Investigations based at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Longyearbyen (78N), covering a range of geomorphic activities initiated in 1999 continued throughout 2003. Several of the activities are described in greater detail on the UNIS homepage (www.unis.no; see Department of Geology).
Investigations on ice-wedge dynamics, loess accumulation and snow cover control on ground temperatures continued by Hanne H. Christiansen, in her present staff position as Physical Geographer, UNIS. Automatic cameras and miniature dataloggers register snow depth and distribution, air and ground temperatures and ground cracking events. Samples of ice-wedge ice are collected for oxygen isotope analysis. A precipitation-sampling program initiated by Ole Humlum in 1999 continued. This project relates the oxygen isotope signal to air temperature and thereby provides background for interpreting the oxygen isotope content in ice sampled from rock glaciers, ice wedges and glaciers in the Svalbard region.
Christiansen and Humlum maintain two CALM sites near Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund. These sites represent dry and humid climatic settings; both are equipped with dataloggers to measure active layer temperatures. Seasonal snow depths and thaw progression are observed on the UNISCALM site located four kilometres from UNIS. Humlum continued measurements of precipitation and temperature at different sites in the landscapes around Longyearbyen. Two standard meteorological stations are operated in order to obtain information on the effect of altitude and the distance to the sea. One of the stations was established at the PACE Janssonhaugen borehole in May 2000. In addition, five automatic cameras are providing daily visual information on snow cover distribution and other geomorphic phenomena related to permafrost around Longyearbyen.
A research project on bedrock weathering in cold climate initiated in 2001 by Angelique Prick (UNIS/EU) located close to Longyearbyen, and involving detailed daily observations, was formally concluded in July 2003; future observations are planned at a reduced level.
Arne Instanes reports that the Svalbard Science Park is currently under construction in Longyearbyen. The new building of 8500 m2 will be completed in 2005 and provide additional space for the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the Governor of Svalbard and Svalbard Museum. UNIS has in collaboration with Statsbygg (the Directorate of Public Construction and Property) and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) established an extensive permafrost monitoring and testing facility in connection with the Svalbard Science Park. Thermistor cables have been placed under the building and on the undisturbed sourrounding tundra. Settlement of the piles and deformations in the building will be monitored, and a long-term pile load tests have been started. The data will be used for research and teaching at the UNIS department of Arctic Technology.
Mapping of late Weichselian/Younger Dryas wind activity in Norway was initiated by Christiansen. This project is a continuation of similar research in Denmark, Scotland and the Faroe Islands, and will provide information on direction of past air flow in Norway, as indicated by bedrock polished by drifting snow at low temperatures.
Eva Heggem and Bernd Etzelmuller, University of Oslo, continued investigating permafrost distribution in Mongolia, in collaboration with the Mongolian Academy of Science (Lake Hovsgol ILTER project). Data from minitemperature loggers were obtained and processed, and an emprically-based permafrost distribution model is under development. Investigations continued in eastern Norway in the Sølen-Elgå mountain areas (E. Heggem). A new project on permafrost distribution on Iceland was started between B. Etzelmuller, O. Humlum, and H. Farbrot, Norway, and A. Gudmundsson and H. Björnsson, Reykjavik, Iceland. Temperature sensors were installed this summer in highmountain field areas of northern and eastern Iceland and initial geophysical surveys were conducted. A geodetic network was established in Iceland for photogrammetic-based velocity measurements of creeping debris bodies (T. Eiken, B. Wangensteen). This work is carried out in collaboration with A. Kääb, University of Zurich. Within the same project framework measurements were started to determine permafrost distribution in the Lakselv area, northern Norway, by means of temperature loggers, BTS and geophysical investigations in collaboration with K. Isaksen.
Ketil Isaksen, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, reports on the continuing observations from the borehole network. In southern Norway, data collection continued from the Juvvasshøe PACE borehole (Isaksen) and on Dovrefjell from the 11 permafrost boreholes which were drilled in October 2001 (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). In the Møre and Romsdal area of western Norway, ground temperature data were collected and the permafrost mapping program was extended with establishment of six new meteorological stations measuring air temperatures and ground temperatures (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). These ongoing data collection projects in southern Norway form the bases for a new project to study changes in the ground thermal regime on a regional scale, and its effects on the mountain environment. In the Troms and Finnmark areas of northern Norway, ground temperature data were collected from several new sites established in 2002 and located in a transect from the outer rim of north-western Troms into Finnmarksvidda and out towards eastern Finnmark to Varangerhalvøya (K. Isaksen, L.H. Blikra, T. Eiken, J.L. Sollid). On Svalbard data from the Janssonhaugen PACE borehole were collected (K. Isaksen, R.S. Ødegård, O. Humlum, J.L. Sollid) and a new, 2-m deep borehole was drilled and instrumented approximately 100 m away from the deep PACE borehole to study active layer processes and snow cover influence on ground temperatures (S. Hanson, K. Isaksen).
A new research project on permafrost and periglacial processes is being planned by Humlum, University of Oslo. This project involves a number of study sites in a transect across southern Norway, from the humid west coast, across the high mountains in Jotunheimen and Dovrefjell, to the more continental regions close to the Swedish border. This research initiative is funded by the University of Oslo and will establish a network of automatic cameras and dataloggers to study air- and ground temperatures, snow cover and geomorphic processes. The activities will be new research sites and, where possible, they will cooperate with existing permafrost-related research sites. The thermal offsets obtained from temperatures recorded in standard 2-m screen temperatures, and at ground surface and the top of permafrost will be of special interest. A 3-year Ph.D. position is part of this project.
Kaare Flaate (firstname.lastname@example.org)