In 2005, Russian research covered all important topics of modern-day permafrost science and engineering.
At the Department of Geocryology, Moscow State University, a genetic interpretation was found for the thick deposit series of coastal lowlands in Northeast Russia that include ice-rich complex formed from the Eopleistocene up to the Holocene (V. Zaitsev and L. Maximova). For the Bolshezemelskaya tundra in the European part of Russia, it was established that the increasing trend of the mean air annual temperature does not exceed 0.01° C/ year. A scheme showing various zones in this territory has been worked out at a scale 1:500,000 with a particular emphasis on hazards resulting from cryogenic processes (L. Garagulia).
Under the direction of L. Khrustalev, permafrost dynamics was forecasted for some regions. With reference to the cities of Yakutsk and Salekhard, it appears that the life time of buildings foundations is reduced by 30-40 years in Yakutsk and 90-100 years in Salekhard due to climate warming.
The following patents on inventions have been obtained: V.G. Cheverev et al., No. 2227194 «The frost heave protection of the foundation» (application No. 20022127435 with priority of 14.02.2002); L.N. Khrustalev, E.D. Yershov, S. Yu. Parmuzin, No. 2242813 «Ferroconcrete store of radioactive waste».
The group lead by N. Romanovskii conducted in collaboration with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany) the mathematical modelling of permafrost evolution of the rift system on the Laptev Sea shelf for the last 400 000 years. This region is characterized by a highly predictable presence of oil and gas. Modelling showed that traps for gases and their hydrates could form beneath the permafrost base.
The geologic-structural map of Mars was prepared at a scale 1:50,000,000. It was estimated that permafrost thickness on Mars is of the same order as on the Earth (E. Ershov and I. Komarov).
E. Chuvilin developed experimental research methods and has obtained new data on the kinetics of disintegration of a porous methane hydrate in sandy ground under thermal effect. New experimental data were obtained for the thermal properties and strength of oil-polluted frozen soils depending on pollution type, temperature, moisture, etc. (R. Motenko, L. Roman and Yu. Zykov). On the basis of experimental studies, L. Roman, L. Shevchenko and S. Volokhov developed existing concepts of long-term strength and bearing capacity of salt-rich frozen soils. They defined the regularities of ice segregation with respect to shear in a frozen clay-rich soil.
The team of the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, Moscow State University, detected the cryogenic traces in the late Pleistocene loess deposits on the territories of the central Russian Plain and Middle Germany. In the Altai Mountains, it has been shown that cryogenesis plays an important part in determining the composition of soils and loose deposits; its intensity is well correlated with altitudinal zones (V. Konishchev, V. Rogov). Massive ice bodies were investigated in the Norilsk region. It is proposed that ground ice could have formed because of the interaction of marine and coastal ground waters. Ecological and geotechnical hazards in permafrost area were divided in 12-main types in the context of climate warming (V. Grebenets).
Photographs obtained by American Mars exploration rovers were analyzed at the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, MSU. It was concluded that cryogenic weathering processes are widely developed on Mars (V. Rogov).
Geocryological map series was prepared and included in the atlas of Yamalo-Nenetsky okrug (N. Toumel).
The Jancouat and Garabashy glaciers (Central Caucasus) have shown a positive balance during the past years. At the same time, all glacier fronts on the southern slopes have retreated. The established forecast for the next 10- 20 years indicates that new disasters in the Kolka glacier circus are unlikely to happen; a full degradation of the ice body will take more than 10 years (D. Petrakov).
The Permafrost Institute (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, SB RAS) determined that grainsize distributions correspond strongly to ground lithogenesis types. A new granulometric classification of frozen soils is proposed that allows predicting their physico-mechanical properties (I. Gourianov).
Conditions of construction operations were analyzed for the massifs created in Yakutsk with a hydraulic fill method. Frozen ground conservation beneath the structures prevents the interconnection between ground water of relict taliks and the Lena River channel. This worsens the drainage and enhances formation of cryopegs (N. Anisimova). Research shows that contemporary climate warming in Yakutia is within the limits of possible natural changes. The anthropogenic signal is not revealed against this background (V. Balobaev, N. Shender, Yu. Skachkov).
Unique data on relic permafrost of the Laptev Sea shelfcoastal zone was obtained and allows for the development of a new model of subsea permafrost evolution. The Arctic sea coastal dynamics were studied in collaboration with the Institute of the Earth Cryosphere (SB RAS). A mathematical model was proposed for the rapid response of coastal permafrost to natural impacts of «moderate» scale (M. Grigoriev, V. Kounitsky, S. Razumov).
The Institute of Earth Cryosphere (SB RAS) developed a GIS approach for geocryological data at global, local and elementary levels.
Long-term measurements at the Nadym polygon (Western Siberia) showed that ground temperatures rose, with a maximum in the late 1990’s. This occurred in the context of a positive trend of air temperature (N. Moskalenko). A collection of small-scale electronic maps displaying the contemporary changes in air temperature has been published (A. Pavlov, G. Malkova).
The retreat rate of the Kara Sea coastline was measured, including those sites with massive ice; the volume of material entering the sea has been calculated (A. Vasiliev, M. Leibman, A. Kiziakov). The cyclic nature of catastrophic cryogenic processes affecting slopes was determined. Climatic and statistic models of cryogenic slump were developed and show that this process cannot be repeated more frequently than every 300 years (M. Leibman).
The maps of contemporary exogenic processes in the Russian Arctic were compiled (G. Gravis, L. Konchenko). The modelled maps were compiled for economically important regions in the north of Western Siberia; they display the current state of the permafrost and its changes due to natural and human impact (D. Drozdov, E. Melnikov).
