One of the outstanding tasks of the Geocryology Unit of Mendoza (D. Trombotto, J. Hernández) were the thermogeomorphological monitoring campaigns at the Peteroa volcano (35º15´S and 70º35´W) in a joint research project with the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (P. Penas, Buenos Aires) and the International Center for Earth Sciences (A. Ramires, Malargüe).

Daytime as well as nighttime flights with a Cessna 180 for four passengers with thermo-cameras a AGEMA TVH 550 or a sophisticated FLIR P660 made it possible to identify hot (active craters with fumaroles) and cold (with permafrost and glaciers) sites of the volcano caldera and to compare this information with former data obtained in 2009. Changes of geoforms, glaciers, permafrost and of the thermal spectrum as an alert of the eruption registered later on in September 2010 (FOTO) were detected. As part of this project in the region of the Peteroa Volcano and the upper basin of the Malargüe river, Pablo Grizas has began his doctoral thesis on periglacial hydrology under the direction of Dario Trombotto.


Eruption of the Peteroa Volcano, September 20, 2010 (Photograph provided by Dario Trombotto).

Permafrost research in Austria was intensified substantially during the last years. As a consequence of this development, a first official meeting of permafrost scientists from Austria and South Tyrol was held in 2010. This Permafrost Workshop was organized on 14-15 October 2010 in Obergurgl (Tyrol, Austria) to bring together most scientists working on alpine permafrost in Austria and South Tyrol, and to present and discuss current research activities on alpine permafrost. In total, about 50 people from 17 different research institutions participated in this successful workshop. The first day of the meeting was focusing on research exchange and oral and poster presentations. On the second day the participants visited the rock glacier Äusseres Hochebenkar (or Outer Hochebenkar) thereby discussion different permafrost related issues directly in the field (Figure below). This rock glacier is well known to the scientific community because of its remarkably long record of geodetic and photogrammetric measurements starting in the 1930s. The workshop was mainly organised by K. Krainer (Uni. Innsbruck) supported by H. Hausmannn and E. Brückl (both TU Vienna). One of the main results of the workshop was the foundation of an informal “Austrian Permafrost Working Group”. The two main objectives of this group are, first, to improve coordination and cooperation of future research activities on alpine permafrost in Austria and South Tyrol and, second, to select “key sites” for a long-term monitoring in the Austrian Alps. Since this meeting, the national committee of IPA-Austria consists of A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer (Uni. Graz, TU Graz), G.K. Lieb (Uni. Graz), K. Krainer (Uni. Innsbruck), L. Schrott (Uni. Salzburg) and H. Hausmann (TU Vienna).

It has been a busy year for the Canadian permafrost community. One of the major highlights of 2010, was GEO2010, which was a joint conference of the 63rd Canadian Geotechnical Conference and the  6th Canadian Permafrost Conference (CanCOP6), held in Calgary, September 2010. CanCOP6 was very successful as was jointly organized by the Canadian National Committee for the IPA (CNC-IPA) and the Canadian Geotechnical Society’s Cold Regions Division. Although the majority of participants were Canadian, there were several international participants including good representation from the USA, China and Russia. Over 70 permafrost/cold regions papers were presented and also published in the proceedings. The program included presentations on results of IPY research, northern foundations, northern pipeline design, monitoring and management, infrastructure design for northern mines, permafrost issues in the Mackenzie Delta. Two plenary papers with a permafrost theme were presented in the opening session of the joint conference, one by Dr. J. Oswell (RM Hardy keynote address) and the other by Dr. S. Kokelj (JR Mackay award recipient). Short courses on permafrost geophysics and remote sensing and permafrost were also offered.

The activities of the Finnish permafrost community are going on both in Eurasia and Greenland. The research project “Global change impacts on sub-arctic palsa mires and greenhouse gas feedbacks to the climate system: PALSALARM” ended in year 2010. PALSALARM was conducted during 2007-2010 and received funding through the Nordic Ministers' Cooperation Programme for the Arctic. The project was carried out by the Finnish Environment Institute (S. Fronzek and T.R. Carter) and the Universities of Copenhagen, Lund and Helsinki (M. Luoto). This project brought together research groups from four institutions in the Nordic region who have hitherto worked largely independently on different aspects of palsa mires. The central aim of the study was to estimate future changes in the distribution of palsa mires in Fennoscandia, and the implications of these changes for greenhouse gas budgets and nature conservation. The project had four specific objectives:

  1. to map the current distribution of palsa mires
  2. to model future changes in palsa mire distribution due to projected climate warming
  3. to estimate future changes in the CH4 and CO2 budgets of palsa mires
  4. to assess the ecosystem implications of palsa mire degradation and investigate possible conservation measures.

In the last years, several initiatives were launched to structure the French permafrost monitoring activity and the young researcher community.

Set up in 2008, the PermaFRANCE network aims at: i) providing a common framework for all the activities related to the long-term monitoring of mountain permafrost in France, ii) at improving the knowledge on mountain periglacial environments and their senstivity to the global change, and iii) at providing the French contribution to international networks (such as the GTN-P, CALM and SCREECOS). The main activities of PermaFRANCE include the coordination of the different observation system elements (observers, instrumentation, site maintenance, protocols of data acquisition, campaigns) and the diffusion of the data collected. PermaFRANCE gathers together research teams, individual researchers, engineering departments of private companies that specifically work on mountain permafrost, public or private structures that host on their territory one or several observation sites, public or private structures that contribute to the maintenance or the operation of the observation sites and public or private structures that are interested in the data and/or that support the network. The network has edited the first report Permafrost in France in June 2010, which is freely distributed as hard copy or as numerical document (please contact philippe.schoeneich@ujf-grenoble.fr). This report contains ground surface temperature data collected since 2003, rock glacier displacement data collected since 1985 and rockface LiDAR measurements and rockfall inventories collected since 2005. The Groupement d'Intérêt Scientifique (GIS) PermaFRANCE has been created in early 2011 to formally represent the network.

