The activities of the Italian permafrost communities are going on both in the Alps and in Antarctica. In Antarctica, within the project “Permafrost and Climate Change II”, M. Guglielmin (Uninsubria), N. Cannone (Univ. Ferrara), S. Favero-Longo and F. Baio (Sogetec) participated to a campaign at Rothera and Signy Stations in cooperation and with the logistical support of the British Antarctic Survey. In this campaign a new 30 m deep borehole was instrumented and included in the ANTPAS and TSP networks. Analyses of the effects of vegetation on the active layer thermal regime and on CO2 fluxes were carried out. Additionally, the permafrost monitoring stations and the ice-wedge monitoring stations in Victoria Land were inspected and maintained.
The research on weathering processes in cryotic Antarctic environment continued through a cooperation between University of Ferrara (N. Cannone), University of Turin (S. Favero-Longo, R. Piervittori) and Insubria University (M. Guglielmin) enhancing the role of bioweathering in the formation of weathering features like tafoni.
The more important project that involved almost all the Italian permafrost community in the Alps is the PERMAnet project (Interreg Alpine-Space program, started in June 2008) where ARPA Vda, ARPA Piemonte with Insubria University (M. Guglielmin), the Province of Trento with University of Pavia, (R.Seppi), the University of Padova, (A. Carton) and the University of Trento (M. Dall’Amico and R. Rigon); Regione Veneto, the Province of Bolzano with Insbruck University are working under the leadership of the Bolzano Province (V. Mair).
A large range of coordinated goals are planned within Permanet. The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection (ARPA VdA) and Fondazione Montagna Sicura (FMS) are mainly focussed on the maintenance and upgrading of permafrost monitoring network (from surface boreholes in high-mountain steep rock walls to shallow and deep boreholes in gentle morphologies) and on the relationships between permafrost degradation and rock falls especially around the Mont Blanc Massif. Arpa Piemonte is mainly focussed on the installation of a permafrost monitoring network and for this reason has selected 5 sites in different climatic areas between 2400 and 3100 m a.s.l., where after geophysical investigations and BTS measurements, four 30 m deep, one 100 m deep and one 5 m deep boreholes were drilled and instrumented. The Province of Trento is focussed both on the creation of a permafrost monitoring network and on the permafrost modelling. For the first aim, preliminary BTS and ground surface temperature measurements were conducted on three potential different sites for the drilling of a 50 m deep borehole, that is planned for the late summer 2009. Also two existing boreholes near the Alpine Hut “Ai Caduti dell’Adamello” in the Adamello-Presanella Group are monitored to understand the relationships between permafrost degradation and observed slope movement. Modelling activities are also performed to model the permafrost distribution in the province. A freezing-soil module has been developed inside the open source hydrological model GEOtop (www.geotop.org) by M. Dall’Amico and R. Rigon and allows to perform long term temperature simulations including phase change effects. Regione Veneto has planned to carry out one deep borehole in bedrock and one within a dolomitic rock glacier. The Bolzano Province is leading the entire project and has planned to do different boreholes both in bedrock (one 150 m long subhorizontal borehole) and within rock glaciers.
In addition, University of Turin (M. Freppaz et al) is still pursuing its research on soil characteristics at low elevation permafrost sites and soil development within patterned ground. ARPAVDA (U. Morra Di Cella, E. Cremonesi) and University of Turin started a research project on the influence of snow properties (e.g. snow depth, density, temperature, resistivity, etc.) on the soil thermal regime and the snowpack evolution in permafrost areas. The cooperation between the universities of Pavia (R. Seppi) and Padova (A. Carton), for the research on Adamello Presanella and Ortles Cevedale mountain regions is also being continued. It consisted mainly in the continuation of near-surface ground temperature monitoring and in topographic measurements conducted for the 8th consecutive year on two active rock glaciers. One new PhD student (L. Carturan, University of Padova) focused on the climatic sensitivity of the cryosphere in the Ortles-Cevedale area. The research on the relationships between vegetation and permafrost and carbon fluxes also continue in Upper Valtellina (N. Cannone and M. Guglielmin) where a new site for monitoring of thermal and moisture conditions within the active layer and related CO2 emissions has been installed. In Upper Valtellina the latter investigators pursue the measurements of active layer thermal regime, snow spatial variability and vegetation fenology and variability started since 2006. The Insubria university (E. Binaghi and M. Guglielmin) started a research project on the use of neural network approaches for permafrost distribution modelling.
The University of Pisa (A. Ribolini) continued his research in the Maritime Alps with ground surface temperature monitoring and geophysical (electrical tomography and radar) investigations on active and inactive rock glaciers and other periglacial landforms.
Finally, L. Paro (Arpa Piemonte) is finalizing his PhD on the development and the paleoclimate meaning of block streams in the area of Val Susa (Piemonte, Western Alps).
Mauro Guglielmin (firstname.lastname@example.org)