The Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR), Hannover, and the Centre d’études nordiques, Universite Laval, Quebec, have started a joint-project to investigate the development of permafrost in emerged marine sediments east of Umiujaq, Nunavik, near the eastern shore of Hudson Bay (see also report by Canada). Six holes were drilled into a mineral palsa and geophysical equipment installed tomonitor the temperature field and water pressures at the palsa base for at least one year. The intention is to develop a fully consistent numerical model capable of simulating the full cycle of palsa growth and decay based on the observations. The area under investigation is considered as a modern analogue to conditions that prevailed during the last marine regression from the Laptev Sea shelf of Siberia.


During summer 2000 the Giessen PACE group successfully conducted drilling operations on Stockhornplateau (3410 m asl.), Mattertal, Switzerland. The two boreholes reached a depth of 101 m and 31 m, respectively. Preliminary temperature readings indicate a permafrost thickness of at least 150 m in this area. Investigations by Stephan Gruber demonstrated the influence of permafrost on landslide hazards in a GIS analysis that was carried out for a 485 km2 basin in the Mattertal. The permafrost distribution proved to be a highly valuable factor in data-driven modelling of potential landslide hazards in the periglacial belt. A digital elevation model, extensive mapping from aerial photographs, satellite imagery and fieldwork formed the basis for this study. A local permafrost model was designed from calculated potential direct solar radiation totals in summer, terrain elevation and a map of vegetation abundance derived from a Landsat TM image. The satellite image was corrected for atmospheric and topographic effects using the ATCOR3 algorithm. An albedo map derived from the same corrected image has been incorporated into the radiation-based model in order to calculate net short-wave radiation. In the test area Grächen- Seetalhorn, Switzerland, Thomas Herz has started a programme to investigate the microclimatological conditions within a coarse-grained debris cover in the periglacial belt. First results of a one-year period of air temperature measurements indicate a temperature reduction from the surface to the base of the block cover especially in the snow free period. Future investigations will concentrate on the influence of a coarse boundary layer on energy exchange processes between near ground atmosphere and the lithosphere.

C. Kneisel, Trier, has investigated alpine permafrost in recently deglaciated glacier forefields in the Swiss Alps and in northern Sweden. Together with the Swiss colleagues C. Hauck and D. Vonder Mühll, permafrost occurrence below the timberline was confirmed by geoelectrical measurements in the Upper Engadine. Monitoring of ground temperature for a detailed characterisation of this sporadic permafrost site is maintained by C. Kneisel and T. Riedlinger, Trier.

The Russian-German LENA 2000 Expedition was carried out in the Lena Delta and along the coast of the Laptev Sea during the period 28 July to 27 August 2000. The investigations were conducted by four teams according to the following topics: (1) modern processes in permafrost-dominated soils including trace gasses and water and energy balance; (2) coastal erosion and sediment accumulation and water level and temperature measurements; (3) the Ice Complex and its potential as a climate archive; and (4) palaeogeography of the western Lena Delta. The results of the 1998 expeditions to Siberia were published in ‘Berichte zur Polarforschung 315’, as a series of reports edited by Volker Rachold and Mikhail Grigoriev.

Lorenz King (