June 16th 2009

Check your permafrost online

The first Norwegian permafrost database is now online. With a simple click you can check the state of the permafrost in Svalbard and parts of Norway at any time.

PermafrostDRILLING: 25 new boreholes have been drilled both in bedrock and in sediments in Svalbard and northern Norway.

DrillingSVALBARD: All new boreholes are instrumented for continuous temperature measurements.The first norwegian online database, which is called NORPERM, allows free access to check the state of the permafrost temperature in both Svalbard and northern Norway. From a few of the permafrost boreholes you can even study the present ground temperature online such as at Gruvefjellet and in Endalen in Svalbard, both close to Longyearbyen.

- This database is an important part of the IPY project Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (TSP Norway), permafrost expert and UNIS-professor Hanne H. Christiansen says.

Partners in the project are UNIS, University of Oslo, Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), NTNU and the Meteorological Institute. NORPERM is developed and is hosted by NGU, as one of their databases on ground conditions.

New boreholes in Norway

- We are very happy that the database is now online, it is already frequently used by our geology students working on permafrost issues. The database is a major step in accessing valuable data about the permafrost, Christiansen continues. She is leading of the IPY project: Permafrost Observatory Project, which is a Contribution to the TSP Norway. The observatory project aims at measuring and modeling the distribution and temperature of the permafrost, both in Svalbard and in parts of Northern Norway.

During IPY, 25 new boreholes have been drilled both in bedrock and in sediments in Svalbard and northern Norway.

All boreholes are instrumented for continuous temperature measurements, and provides the scientists with new information about the variations in permafrost temperature between the different landforms and locations in Svalbard and the possibility to delimit the permafrost zone in the mountains of northern Norway.

Indicates climate change

- Permafrost in one of six cryospheric indicators of global climate change which received less attention until IPY started. During IPY more than 300 new boreholes have been drilled into the permafrost in different parts of the Arctic, of which 25 is located in Svalbard and northern Norway, Christiansen says.

The permafrost researchers now work on the analyses of the borehole data obtained during IPY and plan to publish a snapshot of the permafrost temperatures obtained from all over the Arctic in 2010, to be presented at the next European Conference on Permafrost, which will be held in Longyearbyen in June 2010.

More knowledge about permafrost conditions are important for societies living on permafrost such as Longyearbyen, Christiansen explains.

Rock slope stability

- This is important particularly for evaluating the impact of changing climate on the permafrost conditions, mainly in the form of active layer thickness variation, rock slope stability, infrastructure on permafrost such as runways, roads and houses, but also for accessing the amount of trace gasses such as carbondioxid and methane can be potentially present even in the high arctic permafrost in Svalbard, she says.

At the moment the Arctic Council is running a project on Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA), in which changing permafrost characteristics and their impacts are one of the key topics, with the output from the IPY permafrost thermal state playing an important role.