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Permafrost and climate in Europe: climate change, mountain permafrost degradation and geotechnical hazard

Objective



Objectives:

(1) To establish a framework for monitoring global climate change by detecting changes in permafrost ground termperatures in the mountains of Europe.
(2) To develop methods of mapping and modelling the distribution of thermally sensitive mountain permafrost, and predicting climatically-induced changes in this distribution

(3) To provide new, process-based methods for assessing environmental and geotechnical hazards associated with mountain permafrost degradation.

Background and Work Content:

European mountains are characterised by the presence of permafrost (permanently frozen ground) at higher altitudes which is only a few degrees below zero, and therefore forms terrain that is highly sensitive to climate warming. Climate modelling suggests that the amplitude of global warming due to greenhouse forcing will increase with increasing latitude and altitude, so that the mountains of Europe offer an ideal location for monitoring future climate change and its environmental impacts. Atmospheric warming will lead to a rise in permafrost temperatures and near-surface thawing, with potentially grave consequences to engineering structures and mountain slope stability. The PACE programme will initiate a European permafrost Monitoring Network on a latitudinal transect across the mountains of Europe.


The objectives of this project will be achieved through six integrated work packages.


WP1 Permafrost temperature monitoring. This will involve drilling new boreholes to depths of 8-80 m, and automatic logging of ground temperatures. The European Permafrost Monitoring Network will provide early warning of climate change.
WP2 Mapping of permafrost distribution, depth and characteristics based on geophysical techniques will provide refined geophysical field techniques for permafrost assessment and mapping that will be incorporated in WP6, together with new data on permafrost distribution and character.

WP4 Energy balance measurements and permafrost distribution modelling. Field measurements taken at microclimatological monitoring stations, together with digital elevation models will allow improved modelling of permafrost distribution patterns.

WP5 Thermally controlled geotechnical centrifuge modelling of permafrost degradation processes. Physical modelling of permafrost degradation processes will include thaw subsidence impact on foundations and slope instability processes resulting from permafrost thaw.

WP6 Process-Based Mountain Permafrost Instability Hazard Predition in the Context of Global Warming: Technical Guidelines. Integration of the previous five work packages will be undertaken in the context of geotechnical and environmental hazard prediction, to provide new practical guidelines designed to facilitate risk assessment and project planning in the mountains of Europe.
Keywords: Mountains;Permafrost; Geothermal Monitoring; Modelling; Climate Change; Geotechnical Hazards.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF WALES CARDIFF
Address
Main Building
CF1 3YE Cardiff
United Kingdom

Participants (9)

Geoland di Nardo Alessandro
Italy
Address
Via I Maggio 39
22043 Galbiate
Justus Liebig Universität - Giessen
Germany
Address
1,Senckenbergstrasse
35390 Giessen
STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITET
Sweden
Address

10691 Stockholm
SWISS FEDERAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY ZUERICH
Switzerland
Address
37-39,Gloriastrasse 37-39
8092 Zurich
TerraDat UK Ltd
United Kingdom
Address

CF1 3UJ Cardiff
UNIVERSITY OF OSLO
Norway
Address
Mollke Moes Vei 85
0316 Oslo
UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH
Switzerland
Address
190,Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Spain
Address

28040 Madrid
Universià degli Studi di Roma Tre
Italy
Address
Via Ostiense 169
00154 Roma