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This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme


PermaNET: Permafrost response to climate change report

Target groups
Scientists; specific institutions.

Area of application
In order to understand the thermal and geomorphic response of permafrost to present and future climate changes, research was carried out in 13 different study sites covering a great part of the Alpine Arc in Austria, France and Italy (Hochreicchart, Dosen Valley, Hoher Sonnblick, Outer Hocheben Cirque, Combe du Laurichard, Bellecombes, Aiguille du Midi, Cime Bianche Pass, Val di Genova, Val d'Ambola, Piz Boè, Upper Sulden Valley). The wide geographical distribution of the test sites and the fact that the most important geological units of the Alps are covered, make the results sufficiently representative and valid for the entire Alps. Nearly all the hypothesis established in the initial phase of the work could be verified and quantified in at least one of the case studies and all the case studies provided similar evidences from other study sites within and without the Alps.

Time frame
The reaction scenarios were assessed during the project timeframe. The scenario were realised following these steps:

  1. establishment of the relationship between measured climate data and observed geomorphic permafrost reactions;
  2. analysis and modelling of present and future climate changes using available datasets collected in the two climate periods 1961-90 and 2021-2050;
  3. combination of the results of the climate change analysis with the data from the 13 study sites that analyse the recent thermal and/or geomorphic evolution;
  4. estimation of future changes in permafrost distribution.

The datasets used in the empirical model are:

  • temperature data at altitudes above 1800 m a.s.l. (most relevant zone for permafrost) for the present climate (reference period 1961-90) and for a future climate 2021-2050 (CLM simulation). These data were the starting point to calculate the following parameters: the number of frost days, ice days and freeze-thaw days;
  • data from the test site are very different because investigated with different techniques. However, the only parameter that is available for all the 13 stations at the same time (Ground Surface Temperature) records no longer than 10 years.

Related to the type of result: methods; assessment; scenario; estimation; case study.
Related to the thematic of the result: climate change; permafrost distribution; permafrost.

Free access to the document and the results. As it is a final report, the processed data (temperatures and n. of frost days, ice days and freeze-thaw days) are presented in an aggregated form (tables, graphs, …).

Transferability and re-usability
The general results identifying the response of high mountain permafrost areas to climate change are applicable to the whole Alps. However, in order to verify and quantify general assumptions on the future development of permafrost in more than 13 pilot areas, investigations on the thermal and permafrost response to climate change should be carried on other sites. 2 pre prerequisites must be fulfilled: availability of temperature data and of data concerning permafrost from specific monitoring sites located in the area of analysis. Since, as stated in the report, the main problem in this WP has been the lack of long term data concerning permafrost, it seems difficult (at least for the moment) to extend the research to other pilot areas and to obtain a more detailed understanding of the thermal state of permafrost and its evolution.

Sector policies addressed
Spatial development; land use planning and managing; territorial planning & infrastructure; socio-economic activities (tourism; ski resorts, …) in high mountain areas.

wiki/in_depth_information_about_the_permafrost_response_to_climate_change_report.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/11 12:14 by micolet