2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost and 19th International Conference On Cold Region Engineering


We encourage submission of additional sessions. Look through the list below and follow the links for more information. If you identify a missing topic please contact Anna Liljedahl for permafrost research topics and Susan Wilson for engineering topics. Note there are no sessions between #18-29 so please make some suggestions.

Submit new session ideas.

1. General Session on Permafrost
2. Remote Sensing and Geophysical Investigations of Changing Permafrost Landscapes
3. New Remote Sensing Technology and Applications to Map Regional Permafrost Vulnerability
4. Permafrost Coastal Dynamics
5. Permafrost Dynamics, Biophysical and Socio-Economic Linkages: Connecting Science to Policy
6. Ground-ice Distribution and its Role in Permafrost Carbon Dynamics
7. Feedbacks and Interactions Between Snow, Vegetation, and Permafrost in the Arctic
8. Big Imagery Permafrost Science Today and Tomorrow
9. Bridging Research Gaps in Snow and Permafrost
10. Water in Permafrost Systems – An interdisciplinary Consideration
11. Taking a Look at the Overlooked: Microorganisms and Their Processes in Permafrost
12. Permafrost Dialogue: Using Storytelling and Multimedia to Communicate Arctic Change
13. In-situ Permafrost Sensing and Monitoring Technologies
14. Flooding and Permafrost Thaw
15. The Role of Permafrost in Structure, Function, and Evolution of Arctic Rivers and Deltas
16. Rock Glaciers and Glaciers and in Permafrost Environments
17. Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P)
18. Permafrost Data Systems
19. Unique Challenges of Permafrost in Mountain Areas
20. Changing Biogeochemistry of Permafrost Regions
21. Rock glacier inventories and kinematics

30. General Session on Permafrost Science and Engineering
31. General Session on Permafrost Engineering
32. Infrastructure Engineering on Permafrost
33. Transportation Engineering in Permafrost
34. Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure Built on Permafrost and Societal Challenges
35. Unique Aspects of Northern Soils
36. Permafrost Engineering: State-of-the-Art and Climate Warming – Methods, Innovations, and Periglacial Associations
37. Highway Bridges in Cold Regions: Seismic Performance and Design Issues
38. Frost Action in Soil
39. Geologic Terrain Analysis, Geomorphic Mapping in Support of Infrastructure Development
40. Permafrost Thermal Analysis
41. Community Resilience; Protect, Migrate, Relocate
42. Engineering Properties of Frozen Soils
43. Transportation Infrastructure in Cold Climates

1. General Session on Permafrost

Session Chair: Anna Liljedahl
Woods Hole Research Center

This session is for permafrost science from a wide range of disciplines, scales, and methods, and especially if none of the other permafrost science sessions fit your research topic.

2. Remote Sensing and Geophysical Investigations of Changing Permafrost Landscapes

Session Chair: Stephanie James
U.S. Geological Survey, Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center, Denver, CO

Permafrost landscapes are experiencing unprecedented changes in ecosystem function and structure as the result of rapid permafrost thaw and climate warming. The temporal and spatial variations in land surface conditions (e.g. land cover, topography) and subsurface properties (e.g. liquid water content, ground ice, soil characteristics) in these environments have strong controls on permafrost vulnerability, hydrology, and carbon balances, but can be difficult to monitor over large areas and at high resolution. Geophysical and remote sensing observations are critical to studies of permafrost regions where changes occur both at the land surface and at depth, and through ongoing advancements in instrumentation, computing power, and new measurement and modeling strategies, geophysical remote sensing and imaging techniques are well positioned to address many open cryospheric research questions.

In this session, we seek submissions describing new insights from, and advancements in, remote sensing and geophysical observations of permafrost landscapes. We welcome submissions using ground or airborne geophysics and remote sensing techniques applied to characterization, detection, and/or monitoring of permafrost environments. Contributions exploring the combined application of remote sensing and applied geophysics, time series analysis, computer vision and machine learning techniques, and the vulnerability of the cryosphere to future changes are particularly encouraged.

Keywords: geophysics, remote sensing, machine learning

Cosponsor 1: Burke Minsley Cosponsor: U.S. Geological Survey, Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center, Denver, CO

Cosponsor 2: Neal Pastick: KBR, contractor to the U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, Sioux Falls, SD

3. New Remote Sensing Technology and Applications to Map Regional Permafrost Vulnerability

Session Chair: Yonghong Yi
Jet Propulsion Lab

Regional climate warming has induced widespread permafrost degradation in both high latitude and altitudinal regions. Sparse and sporadic in situ observations in these remote regions greatly limit our ability of mapping regional permafrost vulnerability and characterizing system-level changes associated with permafrost degradation. With a wide range of satellite and airborne observations available from current and future satellite missions, such as SMAP, SMOS, Sentinel-1, ICESat-2, NISAR and BIOMASS, remote sensing data is increasingly becoming an essential element to address this limitation. This session highlights researches that develop new remote sensing technology or applications to map regional permafrost vulnerability and describe the linkages between frozen ground, terrestrial ecology and hydrology. We particularly welcome studies that develop new approaches to integrate multi-sensor remote sensing such as Radar and Lidar as well as active and passive sensors that focus on better characterizing surface geomorphology, vegetation, soil moisture and freeze/thaw conditions in permafrost regions. We also welcome studies that develop new data-driven approaches or models that effectively use satellite/airborne remote sensing data in regional applications. Finally, we invite global and regional assessment studies to demonstrate what needs to be observed to ensure long-term permafrost changes at regional scales being adequately quantified.

