Planning for the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost is well underway. The first Bulletin was prepared and mailed in early 2006 and posted on several web sites. The Local Organizing Committee at the University of Alaska began the initial logistic preparations. Field trip leaders met and revised the venues and schedules.
Fund raising was begun and a proposal submitted to federal agencies. The U. S. National Committee for NICOP met on December 10, 2006, in San Francisco and reviewed plans for abstract and paper review, and the second Bulletin. Conference plans and pre-registration information are posted at: www.nicop.org.
The U.S. Permafrost Association (USPA) continues to attract new members. Visits to the USPA website exceeded 8000 «hits» during 2006 (www.uspermafrost.org). At the annual USPA meeting the following new members were elected to the Board of Directors: Ken Hinkel (President- Elect), Oliver Frauenfeld (Secretary), and Yuri Shur (Board Member).
The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union was held in San Francisco, California, December 11-15, 2006. More than 80 reports and posters on permafrost, frozen ground, periglacial processes and hydrology were organized under the theme «Biocomplexity, Hydrology, Frozen Ground in Cold Regions» and other sessions.
A special session on the International Polar Year was organized by J. Brown and F. E. Nelson for the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) held in Chicago in March 2006. The Cryosphere Specialty Group organized a total of five sessions, including the IPY session, with a total of 24 presentations. Several awards were presented for the best poster presentations by young investigators.
Tom Krzewinski and Jon Zufelt provided the following report on recent and continuing activities of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and its Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE):
- The TCCRE Executive Committee members are: Jay Bergman (Chair), Tom Krzewinski (Vice Chair), John Woodworth, Jim Allen (Secretary), Bucky Tart (Past Chair), Jon Zufelt, (Journal Editor), and David Prusak (representative Technical Activities Committee).
- The ASCE 13th International Specialty Conference on Cold Regions Engineering took place July 23 - 26, 2006 on the campus of the University of Maine, Orono, Maine, with 175 attendees presenting 82 prepublished papers. ASCE President Dennis Martenson attended, addressed the participants and presided over the awards ceremony. The conference included an International Symposium on Ground Freezing. The Finnish Association of Civil Engineers (RIL) sponsored several sessions and the International Symposium on Soil Mechanics and Ground Engineering (ISSMGE) had their Frost Committee TC8 Meeting at the Conference. The conference was also cosponsored by the U.S. Permafrost Association.
- TCCRE Committees and ASCE are working with the organizers of the International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2007); Tom Krzewinski and Hannele Zubeck are the official ASCE representatives. The conference theme is Cold Climate Resource Development . TCCRE is a cosponsor of NICOP and will assist with the permafrost engineering sessions, technical reviews of papers, and the field trips to Red Dog Mine.
- Tom Krzewinski and Ed Clarke are working with the Standards Committee on the Standard on Frost Protected Shallow Foundations (FPSF). TCCRE is representing ASCE in supporting a new PBS Documentary «Challenges of Transportation Infrastructure Design and Construction in Alaska». The focus will be on highways and railroads.
- Recent publications: The proceedings of the 12th Conference are available from the Construction Research Institute of Canada. Available from ASCE Headquarters are: Proceedings of the 13th Conference on CD Rom; TCCRE Monograph «Thermal Analysis, Construction and Monitoring Methods for Frozen Ground» published in April 2004; and the Quarterly Journal of Cold Regions Engineering.
- The following TCCRE monographs are in the preparations: Field Properties and Site Investigations - Frozen Ground; Hydraulics and Hydrology; Monograph on River Ice; Water Treatment in Cold Regions; Specialty Foundations in Cold Regions; Cold Regions Ports and Harbors.
- The ASCE 14th International Specialty Conference on Cold Regions Engineering will be in Duluth, Minnesota in 2009. The very successful 9th conference was held there in 1998.
Scott Huang (University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF) organized the 1st International Workshop on Geotechnical Engineering in Permafrost Regions Related to Pipeline Construction that was held on the Fairbanks campus on October 1-4, 2006. The workshop was a joint effort of the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), the Institute of Northern Engineering (UAF) and Hokkaido University, and with the Tyumen State Oil and Gas University. About 90 researchers, scientists and engineers from seven countries (U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Russia, UK, the Netherlands, and Korea) attended. During the two-day technical program, two keynote speeches and 15 papers were presented. Pre- and post-workshop field trips were conducted to the CRREL permafrost tunnel and to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System site at the Denali Fault crossing. A CD proceedings, including abstracts and presentations slides, is being prepared by Hokkaido University, and will be available in mid November 2006.
