In Caen (team CNRS-UMR 6143), a new programme funded by the INSU/CNRS (Programme National «Relief de la Terre» 2004) studies the role of debris flows on slope degradation in periglacial environments (J.L. Lagarde, M. Font, J.P. Lautridou and E. Vedié).

A physical model was developed and data from experimental freeze-thaw cycles prove the efficiency of periglacial processes as controls on both erosion and scarp morphology changes. The experimental results are consistent with field data acquired in northwest France, and show that periglacial erosion processes in moist conditions could lead to underestimation of Plio-Quaternary deformations at mid-latitudes. A new experiment will address Martian gullies in cooperation with F. Costard (UMR8148 IDES, CNRS - Université Paris XI). The objective is to simulate debris flows over sand dunes similar to the ones observed on Mars.

A programme from the Cardiff group (Charles Harris) aims at the physical modelling of mass-movement processes on permafrost slopes. Both full-scale (Caen refrigerated tanks) and small-scale physical modelling (Cardiff geotechnical centrifuge) should be developed to investigate mass movement processes in clay-rich soils and at steeper gradients.

The Hydro-sensor-FLOWS project (2006-2009), endorsed by the IPY Joint Committee, aims at investigating the hydrology of the Austre Lovenbreen Glacier basin (Svalbard) by continuous monitoring using new information and communication technologies. The project is coordinated by Madeleine Griselin (UMR Thema CNRS - Université de Franche-Comté) and Christelle Marlin (UMR8148 IDES CNRS - Université Paris-Sud 11). Liquid and solid fluxes will be measured on a typical polar hydrological system with a sensor web (both remote and in situ sensing). Space and time dynamics over a four-year period will also be monitored to better understand the system reaction to contemporary climatic fluctuations.

The second meeting of the European Science Foundation Network SEDIFLUX was organized by the polar team of the Research Group CNRS UMR 6042 GEOLAB in Clermont-Ferrand in January 2005. The international conference «Shifting lands. New insights into periglacial geomorphology» welcomed more than 80 participants from 20 countries, and included five plenary lectures by Hugh French, Colin Ballantyne, John Dixon, Colin Thorn and Kevin Hall. Special issues of the journals of Geomorphology (edited by Denis Mercier and Samuel Etienne) and Géomorphologie (edited by S. Etienne) will be dedicated to this meeting.

A new program was launched in southern Iceland in summer 2005 to study the evolution of the proglacial floodplains (sandurs) of the Solheimajökull, Morsarjökull and Brokarjökull (Marie-Françoise André, Samuel Etienne, Denis Mercier, Raphaël Paris and PhD student Erwan Roussel).

Brigitte Van Vliet-Lanoë (University Lille-1) analysed permafrost and topographic changes in the period 1994- 2005 at her field sites in Adventdalen and in the surrounding region of Ny-Ålesund (Svalbard) in the context of recent climatic investigation, with financial support from IPEV (Institut Polaire Français). B. Van Vliet-Lanoë ( also published « La Planète des Glaces » (Publisher Vuibert, 488 p., ISBN: 2-7117-5377-8), a reference book in French about cold environments. On the basis of her 30-years long interdisciplinary research in the Arctic and in high mountain environments, she summarizes the characteristics of past and present cold environments in a wide range of fields: geology, glaciology, geomorphology, permafrost research, soil sciences, climatology, biology and ecology. Many figures and pictures illustrate this book; it presents a glossary and a bibliography where an international audience can obtain an interesting insight in French natural science publications.

François Costard (