The following is a summary of an extensive report by China. The complete report is posted on the IPA web site.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR), 1,142 km from Golmud to Lhasa, crosses 632 km of permafrost terrain and 950 km at elevations above 4,000 m, and crosses the Tanggulha Mount Pass at 5,072 m, the highest railway station in the world. Most of QTR traverses through uninhabited areas and basically a roadless region except for the paralleling Qinghai-Tibet Highway (QTH). The design and construction of the QTH was challenged by the thaw-unstable permafrost. The total costs for the QTR construction were estimated to be at 4.75 billion USD, in which more than 200 million USD was spent on environmental protection. The QTR was opened to passengers on July 1, 2006. The QTR applied many unique scientific and engineering designs included: thick (about 5 m) roadbed fills; crushed-rock revetments to allow air convection; cross-sectional, large-diameter piping with dampers that open only during cold seasons; tunnels that allowed passage of cold air; extensive (longest 13 km) elevated bridges over ice-rich permafrost, as well as to provide unrestricted passage for wildlife (antelope, wild donkeys, and camels), domesticated sheep, goats, and yaks; tunnelling to protect the railway from rock debris slides and avalanches; and the proactive utilization of the cold winter winds (use of thermosyphons) to preserve or to enhance the heat loss from the roadbed and the underlying permafrost in exceptionally ice-rich areas (see photograph).
EXPEDITIONS AND OTHER RESEARCH ACTIVITIES Sino-German Joint Scientific Expedition and Research on the Degradation of Permafrost in the Source Areas of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers: The project aims at understanding permafrost degradation processes on the Qinghai- Tibet Plateau (QTP), and their ecological, hydrological and environmental impacts. The major participants are Kurt Roth and his team from University of Heidelburg, and Huijun Jin and Qihao Yu, and the team from CAREERI. The joint team of 12 peoples organized a 65- day transect study on the active layer processes and permafrost conditions along the QTH and the connecting highways.
Sino-German Joint Expedition on the Quaternary Permafrost and Environmental Evolution to the Donggicuona Lake area: The 10-person joint team from the AWI Potsdam and Free University of Berlin, and CAREERI at Lanzhou conducted a preliminary survey of the Donggicuona Lake on the northeastern QTP during August 15 to September 10, 2006.
Survey of the Connecting Roads between Budongquan (QTH) and Qingshuihe (QKH): The Qinghai Institute of Highway Design and Research, and the Qinghai Department of Transportation, with Yu Sheng (CAREERI), conducted a survey and drilling of permafrost for the upgrade to third-class national highway of the connecting road between the Yushu along the QKH (National Highway No. 214) and Budongquan along the QTH (National Highway 109).
Survey of Permafrost Conditions in the Muli-Jiangcang Coalmine-wetlands Area, Qilian Mountains: The Qinghai Province Government is planning to develop the giant Muli-Jiangcang coal mine area during the next 20 years that would go as deep as 500 m, and affect an area of about 150 km2. Yu Sheng is leading a field survey and inspection for feasibility studies and the final environmental impact statement regarding permafrost and cold regions environments.
Research on glacier and permafrost hydrology in Tibetan- Himalayas: This project is jointly supported by the CAS Knowledge Innovation Program, the NSF China project and the Everest Station of the CAS ITP. Jingshi Liu, the lead scientist for permafrost hydrology at the ITP, has established a small glaciated and permafrost watershed, about 284 km2 from 4,000-5,800 m in elevation, during 2005-2007.
Sino-EC Joint Scientific Expedition and Research on the Glacier Shrinking and Permafrost Degradation, Tibetan- Himalayas: Under sponsorship of the European Commission’s Sixth Framework, 20 scientists from the ITP(CAS), Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Nepal and United Kingdom conducted an investigation on the role of ground ice (i.e. ice-rich permafrost) in the hydrological cycle. This Sino-EC project will last for three years 2006- 2009 (Jingshi Liu, ITP).
Assessment and Adaptation of Cold and Arid Regions in the Northern Part of the Northeast China: Under the leadership of Yafeng Shi, Tao Wang, and Wei Ma, CAREERI is launching a new project to assess the changes of cold and arid regions environmental changes in China during the past 50 years, and their adaptative measures. Huijun Jin and Xian Xue are the lead scientists for the northeastern China subproject. The project would include the database on permafrost, deserts and cold and arid regions, establishment of field monitoring stations, and transect studies during the next five years.
Pipeline from Skovorodino, Russia to Daqing, China: The China-Russia all-temperature crude oil pipeline from Skovorodino, Russia to Daqing, China, was approved in 2006. Huijun Jin, Yu Sheng and Changjiang Tong (CAREERI) are working on the stipulations governing the survey, design and construction of the pipeline, survey on permafrost engineering geology, and related research projects.
Frozen Ground Engineering Research on the Design and Construction of Express Railway from Harbin to Shenyang- Dalian: The 1st Survey and Design Institute of the China Railway Corp., Ltd., and CAREERI, with Wei Ma and Fujun Niu as lead research scientists, are planning to undertake research for mitigating frost hazards along the 500- km-long segment from Harbin to Shenyang.
