PYRN Germany

On 24 October 2014, PYRN-DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) held its meeting in the frame of the 7th AK Permafrost meeting in Wartaweil/ Lake Ammer with a professional workshop on ”10 steps how to write and publish a paper” chaired by Tress&Tress. Since then, various international meetings and activities were organized by PYRN international.

Among them, a meeting was held and a presentation given at Arctic Change (Dec 2014) in Ottawa, a course on „The future of permafrost in a climate-changing world” was organized at EGU in Vienna (April 2015), a poster on “Perspectives and priorities of the next generation on permafrost research” was presented at ASSW in Toyama (April 2015), an excursion was organized at the PAST Gateways conference in Potsdam (May 2015), involvement of Young National Correspondents in GTN-P was decided at a GTN-P workshop in Québec (Sept 2015), a best presentation award was given at GeoQuébec (Sept 2015).

PYRN`s 10th Birthday was celebrated in Pushchino (Sept 2015), and a student`s day was co-organized by PYRN at the ArcticNet meeting in Vancouver (Dec 2015) and AGU in San Francisco (both Dec 2015). PYRN initiated several outreach activities besides its quarterly newsletter, like printed Fflyers, improvement of the website and supporting the IPA Action Group on “Permafrost comics”. Further on, a 4-year strategy for PYRN was formulated and a PYRN member census was started which results will be published and presented at ICOP2016 in June in Potsdam. PYRN is actively involved in organizing ECR activities at ICOP2016, like a junior meets senior lounge, a soccer tournament and PYRN members co-chairing the sessions. During the past and coming month, we channel our energies in organizing a fruitful 2-day Permafrost Young Researcher Workshop prior the conference together with our partners from APECS, USPA and ADAPT. Since 2015, PYRN gratefully receives a yearly financial support by the IPA.



Figure 1. Zugspitze excursion with PYRN-DACH and AK Permafrost members on Oct. 23., 2014 to the Eibsee rock avalanche deposits and the Zugspitze in the background.

Alfred Wegener Institute

Within the ERC project “Rapid Permafrost Thaw in a Warming Arctic and Impacts on the Soil Organic Carbon Pool” (PETA-CARB), led by Guido Grosse, three field campaigns were conducted in Siberia and Alaska in 2015. During March and April, Guido Grosse and Jens Strauss participated in a joint drilling expedition with colleagues from the Melnikov Permafrost Institute (PI) in Yakutsk and Mathias Ulrich from the University of Leipzig. This two-week expedition was conducted in the Yukechi Alas in Central Yakutia. The aim was to core permafrost and talik sites in thermokarst lake basins and on surrounding Yedoma uplands. During July, with US-based colleagues from United Stated Geological Survey (USGS) and the University Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), the PETA-CARB team consisting of Guido Grosse, Frank Günther, Matthias Fuchs and Ingmar Nitze collected permafrost cores along transects in Arctic river deltas and thermokarst-affected terrains. The aim of this expedition was to sample for carbon stock analysis on the Alaska Northslope. Starting from the Teshekpuk Lake Observatory, floatplane-based ground-truthing and validation of trends in landcover changes observed in super-temporal Landsat-time series datasets were conducted south of Teshekpuk Lake and along the Beaufort sea coast between Cape Halkett and Drew Point. Across an upland between two thermokarst lakes, an extensive land elevation survey grid was installed for repeat measurements using laser scanning to detect and quantify thaw subsidence. During a follow-up expedition in August, permafrost thaw survey grids that have been instrumented in the preceding year with long-term reference markers were resurveyed on Sobo-Sise Island in the eastern Lena Delta and on the Bykovsky Peninsula. Frank Günther from the PETA-CARB project and colleagues from PI Yakutsk, Russian Academy of Science, Pushchino, and Hamburg University took part. The goal for this expedition was to study past and current thermokarst landscape dynamics. Several data loggers in shallow boreholes in ice-rich permafrost and in thermokarst lakes and ponds have been recovered and read-out for monitoring purposes of water and soil temperatures.
Many Russian-German permafrost research teams used the new Research Station Samoylov Island, operated by the Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science (IPGG) since 2013, during spring, summer, and fall covering several disciplines and topics. These included carbon storage and turnover, trace gas emissions, permafrost degradation by thermokarst and thermal erosion, surface subsidence, water and energy balance, and long term observational studies. In June 2015 the directors of AWI, Prof. Karin Lochte and Dr. Karsten Wurr, together with other delegates from AWI and University of Hamburg, visited several Siberian partner institutions including IPGG and the Research Station Samoylov Island in order to discuss further deepening of the Russian-German cooperation in the field of permafrost research. During the visit to the station, the delegation was able to gain a personal impression of the excellent working and living conditions on site. In Yakutsk, Prof. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten received the honour of being awarded membership of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha as the first non-Russian member for his past achievements and long years of promoting Russian-German scientific collaboration.

