During 1999 Portuguese periglacial researchers continued studies mentioned in previous reports. Maria Luísa Rodrigues presented a PhD thesis on the Quaternary deposits and present-day dynamics of the Limestone Massif of Estremadura. Among other issues, she analysed the significance of relict stratified slope deposits. At the IPA-Spain meeting in Albarracín, António de Brum Ferreira, Maria Luísa Rodrigues and Gonçalo Teles Vieira presented a synthesis on the relict and present-day periglacial phenomena in Portugal. Gonçalo Teles Vieira participated in the IGU/IPA periglacial symposium in Lodz, Poland. A small group is being organised in order to apply in the near future for membership in the IPA. The group includes researchers from the Universities of Lisbon (4), Coimbra (2) and Oporto (1).

Gonçalo Teles Vieira (gtvieira@ceg.ul.pt)

The main focus of activity during the past year was the monitoring of permafrost and related periglacial forms (BTS and summer temperature measurements of springs situated at the base of rock glaciers, talus cones and block fields) in the Fagaras, Retezat, Parang, Tarcu (Southern Carpathians), and Detunata Goala (Apuseni) Mountains, by a team of the West University of Timisoara, under the coordination of Petru Urdea. For the next three years (1999-2001) the same team will work in the grant 15/63 ‘Study of the presentday morphodynamic processes in alpine zone of the Southern Carpathians (Transsylvanian Alps) from the perspective of sustainable development of the mountain area’, financed by the National Council of Scientific Research for Higher Education, of the National Education Ministry.

Petru Urdea (urdea@cbg.uvt.ro)

The following report presents highlights of some current permafrost studies in Russia. The Federal research subprogramme ‘Global Changes in Natural Environment and Climate’ unites geocryologists from different regions of Russia. Participating researchers come from institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), e.g. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics of RAS, Institute of Geography of RAS; its Siberian Division (SD RAS), e.g. Institute of Atmospheric Optics of SD RAS, Institute of Earth Cryosphere of SD RAS; North-Eastern Centre of the Pacific Division of RAS; as well as from Moscow Lomonosov State University, St. Petersburg State University and other leading academic institutions of Russia. Also, very popular in Russia still is the multiyear subprogramme ‘Comprehensive Studies of Oceans and Seas, Arctic and Antarctic’. It is implemented by the All-Russian Research Institute of Oceanology, United Institute of Permafrost and Use of Natural Resources of the Cryolithozone of SD RAS, Institute of Earth Cryosphere, Polar Geophysical Institute of the Kola Research Centre of RAS, North-Eastern Research Centre of the Pacific Division of RAS, Moscow Lomonosov State University, as well as the Arctic Murmansk Engineering- Geological Expedition and other large-production organizations.

Most activities of the members the Southern African Permafrost Group have been concentrated on the preparations associated with the INQUA Congress, Durban, from 3-15 August 1999, as reported elsewhere in this issue. Ongoing research on Marion Island in the maritime sub-Antarctic by the Universities of the Western Cape and Pretoria focus on: (a) Ground climate monitoring in order to examine environmental controls on frost activity, (b) Experimental determination of sediment movement rates in response to soil frost activity, with particular emphasis on needle ice as a geomorphic agent, (c) Quantitative survey work on active and relict periglacial landforms, concentrating on active patterned ground, (d ) Geomorphological mapping of glacial andperiglacial landforms. In addition Paul Sumner, with the assistance of Werner Nel, is working on rates of weathering and debris production on Marion Island.

Jan Boelhouwers (janboel@uwc.ac.za)

Forty-five experts from Spain and Portugal attended the fourth meeting of IPA-Spain, organised by the Instituto de Estudios Turolenses and the University of Zaragoza, 15-17 July, 1999, in Albarracín. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the characteristics of the cold-climate landforms and processes in the Mediterranean and sub- Atlantic environments of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorenz King (University of Giessen, Germany) gave a keynote address on mountain permafrost in Europe, and Francesco Dramis (University of Roma) gave the closing speech on periglaciation of the mountains of Italy. On July 16, a field trip to Sierra de Albarracín examined cold-climate landforms in Paleozoic quartzite mountains and Mesozoic calcareous ravines of the Iberian Range.

