25. July 2008

TSP Norway recovering first parts of the permafrost snapshot in Svalbard

Contact person for additional information: Hanne H. Christiansen

Text and photos by Hanne H. Christiansen and Ole Humlum


During the last week we have recovered around 500.000 hourly temperature and movement values from different permafrost and periglacial landforms in the Kapp Linn area at the west coast of Svalbard . The installations at Kapp Linne are all part of the Nordenskildsland Permafrost Observatory, which we are installing during the IPY as a major activity of the TSP Norway project in Svalbard .

The data show that the active layer here in the warmest part of Svalbard is generally around 0.5 m thicker than around Longyearbyen, our other more continental monitoring area in central Svalbard . The permafrost top temperatures are in several places not very much below 0C this summer, and only reached down to - 5 to -8 C during the coldest parts of the 2007-2008 winter end.


Ground temperatures from a shallow 2.55 m deep borehole on the lower part of the rockglacier at Griegaksla west from Jyly 2007 to July 2008.


Miniature one-dimensional accelerometers, socalled shock loggers, have been recording movement on avalanche fans. And the 2007-2008 winter certainly did see movement on these fans. This indicates significant avalanche activity, which we have also recorded in sediment traps on the same fans, with up to 8 kg/m2 of new debris being deposited.


Left: Shock logger (5x5cm yellow box) sitting on large boulder in the central upper part of the avalanche fan. Right: Large boulder surface used as sediment trap with 2 new avalanche rock fragments on top, deposited during the 2007-2008 winter. The largest dimension of the boulder used as trap is c. 130 cm.


Also at Kapp Linn, using Isfjord Radio as the base for IPY research, is the US REU programme doing fieldwork for one month this summer. They study the sedimentation processes in the glacier-valley-lake system of Linnedalen. This group is consisting of 8 US undergraduate students led by Professors Al Werner, Mt. Holyoke College , Massachusetts , and Mike Retelle, Bates College , Maine . In addition to the US students also 3 UNIS students participate this year as a special course AG-212 for UNIS undergraduate students to do intensive IPY fieldwork. You can follow this programme via the Polartrec programme, with Missie Holzer blogging from the field activities (click here to go to the blog).


The US REU Svalbard group ready for fieldwork at Isfjord Radio 22 July 2008.