The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) developed a Data Management System ( collecting permafrost temperatures and active layer thickness data from all permafrost regions of the Earth. The GTN-P Secretariat is coordinated and managed by the AWI (GTN-P Director Boris Biskaborn). GTN-P is currently working on an international data collecting effort to establish global datasets on permafrost Essential Climate Variables. The new snapshot on the thermal state of permafrost and active layer thickness is planned for presentation at the ICOP2016 and for publication in a high-ranking journal.


Helmholtz Young Investigator Group COPER (Coastal Permafrost erosion, organic carbon and nutrient release to the Arctic nearshore zone; led by Hugues Lantuit has arrived at half-time of the project. At the same time, this year’s expedition was the tenth of the AWI in the area and took place from 15 July until 23 August on Herschel Island (NW Canada). The expedition was conducted in cooperation between the AWI (H. Lantuit), the Geological Survey of Canada (Gavin Manson) and the University of Edinburgh (Isla Myers-Smith). Monitoring efforts were continued for micro-meteorology and lateral transfer of sediment, organic matter and nutrients in the land-ocean continuum ( Weather station and a cutthroat flume, already used since 2010, were deployed at the outlet of retrogressive thaw slumps and thaw streams. Water samples from creeks, lakes, ponds and sea water were taken for Michael Fritz to characterize the geochemical composition and the fate of organic matter in freshwater ecosystems and in the nearshore zone ( Extensive active-layer sampling and moisture measurements will help Samuel Stettner as ground-truth datasets for remote sensing of moisture conditions on large scales. Additionally, vegetation surveys were conducted by I. Myers-Smith to help characterizing the role of shrub growth on the ground thermal regime and they can assess greening of the Arctic. AWI boat FS „Christine“ was used as platform to conduct sampling of the seafloor sediments and oceanographic monitoring under supervision of Michael Fritz and George Tanski. In cooperation with the Geological Survey of Canada (G. Manson), Anna Konopczak performed DGPS surveys along the Yukon mainland to monitor coastal erosion rates since sea ice had retreated dramatically in the last years (


University of Bonn

The working group of Richard Dikau (Richard Dikau, Jana Eichel, Karoline Messenzehl, Katharina Eibisch) of the University of Bonn continued its fieldwork in the Turtmann Valley (Valais Alps, Switzerland). The BIMODAL project (‚Biogeomor¬phic dynamics on lateral moraines in the Turtmann glacier forefield, Switzerland‘) with PhD student Jana Eichel, supervised by R. Dikau (University of Bonn) and Sebastian Schmidtlein (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), proceeded with its work on feedbacks between geomorphic and vegetation dynamics on alpine late¬ral moraine slopes. In cooperation with Nele Meyer (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, University of Bonn), soil samples were taken and iButton temperature loggers were read out at established permanent plots to investigate interactions between vegetation, soil, snow and geomorphic processes. Field investigations of turf-banked solifluction lobes were continued in cooperation with Daniel Draebing (Bonn, TU Munich) and Lasse Klingbeil and Markus Wieland (Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn). This included geomorphological and vegetation mapping, repeated 2D and 3D Electrical resistivity tomographies, an octocopter mission and terrestrial laserscanning to identify solifluction movement and its controlling factors. The findings on conditions for feedbacks between vegetation and geomorphic processes on lateral moraine slopes were published by Eichel, Corenblit and Dikau in a paper about a ‘biogeomorphic feedback window’ (



Figure 2. Geophysical measurement in the Turtmann Glacier Forefield performed for the BIMODAL Project and rock glacier Morenas Coloradas, Mendoza, Argentina investigated in the PermArg Project.

PhD student Ka¬roline Messenzehl, supervised by Richard Dikau (University of Bonn) focuses on major controls on rock slope instability and talus slope evolution in the hanging valleys of the Turtmann Valley affected by glacier retreat and permafrost degradation. The multidisciplinary investigations on coupled rockwall-talus-systems, performed in cooperation with Daniel Draebing (Bonn, TU Munich) during the 2014 field campaign, were honoured with the Outstanding Poster Award 2015 of the European Geoscience Union. In summer 2015, the third field season of the PhD project “Rock slope instability in alpine geomorphic systems, Switzerland” comprised extensive geotechnical rockwall surveys as well as mapping of rockfall blocks along corresponding talus slopes in three hanging valleys. Additionally, first data of more than 25 rock temperature iButtons, financed by a PhD Research Grant of the British Society for Geomorphology, were read out. The data will provide valuable insights into near-surface rock temperature fluctuations during the last year. Besides the local-scale field surveys, a regional-scale modelling study on the relative role of permafrost degradation, paraglacial bedrock reaction and rock mechanical factors for rockfall initiation have been recently published by Messenzehl et al. in the journal Geomorphology.