Vladimir Romanovsky reports on behalf of the Geophysical Institute/International Arctic Research Center of UAF permafrost group including Kenji Yoshikawa, Sergei Marchenko, Dmitri Nicolsky, Ronald Daanen, and Guido Grosse. We continue to record active layer and permafrost dynamics at our more than 60 sites within Alaska. Permafrost temperatures in all deeper boreholes (60 to 80 meters) within the northern portion of the transect were also measured. Generally, active layer thickness was slightly greater this summer compared to the last year, and it is still larger than the average for the last 15 years. Temperatures in permafrost continue to increase in the northern Alaska, but at a lower rate compared to the 1990s. In Interior Alaska permafrost temperatures are approaching the highest level that was recorded during the mid-1990s. At many locations mean annual temperatures at the permafrost table are within several tenth of a degree of the melting point of ice. At one location, the depth of the permafrost table increased to 1.5 m (as compared to 1.0 m in 2005); this could be an indication of a new talik development. A new permafrost observatory (Imnaviat 1) was established in the vicinity of Toolik Lake, Alaska, as a part of a new collaborative project with Danish and Greenland colleagues. Another observatory is under development at the southern end of the transect in Gakona, Alaska. Our program received NSF and NASA funds to support the observatories in Alaska and Russia as part of the IPY activities. Guido Grosse joined the group as an IPY post doc who represented permafrost remote sensing and thermokarst development interests at the ICARP II workshop in Potsdam in November.
Kenji Yoshikawa and Tohru Saito (Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF) drilled and instrumented shallow (6 m) boreholes for temperature measurements in conjunction with local schools at Barrow, Noatak, Nome, Fairbanks, Beaver, Healy, Glennallen. The program is part of the NSF ESPCoR permafrost health outreach headed by Doug Goering. Additional installations are planned next year for Circle, Arctic Village, Fort Yukon, and a few more native villages. Borehole metadata and raw data are available at . Yoshikawa and graduate student Sarah Seelen conducted permafrost hydrological research in the eastern Brooks Range. Ground water and spring samples were analyzed for isotopes and chemical models.
Fritz Nelson and Kolia Shiklomanov report on recent activities of the University of Delaware Permafrost Group (UDPG). Ground-penetrating radar investigations in Barrow during April provided new insights into the threedimensional geometry of ice-wedge networks. CALM-related investigations in northern Alaska continued through the summer of 2006. UDPG has been actively involved in comparison of spatial permafrost models in collaboration with Oleg Anisimov, Tingjun Zhang, Vladimir Romanovsky and Sergey Marchenko (UAF). The research is concerned with comparing active layer predictions for northern Alaska produced by a series of spatial permafrost models, estimating the uncertainties in gridded air temperature fields, and evaluating their effects on predictive permafrost models. Two manuscripts resulting from this work are under review. In May, Jon Little defended his MSc thesis on the use of differential GPS to monitor frost heave and thaw settlement, and results are being readied for publication. Meixue Yang is completing a review of permafrost investigations on the Tibetan Plateau and has submitted a series of manuscripts and proposals concerned with Tibetan permafrost. Silvia Cruzatt is using data from her network of climate stations in the Peruvian Andes to characterize the distinctive thermal regime of high-altitude subtropical soils. UDPG is increasingly active in Quaternary studies: Hugh French and Mark Demitroff submitted a review of their work on periglacial and permafrost features in southern New Jersey to a special issue of Permafrost and Periglacial Processes honoring the contributions of J. Ross Mackay. Kim Gregg (Univ. of Minnesota), who finished a MSc degree at UD several years ago, collaborated with F. Nelson and UD graduate student Mike Walegur on a paper for the Mackay volume. The work used Virtual Globes technology and data from Walegur’s high-elevation climate network to assess the palaeoclimatic significance of blockfields in the Appalachian Mountains. UDPG is in the process of organizing a 2007 workshop on late-Pleistocene periglacial conditions in the eastern USA.
