The U.S. Permafrost Association (USPA) was officially established in 2001 to better enable U.S. scientists to contribute to the International Permafrost Association and to promote permafrost science and engineering in the U.S. The fledgling organisation currently serves about 75 individual members, several corporate and institutional members.
Activities during this first year have been primarily aimed at becoming firmly established as a legitimate non-profit organisation with clearly defined goals and by-laws. Larry Hinzman and Rupert ‘Bucky’ Tart are serving as interim officers until the first elections are completed in early 2002. The new organisation met at the Annual AGU Fall meeting in San Francisco in December. A web page is under construction with links to other national and international organizations (http://www. uspermafrost. org/). University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton officially invited the IPA to convene the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost in 2008 in Fairbanks.
Numerous permafrost related research efforts are currently active in the Alaskan Arctic and Subarctic and in the Russian Arctic. The U.S. National Science Foundation Arctic System Science (ARCSS) programme (http://www. nsf. gov/od /opp /arctic/ system.htm) supports several projects that examine permafrost dynamics and influence on ecosystem processes and their response to climatic variability: ATLAS (http://www. laii. uaf. edu /projects.htm#atlas) ITEX (http://www. systbot. gu. se/research/itex/itex.html ) CALM (http://www. geography.uc.edu/~ kenhinke /CALM/) and RAISE programmes (http://www. raise. uaf.edu/). A series of ATLAS and RAISE meetings were held in Salt Lake City in November to review progress and develop future plans. Additional information on these programmes and individual projects is available through the web addresses. News from individual projects include the following highlights: Several NSF-sponsored, active-layer projects led by Ken Hinkel and Frederick Nelson continued in northern Alaska and included observations on the influence of enhanced snow accumulation on seasonal thaw and the deployment of 60 air-soil temperature dataloggers in the Barrow peninsula to assess the extent of the urban heat island. Wendy Eisner, Ken Hinkel, Jim Bockheim and others conducted a programme of intensive spring coring and a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of drained thaw-lake basins near Barrow. A project sponsored by the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at Barrow and coordinated by Jerry Brown resulted in installation of new thermistor cables by Kenji Yoshikawa and Vladimir Romanovsky in several boreholes. The boreholes were originally instrumented and observed during the 1950s and early 1960s by Max Brewer. With the assistance of the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) a key coastal site was established along Elson Lagoon as part of the Arctic Coastal Dynamic (ACD) programme.
The extensive thermokarst features near Council on the Seward Peninsula are being studied by Larry Hinzman, Douglas Kane and Kenji Yoshikawa. These investigations relate changes in hydrologic processes and permafrost to climatic dynamics, and seek to develop better prognostic tools for predicting future hydrological responses. Initial results indicate that under a warming climate, the thermokarst ponds will drain as permafrost degrades. Gary Clow, USGS, revisited the climate-monitoring stations in the northern Alaska and installed several new stations. There are now nine stations monitoring active layer temperatures, air temperatures, snow depth, and solar radiation all with Campbell data-loggers. Two deep drill holes were relogged, East Teshepuk and North Inigok, and both showed a very significant warming during the 1990s. Tim Collett, USGS, reports that as a continuation of the 1998 Mallik 2L-38 gas hydrate research-drilling effort, activities are underway to reoccupy the Mallik site in the Canadian Mackenzie River Delta and drill three additional gas hydrate research wells during the 2001-2002 winter season (see Canadian report for more information).
Permafrost engineering activities are increasing as a result of two major projects, which are taking place in Alaska. First, the Trans Alaska Pipeline right-of-way (ROW) must be renewed in 2004. The original ROW agreements were for a period of 30 years beginning in 1974. This renewal will require the pipeline owners to participate in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Many of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s long-time consultants will be busy with this work; and the Bureau of Land Management has retained its own EIS consultant. The second major effort in Alaska is the new gas pipeline study that has been initiated by the Alaskan gas producers. This study should continue for 12 to 24 months and it is hoped that it will lead to the design and construction of a gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Calgary or further south.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and its Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) remain active in promoting permafrost engineering research and knowledge. They continue to sponsor engineering representation to the US Permafrost Committee. TCCRE is in the final planning stages for the 11th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering, which will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, May 20-22, 2002. Over 130 abstracts have been submitted. For more information contact Kelly Merrill (KMerrill@CH2M.com). TCCRE is also actively pursuing updating several Cold Regions Engineering Monographs over the next several years. Ted Vinson is completing the report ‘Strategic Plan for Cold Regions Engineering Research in the New Millennium’, based on the NSF-sponsored, June 2000conference.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) supports two technical areas that are of interest to cold regions engineers – the Heat Transfer Division has a K-18 Committee that focuses on low temperature heat transfer and is chaired by Zhoumin Zhang (email@example.com), and the Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering Division (OOAE) sponsors the annual Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering (OMAE) conference. The conference scheduled for 2002 will be held in Oslo, Norway, 23-28 June. Information on the conference can be found at http:// www.omae.org.
Tingjun Zhang is leading the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) funded Global Geocryological Database (GGD) project, a continuing task for the international permafrost community. GGD is based at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado, and is coordinated with the IPA Standing Committee on Data, Information and Communication. An objective of GGD is to establish a one-stop center for dissemination of frozen ground data and information. Version II of the CAPS CD-ROM Conference is under preparation and will be available for the Zurich Conference in 2003. Organisations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to contribute frozen ground related data and information to GGD. For more information http://nsidc.org/frozen ground/.
The 25th Anniversary of the National Snow and Ice Data Center was honored by hosting a special session at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California. The session is entitled ‘Monitoring an evolving cryosphere’ and the moderators were Anne Nolin and Ted Scambos. The session will focus upon the use of cryospheric data sets and new monitoring and measurement techniques to investigate the earth’s cryosphere, including floating ice, snow cover, glaciers, frozen ground, polar climate, and ice sheets. A comprehensive river discharge database for the entire pan-Arctic drainage system, is now available (http://arcss.colorado.edu/Catalog/arcss062.html). This database covers the entire pan-Arctic drainage system, and is available on CD-ROM. The collection comprises data from 3713 gauges and contains monthly river discharge data extending from the 1890s (for four Canadian and five Russian gauges) through the early 1990s, but the majority of data was collected between 1960 and 1990. The NSF ARCSS programme requested members of the research community to assess the current status and research priorities related to hydrological processes in the Arctic Basin. In September 2000, thirtythree researchers active in studies related to arctic hydrology met in a workshop in Santa Barbara to define the most pressing research needs and formulate an approach to address those needs. The resulting research strategy, including topics related to permafrost, has been published and is available via the internet at (http://www.arcus.org/ARCSS/hydro/ index.html) or from the Arctic Consortium of the United States (ARCUS).
The U. S. participation in the Global Terrestrial Network- Permafrost (GTN-P) programme was summarised in the August 2001 NOAA GCOS report to the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The report is available from http://www.eis.noaa.gov/gcos or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.