At the end of August, the working group of Richard Dikau also organised the 3rd geomorphological workshop „Turtmann-Talks“. During field trips into the Turtmann Valley and into the Val d‘Annivier, members of the working group of Stuart Lane (University of Lausanne), as well as Bachelor and PhD-students of Richard Dikau, came together to discuss about geomorphic and cryospheric topics including rock slope instabilities, glacier retreat and solifluction processes.
In the Research Group Geomorphology and Environmental systems (Prof. Lothar Schrott, Bonn) a new DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) funded project on “Rock glacier permafrost in the Central Andes of Argentina (PermArg)” has been started in November 2015. The project focuses on the spatial distribution, the ice content and hydrological significance of rock glaciers in the semi-arid to arid Argentinian Andes (30-33°S). We will use a combination of field geophysics (electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), refraction seismic tomography (RST), ground penetrating radar (GPR)) and four phase modeling to estimate the volumetric ice contents of the active layer and the permafrost bodies in rock glaciers. Local investigations in the “Morenas Coloradas” and the “Agua Negra” basins will be complemented by direct observations of sediment properties, thermal monitoring, and field based mapping. Regional controls of the rock glacier distribution will be investigated by compiling and analyzing a remote sensing/GIS based inventory that further serves as basis for a first order quantification of the water storage capacities of rock glaciers based on empirical field data. The first field work campaign will be conducted in February and March 2016. The three-year project will be carried out by Lothar Schrott’s working group and includes the project-integrated PhD-thesis of Christian Halla as well as several national and international cooperations, among others Dario Trombotto (IANIGLA, Mendoza, Argentina), Christian Hauck and Christin Hilbich (University of Fribourg, Switzerland).

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University of Cologne

Continuing our efforts to understand carbon dynamics in Siberian permafrost soils, the Organic Geochemistry and Radiocarbon group at the University of Cologne (Institute of Geology and Mineralogy) also joined the 2015 Lena Expedition to Samoylov Island. The group, headed by Janet Rethemeyer, focuses on the elucidation of organic carbon quality, microbial feedbacks, and organo-mineral interactions as revealed by the radiocarbon signature of microbial and vascular plant lipids, pore-water dissolved and particulate organic carbon (DOC and POC), carbon dioxide, and soil density fractions. This year, we aimed at sampling soil and pore-water DOC and POC on Samoylov and Kurungnakh with a seasonal resolution. Senior researcher Stephanie Kusch obtained samples at the beginning of the season in June, when the Lena River ice broke and permafrost began to thaw, while master student Jannik Martens performed sampling during the last campaign of the season in August, when permafrost had thawed to its maximum depth. Furthermore, we sampled Lena River POC to analyze microbial lipids exported from permafrost into the Lena River. Here we closely collaborate with Gesine Mollenhauer‘s group at AWI Bremerhaven to integrate our knowledge of carbon cycling in the Lena Delta, the Lena River, and the Laptev Sea. After arrival of the permafrost cores drilled on Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island in 2014, our group and Gesine Mollenhauer‘s group at AWI Bremerhaven are now also collaborating to analyze plant-derived, bacterial, and archaeal lipid biomarkers in these deposits to obtain paleoenvironmental information dating back to the Eemian. Postdoctoral researcher Silke Höfle and Jannik Martens will analyze the samples from Samoylov, Kurungnakh, and Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island to complement our work within the German-Russian research project „CarboPerm“ funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).


University of Giessen

Lorenz King (Justus Liebig university, Giessen) continued his rock temperature measurements in permafrost drill holes at Matterhorn glacier paradise (3820 m a.s.l.) in cooperation with Bergbahnen Zermatt. Ina Keggenhoff finished her PhD thesis on “Temperature Extremes over Georgia: Changes, Patterns and Driving Forces” in the Caucasus mountains (published online).”