Scientific Expedition to the Xoh’ Xil Mountains on the Southern Qinghai Plateau: CAS scientists from various institutions conducted research on geology, geophysics, ecology and biology, and environmental changes and Quaternary geology for a 50-day period in October and November 2006.
Expedition to the Mountain Everest on the southern Tibetan Plateau: CAS organized a expeditions to the Himalayas starting in 2005. focused on the responses of the Mt. Everest to global change.
Survey and Mapping of Mountain Permafrost in the Sources of the Heihe Watershed, Qilian Mountains, Gansu Province: Led by Guodong Cheng and Xin Li, the CAREERI Research Group on the Water Resources Assessment, Planning and Management in the Heihe Watershed have been conducting research since 1997. A new campaign on alpine regions including mapping of permafrost, and snow cover, glaciers, and their contributions to river runoffs started in 2006, using local airborne radar, surface surveys, and other remote sensing.
MONITORING Permafrost monitoring network on the QTP: The CAS Cryosphere Research Station on the QTP established a monitoring network on permafrost and its interactions with atmosphere and hydrospher. There are 20 permafrost temperature monitoring boreholes and 13 sites on temperature and moisture monitoring of the active layer, which are distributed in regions with different types of permafrost, landscape, vegetation along the QTH. Five meteorological towers with at least three levels of air temperature, humidity and wind speed measurements were established to monitor the heat and mass exchange between permafrost and atmosphere. One typical site for studying the CO2 emission from permafrost was established near the Beiluhe River. Four new projects were initiated to study the thermal and moisture dynamics in active layer, the hydrological processes in permafrost region, the influences of snow cover on permafrost and the CO2 emission of permafrost which were funded by the NSF China, CAS and the Ministry of Science and Technology, respectively. The Station was successfully upgraded to National Field Observation and Research Station by the Ministry of Science and Technology, China in 2006 under the direction of Lin Zhao and his team. In addition, the QTR has installed about 60 cross-sectional monitoring sites on permafrost and deformation of railway foundations along the railway route, for studying the longterm stability of the railway foundations and rehabilitation in permafrost segments. This 5-million-USD-project is led by Wei Ma, Qingbai Wu, and Yongzhi Liu.
Permafrost monitoring in the Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang: Starting in the early 1990s, permafrost was monitored by the Tianshan Glaciological Station under the leadership of Guoqing Qiu, and efforts of Chinese (H.J. Jin, Lin Zhao, et al.), Kazakhstan (Sergey Titkov), Russian (A.P. Gorbunov) and Japanese (Toshio Sone) scientists. More than 15 years of data have been collected, but only one borehole is still operating. The data are included in Annual Report of the Tianshan Glaciological Station (the latest is Vol. 17, 2006).
Permafrost Monitoring in the Xing’anling Mountains, Northeastern China: Many boreholes were drilled for ground temperatures measurements in the Da- and Xiao- Xing’anling Mountains during 1970s and 1980s. Most are abandoned or destroyed, except the borehole in the Yityulihe at (121°292 E, 50°322 N, 732.6 m; designated as the CALM CN 1) which had been in operation by Harbin Railway Department research staff during 1981- 2005, but was destroyed in October 2005. Hiujun Jin and his team are working to resume the measurement in 2006-2007. The 25-year data indicate a warming trend of permafrost and deepening of the active layer. Other current measurement on ground temperature measurements, both under natural state and in pavement foundations, are being made at the Mohe Airport (122°302 E, 52°582 N, 435.0 m) that is under construction.
STATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS Polar Stations: Experts from the Meteorological Research Institute, China Meteorological Administration completed research at the Huanghe Station in Svalbard. Frozen ground related research include the climatic and environmental processes in tundra environments, ecology and geology investigations. Future research would include permafrost programs. China has two stations in Antarctica: Great Wall Station in the King George Islands and Zhongshan Station in Eastern Antarctica. They include the studies on glaciers and oceanography, with some permafrost stuides.
ITP Kunming Division: CAS Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP) consists of three parts: Beijing, Kunming and Lhasa. The Kunming Division specializes on plateau biology, ecology and biodiversity. It is jointly established by the CAS ITP and CAS Kunming Institute of Botany in 2005-2006. The new Division will focus on plant species, ecological adaptation, microorganisms in ice cores, and fungi on the QTP.
Mt. Everest Station: CAS ITP established the Mt. Everest Station for atmospheric sciences and alpine environment research. The Everest station consists of several camps from Dingri, the base camps at 4300, 5800, 6500, and 7200 m, and a monitoring transect and small watershed with permafrost, glaciers and heavy snow/rainfall and floods.
Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) Key Laboratory of Cold Regions Civil and Structural Engineering, China Ministry of Education (CME): The HIT has recently completed the instrumentation of an updated Cold Regions Civil and Structural Laboratory in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, northeastern China under the support of the CME.