Ken Hinkel, University of Cincinnati, completed two, long-term projects near Barrow. The village relies on local natural gas fields to meet all energy requirements for building heat and electrical power generation, and dissipation of this energy results in a pronounced urban heat island (UHI) in winter. Since 2001, a 150 km2 area in and around Barrow has been monitored using ~70 data loggers recording air temperature at hourly intervals. The UHI is most pronounced in winter months (December-March), with temperatures in the urban area averaging 2º C warmer than in the surrounding tundra and occasionally exceeding 6º C. Integrated over the home heating season, there is an 8 % reduction in freezing degree days in the village. However, it is unlikely that anthropogenic heat contributes to the forward shift in the snow meltout date that has been observed near Barrow over the past 60 years. The second project was initiated in autumn 1997, on an existing 2.2 km-long, 4 m-high snow fence located to the east of Barrow. A large drift develops each winter on the downwind side of the fence, and a smaller drift forms upwind. The results of the six-year study indicates that soil temperatures beneath the drift are 2-14° C warmer than the control in winter due to the insulting effects of the snow. The ground surface has experienced 10-20 cm of thaw subsidence in many places, and widespread thermokarst is apparent where snow meltwater ponds. Graduate student John Hurd participated in this project.
Wendy Eisner, Ken Hinkel, Chris Cuomo and colleagues (Kim Peterson, Eric Maurer, Richard Beck, Jim Bockheim, Ben Jones and graduate student Bill Mellman) are conducting a multidisciplinary study of landscape processes on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Comparison of Landsat- 1 (MSS) imagery from the mid-1970s to Landsat-7 ETM+ imagery from around 2000 shows that 50 lakes completely or partially drained over the approximately 25-year period. Analysis of satellite images and aerial photos from the 1950s suggests that humans have intentionally or inadvertently triggered lake drainage near the village of Barrow. Efforts to understand landscape processes and identify events have been enhanced by interviewing Inupiaq elders and others practicing traditional subsistence lifestyles. They can often identify the year and process by which individual lakes drained, thereby providing greater dating precision and accuracy in assessing the causal mechanism. Hunters, berry pickers and elders have identified areas where permafrost thaw has been extreme, and places where the sea and river bluffs are eroding. Indigenous knowledge has provided insights into events, landforms and processes not previously identified or considered.
Ron Sletten reports on permafrost research at the University of Washington. The fourth year of the NSF «Biocomplexity of Carbon Cycling in the High Arctic» was completed at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Investigations continued on the physical, chemical, and biological interactions and feedbacks on carbon flux, weathering, and ecosystem dynamics. Jennifer Horwath completed her PhD and found that soil organic carbon in the High Arctic has been substantially underestimated. Active monitoring sites at Thule include microclimate, soil temperatures to 1.4 m, TDR soil water content, river stage, and snow depth. Cooperation continues with the Alfred- Wegener Institute in Potsdam to study oxygen isotopes in lake diatoms. Two new NSF studies in Antarctica started in 2006 focus on the study of salts in soils in order to better understand ground ice dynamics and for interpreting geomorphology (collaborative proposal with M. Prentice, Indiana University). A NASA-funded study started in 2006 (D. Winebrenner, R. Sletten, B. Hallet, J. Putkonen, B. Hagedorn) that utilizes remote sensing to study snow cover using visible spectra and thermal properties using microwave. This study compliments the Dry Valleys studies to interpret remotely-sensed images and spectra of Mars. Detailed modeling studies of ground ice utilizing climate data and stable isotopes of ice have been completed and are in press (Hagedorn et al.). For further information visit the web site <http://depts.washington. edu/icylands>.
Corien Bakermans, Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, reports that researchers from the Indiana-Princeton-Tennessee Astrobiology Initiative (IPTAI) and the Finnish Geological Survey completed in July 2006 a scientific drilling expedition in an Archean, mafic volcanic belt that is frozen to a depth of ~400 meters, near High Lake, Nunavut Territories, Canada. Permafrost at this location serves as an excellent analog of the Martian deep subsurface because of its low temperatures; host matrix of volcanic basalts with fractures and pore spaces; the presence of both saline and fresh groundwater; the very low organic content; and microbial communities and processes that may be independent of the surface. The borehole was drilled to a depth of 535 meters and the final 200 m of core containing the permafrostsubpermafrost boundary was collected and catalogued. Samples were taken for extensive geological and microbiological analysis (pore water composition, pore gases, isotope analysis, fluid inclusion analysis, DNA extraction, PLFA extraction, cell counts, microbial enrichments, etc.).
