Research on periglacial environments and permafrost from the Spanish Universities and research institutes continue at the same line that previous year, working in Andes, Iceland, Antártida and Iberian mountains or Mars. In spite of hard financial restrictions the different research groups work and collaborate with institutions and researchers from USA, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Mexico or Portugal. Strenuous efforts, to both personal and collective, to engage in research joint to the researcher international community are being made. More than eight research groups are working in periglacial environments; we present in this report the activity of only some of them.
The permafrost team of the Alcalá University goes on its research in the Antarctic Peninsula with the participation in the Spanish Antarctic expedition with the collaboration of the University of Lisbon, focus in the study of the thermal behavior of the permafrost by mean of the CALM-S sites and the boreholes drilled on the study area.
Figure 1. Meteo station and 25 m deep borehole, establish to characterize the thermal state of permafrost and the active layer evolution, on the top of Reina Sofia mount close to the Spanish Antarctic Station. Livingston Island (Antarctica).
Also the group, coordinated by Prof. Miguel Ramos and Miguel Angel de Pablo is participating in the Mars Sciences Laboratory NASA mission (MSL) by mean of its join in the experience; Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) that is lead by the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB-INTA).
Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life, basically on the permafrost system. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."
The Research Group "Landscape and Paleoenvironments in Mediterranean Mountain" has continued with the activities focused on the monitoring of present-day geomorphological processes as well as the in reconstruction of past environments in Sierra Nevada and Eastern Pyrenees, coordinated by Prof. Antonio Gómez-Ortiz and Dr. Marc Oliva and Dr. Ferran Salvador-Franch.
Together with researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Extremadura, the GETECO research Group leaded by José Juan Sanjosé, they have continued with the field monitoring in Sierra Nevada of present-day degradation of permafrost in the Veleta cirque, control of rock glacier dynamics, thermal monitoring of seasonal frost in several sites across the massif, distribution of late-lying snow patches, etc. Samples for cosmogenic dating have been collected in both massifs with the purpose of reconstructing the deglaciation process as well as phases with active rock glacier dynamics related to widespread permafrost conditions in these massifs.
Researchers from this Research Group also conduct research in other permafrost environments, with a special focus in Antarctica. In this continent, several activities are being carried out in ice-free areas in close collaboration with researchers from the University of Lisbon, among others.
The research Group of the University of Valladolid, leaded by Prof. E. Serrano, have continued working on mountain permafrost and periglacial geomorphology in the Cantabrian Mountains and Pyrenees. Collaborating with Ecology Pyrenean Institute (CSIC) headed by Dr. J.I. López-Moreno, and GETECO Research Group (University of Extremadura) headed by José Juan Sanjosé, all of them are working on glaciers and cold environments. Works have been made on periglacial processes and mountain permafrost in Upper Pyrenees (Tucarroya and Monte Perdido massif) and on periglacial processes and nivation in Cantabrian Mountains. Studies have focused on soil thermal regime in the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains, systematic surveys of rock glaciers, icepatches and glaciers, and specially the study of ice caves as indicators of cold conditions in the high mountain of Picos de Europa, where three years of observation and data record have been obtained.
Figure 2. GPR survey on the ice body of Castil ice cave in the Picos de Europa (Cantabrian Mountains, Spain). (Picture, Manuel Gómez-Lende)
Research developed during the last four year in three big upper cirques where today glaciers exist (Infierno massifs, Posets massif and Maladeta massif) and where periglacial processes and permafrost are significant of periglacial environment of Pyrenees, have permit to obtain the Doctorate degree to María González-García. The doctoral thesis, titled "Periglacial High Mountain in the Spanish Central Pyrenees: processes, landforms and environment" -in Spanish language- was lectured in the University of Málaga. The thesis focused on the high mountain periglacial processes, their distribution and dynamic. In the three massifs have been studied relations between glaciers, deglaciation and periglacial processes emplacement, and have been made three 1:10000 scale geomorphological maps and soil thermal maps, to establish the altitude of active periglacial processes and distribution of not frozen soils, where nivation processes are dominant, seasonal frozen soils and permafrost.
The research Group of the UAM, leaded by Jerónimo López Martínez has been working in the field focusing in the study of periglacial process and permafrost. Works developed in the South Shetland Island to obtain field parameters oriented to mapping permafrost by remote sensing techniques. RADARSAT-2 data in the ultra-fine and fine quad polarization mode was evaluated to identify periglacial features within the Antarctic Peninsula region. The study was carried out within Fildes Penisula and Livingston Island. Objectives of the research are to integrate data from different sources, including field data, to optimize the selection of criteria and techniques to obtain information from RADARSAT-2 relevant to the periglacial geomorphology and permafrost distribution.
The research group of UCM (https://www.ucm.es/gfam), leaded by Prof. David Palacios is working in the study of periglacial processes and permafrost distribution by remote sensing and thermal field record. The works are part of the research project "Environmental effects of deglaciation: case studies in contrasted geographic landscapes (CRYOCRISIS)", working in the Andean Cordillera (Perú), and Iceland. Research developed in the Peruvian Andes have permitted obtain the Doctor degree to Jesús Alcalá with the doctoral thesis titled "Volcanic, glacial and periglacial evolution of the Ampato volcanic complex (South of Perú) -in Spanish language - lectured in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The research has focused on the evolution of Ampato volcanic complex (15º24'-15º51'S/71°51'-73°W; 6,288 m a.s.l.), where periglacial landforms and processes until now not studied, have been analysed. From field work, thermal record and remote sensing (Landsat images) have been made a detailed geomorphological map (1/200000 scale) of Ampato massif, and rock glaciers and several periglacial landforms have been inventoried. Finally, the altitude distribution of permafrtost have been establish in a volcanic complex located in the Peruvian hiperarid plateau, place needy of water to population and farm activity. Research developed in Iceland is focused on the dynamic of little glaciers and genesis of rock glaciers using mainly liquenometry. The work is developed in collaboration with the Natural Research Centre of Northwestern Iceland and the University of Akureyri.
Report prepared by Enrique Serrano ( firstname.lastname@example.org)