In central Japan, an inter-university project on ‘Recovery of Geoenvironments in the Japanese Alps Region’ is ongoing (period: 2010–2015). The research organization consists of more than 100 scientists in various fields of geoscience, biology and agrobiology, mostly from three universities (Tsukuba, Shinshu and Gifu). The research topics include snow, permafrost and periglacial slope dynamics in the Japanese Alps and their effects on alpine ecology. The first summary of the project was published in a special issue of Journal of Geography (publisher: Tokyo Geographical Society), Vol. 122(4), 2013, entitled ‘Changing Natural Environments in the Japanese Alps region’ (Chief editor: N. Matsuoka). The issue comprises 17 papers and 3 pictorials, mostly written in Japanese with English abstract. Full texts can be downloaded at J-STAGE:

In Svalbard, a long-term monitoring campaign by N. Matsuoka (University of Tsukuba), T. Watanabe (Geological Survey of Hokkaido) and H.H. Christiansen (UNIS, Norway) has continued since 2005, targeting the dynamics of patterned ground (ice-wedge polygons, mudboils and hummocks) and a polar rock glacier. Eight years of data show significant interannual variability of ground movements superimposed on long-term trends.

In Alaska, K. Harada (Miyagi University), S. Tsuyuzaki (Hokkaido University), K. Saito (JAMSTEC) and G. Iwahana (IARC, UAF) have carried out researches at the Kougarok site near Nome since 2005 in order to monitor permafrost conditions after severe wildfire.

Mongolia is only one country where permafrost directly sustains the livelihoods of inhabitants, since discontinuous permafrost produces locally wet soils conditions. M. Ishikawa (Hokkaido University) and Y. Jambaljav (Institute of Geography, MAS) have established country-wide permafrost observatories consisted of more than 80 deep research boreholes. They are applying the results for mapping and modelling distribution of the southern boundary of Eurasian permafrost under the collaboration with B. Etzelmüller and S. Westermann (Oslo University). Since 2002, M. Ishikawa, Y. Iijima (JAMSTEC), S. Miyazaki (NIPR) and A. Dashtheren (Hokkaido University) have been continuing observational researches on permafrost eco-hydrological system, with special focuses on the contrasting hydrological regimes between permafrost and its immediately adjacent permafrost-free slopes, and on the interannual variations of heat, water and carbon fluxes over the Larch forest underlined by warm permafrost.

The project named ‘Frost tube in Japan’ has started in November 2011. This project is collaborated with the project of ‘Permafrost Outreach Programs’ operated by K. Yoshikawa (WERC, INE, UAF). We set frost tubes at 19 schools in Hokkaido area, Japan, and frost depths will be recorded at each school.

A voluntary committee (K. Saito, T. Sueyoshi, K. Watanabe, K. Takeda) was founded to make an open-access database for historical domestic ground temperature and frost depth data in Japan, and started to mime, collect, digitize and register those data from multiple institutes (including Japan Meteorological Agency, National and Prefectural Agricultural Institutes, and Univesities), some dating back to 1888.

Within the GRENE Arctic Climate Change Research Project, a modeling group in the terrestrial research sub-project (GRENE-TEA) initiated an intercomparison project for land surface process models (encompassing from physical to biogeochemical and ecological) for the Arctic region. About a dozen models are participating. During 2013, forcing data, directly applicable to models, were produced for selected GRENE sites (Fairbanks, Yakutsk, Tiksi, Kevo) and disseminated to the participants.

A frozen ground impervious wall is the possible solution to control leakage of contaminated groundwater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The frozen ground subcommittee of Japanese Society of Snow and Ice is preparing publication of the review article dealing with scientific and technological backgrounds.

Report prepared by M.Ishikawa (