Jim Bockheim (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) has been working with a group of New Zealand scientists from Land Care Research and the University of Waikato mapping soils and permafrost features in selected ice-free areas of Antarctica.
Torre Jorgenson (ABR Inc.) Chien-lu Ping, Yuri Shur, Michael Kanevskiy, Gary Michaelson, Fugen Duo, Daniel Fortier, and Lorene Lynn (Univ. of Alaska) and visiting student Eva Stephanie returned to the Alaskan Beaufort Coast during late July and early August 2006 to complete their sampling of soil and permafrost characteristics at 50 sites along the coast. The data from these sites will be used in their study of the flux and transformation of carbon along the eroding coastline to calculate carbon stocks, erosion rates, and fluxes of carbon into the nearshore environment. The helicopter-supported sampling was based out of Prudhoe Bay and Kaktovik. In addition, C. Ping, L. Lynn, F. Duo, and D. Fortier did more intensive sampling at Barrow in mid-August. In September, T. Jorgenson visited the village-based monitoring sites at Barrow, Colville Delta, and Kaktovik to download his time-lapse cameras, water-level recorders, and soil temperature recorders and to resurvey the coastal erosion transects. The project is part of the NSF Study of Northern Alaska Coastal Systems (SNACS) program.
Y. Shur, M. Kanevskiy, and D. Fortier (UAF), T. Jorgenson (ABR Inc.), Vladamir Tumskoy (Moscow State University), and visiting student E. Stephanie sampled permafrost characteristics at Matanuska Glacier, Cape Espenberg, Old Man, Koyukuk Flats, Tanana Flats, Sheenjek River, King Salmon, and the Fairbanks permafrost tunnel. T. Jorgenson and T. George (Terraterpret) completed their acquisition of high-resolution aerial photography at 1000 sites across central and northern Alaska for quantifying the nature and extent of thermokarst. The project is funded by NSF with addition support from the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Y. Shur also reports on the NSF-EPSCOR program for Alaska to facilitate research in the area of permafrost and frozen ground engineering. Two postdoctoral fellows are actively involved in research on coastal dynamic and carbon release and on aggradation and degradation of ground ice. A new experimental site at the UAF campus is under construction to study the effectiveness of thermosyphon (heat pipes) in warm permafrost. Graduate students are studying creep properties of frozen soils, impact of earthquakes on frozen soils, geotechnical problems associated with chilled gas pipelines and others.
Nicole Mölders and Pai Mazumder (UAF) evaluated the active layer depth and soil temperatures predicted by the Common Land Model, the land surface model used in the Community Climate System Model version 3.0 by means of observations for Russia. They found that the annual mean temperatures are well captured, but soil temperatures are overestimated in winter and underestimated in summer. Reasons for the discrepancies can be pointed to incorrect prediction of precipitation and snow depth as well as the choice of the soil parameters.
Zhaohui (Joey) Yang, He Liu (School of Engineering) and Utpal Dutta (Environment & Natural Research Institute) from University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) continue to work on the seasonally frozen ground effects on the engineering structures by using seismic data recorded on bridges and high-rise buildings. Joey Yang and Utpal Dutta have recently received two grants from Advanced National Seismic System of U.S. Geological Survey to instrument a bridge and a high-rise building in Anchorage. State-of-the-art seismic sensors and data acquisition systems will be installed for collecting building performance data in cold conditions and during seismic events.
Hannele Zubeck (UAA) conducts an on-line graduate program on Arctic Engineering. The program includes courses on a variety of cold regions engineering issues taught by the faculty at the UAA and the affiliate faculty at the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center, CRREL. Prospective students desiring to obtain Masters of Science in Arctic Engineering in an on-line environment using Blackboard learning system are invited to visit <http://www.engr.uaa.alaska.edu/programs/arctic/ index.cfm> or contact H. Zubeck ([email protected] edu).
