. Hubberten (Alfred Wegener Institute on Polar and Marine Research) and H. Kassens (GEOMAR). Russian permafrost scientists took part in planning of permafrost investigations in several other international projects (RAISE, LOIRA, BASIS).
Eighteen Russian CALM sites are active. Based on measurements from experimental sites, engineering methods to protect construction are being developed, including use of thermopiles, thermosyphons, insulation, and special foundations using horizontal cooling of frozen basements.
The National Geocryological Foundation (NGF) was established in Russia in 1996 for the purpose of collecting and disseminating permafrost data. Information on several Russian institutions’ data collections is stored in the NGF. Specific regional databases are devised under its aegis. Metadata concerning digital and paper databases on Yakutia, Transbaikal, the Norilsk region, West Siberia, and European North Russia are available. A number of data sets and several bibliographies were contributed to the GGD and the CAPS CD.