19. March 2008

First Svalbard permafrost temperatures online!

Contact person for additional information: Hanne H. Christiansen

Text by Hanne H. Christiansen, UNIS

Photos by Ulrich Neumann, UNIS.


For the first time permafrost temperatures are now online in Svalbard . Monday 3 March the Sintef/UNIS drillrigg Majgøril and its crew were flown up to the central part of the plateau mountain Gruvefjellet, 450 m above Longyearbyen. Jomar Finseth, Sintef, conducted a drilling to 5 m into the rocks and a thermistor string was installed in the borehole. Lene Kristensen, Ulrich Neumann and Markus Eckersdorfer, Geology Department at UNIS, assisted in the drilling and logistics on site. Jørgen Haagensli, UNIS logistics, organised the logistical operation with Jomar Finseth. Stefan Claes, UNIS logistics, have designed the website ground temperature layout. Ole Humlum, Geology department UNIS, established the Gruvefjellet meteorological station in 2000, and it was expanded and became online in 2006 as part of the overall UNIS improval to ensure easy access to environmental data for UNIS researchers, UNIS students and all others interested.


Figure 1. The Sintef/UNIS drillrigg Majgøril is arriving with the Superpuma helicopter at Gruvefjellet Monday 3 March 2008 .


Figure 2. The drilling operation took place close to the meteorological station at 464 m asl.

At Gruvefjellet the thermistor string is connected to the UNIS meteorological station. This station with all its standard meteorological observations is online via the UNIS front website, and so now you can also study the temperature in the permafrost in Gruvefjellet. Click here to see online data from the Gruvefjellet station.

Temperatures in the permafrost top varies during the year. In this part of the permafrost, where temperatures are most affected by air temperature changes and how much snow is covering the site. You can study this now on the website, and see that the upper thermistors in the borehole are following the air temperature with some delay. And that the ground temperature experiences much smaller variations than the air temperature. The lower thermistors in particular only have measure smaller variations, as it takes time for temperature changes to travel through the ground. Therefore annual temperature variations only reach down to about 10 to 20 m in the ground. Below this depth the temperature is determined by the climate back in time.

An important part of the TSP NORWAY project is to obtain a snapshot of the permafrost temperatures in the study areas during the IPY period, and to disseminate this information so that it is available also for education and outreach. In the future also the temperatures from the deeper Janssonhaugen borehole in Svalbard will soon be online, just as one of the boreholes in Troms at Kistefjell, will come online.