A thermodynamic capillary model of hydrate formation in porous media was developed and verified experimentally. It describes the influence of the main factors upon pressure and temperature conditions on hydrate formation, including equilibrium temperature depression (A. Nesterov).
Palaeo-reconstructions were performed for the Russian Arctic in accordance with different levels of the Arctic Basin. In Northwestern Siberia, some new features in the deposits cryogenic structure reflect the regional permafrost history (E. Slagoda, A. Kourchatova).
The Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science demonstrated that methane distribution in the Kolyma lowland deposits indicates an absence of diffusion from the moment of ground transfer into the frozen state. Therefore, methane distribution reflecting the situation at the start of the freezing process can be used for palaeo-reconstructions. The role of present-day and fossil microorganisms on greenhouse gases production was clarified. During the recession of the Arctic Ocean, the gases emission was comparable with those in present-day permafrost landscapes (E. Rivkina, D. Gilichinsky).
The Institute of Environmental Geosciences (RAS), in collaboration with the Permafrost Institute and the Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Geocryology (both of SB RAS), started to restore the permafrost station in northern Zabaikalie (D. Sergeev, M. Gelezhiak, D. Shesternev). In the mountains of this region, ground temperature rose 1.1° C at a depth of 19 m during the last 18 years. Modelling shows that, if the air temperature rises by 1° C (while solar radiation, snow thickness and other factors do not vary), the ground surface would only become 0.3-0.4° C warmer (G. Perlshtein, A. Pavlov, A. Bouiskih).
S. Alekseev from the Institute of the Earth Crust (SB RAS) proposed a new concept of cryo-hydrological system consisting of interconnected aquifers (aquifuges or drained deposits) which are deeply modified in response to cryogenic processes. A classification of such systems was made.
A joint group from Moscow State University and the Institutes of the Earth Crust and Earth Cryosphere (SB RAS) conducted a complex research programme on the «Frozen Yar» (steep bank) exposure in the western part of the Tojin depression (Tuva). The history of the syncryogenic deposits was reconstructed and the formation of many-tier syngenetic ice wedges was explained (S. Alekseev, L. Alekseeva, S. Arjannikov, Yu. Vaslchuk).
At the Institute of Geography (SB RAS), a genetic classification of dangerous hydrological and glacial phenomena was developed based upon the physiographic analysis of heat and moisture redistribution in both the Earth hydrosphere and cryosphere (V. Alekseev and L. Koritny). Alekseev prepared a map for the regions of Russia and contiguous countries that are prone to icings.
At the North-Eastern Interdisciplinary Institute (Far Eastern Branch RAS), the connection between wind dusting and heat exchange features on the surface of tailings area was explored. For undisturbed watercourses, the tendency of decreasing total runoff was detected against a background of climate warming (V. Glotov, L. Glotova).
The observations at the two field stations were conducted within the CALM program by the Chukotski Division (North-Eastern Interdisciplinary Institute). Groundwater reserves were estimated at water supply points for the Chukotka region.
The Komi State Monitoring Centre continued monitoring the zones of discontinuous and also relict (Pleistocene) permafrost in the Komi Republic. The most important works were carried out at the Vorkuta permafrost station where the polygon has an area 2600 square km. Observations on the climate dynamics and permafrost parameters, groundwaters and cryogenic processes have been conducted there since 1963.
At the Institute of Oil and Gas Problems (RAS), a method for estimating and forecasting the anthropogenic component of environmental dynamics was developed based on remote sensing data. The consequences of pyrogenic impact were estimated to be the most significant factor determining the changes in cryogenic landscapes. Data from Landsat 4 and 7 satellites show that at the latest successional stages (more than 10 years) the radiation temperature of the disturbed sites surface is 1.2-1.6° C lower than within the undisturbed areas. Therefore, a cover type and its properties as heat insulation can be determined from the spectrozonal photography in visual and thermal wavelengths (S. Kornienko).
The Research and Production Enterprise «TRANSIGEM» (V.G. Kondratiev) developed some new technical decisions and recommendations concerning road building on permafrost terrain.
PNIIIS compiled engineering and geocryological largescale maps for high-priority objects with difficult permafrost conditions in the north of Western Siberia and in the Northeast European Russia. Moreover, a series of specific electronic maps was prepared for the long pipelines in Central Siberia and Zabaikalie. The dynamics of the local geocryological conditions were forecasted according to the development of the European North oil-and-gas fields.
The Laboratory of Geocryology and Hydrates of VNIIGas Ltd. investigated the shows of gas and hydrates in permafrost deposits for the oil and gas fields of Western Siberia. This research has been supported by the INTAS (grant No. 03-51-4259 «Experimental studies of composition, structure and features of gas-hydrate formation in deposits»).
The International Conference on «Priorities in Earth Cryosphere Research» took place in Pushchino, May 24- 27, 2005. It is interesting to note that besides traditional geocryological sessions, the medico-social and planetary questions were considered there. Immediately following the 3rd Conference of Russian Geocryologists was held at Moscow State University as a part of its 250th anniversary celebrations. More than 500 permafrost scientists and engineers from Russia and other countries participated in interesting discussions about the current permafrost issues. This Conference summarised Russian permafrost activity for the last four years and outlined the main goals for further investigations. Russian researchers also attended the First CliC International Science Conference (Beijing, April 2005) and the EUCOP II Conference (Potsdam, June 2005).
The defences of theses for a Doctor’s degree by M. Leibman, V. Mikhailov, A. Popov, F. Rivkin and E. Slagoda were important events for the Russian permafrost community this year. The following monographs were published: Khrustalev, L.N. Fundamentals of permafrost geotechnics (Manual). M.: Edited at MSU ; Alekseev, V.R. Landscape indication of the icing phenomena. Novosibirsk, Nauka.
Georgy Z. Perlshstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)