An IPY Permafrost Observatory Project funded by the Research Council of Norway


Principal objective and sub-goals

The main objective of TSP NORWAY is to measure and model the permafrost distribution in Norway and Svalbard, including its thermal state, thickness and influence on periglacial landscape-forming processes.

The project focuses on empirical and numerical modelling of permafrost distribution and thermal heat fluxes in the ground, to study the impacts of past and future climate variability on permafrost distribution as demonstrated by permafrost landform activity.

A subgoal is to provide within the International TSP project a complete coverage of the thermal state of permafrost in the North Atlantic region, by instrumenting existing and new boreholes for thermal registration along a W-E transect (Greenland-Iceland-Central Scandinavia) and a S-N transect (southern Norway-Svalbard). We will cover a significant part of this area by establishing two transects with intensive permafrost monitoring sites from maritime to continental areas in northern Norway and in Svalbard .


Project summary

The key goal of TSP NORWAY to the IPY will be to develop a spatially distributed set of observations on past and present status of permafrost temperatures and active layer thicknesses in Svalbard and Norway.

A number of new boreholes to be drilled and equipped will give new information on permafrost temperature and thickness in unexplored areas.

Many potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of climatic change are associated with permafrost. Permafrost degradation may affect slope stability, and this study investigates how permafrost changes may affect geohazards in mountainous areas.

The TSP NORWAY project will leave a legacy of long-term permafrost observatories, monitoring the thermal state, distribution and permafrost landform activity in northern Norway and in Svalbard. A permanent database with all permafrost data from Norway and Svalbard will be established by the project, containing data collected before and during IPY. This Norwegian permafrost database, NORPERM, shall contribute data as requested in the international IPY data protocol and the international TSP project to the international Global Terrestrial Network on Permafrost (GTN-P), and to all Norwegian institutions or industry interested, such as e.g. the coal-company Store Norske in Svalbard. The database will be part of the Norwegian national borehole database in the Norwegian Geological Survey. We plan to train 2 new permafrost scientists; develop new university permafrost courses and a permafrost school module.


Project organisation

Project coordinator is Prof. Dr. Hanne H. Christiansen (, the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).

Participating institutions are the Department of Geology, UNIS with Principal Investigator (PI): Prof. Dr. Hanne H. Christiansen, Institute of Geosciences, University of Oslo, UiO, PIs: Prof. Dr. Bernd Etzelmüller and Prof. Dr. Ole Humlum, Norwegian Geological Survey, NGU/International Centre for Geohazards ICG, PI: Senior researcher Dr. Lars H. Blikra,  Norwegian Meteorological Institute,, PI: Senior researcher Dr. Ketil Isaksen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) with PI: Ass. Prof. Dr. Ivar Berthling.

The 17 TSP NORWAY participants constitute together all the Norwegian university (UNIS, UiO and NTNU), Norwegian Geol. Survey and Norwegian Meteorological Institute based scientists and a geotechnical engineer (Opticon Instanes Svalbard) working with permafrost in Norway and Svalbard. This network of scientists working with the climatic control on permafrost landscapes, establishes a nationally improved research competence in permafrost in Norway.



Last update April 6, 2010  by Ole Humlum  

visits since 23 April 2007