Gary Clow and Frank Urban (U.S. Geological Survey) continued development of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s contribution to the GTN-P monitoring program. Significant improvements were made to the radiotelemetry network in the eastern portion of the U.S. National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in northern Alaska. Of the 15 automated stations in the DOI/GTN-P activelayer network, five are now available via real-time telemetry and eight are co-located with deep boreholes. As yet another sign that conditions in the Arctic are rapidly changing, one of the wells (J.W. Dalton) was lost to coastal erosion and another three are threatened. Given the anticipated loss of wells along the arctic coast, a major successful effort was made to restore a 735-m deep well (West Fish Creek) about 30 km inland to a state where it could be logged again. In preparation for the IPY TSP campaign, the USGS Polar Temperature Logging System is being upgraded. The standard uncertainty of the temperature measurements with the upgraded system is expected to be less than 3.3 mK for temperatures below 0° C.
Tom Douglas (CRREL) reports on the status of recent permafrost research at the Farmers Loop Permafrost Research Site near Fairbanks, Alaska. The second year of active layer measurements were made on CALM site (121 probe points on a grid with 3 meter spacing). Average active depths including moss were 57.5 cm in 2005 and 53.5 cm in 2006. A meteorological tower has been in operation for over a year. Torre Jorgenson and Yuri Shur selected sites a series of boreholes that were drilled an instrumented in November with the assistance of V. Romanovsky. Included are the 1946 surface disturbance sites. Additional collaboration on the project is encouraged; contact [email protected].
Kevin Bjella (CRELL) reports that the 100-m long permafrost tunnel in Fox, Alaska, is being upgraded. The tunnel, constructed in 1963–69, provides an unique facility for research and education. Modifications to the cooling system are being initiated to reduce air temperature and to slow deformation to ensure that the tunnel will be useable for decades to come. The University of Alaska is assisting financially in the renovation and Yuri Shur and associates are conducting research on the stratigraphy and properties of frozen ice–rich slits. The tunnel will be available for visits by NICOP participants.
Jack Hébert reports that the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC), located on the UAF lower campus, completed construction of the new Research and Test Facility (RTF) in September and held its Grand Opening on September 23. CCHRC chose an area of degrading permafrost for a construction site to use the RTF building itself as the basis for research. The foundation is designed to be adjustable with a series of 50-ton hydraulic jacks in the event that differential settlement occurs as permafrost degrades. An extensive monitoring system was installed, in partnership with GW Scientific (Michael Lilly) and Campbell Scientific (Austin McHugh), to help monitor permafrost and active layer conditions, groundwater conditions, and thermal and unfrozen soil-moisture conditions in the sub-grade portions of the basement. The CCHRC RTF will help provide valuable information for building construction techniques in permafrost conditions <http://www.cchrc.org/RTF%20guide.pdf>.
Sheldon Shaw and Ed Clarke, report that Soils Alaska (Fairbanks) performed geotechnical investigation at over 150 sites in Interior Alaska during 2006. Foundation design projects included driven steel pilings with thermoprobe refrigeration for radio towers; structurally enhanced foundations for installation on frozen gravel and recently thawed soils; and post and pad foundation design for use on high-moisture frozen silts. Shaw designed a non-conventional on-site wastewater disposal systems for installation where separation distances are too small and soils conditions unstable. The Fairbanks region is experiencing a housing boom and many sites previously deemed unsuitable for development are being investigated with an eye toward development via unconventional arctic foundation systems. Ed Clarke is serving as Editor of the upcoming TCCRE Cold Regions Monograph on «Arctic Foundations – State of the Practice».
During July 16-22, 2006, Chien Lu Ping (UAF) led the World Congress of Soil Society post conference tour «Cryosols and Arctic Tundra Ecosystems». Assisting C.L. Ping with the field trip were, Ed Packee (Professor Emeritus of Forestry, UAF), Joe Moore (AK State Soil Scientist) and Gary Michaelson (Logistics Coordinator, UAF). Twenty participants representing seven countries participated and were accompanied by a support team of seven. The tour included ten stops from Fairbanks to Deadhorse of the Coastal Plain region of Alaska and return. Soil pits were dug and cryogenic features investigated at Coldfoot, Galbraith Lake, Toolik Lake, Sagwon and other sites along the way. Participants had a first hand view of permafrost and ground-ice features in the CRREL permafrost tunnel, viewed the destruction of fire in boreal forests soils, learned about patterned ground, and had the chance to view the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. A guidebook is available from the University of Alaska Experimental Station. Other projects reported in previous issues of Frozen Ground continue in 2006 and information can be obtained directly from the investigators or from the U.S. Permafrost Association web site.