The First Iberian Conference of the IPA (see Portugal report) included an ANTPAS Iberian representatives meeting with discussions on coordination and priorities for the Iberian groups, and a meeting on the Soil Thermal Monitoring Network on Iberian Peninsula Mountains initiative.
Founded by Spanish Science and Technology Programme and led by A. Gómez-Ortíz the network has begun its activities. During the next year the Soil Thermal Monitoring Network of the Spanish and Portuguese IPA groups plan to obtain systematic soil and atmospheric data of cold mountain environments of the Iberian Peninsula. A working group will coordinate the monitoring sites in Iberian mountains.
Studies of permafrost and periglacial phenomena in 2007 by Spanish research teams were carried out at in the Spanish mountains, Andes, Arctic and Antarctica. These were continuations of programmes started in previous years under the National Research Programmes framework (see Frozen Ground 2006, p. 43-44) and the participation in the IPY 2007-2009 of new research projects.
New studies on periglacial environments have been initiated in the Picos de Europa and the Andes. Works in Picos de Europa (Spain) are funded by the Picos de Europa National Park, and coordinated by the research team of the Department of Geography of the Universidad de Valladolid with collaboration of Lugon (University Institute Kart Bösch of Sion, Switzerland). The work is focused on cold environment, the distribution of periglacial processes and the use of periglacial and nival features as geoindicators of environmental changes in the Iberian oceanic high mountains.
The research team from the Department of Physical Geography of Universidad Complutense de Madrid, headed by D. Palacios and with seven other researchers including Visiting Prof. Zamorano from Universidad Nacional Autonoma of Mexico, conducted an intensive fieldwork campaign from July to September 2007, on the great stratovolcanoes Coropuna, Amapato, Chechani and Misti in the western Andes of southern Peru. The objective is analysing the distribution of permafrost in this hyperarid sector of the Andes, by studying rock glaciers as the main geomorphologic manifestation of this process, and relating permafrost distribution evolution to the overall recession of the glaciers. The interrelationship between permafrost dynamic and volcanic activity is another major objective. Results from these studies will be used to determine the extent of solid water resources and the prevention of catastrophic hydrovolcanic processes. The Universidad Complutense team also conducts ongoing monitoring of permafrost in Mexico on the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztacihualt. Since very little scientific work has been done on permafrost dynamics on active volcanoes or on permafrost in tropical mountainous areas, the team invites researchers interested in these topics to exchange information and methodologies at the next IPA conference. Interested parties should contact D. Palacios ([email protected]).
The Spanish participation in the IPY 2007-2009 consists of nineteen coordinated projects funded by the Spanish Polar Research Program. Seven projects are developed in the Antarctica, four in the Arctic and Antarctica, six in the Arctic and one in the subantarctic environments (Andes). Six Spanish projects on cold environments, periglacial processes, permafrost and climatic change are presently involved in works coordinated with seven IPY research programmes: ANTPAS (Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Permafrost), TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost), GLACIODYN (The Dynamic Response of Arctic Glaciers to Global Warming), PLATES-GATES (Plate Tectonics and Polar Gateways in Earth History), MERGE (Microbiological and Ecological Responses to Global Environmental Changes in Polar Regions), TARANTELA (Terrestrial Ecosystems in Arctic and Antarctic: Effects of UV light, liquefying ice and ascending temperatures) and EBA (Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic: the Response of Life to Change).
The Departments of Botany II and Regional Geographic Analysis and Physical Geography of Universidad Complutense de Madrid are currently engaged in an IPY research project titled Glacier Retreat, Colonization Processes and Gene Flow in Primary Lichen Communities from Arctic and Antarctic Areas (Polar-Pioneer). The first phase of fieldwork took place in June-July 2007 on Svalbard, and produced interesting results regarding lichen colonization in areas affected by permafrost which had been deglaciated in the last 30 years. Other findings were associated with processes occurring in the active layer that influence factors affecting lichen colonization. In January 2008, another programme of fieldwork will be launched on Navarino Island (Tierra de Fuego, Chile) and in the Antarctic. This project is coordinated with the IPY project MERGE.
A. Pérez-Alberti (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela) coordinates a research team of 10 Spanish and Argentinean geomorphologists, pedologists and climatologists working on Mapping, monitoring and thermal control of crionival landforms in Subantarctic Region: Southern Andes and Los Estados Island (Tierra de Fuego, Argentina) (GEOSAP). The project is coordinated with the ANTPAS IPY project. The main objective is to analyse the thermal behaviour of active layer and periglacial processes in the Andean high mountains. During the next three years the group will work in the field to study the evolution and the present-day environmental changes and pedogenetic processes in cold high mountain environments related to permafrost.
The project on Geomorphic dynamic, periglacial environment and present-day tectonics in the Northern Region of Antarctic Peninsula area: Hydrological and environmental implications is coordinated by J. López-Martínez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). Eleven researchers work in the South Shetland Islands, and the Northern Antarctic Peninsula. During the last austral summer the group worked in Seymour Island on permafrost mapping, hydrological processes and tectonic features. The project is engaged in the IPY research Projects ANTPAS and PLATES-GATES. The objective is to analyse the connections between hydrology, soils, geomorphic processes and permafrost. The group is working together with the ANTPAS Working Group in the Antarctic Permafrost Map, coordinated by J. Bockheim and M. Balks.
Another international team led by the University of Alcala de Henares, with the participation of nine researchers from Spanish Research Centres, Universidade de Lisboa and University of Zurich, is monitoring active layer and permafrost thermodynamic in South Shetland Islands (Antarctica). The project, Permafrost and Active Layer Monitoring and Modelling in Livingston and Deception Islands (Antarctic), is coordinated by M. Ramos, and is carried out in the Antarctic during the IPY. The CALM-S site installed in both islands will be completed, with plans to include two 20-25 m deep borehole drillings in Deception and Livingston Island. The project is coordinated with the IPY projects ANTPAS and TSP.
The Department of Ecology of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid with seven research centres are working on ‘Limnopolar project’, currently coordinated with the IPY research projects TARANTELA, EBA and MERGE. The team is coordinated by A. Quesada, and works on the Byers Peninsula on limnology and temperatures and precipitations variations, the increase of UV radiation, biodiversity and the interaction between organisms, and the environmental impact of scientific and tourist activities in a permafrost environment.
Enrique Serrano ([email protected]).