Jilin University Civil / Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory: In support of research needs for the pipeline engineering in Northeast China, Jilin University in Changchun, has advanced a civil/geotechnical laboratory which can accommodate the experiments and testing for frozen soils engineering parameters.
Wanjia Field Station for Seasonally Frozen Ground Experiments and Research: The Station for Seasonally Frozen Ground Experiments and Research, China Hydropower and Water Conservancy Corp., Ltd., near Harbin Airport is mainly designed for field and in situ testing and study of soil freezing and thawing related problems and mitigations for building hydraulic infrastructures in northeastern China.
Xi’an Key Laboratory of Highway Engineering in Frozen Ground Affected Regions: Due to the heavy commitments for QTH permafrost engineering and prospects for building the Express Highway from Xi’ning to Lhasa, the China Transportation Corporation, Ltd. plans to build a frozen ground engineering laboratory for highway engineering within the next 3-5 years.
CONFERENCES During the past year a number of scientific conferences and workshops were held that involved frozen ground research.
- Asian Conference on Permafrost (see the Conference report).
- International Workshop on Quaternary Glacial Geology, under the sponsorship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP), Qinghai Institute of Salt Lake Research (QISLR), and Qinghai- Tibet Plateau Research Society (QTPRS), was successfully held in Xi’ning, Qinghai Province and Lhasa, during September 9-21, 2006.
- Workshop on the Resources, Environments and Ecological Building on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, sponsored by the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Society, CAS Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources, CAS Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP), CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeobiology, and CAS Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, was held in Shexian county, Anhui Province, China on October 17-18, 2006.
- First International Workshop on Energy and Water Cycles over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, sponsored by the ITP and CAREERI of CAS, and NSFC, was held in Lhasa on September 3-12, 2006.
- Third Sino-Germany Workshop on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, under the sponsorship of the CAS ITP, DFG, NSF China and SKLFSE, was held in Ettal, Germany, April 22-24, 2006.
- 2006 Annual Meeting of Geographical Society of China, under the sponsorship of the Geographical Society of China (GSA), Lanzhou University, CAREERI, Northwest Normal University, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Science and Technology Council of China, China Ministry of Education, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, National Science Foundation of China and International Geographical Union, was held in Lanzhou on August 19-21, 2006.
- Workshop on Physical Geography and Ecological Rehabilitation, sponsored by CAS Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, International Global Environmental Change-Human Factors China Committee, and IGBP China Committee, was held in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China during August 10-20, 2006.
- Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Earth Environmental Change Science Conference, sponsored by the Climatic Committee of China, China Meteorological Administration, and the ESSP was held at the in Beijing on November 9-12, 2006.
RECENT FROZEN GROUND RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND DATA INVENTORIES
- The Map of the Glaciers, Frozen Ground and Deserts in China (1:4,000,000) was published in Chinese and English in 2006 by the SinoMaps Press.
- The Tibetan Plateau Picture Album of Scientific Expeditions was compiled by CAREERI published in Chinese and English in July 2004.
- Frozen Ground Foundations Engineering by Ziwang Wu and Yongzhi Liu, was published by the Ocean Press, Beijing in October 2005.
- Frost Action of Soils and Foundation Engineering by Xiaobai Chen (SKLFSE), Jiankun Liu (Beijing Univ. of Transportation), Hongxu Liu (Heilongjiang Institute of Cold Regions Architectural Engineering) and Yaqing Wang (SKLFSE), was published by the Science Press, Beijing in January 2006.
- Degradation of Permafrost and Road Engineering on Northeastern QTP compiled by Enmu Zang (Qinghai Institute for Transportation Survey and Design) and Ziwang Wu (SKLFSE), is a systematic summary of frozen ground engineering research along the QKH
- Final Environmental Impact Statement for the QTR from Golmud to Tanggulha Mountains, was compiled by the First Survey and Design Institute of the China Railway Corp., Ltd., in 2002.
- Eco-environmental geology investigation report (1:250,000) in the source areass of the Yellow River on the Eastern QTP was compiled by the Qinghai Geological Survey in June 2002.
The QTP Permafrost Station has compiled and published the observational data before 2000 under the direction of the former Director Shuxun Li. It includes four volumes: (1) Monitoring and data of permafrost temperature dynamics along the QTH; (2) Monitoring and heatmoisture dynamics of the active layer along the QTH; (3) Monitoring and data on thermal regimes of shallow permafrost under various surface covers in the Fenghuoshan Mountains in the interior of the QTP; and (4) Monitoring and data of atmospheric, surface radiation and other related climatic variables in Wudaoliang in the interior of the QTP. However, the data for the past six years await publication, and not yet available to the permafrost community.
Annual Report of the Tianshan Glaciological Station general includes the research papers and data obtained during the past year on mass balance, hydro-meteorology, permafrost, glacier movements, and data related to ice cores and snow pits. Annual reports of the SKLFSE general includes the activities, projects and major papers of the SKLFSE staff.
The frozen ground related data inventories and management in China mainly include: (1) Digital QTR; (2) Cryosphere of China; (3) Assimilation of land surface processes data; and (4) Digital Heihe Watershed. Contact Xin Li (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details.