The ‘Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland (PERMOS)’ is in the first of three years of the pilot phase. Activities comprise temperature measurements at ten drill sites, BTS-surveys to determine permafrost distribution patterns in ten areas, and organising aerial photographs to document surface characteristics, allowing for later photogrammetrical studies. The following institutes are responsible for the field surveys: Universities of Bern, Fribourg, Lausanne and Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Snow and Avalanche Research (SFISAR, Davos).
The network is sponsored by the Swiss Academy of Sciences, the Swiss Forest Agency and the Federal Office for Water and Geology. Annual reports are published by the Swiss Glaciological Commission.
The PACE project with the two Swiss partners (University of Zurich: Wilfried Haeberli, Martin Hoelzle, Catherine Mittaz; and VAW-ETH Zurich: Daniel Vonder Mühll, Christian Hauck) has come to an end. Christian Hauck finished in spring his Ph.D. thesis entitled ‘Geophysical methods for detecting permafrost in high mountains’. Collection of borehole temperature data and meteorological data from climate stations are continued at Murtèl, Schilthorn and Zermatt within the national PERMOS-network.
At ETH Zurich the ETH-Mini-Poly project of the three institutes Geotechnics (IGT: Sarah Springman, Lukas Arenson), Geophysics (Hansruedi Maurer, Martin Musil), and VAW (Daniel Vonder Mühll) has reached its third and final year. Both doctoral theses by Arenson and Musil are in their final stages, which means that the collected data are being processed. The triaxial creep tests, which are mainly performed with cores from the recent drillings at the Murtèl- Corvatsch rock glacier, show the expected, exponential influence of the stresses on the creep rates. However, one of the most surprising observations of the current field measurements was the presence of water within the rock glacier. It seems as if the cavities within the frozen body allow water to leak through the system. Not only does the water reduce the strength of the material, it is also an additional heat flux, which must be taken into account. Detailed information about the deformation within the rock glacier is expected from the new measurement system (time domain reflectometry), which was installed at the Murtèl-Corvatsch site. Until now, the deformation is not large enough to show a signal, but for the future, the system is very promising. A modelling work regarding the dynamics of rock glaciers arose from the ETH-Mini-Poly project (Hilmar Gudmundsson, Gwendolyn Leysinger). A numerical model has been developed describing the advance and retreat of a gravity driven creeping viscous medium, which is used to investigate the flow field close to the rock glacier terminus.
The Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group at University of Zurich is working on the following projects: ‘Permafrost distribution modelling based on energy-balance data’ (Catherine Mittaz, Martin Hoelzle); ‘GIS-based modelling of creeping mountain permafrost’ (Regula Frauenfelder); ‘Analysis and spatial modelling of permafrost distribution in coldmountain areas by integration of advanced remote sensing technology’ (Stephan Gruber); ‘Investigation of perennial ice patches’ (K. Schulz, R. Frauenfelder); and ‘Analyses of permafrost creep using digital photogrammetry’ (Andraes Kääb). Markus Lerjen finished his MSc. thesis on ‘Frozen talus slopes’, and Sonja Oswald finished a MSc. on ‘Relation between permafrost and debris flows in the Valais Alps’. Research results were presented at the 1st European Permafrost Conference in Rome, March 2001 and at the 5th Conference on Geomorphology in Tokyo, August 2001. Temperature conditions in steep rock slopes, especially as related to instability problems in warm and degrading permafrost, are being parameterised by combined single-channel temperature datalogger measurements and spatial modelling (Wilfried Haeberli, Stephan Gruber, Jeannette Nötzli and Marco Peter).
The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) is continuing to investigate snow-supporting structures in permafrost terrain by monitoring ground temperatures and slope movements at three high altitude permafrost sites equipped with avalanche defence structures. The aim of the project, which started in 1996, is to determine whether snowsupporting structures modify the thermal regime of the ground and whether slope stability is affected. Different types of structures and foundations are being tested for their efficiency on steep slopes in unstable, frozen sediments. Federal guidelines for the construction of snow-supporting structures in permafrost terrain were published by SLF in 2000 and used for current building sites. The project is supported by the Swiss cantons Valais and Graubünden.
The Institutes of Geography, Universities of Lausanne (Christophe Lambiel, Emmanuel Reynard) and Fribourg (Reynald Delaloye, A. Turatti) have focused on four types of sites: glacier forefields, rock glaciers, talus slopes and low altitude places. Investigations are performed by applying geoelectrics and surface thermal methods at various sites. Glacier forefields are studied in particular in the Verbier area in collaboration with the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Lausanne (L. Baron, R. Monnet, and L. Marescot). A joint project between the Institutes of Geography of Fribourg and Lausanne, the University Institute Kurt Bösch at Sion (Ralph Lugon) and the Department of Geography at the University of Valladolid, Spain (Enrique Serrano) aims at understanding the glacier/permafrost relationships in the Little Ice Age moraines systems in the Posets Massif, Central Pyrenneas (Spain). Several projects related to permafrost are in the phase of implementation, which is guided by the Academia Engadina (Felix Keller). At Pontresina a combined avalanche – debris flow dam is being constructed to protect the village against natural hazards. The University of Bern (Group for Applied Geomorphology, Dragan Mihajlovic) continued the studies on radiation- and energy balance at Fruggentälti/ Gemmi.
Daniel Vonder Mühll (Daniel.VonderMuehll@unibas.ch)