The fifth meeting of IPA-Spain will take place in 2001, in Santander. An active rock glacier has been discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in southern Spain, as part of the EU-PACE project fieldwork. It is situated in Corral del Veleta (3100 m asl.), a cirque at the NE face of the Veleta Peak (3394 m). A shallow borehole was drilled in the rock glacier by members of the Spanish PACE group.Pure ice appeared at 1.9 m depth. As the Veleta Peak is located at 37ºN, this active rock glacier is the southernmost in Europe. The Spanish PACE group will carry out intensive research at this rock glacier in the next years to determinate its origin, the climatic implications and the permafrost distribution in the area.

José Luis Peña Monné (jlpena@posta.unizar.es), Antonio Gómez, Miguel Ramos, David Palacios (davidp@eucmax.sim.ucm.es)

Else Kolstrup Physical Geography, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Uppsala, continues research on boundary constraints of geomorphological forms and processes in past and present periglacial environments. Faculty and NFR-funded projects involve a thesis study by Bo Westin on constraints of thermal contraction cracking and another by Frieda Zuidhoff on boundary constraints of palsas in Lappland. Dynamics of, and dating methods applicable to, Danish Weichselian coversand (aeolian) deposits are being investigated in cooperation with Göran Possnert (Uppsala) and Andrew Murray (Risö, Denmark). Also casts from thermal contraction cracks in Denmark are the subject of investigation. Philip Wookey, Else Kolstrup and Göran Possnert continue the NFR-funded project ‘Climate Change, Soil Organic Matter Lability and Decomposer Metabolism in High Latitude Soils in Northern Iceland’. Wookey is playing a strong role within the EU project Dynamic Response of the Forest-Tundra Ecotone to Environmental Change (DART), and is chairman of the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX). Late December 1998 Prof. em Anders Rapp died and Swedish periglacial research has thereby lost a highly merited representative.

Else Kolstrup (Else.Kolstrup@natgeog.uu.se)

In the last year, the main issue of the Glaciological Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SAS) has been permafrost, in particular the concept of the Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS). It was agreed that the main part will comprise thermal monitoring in a number of shallow, 20 m deep boreholes. Various existing sites form the base, which will be enlarged continuously. In January 1999, a meeting held in Interlaken was dedicated to permafrost with presentations by Charles Harris (Permafrost and Climate in Europe - PACE), Markus Imhof (Permafrost in the Schilthorn region), Hansruedi Keusen (Geotechnical approaches for buildings in permafrost) and Daniel Vonder Mühll (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland - PERMOS).

The Vrije Universit eit, Faculty of Earth Sciences, participates in the EC-funded TUNDRA-project and is studying fluvial processes in the Russian arctic Usa basin. In
the summers of 1998 and 1999 fieldwork was conducted, and morphological and sedimentological data were collected, from field sites across the catchment, from the taiga to the treeless tundra, from the Ural Mountains to the tundra-lowlands. In each of these sites present and past fluvial processes of erosion, deposition and reworking were reconstructed by means of morphological mapping and sedimentological analysis. Extrapolation of these data into a larger area will be done by using satellite images, topographical maps and maps such as soil maps, vegetation maps and permafrost maps that will be provided by other members of the TUNDRA-project. For more information, contact huim@geo.vu.nl.

University of Sussex), with funding from The Leverhulme Trust and the Geological Society, is investigating ‘The origin of deformed massive ice, Pleistocene Mackenzie Delta, Western Canadian Arctic’. A second project, organised by Julian Murton and funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council, brings together expertise on ground ice, rock weathering and cryogenic experiments from the University of Sussex and the Centre de Géomorphologie, Caen, France to develop ‘A pilot experiment on rock weathering in permafrost’.

FROSTFIRE, a wildfire research project in the boreal forest near Fairbanks, Alaska, was ignited in Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed (CPCRW) in July 1999. The Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Fire Service, at the request of the University of Alaska Fairbanks conducted the 900-acre controlled burn. Research groups from the U.S., Canada, and Japan are studying fire behaviour and effects on climate and boreal ecosystems. The fire burned about 90 percent of the black spruce in the 2,000-acre research area as it raced through stands of black spruce and feather moss, but moved more slowly and with less intensity in hardwoods and sphagnum moss. Background data on pre-fire conditions were collected over the last two years and now numerous investigations will focus upon fire impacts, permafrost degradation and vegetation recovery.