In 2008, the IPA Italian community was focused on the participation in the NICOP where several Italians were present. The Italian representatives produced three papers as fi rst author (Guglielmin et al., Cannone and Guglielmin, Pogliotti et al.) and another three papers as co-authors on topics ranging from alpine permafrost to Antarctic and Martian permafrost. In addition four extended abstracts were also presented as posters.

Antarctic research was severely hindered by national funding issues but the download of the data and the maintenance of the automatic permafrost monitoring stations at Boulder Clay and Oasi (M. Guglielmin) and of the ice-wedges monitoring thermal regime (R. Raffi ) were assured. The results of previous Antarctic campaigns (in cooperation with Canadian, German and British colleagues) were nonetheless published in various international journals.

Another focal point for the Italian community has been the preparation of a new European project in the framework of the EU Alpine Space Programme 2007 - 2013: PermaNET (Permafrost Long-term Monitoring Network) that was approved and will be funded. The project aims at establishing a common strategy for dealing with permafrost analyses though the creation of an Alpine-wide monitoring network and of guidelines for the consideration of permafrost in risk and water resources management. The kick-off meeting of the project was held in Bolzano/Bozen on September 4-5. The Project includes five Italian partners: Bolzano Province, lead partner; Arpa Piemonte, Regione Valle d’Aosta (with Arpa VDA and FMS involved), Trento Province and Regione Veneto.

In the Western Alps a first project to map permafrost and correlated landforms was carried out in the framework of cooperation between Arpa Piemonte and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin). A new inventory of the rock glaciers and the protalus rampart of the whole Piemonte was fi nalized and a provisional permafrost map (obtained by empirical models) was obtained and used as first step to the research that Arpa Piemonte and Insubria University (as subcontractor) will continue in the framework of the PermaNET.

A. Ribolini, with his group of Pisa University, pursues the research focused on three diff erent topics (permafrost and ground ice distribution, relationships between rock glaciers and glaciers, freeze-thaw cycles eff ects on alpine geomorphology) in a marginal Mediterranean sector of the Alps as the Maritime Alps. In particular, the Vei del Bouc rock glacier in the Argentera Massif (Maritime Alps) was surveyed using a new highly transportable georadar device, equipped with a 25 MHz antenna and produced by the I.D.S. company ( Preliminary results show a high signal penetration (about 25 m depth) and well visible refl ections at various depths. Shallow ice presence seems to occur in the lodgement till above the apical part of the rock glacier.

In the Cothian Alps, Italy, the DC resistivity tomography surveys carried out on the Col de l’Agnel rock glacier represent the fi rst step of a research program that the Universities of Pisa (A. Ribolini) and Insubria (M. Guglielmin) intend to develop in the Monviso area. Preliminary results report on a near-surface (0-10 m depth) concentration of sediments that are highly to extremely highly resistive (> 2-6 MOm), resting onto slightly frozen and unfrozen debris. An interaction with a glacier potentially present during the Little Ice Age is under examination. The temperature monitoring of Rocca dell’Abisso block field has continued hourly and at diff erent depths, reaching the second year of measurements.

In June 2008 the European project ‘PERMAdataROC’ (INTERREG IIIA - ALCOTRA) was concluded. The Italian partners ARPA Valle d’Aosta (Arpa VDA), CNR-IRPI of Turin and Fondazione Montagna Sicura (FMS - project leader) have been involved. The project led to the development of an integrated strategy for the study and monitoring of rockwall instabilities in high-mountain areas (Mont Blanc Massif and Matterhorn) aff ected by permafrost degradation. The research directions were:

(1) CNR-IRPI, FMS - creation of a database of rockfalls occurred in the Mont Blanc Massif area (at elevation greater than 2000 m a.s.l.) from the past until now. The database will be updated on the basis of reports provided by Alpine Guides and huts owners specifi cally trained to fi ll a survey form describing future events.

