Research activities on Antarctic permafrost are framed within the projects Permantar and Permantar-2 (Permafrost and Climate Change in the Maritime Antarctic) coordinated by the University of Lisbon (CEG/IGOT-UL). The projects also count with the participation of the Centre of Geophysics of the University of Évora and Centre of Geophysics of the University of Lisbon, as well as with several foreign institutions: Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, Federal University of Viçosa (Brazil), University of Alcalá de Henares (Spain), University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). In 2010 Antarctic permafrost research took place in Deception and Livingston Islands (South Shetlands), with a focus on permafrost and active layer monitoring and modelling, snow cover monitoring and geomorphodynamics research.
Two new ESA category-1 projects based on SAR remote sensing are under way. Snowantar is a collaboration between CEG/IGOT-UL and the University of Alcalá (Spain), aiming at mapping snow cover dynamics as a major controlling factor on permafrost thermal regime. TidefInSAR is a collaboration between CEG/IGOT-UL and LATTEX aiming and DInSAR analysis of permafrost terrain deformation in the South Shetlands. More detailed information on these projects can be found at http://www.antecc.org.
Researchers from the Research Group on Antarctic Environments and Climate Change (ANTECC) have been awarded the following prizes in 2010: Vanessa Batista received the "Outstanding Presentation for Early Career Scientists" at the Oslo IPY Science Conference, in the category 2: "Past, Present and Future Changes in Polar Regions", for her work on active layer monitoring in Deception Island; Marc Oliva was awarded the PYRN Best International Oral Presentation at EUCOP III, for his talk on "Long-term solifluction response to increasingly arid conditions in Sierra Nevada, Southern Spain"; and Gonçalo Vieira was awarded the National Prize “Seeds of Science 2010" on Earth, Atmosphere and Marine Sciences, as a recognition of the effort on the coordination and consolidation of Portuguese Antarctic Research during the IPY. Since the SCAR Open Science Conference, Gonçalo Vieira is Co-Chair of the SCAR Expert Group on Antarctic Permafrost and Periglacial Environments. ANTECC started publishing quarterly newsletters on permafrost research which are downloadable at the group's website.
The CERENA team, at Instituto Superior Técnico, is studying in detail polygonal terrains using Earth analogues to improve the knowledge of the abundant Martian networks. In the summer of 2010, a field campaign in Adventdalen (Svalbard) was conducted together with CEG/IGOT-UL, the Centre of Geophysics of the University of Coimbra and UNIS (Norway), to gather polygonal pattern features for comparison with Martian analogues. The field survey, enabled to collect accurate data on the geometry and topology of the polygons, on the characteristics of the vegetation and on the depth of the active layer. The in-situ measured features are being integrated with two sets of remotely sensed imagery with very high spatial resolution and confronted with those of Mars to evaluate where do Adventdalen polygons stand in relation to quantitatively characterized Martian networks. More information about ongoing activities can be found at http://planetsci-cerena.weebly.com.
Permafrost research at IPIMAR mainly focussed in the environmental consequences of thawing and thermokarst lake formation. The research as been done in the Canadian Arctic, through a collaboration with Environment Canada and the University of Ottawa. The main objectives were: i) to understand the role of thermokarst lakes in the regional and global carbon cycle, mainly focusing on the emission of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane), ii) to improve the knowledge on the fate and biogeochemical processes of trace elements (mainly contaminants) due the formation and drainage of thermokarst water into the Arctic aquatic systems. Research done in 2010 showed that thermokarst lakes are important sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and also that the drainage of their lake water present a serious impact in water quality of the surrounding aquatic systems.
Gonçalo Vieira, Pedro Pina and João Canário