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).
Participants of the first Austrian Permafrost Workshop with scientists from Austria and South Tyrol, held on 14-15 October 2010 in Obergurgl, Tyrol, Austria. The participants visited the famous rock glacier Äusseres Hochebenkar (Outer Hochebenkar) where geodetic and photogrammetric measurements starting already in the 1930s. (Photograph provided by Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer).
In 2010, the new national project permAfrost – Austrian Permafrost Research Initiative – was launched. The project consortium consists of permafrost researchers from the University of Innsbruck (K. Krainer, H. Stötter), Graz University of Technology (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, M. Avian, V. Kaufmann), University of Leoben (E. Niesner), University of Salzburg (J.-C. Otto), and Vienna University of Technology (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann) and is coordinated by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (A. Borsdorf, M. Monreal). permAfrost is a first step establishing a nationwide permafrost monitoring program in Austria with a running period of three years.
The University of Innsbruck group of K. Krainer in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann), the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Salzburg/ZAMG Salzburg (C. Riedl, A. Klee, M. Staudinger) and the Geological Survey of Austria (A. Römer) continued working on the project Permafrost in Austria. The goal of the Krainer-group in the two projects Permafrost in Austria and permAfrost (WP5000) is the study of the impact of changes in the thermal regime of alpine permafrost on melting processes, discharge patterns and water chemistry at test sites in the Ötztal Alps, Samnaungruppe, Stubai Alps and Verwallgruppe by using a combination of geological, geomorphological, hydrogeological, geophysical, geochemical, meteorological and climatological methods. Within the project PermaNET, three ice-cores were drilled at two rock glaciers (Lazaun, Weissbrunn) in September 2010. The ice-cores are studied regarding ice content, chemical composition of the ice (anions, cations, heavy metals), palynology, age and stable isotopes. Furthermore, work on a rock glacier inventory of the Federal Province of Tyrol was continued. Geophysical investigations (E. Brückl, H. Hausmann) at the study area Krummgampental, Kaunertal (Ötztal Alps) were continued as reported last year.
The University of Innsbruck group of J. Stötter continued to carry out permafrost research within the PermaNET and C4AUSTRIA projects. Furthermore, the project permAfrost (WP6000) was initiated focusing on the monitoring of thawing of mountain permafrost with multi-temporal airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. Botanists from the University of Innsbruck (B. Erschbamer, R. Grassmair) started to investigate the plant colonization in relation to grain size of the substrate, soil temperature, pH and flow velocity at the rock glacier Äusseres Hochebenkar. Ecologists from the University of Innsbruck (K. Koinig, R. Psenner, E. Ilyashuk, R. Lackner, G. Köck) worked on the impact of melting permafrost on water quality and aquatic organisms in alpine lakes. Impacts are ranging from rapid increases in conductivity to toxic levels in metal concentrations that can exceed drinking water standards by more than an order of magnitude. A new project investigates the impact of permafrost meltwater on aquatic organisms. In addition, they will study sediment cores in order to investigate whether the current increase in metals in permafrost melt water is unprecedented, or whether comparable increases in metal concentrations occurred during warmer periods in the past.
ZAMG Salzburg continued to work on PermaNET and Permafrost in Austria at the study area Hoher Sonnblick (3105 m), Hohe Tauern Range. Ground temperature is monitored continuously at three boreholes (each 20 m) in the summit region (see earlier reports). At borehole 1, continuous data are available since end of 2007. Technical problems at boreholes 2 and 3 were solved and since August 2010 continuous data are also available from these two sites. Furthermore, ground surface temperature is monitored at 35 sites used for future 3D-permafrost modelling. ZAMG Vienna (W. Schöner, Ch. Kroisleitner) continued working on the project PERSON as another part of permafrost research in the Sonnblick area.
The University of Salzburg group (L. Schrott, J.-C. Otto, M. Rupprechter) continued their efforts to model the permafrost distribution of the Hohe Tauern Range (permalp.at). Two new projects were initiated in 2010: permAfrost (WP3000) investigates permafrost-glacier interactions in the Austrian Alps at the two test sites Kitzsteinhorn and Goldbergkees glaciers (J.-C. Otto). MOREXPERT, a core project of the alpS - Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Technologies, develops an expert monitoring system for high mountain rock walls (M. Keuschnig, I. Hartmeyer). Preliminary investigations for the monitoring setup were carried out (ERT, GPR, TLS, etc.) at the study area Kitzsteinhorn. Four out of five deep boreholes in the rock face have been drilled with depths of 20-30 m. Instrumentation of boreholes and other equipment, for example a measurement device for permanent electric resistivity measurement, extensometers and temperature loggers, will follow in spring and summer 2011.
Geodetic rock glacier measurements at the rock glacier Dösen were initiated in 1995 and celebrated in 2010 its 15th birthday. Measurement team of 2010: V. Kaufmann, G. Hollinger, W. Krämer (all TU Graz), V. Schuster, G. Zechner, M. Rieckh (students of UNI Graz and TU Graz), D. Regmi and S.R. Bajracharya (both guest researcher from Nepal). (Photograph provided by V. Kaufmann).
The group of permafrost researcher in the Federal province of Styria consisted in 2010 of people from the University of Graz (A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer, G.K. Lieb, O. Sass, M. Rode), Graz University of Technology (M. Avian, V. Kaufmann, A. Kellerer-Pirklbauer), Joanneum Research, Graz (A. Bauer) and University of Leoben (E. Niesner). ALPCHANGE was still ongoing in 2010 and will finally terminate in June 2011. PermaNET was successfully continued. Amongst other issues, the rock glacier inventory of Central and Eastern Austria was finalised. The new project permAfrost (WP4000) was launched. Field research within ALPCHANGE, PermaNET and permAfrost (WP4000) is carried out at seven study areas in the Hohe and Niedere Tauern Ranges. Within permAfrost (WP4000), the Styrian project participants aim to continue and improve research in the field of kinematics, volumetric and thermal monitoring of rock glaciers and permafrost and to understand the inner structure of three rock glaciers in the Hohe Tauern Range (Weissenkar, Hinteres Langtalkar, Dösen). The resurveying by terrestrial laser scanning/TLS of the front of the highly active rock glacier Hinteres Langtalkar is carried out now since 10 years. The annual geodetic displacement measurements at the rock glacier Dösen celebrated its 15th birthday (Fig. 2). Within the project ROCKFROST (application submitted to the Austrian Science Fund) it is intended to investigate the governing factors of frost weathering in alpine regions. This comprises small-scale 2D-geoelectrical monitoring of moisture levels and moisture displacement during freeze-thaw events, supplemented by datalogger-based monitoring of freeze-thaw cycles and by repeated TLS scans of rock faces to assess rock fall rates and distribution at three study sites (Gesäuse, Dachstein, Kitzsteinhorn). At the third study site, research is carried out in close cooperation with the MOREXPERT project.
Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer (firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com)