Activities of the Portuguese group during 2006 focused on (1) palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of permafrost environments, (2) permafrost of the Maritime Antarctic, (3) preparation of the International Polar Year.
The Centre for Geographical Studies of the University of Lisbon group (CEG-UL) continued the research in the Serra da Estrela mountain range with the objective of developing the chronology of the glaciation of the mountain and to identify the palaeo-altitudinal zoning of permafrost and frozen ground conditions in the mountain range. The coordinator of these activities is Gonçalo Vieira. A project focusing on these objectives, but including all the glaciated mountains of Portugal has been prepared and submitted for evaluation. The project involves the universities of Lisbon, Aveiro, A Coruña (Spain), Complutense de Madrid (Spain) and Bordeaux (France). If funding is received the project will enable a strong development of the glacial and periglacial chronology and, new insight into the palaeoenvironmental conditions of the Portuguese mountains. Maria Luísa Rodrigues (CEGUL) has prepared a glossary of karst landforms that includes a significant part on periglacial features. This glossary will be published in the forthcoming months.
Permafrost research in the Maritime Antarctic has been a major field of research in 2006. Gonçalo Vieira has been organising the Research Group on Antarctic Permafrost and Climate Research (GIPCA) at the CEG-UL that includes six researchers and three collaborators. The group has conducted research in Livingston and Deception Islands in January-February 2006 (CALM-S sites installation, geophysical surveying of permafrost and permafrost and active layer surveying and monitoring). In December 2006, Alexandre Trindade is participating in the Bulgarian Antarctic Campaign in collaboration with the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute (C. Pimpirev and R. Kendorova) that aims at studying permafrost distribution and at installing active layer monitoring sites in Hurd Peninsula (Livingston Island). Mario Neves will be participating in the Spanish Antarctic Campaign to continue the permafrost and active layer research in Deception and Livingston Islands and will also install several Traverse Micro-Erosion Meter sites to measure coastal platform erosion rates. Two projects coordinated by Miguel Ramos (University of Alcalá, Spain), one for the period 2006-07 and another for 2007-09 have been funded by the Spanish Antarctic Programme. These projects are included in the initiative PERMAMODEL – Permafrost and Active Layer Monitoring and Modelling in the Maritime Antarctic, that is part of the IPY core projects ANTPAS and TSP. A project proposal led by G. Vieira was submitted for funding to the Portuguese National Science and Technology Foundation aiming to install new boreholes in the South Shetlands (Antarctic). Other objectives are permafrost and active layer mapping and modelling, construction of a database of ground physical properties and research on the coupling between mesoscale climate models and the ground temperatures. The project includes researchers from the Centres of Geophysics of the universities of Lisbon and Évora. Besides the collaborations with the Spanish and Bulgarian Antarctic programmes, collaborations within the Argentinian and Brasilian programmes are under preparation.
The preparation of the International Polar Year has occupied a significant part of the work of the members of IPA-Portugal. Due to this effort, the country that despite the historical leading role in polar discoveries has no tradition in polar science research, has now a IPY committee and a document with a proposal for the guidelines for the Science Strategy for the IPY. In this document, Antarctic permafrost research occupies a major role, together with Antarctic biology. The effort also resulted in the national membership of SCAR since July 2006. A significant amount of work is being conducted in E&O activities with a strong presence of permafrost research in all national media. The national E&O programme for the IPY LATITUDE60! counts with the collaboration of several members of GIPCA and already involves more than 100 teachers from kindergarten to university level. Information in Portuguese can be found at http://anopolar.no.sapo.pt/latitude60/index.html
Gonçalo Vieira (email@example.com)