University of Heidelberg

Since April 2015 the Heidelberg University (Bernhard Höfle and Inga Beck) and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (Julia Boike) are working together for the PermaSAR project, a project funded by the German Space Agency and the German Ministry of Economics. The idea of the project is a multi-source approach (TanDEM-X data, LiDAR data, ground truth data) in order to detect vertical movement in a Canadian permafrost region. As test site serves Trail Valley Creek, a watershed 50 km North of Inuvik, in the North-Western Territories. This site is operated by our Canadian partners, Phil Marsh, Aron Berg and Jennifer Baltzer. Already this year 2 campaigns in the test site have been conducted in cooperation with them: One in early June and one in late August. Subsidence stations and ground temperature loggers have been installed and the high-performance terrestrial LiDAR system Riegl VZ-400 and a Leica GNSS RTK GS10/GS15 system have been used to measure the microtopography and potential movements of the ground.

University of Hamburg

The CARBOPERM project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by the Universität Hamburg and AWI Potsdam intensively continued the multidisciplinary studies running between 2013 and 2016. In spring more than 60 scientists met in Hamburg to discuss the results of the first year of active investigations as well as to coordinate joint laboratory work and to prepare for next field expeditions. The early season field program focused on pre-site surveys of thermokarst basins in the central Lena River Delta. Colleagues from AWI Potsdam and Univ. Potsdam used a GPR system to detect sediment distribution in thaw lakes and on alluvial slopes of river branches. Furthermore it has helped defining talik occurrence below water bodies and localizing future coring sites. Using the GPR data two coring sites in the Tumatskaya Channel were selected. Drilling provided cores of a total length of 43 m of high quality material for investigations of both, the permanently frozen sediments as well as the unfrozen layers. Core analysis is shared between the Permafrost Institute Yakutsk and Univ. Hamburg. In summer several expeditions lead CARBOPERM scientists (Univ. Hamburg, Univ. Cologne, AWI Bremerhaven, Max Planck Institute Jena) to the Lena River Delta and to Cherskiy and for further description of the landscapes, additional sampling and maintenance of running systems for data collection. In Cherskiy the investigations of the effect of drainage on greenhouse gases and the global warming potential were continued. On Samoylov Island a winter flux dataset was collected for further detailed analyses from the eddy tower on the annually flooded plains. Climate data collections show that over the last 50 years both sites got warmer by ca. 2 °C with increasing temperature differences over the past decade. With the new available data future projections of the pan-Arctic permafrost soils’ physical state including snow depth, temperature profiles, active-layer thickness and hydrology can be modelled. Furthermore, ecosystem carbon dynamics as well as climate-carbon cycle feedback mechanisms due to permafrost dynamics can be modelled using a combination of models (JSBACH, CBALANCE, HAMOCC, MPIOM, OASIS3 and ECHAM6). In the frame of the CARBOPERM project a workshop was held in Gülpe (near Rathenow, E Germany) in late autumn, where 16 students from Germany and Russia met to autonomously discuss their scientific topics. Next to presenting their results they considered the potential of innovative cooperative efforts. Their outcomes will be considered in discussions of future project designs.


University of Leipzig

During the third year of the Postdoc project “Short and long-term thermokarst dynamics due to climate changes and human impacts in Central Yakutia, Siberia” (DFG UL426/1-1) lead by Mathias Ulrich (University of Leipzig, Institute for Geography) two field campaigns were conducted at our thermokarst key sites in the Lena-Aldan-Amga region east of Yakutsk. In March 2015, a drilling campaign was jointly organized together with Russian scientist from the Melnikov Permafrost Institute and under the leadership of the ERC project PETA-CARB (Rapid Permafrost Thaw in a Warming Arctic and Impacts on the Soil Organic Carbon Pool) led by G. Grosse to drill four 20m permafrost cores in thermokarst lakes as well as alas and Yedoma deposits and to install temperature and environmental dataloggers. During a second short campaign in July 2015, the field work included bathymetrical measurements of thermokarst and alas lakes, geodetic measurements of alas topography as well as readout of environmental dataloggers.
As an activity of the IPA Action Group “Permafrost and Culture (PaC)”, Mathias Ulrich and J. Otto Habeck (University of Hamburg, Institute for Social Anthropology) together with the Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Alexander N. Fedorov) and the Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone (Roman V. Desyatkin) in Yakutsk, organized a five-days workshop from 20 to 24 July 2015 in the city of Yakutsk as a forum for intensive interdisciplinary debate among social and natural scientists about human-nature interaction in the Central Yakutian thermokarst landscapes. Two days of which were spent on a field trip to several alas sites and local communities east of the River Lena.

