In 2002 funding for permafrost research at Centre d’études nordiques, Université Laval was obtained from the Government of Québec to support the networks of automated meteorological stations and permafrost temperature cables across Nunavik (Northern Québec) as well as to update the database. A recent and rapid warming trend causing concern for the safety of existing infrastructure was the main cause of the renewed interest and funding of the permafrost monitoring activity.Data on the recent change from a cooling trend between 1945 and 1995 to the ongoing warming was presented at the permafrost session of the American Geophysical Union in December 2002.

Construction of the longest railway in the world at elevations over 4000 m presents unique opportunities and challenges to our country. The railway traverses the famous Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and covers a distance of 1118 km, from Golmud in Qinghai Province to Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Bo Elberling and co-workers, Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen are currently studying the environmental impact resulting from oxidizing sulfi dic mine tailings as well as soil organic degradation in the High Arctic. Presently, the focus is on below-zero reaction kinetics, gas trapping in frozen ground, microbial adaption to low temperatures and the role of winter activity in permafrost regions. The Danish Natural Science Research Council funds the project.

Since the last French report, a number of new projects related to permafrost have emerged with three main subjects: geomorphological studies, modelling permafrost and periglacial processes and extraterrestrial permafrost studies.

The Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine research (Hans- W. Hubberten) organised expeditions with 15 German and 15 Russian scientists and technicians to the Lena Delta and the New Siberian Islands in the German-Russian project ‘System Laptev Sea’ from June to September 2002 (team leaders: E.-M. Pfeiffer, L. Schirrmeister, V. Rachold and M.N. Grigoriev).

Italian permafrost and periglacial research continues in both in the Alps and in the Southern Hemisphere. A new project entitled ‘Permafrost and Global Change in Antarctica II (PGCAII)’ was recently funded by the Italian National Antarctic Research Programme for two years. The main goals in PGCAII are to study the impacts of Global Change in Antarctica, and to reconstruct the palaeoclimatic evolution of Victoria Land through permafrost analysis.

The Mountain Permafrost Research Group of the Association of Japanese Geographers completed a four-year research project.

The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory continued monitoring of the thermal regime of permafrost, active layer (CALM programme), seasonally frozen ground and dynamics of rock glaciers in the Northern Tien Shan.

In the Global Environmental Facility project ´Dynamics of biodiversity loss and permafrost melt in Lake Hövsgöl National Park`, led by Clyde Goulden, USA, Bernd Etzelmüller, University of Oslo, Norway and Vlad Romanovski, University of Fairbanks, USA, conducted geophysical (electric) and thermal measurements in seven 4- 10 m deep shallow boreholes to monitor and map the permafrost.

The Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, mapped the lower limit of the permafrost at Sølen. In the eastern part of southern Norway, the limit is as low as about 1100 m asl. in east and north-facing slopes (H. Juliussen, E. S. F. Heggem and B. Etzelmüller). In Dovrefjell and at Jotunheimen at the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole areas, in central southern Norway, collection of data from 13 boreholes continued (K. Isaksen, T. Eiken, R. Ødegård and J. L. Sollid). The drilling operations on Dovrefjell were fi nanced by Forsvarsbygg (O.-E. Martinsen) and the Norwegian Geological Suvrey (B. Follestad).