Check the state of the permafrost online

Check the state of the permafrost online

Top image: Measuring instruments are being inserted into the permafrost in Svalbard. Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen/UNIS. 

The first Norwegian permafrost database is now online, where you can check the state of the permafrost in Svalbard and parts of Northern Norway at any time. This is an important part of the IPY project “Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard” (TSP Norway).

15 May 2009
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen

The first Norwegian permafrost database NORPERM is now online, allowing free access to check the state of the permafrost temperature in 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.

The NORPERM permafrost database was published online earlier this winter, and is an important part of the IPY project Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (TSP Norway). Partners in this IPY project are UNIS, University of Oslo, Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), NTNU and the Meteorological Institute.

NORPERM was developed and is hosted by NGU, as one of their databases on ground conditions. Internationally the NORPERM database will be part of the Global Terrestrial Network on Permafrost coordinated by the Geological Survey of Canada.

25 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, says UNIS professor Hanne H. Christiansen.

Christiansen is the leader of the IPY project: Permafrost Observatory Project: A Contribution to the Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard (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 the 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.

This 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.

One indicator of 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.

– 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.

Relevant links
NORPERM database Svalbard

NORPERM database Norway

TSP Norway


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