Senckenberg Research Station and Institute

In the frame of the DFG funded project TUNDRA-STEPPE, going on the second year in cooperation of the Senckenberg Research Station of Quaternary Palaeontology Weimar (F. Kienast) and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum Görlitz (K. Wesche), another field campaign to Yakutia (Sakha Republic, Russian Federation) was conducted together with partners from the Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone in Yakutsk (E. Troeva). After last year’s expedition into the Yana Highlands, where Permafrost outcrops close to Batagai and at the Adycha River were studied, the 2015 expedition involved works in Central and Northeast Yakutia (the lower course of Kolyma River). As crucial part of the expeditions in 2014 and 2015, modern vegetation was recorded in the transition zone from northern taiga to tundra (Cherskii to Pokhodsk area) as well as in relict steppes in the continental part of Northern (Verkhoyansk) and Central Yakutia (Yakutsk, Buotama). The studies aimed at gradients along transects from South to North and from the continental interior part of Yakutia to the more maritime coastal lowlands as well as at the response of vegetation on grazing by large herbivores in different intensities. For that, vegetation surveys in the Pleistocene Park (lower Kolyma, coastal lowlands) operated by the Northeast Science Station Cherskii (N. Zimov) and in a so-called Bisonarium at the Buotama River (Central Yakutia, interior part) were compared with natural or less intensely grazed vegetation in the Pokhodsk tundra area and in Central Yakutia. Special focus was given to vegetation grazed by (Pleistocene) keystone herbivores such as bison. To reconstruct changes of ancient vegetation in Northern Yakutia in the course of the late Quaternary, sediment samples from continuous permafrost sequences in Batagai and Duvanny Yar were taken for palaeobotanical studies. Two PhD candidates are involved in this project: Kseniia Ashastina, who made her Master of Science for Applied Polar and Marine Sciences in the frame of the joint Russian-German POMOR Master Program (Universities of St.Petersburg and Hamburg) and Jennifer Reinecke (M.Sc. In Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, University of Potsdam) who covers the part of modern vegetation studies. The scientific processing of the sediment samples is carried out in close cooperation with partners from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research Potsdam (sedimentology, L. Schirrmeister, B. Diekmann) and from the Institute of Archaeology & Ethnography at the Centre of Cenozoic Geochronology (RAS SB) Novosibirsk (pollen, N. Rudaya).


Figure 3. ERT measurements across and LiDAR measurements in ice-filled crevasses in rock slopes above the Lyngenfjord as part of the starting Cryowall Project (Norway, Photos: M. Krautblatter, TUM).

Technical University of Munich

Researchers at the chair of landslide research (Prof. M. Krautblatter, performed research on unstable permafrost rock slopes in the laboratory and in the Alps and in Norway. The German-Swiss ISPR-Project (Influences of snow cover on thermal and mechanical processes in steep permafrost rock walls, D-A-CH, SNF/DFG) in cooperation with Dr. M. Phillips (SLF) went into its final year and the synoptic outcome was condensed into two synoptic publications on snow influence on permafrost rocks which are presently in review. In July the Norwegian Project „CryoWall – Permafrost rock walls in Norway“ started where the TUM is involved as CO-PI and Michael Krautblatter and Benjamin Jacobs, the new TUM-based PhD student, performed field work in permafrost-affected rock slopes above the Lyngenfjord in Norther Norway ( In Novemeber a new project started on “Real time monitoring of fracture initiation in natural stones induced by environmental stresses (StoneMon).” PhD candidate Philip Mamot continued working on mechanical components of permafrost rock wall destabilisation at the Zugspitze. PhD candidate Markus Keuschnig is about to finish his PhD on Temperature related destabilization of alpine rock walls at the Kitzsteinhorn and submitted a paper on continuous ERT-measurements to record changes in rockwall stability relevant for cable car infrastructure. The TUM landslides group contributed to recent papers in which we compare paraglacial rock weathering rates on Earth with paracratering rates on Mars (, develop a model to quantify rock fatigue after repeated freeze-thaw cycles (, use ERT to validate permafrost models in the Mont-Blanc-Region (, challenge the predictability of rockfalls ( and in a recent book chapter we tried to find a way to combine the mechanical understanding of glacier- and permafrost-related slope instabilities (


University of Würzburg

The investigation of the three-dimensional internal structure and characteristics of different periglacial permafrost-affected landforms has been continued. The research approach is based on the assessment of heterogeneities in surface and subsurface parameters and to correlate these with subsurface hydrological conditions and geomorphic process dynamics. A further borehole was drilled and instrumented with temperature loggers. Adrian Emmert has continued his Phd within the framework of this project.


Report prepared by Michael Krautblatter (