Comprehensive research on permafrost issues in Austria is currently carried out by nine institutions and by a increasing number of scientists: University of Innsbruck (with two research groups: K. Krainer and J. Stötter), Vienna University of Technology, University of Graz, Graz University of Technology, Joanneum Research (Graz), University of Salzburg, Geological Survey of Austria (Vienna) and by two branches of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (Vienna and Salzburg).
The Innsbruck group around K. Krainer in cooperation with the University of Vienna (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann, G. Blöschl), the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg (M. Staudinger) and the Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer) continued working on their existing project Permafrost in Austria. The project consists of two diff erent parts carried out at two diff erent study sites as reported in the previous issue of Frozen Ground. At the 5 km² study area in the Kaunertal (Ötztal Alps), it is planned to study the present distribution, thickness and ice content of alpine permafrost by applying a combination of methods including mapping, study of aerial photographs, geophysical surveying, ground temperatures etc. In summer 2008 geophysical mapping (seismic refraction) were started at this study area. Profiles were selected by (a) probable and improbable areas of permafrost based on geomorphology and the previously modelled PERMAKART map and by (b) geomorphological classes for near surface materials (talus, rock glacier, moraine, etc.) and their variation in altitude. The analyses of P- and S-waves are used to detect the presence of permafrost. The geophysical indicator together with the corresponding behaviour of BTS should prove (or disprove) the existence of permafrost. At the second study area, Sonnblick, an initial seismic tomography was applied to test the functionality of the pre-installed 15 geophones deployed in three 20 m boreholes in June 2008. Further measurements are planned for September 2008 and in summer 2009 to observe variations of the seismic signals (travel time, amplitude). The comparison of a computed velocity model (P- and S-waves) using the time-lapse inversion will be used to interpret spatial and temporal variations of the permafrost.
The University of Graz (G.K. Lieb, A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer), Graz University of Technology (M. Avian, V. Kaufmann), and Joanneum Research (A. Bauer, H. Proske) continued to work on objectives defi ned within the project ALPCHANGE (for details and published results see www.alpchange.at) in the Hohe Tauern and Niedere Tauern Ranges in central Austria. Most of the measurement devices installed in summer and autumn 2006 worked properly thereby collecting a whole suite of data related to permafrost and rock glacier occurrence and activity. For example, near-ground surface temperature recordings (in total more than 100 sensors) were carried out in diff erent substrates (bedrock, coarse debris, fi ne debris), in diff erent aspects as well as in diff erent altitudes in alpine cirques in order to understand in more detail the ground temperature situation of cirques with permafrost and active rock glaciers. By combining these numeric results with remotely sensed data it is planned to model the thermal situation in the entire cirques. Other local scale activities were for example continuation of the annual geodetic measurements on the Dösen, Hinteres Langtalkar and Weissenkar rock glaciers, resurveying of the rock glacier in the Äusseres Hochebenkar (Tirol) by terrestrial photogrammetry, resurveying of the front of the highly active Hinteres Langtalkar rock glacier by terrestrial laser scanning, geomorphic fi eld mapping, geoelectric measurements (in cooperation with E. Niesner and B. Kühnast, Leoben) and BTS measurements at various study locations in the Hohe Tauern and Niedere Tauern Ranges. At a regional scale, airborne laser scanning was carried out in summer 2008 at three ALPCHANGE study areas thereby focusing on rock glaciers, glaciers and larger-scale solifl uction features in the Hohe Tauern Range. Furthermore, permafrost modelling was carried out for the Carinthian part of the Hohe Tauern Range. Model results were used as one input layer for constructing a geomorphological hazard map of the Großglockner area and will be combined with regional climate scenario models developed by the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz (A. Gobiet) in Graz. Th e Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer and R. Supper) launched an automatic geoelectric monitoring system in the summit area of Sonnblick, an activity which was initiated by ALPCHANGE.
The Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna (W. Schöner, Ch. Kroisleitner) continued permafrost monitoring in the Sonnblick region (project PERSON; see previous report) at two test fi elds (one with Southern and one with Northern aspect) of ground surface temperature measurements with miniature data loggers and additional BTS measurements in March/April each year. The monitoring was extended by a digital snow cover and snow depletion mapping activities which started in spring 2008. Additionally, monitoring of the ice dammed Pilatus Lake north of Mt. Sonnblick was started in summer 2007 thereby including measurement of shape, discharge and ice thickness.
At the University of Salzburg the research group Geomorphology and Environmental Systems (L. Schrott, J.- Ch. Otto, B. Ebohon; cf. www.geomorphology.at) initiated a research project (permalp.at) about permafrost distribution in the Austrian Alps in cooperation with the national government. A major interest is to explore the permafrost distribution in the Austrian Alps, particularly with regard to potential future development and natural hazards in the densely populated mountain ranges. Th us, the fi rst objective of permalp.at is to create a high resolution map of permafrost distribution of the Austrian Central Alps. This knowledge will signifi cantly help to improve planning of infrastructure in high mountain regions. In the research area (Hohe Tauern) several methods will be applied. Apart from geomorphological mapping and the analysis of aerial photographs it is intended to carry out geophysical soundings, to enlarge BTS-measurement sites and to measure ground- and rockwall-temperatures at several test sites. The results will be used to create a new topoclimatic key for the Eastern Alps which can be used to simulate permafrost distribution. The project combines the knowledge of Salzburg’s research group with experiences of several Austrian colleagues (e.g. research group of G. K. Lieb and A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer) and is supported by M. Phillips (SLF, Davos) and F. Keller (ETI, Academia Engiadina, Samedan) from Switzerland.
Finally we want to report briefl y on a new project funded by the European Union through the Alpine Space Program of the European Territorial Cooperation named PermaNET - Permafrost long-term monitoring network launched in mid- July 2008. The project consortium consists of 14 participating institutions. The function of the so-called “lead partner” is carried out by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano - South Tyrol, Office for Geology and Building Materials Testing, Italy (V. Mair). Th e four Austrian project participants are: the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg (M. Staudinger, C. Riedl, M. Ungersböck, G. Schauer) and Vienna (W. Schöner, Ch. Kroisleitner), the University of Innsbruck (both Innsbruck permafrost research groups: J. Stötter, M. Monreal, M. Maukisch, F. Petrini-Monteferri and K. Krainer), the University of Graz (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Forest Department (H. Siegel). A fi rst PermaNET-Austria meeting was held in August 2008 in Salzburg. For more details on this new project read the respective paragraph at the national report of Italy or visit www. permanet-alpinespace.eu.
Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer and Gerhard Karl Lieb (firstname.lastname@example.org)