News from the AWI Potsdam

The 13th Russian-German-Expedition Lena Delta 2010 took place from July to November with 55 participants. The overall aims are to continue the ongoing research on carbon, water and energy cycling, coastal erosion, land-sea interaction and paleoclimatic reconstruction, carried out on the tundra in and around the Lena Delta, the shallow coastal seas and on a N-S transect for lake studies and lake sediment sampling. The activities were concentrated on the German-Russian Samoylov station on an island in the middle of the delta. The building of a new station has started this summer on an area more inland of the island, because of increasing river shore erosion close to the old station. The visit of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at Samoylov station on August 23, 2010, was a highlight of the expedition. During his stay on Samoylov Putin was informed about the research carried out especially the long term monitoring sites. He showed his deep interest in the permafrost studies during a long discussion with scientists and students.


Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin at Samoylov station, Lena delta (Photograph provided by Günter Stoof)

In 2010, the activities of Italian community of permafrost and periglacial researchers were undertaken at Universities, Research Institutes, Public bureaus (Provinces, Regions) and Foundations. These researches cover most of the Alpine arch,  the central area of the Apennine chain and the Antarctic. Some of these activities were funded by European Projects (Alcotra "Glariskalp”–Glacial risk in the Western Alps", PermaNET "Permafrost long-term monitoring network", Interreg III RiskNat -activities b1- c1: “Hazards deriving from high mountain environment evolution"), other by national or local research projects (i.e. PRIN 2008 " Climate Change effects on glaciers, permafrost and derived water resource. Quantification of the ongoing variations in the Italian Alps, analysis of their impacts and modelling future projections") .

The research activities carried out by M. Chiarle, G. Mortara and M. Arattano (CNR-IRPI, Turin) regarded geomorphological processes and hazard in alpine periglacial areas of Western Alps, with a specific focus on the impacts of permafrost degradation. This activity was partly undertaken inside the European Project Alcotra (in cooperation with CNR-IGG, Turin). The results were compared with the data coming from the Canadian Cordillera thanks to the cooperation with J.J. Clague (Simon Fraser University) and M. Gertseema (British Columbia Forest Service). Among the other activities of this group, particularly interesting was the recording and analysis of acoustic emissions related to rock mass deformation at Capanna Carrel (Mt Cervino area), related to climatic factors and permafrost degradation.

A joint permafrost study on the Fuji volcano (3776 m a.s.l., MAAT = −6°C), the highest mountain in Japan, has progressed (A. Ikeda, G.. Iwahana, T. Sueyoshi and R. Nishii). A 10 m-deep borehole was dug on the summit area, to monitor permafrost temperature. The ground temperature in the borehole was much lower than that in the 3-m deep boreholes dug on the same summit area in 2008. On the summit area, temporal variations in ground temperature strongly depend on the local topography and composition.


Drilling a 10-m deep borehole on the top of Fuji volcano.

Long-term monitoring of permafrost temperatures (TSP) in 46 boreholes in Mongolia is continued within the framework of CALM and GTN-P program. Meanwhile, this year three 15 m deep boreholes were re-drilled at Baganuur site near Ulaanbaatar where old destroyed monitoring ones were. In addition, 100 m and 200 m long permanent strings with thermistors were installed in the Burenkhan and Ardag boreholes of Hovsgol region, respectively.

In order to outreach to students to share knowledge and experience in conducting permafrost study and monitoring, Sharkhuu is collaborating with teachers of Hatgal High school in Hovsgol province which is one of the oldest schools in Mongolia. Currently ground temperature in 10 m deep borehole is recorded by dataloggers. Experimental observations for estimating thermal insulation effect of grass (with different biomass) and snow (with different thickness and density) cover are conducted using dataloggers at fenced observation site near school house. In addition, temperature underneath of a new school building which was built on the pillars to prevent conduction of heat to ground was monitored using dataloggers to see how effective the structure was. Sharkhuu and Anarmaa prepared a poster on introduction of permafrost, and its studies in Hövsgöl lake area for the school. In early September of 2008 Drs. Romanovsky and Yoshikawa from University of Alaska Fairbanks visited the school. During this visit Yoshikawa gave a talk about permafrost to students, and Romanovsky provided one 4-channel HOBO U12 data logger as a present to the school.

Third European Conference on Permafrost, EUCOP III

In 2010 the Norwegian permafrost researchers and engineers focussed on getting the Third European Conference on Permafrost, EUCOP III held at 78°N in Longyearbyen in Svalbard. In addition to the organisation of the conference, the Norwegian contribution to EUCOP III was 42 scientific abstracts, 12 oral presentations and 25 posters. There was 35 scientists and engineers from Norwegian institutions participating in EUCOP III, of which several were master and Ph.D. students from University of Oslo and UNIS. The strong field focus of the conference, being hosted in an area with continuous permafrost, proved to be valuable. Unfortunately we did not manage to organise a longer multi-day excursion, mainly due to missing funding, but all the announced one-day field trips were very well attended. We hope this concept may be further developed at coming permafrost conferences. We want to thank our international colleagues for their assistance with EUCOP III through their contributions in the International Organising Committee, and we wish Portugal all the best with organising EUCOP IV. A full report has been published in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes by H.H. Christiansen and B. Etzelmüller.


EUCOP2010 participants on field excursion to Gruvefjellet above Longyearbyen. Stephan Vogel (to the right) is lecturing on snow avalanches. (Photograph provided by O. Humlum)