(2) ARPA VdA - development and test of strategy for thermal monitoring of near vertical rockwalls in high-mountain environments. A total of seven sites with more than 30 temperature loggers installed have been equipped for the hourly record of: (i) rock temperature at depths of 3, 30 and 55 cm, (ii) air temperature and humidity, (iii) wind speed and direction, and (iv) incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave radiation. Collected data series are actually used for the validation and calibrations of physical based models in collaboration with the Glaciology, Geomorphodynamics & Geocronology Group of the University of Zurich.

(3) CNRS-EDYTEM (France) FMS - development of a monitoring methodology for rockwalls morphological activities in high-mountain environments using frequently repeated LIDAR surveys and terrestrial photogrammetry (see France‘s report). All details about this project are available on the web. ( permadataroc/).

During the 2007 and 2008 in the Valle d‘Aosta Region, Northwest Italy, a monitoring site (Cime Bianche, 3100 m a.s.l.), initiated in 2005 through collaboration between ARPA VdA and Insubria University, has been progressively implemented with new instrumentation. The set-up includes: (i) one borehole of 41 m depth equipped with 25 temperature nodes, (ii) one borehole of 6 m depth equipped with 15 temperature nodes, (iii) one CALM grid of 40x10 meters area for soil temperature measurement at 2 and 30 cm depths, (iv) one automatic weather station (MAWS) for the measurements of standard meteorological parameters including snow depth, and (v) one system for the measurement at different depths of the temperature, heat flux and permittivity into the snow pack. Currently more than two years of continuous data series are available.

On the eastern side of Rosa Massif, Insubria University finalized a geophysical and geomorphological investigation in the area of Lago delle Locce to understand the evolution of permafrost and buried ice distribution in the last 30 years comparing the new results with what W. Haeberli and F. Epifani carried out in the 1970’s. In Upper Valtellina, Central Alps, N. Cannone continues the research on the relationship between vegetation and permafrost degradation in the Stelvio area. A new program for monitoring CO2 emissions in permafrost and permafrostfree areas characterized by different vegetation types has been started. M. Guglielmin continues to maintain the monitoring of the Stelvio PACE borehole and two other shallower boreholes on Foscagno rock glacier where the program of monitoring relationships between snow, permafrost and vegetation is being pursued.

The monitoring activity of several rock glaciers located in the Adamello Presanella and Ortles Cevedale mountain groups (Central Italian Alps) continued also in 2008, leaded by R. Seppi (Pavia University) and A. Carton (University of Padova). In particular, the fourth consecutive year of data on the ground near-surface thermal regime were retrieved from ten sites located on rock glaciers. In addition, ten ground surface temperature monitoring sites were set up in the framework of a Ph.D. thesis (L. Carturan, University of Padova). The monitoring activity on the thermal characteristics of several springs discharging from rock glaciers also continued in the two mountain groups.

In collaboration with the local Geological Survey, Autonomous Province of Trento, topographic surveys on two rock glacier were repeated for the sixth year, continuing an activity started in 2001. The thermal and topographic data series were partially processed by M. Zumiani and included in his Master thesis at the University of Padova (tutors: M. Meneghel and R. Seppi).

A study on a rock glacier originating from a Little Ice Age moraine of the now vanished glacier of Cima dell‘Uomo, Bocche Range, Dolomites, has just started. Monitoring of climate, ground surface temperature and geophysical investigation along with survey and mapping are planned (A. Carton, M. Meneghel and R. Seppi). The research group leaded by R. Rigon of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Trento, started to deal with alpine cryosphere since 2004. Part of the research aims at analyzing the hydrological balance and the energy and mass exchange on glaciers (S. Endrizzi). The other branch of the research, mainly conducted through the Ph.D. of M. Dall‘Amico in cooperation with S. Gruber, University of Zürich, is directed to alpine permafrost modelling and aims at simulating the thermal state of soil in high mountain environments. This will be accomplished by the coupled thermal-hydrological model GEOtop customized for permafrost environments.

Mauro Guglielmin (