Keywords: remote sensing, permafrost vulnerability, data-model integration, microwave

Cosponsor 1: Lin Liu: The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Cosponsor 2: Benjamin Jones: University of Alaska Fairbanks

4. Permafrost Coastal Dynamics

Session Chair: Jennifer Frederick
Sandia National Laboratories

Arctic permafrost coasts are increasingly vulnerable to anthropogenic and climate-driven changes that influence coastal erosion rates, storm-surge flooding events, and sea-level rise with potentially serious impacts on wildlife habitat, subsistence hunting grounds, coastal communities, and critical civilian and military infrastructure. These threats are likely to intensify in the future as temperatures warm and declining sea-ice extent exposes permafrost coastlines for longer periods of time. To understand, model, and project future vulnerability of Arctic coasts, accurate maps of bathymetry, topography, and geology are needed along with information on coastal behavior, geomorphology, and key processes driving coastal change. We invite a breadth of studies that cover topics related to Arctic coastal changes, the driving forces, geomorphological processes, and impacts on ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, infrastructure, and social systems. Contributions from studies that improve understanding of Arctic coastal dynamics through remote sensing, time-series analysis, field surveys, and modelling are welcome. This includes studies that inform our baseline understanding of Arctic coastal systems or focus on new technologies and method development, and collaborative approaches from communities, researchers and agencies to develop monitoring programs to support hazard forecasting.

Keywords: coastal erosion, infrastructure, permafrost coastlines

Cosponsor 1: Benjamin Jones: University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Cosponsor 2: Louise Farquharson: University of Alaska, Fairbanks

5. Permafrost Dynamics, Biophysical and Socio-Economic Linkages: Connecting Science to Policy

Session Chair: Torben Windirsch
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Permafrost Research, Potsdam, Germany

Permafrost dynamics are a focal point in pan-Arctic research due to their potential impacts and feedbacks on the Earth system. Permafrost landscape dynamics also play a crucial role in contemporary subsistence practices, infrastructure, and resource development in many areas. Thus, there is an urgent need to (1) refine the understanding of permafrost thawing and aggradation processes, (2) combine biogeophysical and socio-economic sciences in permafrost research, and (3) connect scientific findings to policy.

This session highlights the role of permafrost dynamics and the impact of permafrost changes on the environment and society. We welcome studies about the implications of permafrost degradation for communities, infrastructure, wildlife, hydrology, and the storage and release of carbon, nutrients and pollutants. Studies can be short-term field-based efforts, long-term programs, remote sensing and modelling approaches, as well as interdisciplinary efforts including interviews. We particularly invite research aimed at connecting permafrost science to policy and stakeholders.

Keywords: policy, stakeholder, socio-economic, permafrost biogeochemistry

Cosponsor 1: Erin Trochim: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Cosponsor 2: Gerald Frost: ABR, Inc. - Environmental Research & Services, Fairbanks, Alaska

6. Ground-ice Distribution and its Role in Permafrost Carbon Dynamics

Session Chair: Christina Schaedel
Northern Arizona University

Melting ground ice in response to increasing air temperatures causes differential ground subsidence above ice-rich permafrost. The altered topography changes the storage and flow of water, which in turn affect biological components of Arctic ecosystems, including fluxes and storage of carbon. Accordingly, the consequences of thawing ice-rich permafrost extend beyond the Arctic region, yet we lack detailed characterization of ground-ice coverage. The melting of ground-ice can lead to drier or wetter soil conditions and colder or warmer winter soils, respectively, both of which control the fate of soil carbon. This session aims to link studies of ground-ice distribution and permafrost carbon dynamics, from the sub-meter to pan-Arctic scales, and welcomes the broad range of approaches and disciplines that can refine our understanding of permafrost carbon emissions during ice-rich permafrost thaw.

Keywords: ground ice, carbon, ice wedge, fluxes

Cosponsor 1: Anna Liljedahl: Woods Hole Research Center

Cosponsor 2: Charles Abolt: Los Alamos National Laboratory

7. Feedbacks and Interactions Between Snow, Vegetation, and Permafrost in the Arctic

Session Chair: Katrina Bennett
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Snow, vegetation, and permafrost are intricately linked in the Arctic and subarctic regions of the world. Snow protects the ground during the winter and provides insulation for the permafrost, which guards against cold temperatures from penetrating deep into the soils. Vegetation changes, including an increase in shrubs has been noted to be changing in the Arctic and subarctic, which is linked to increases in snow as the shrubs tend to influence drifting and redistribution of moisture. However, the dynamic and changing nature of both snow and vegetation mean that these interactions could shift with climate impacts. We invite papers on snow, vegetation, and permafrost interactions, with particular emphasis on the impacts to the hydrologic cycle and climate change effects.

Keywords: snow, permafrost, vegetation, feedbacks, Arctic, climate

Cosponsor 1: Robert Bolton: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Cosponsor 2: Julian Dann Cosponsor 2: University of Alaska Fairbanks

8. Big imagery permafrost science today and tomorrow

Session Chair: Aiman Soliman
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Permafrost scientists have access to more satellite data than the community currently knows how to handle. Geospatial mapping models that utilizes artificial intelligence (Geo-AI) are currently being developed at local scales, constantly pushing the limit of extractable information from a single image. Simultaneously, many pre- and post processing steps are similar for a remote sensing earth scientist studying coastline erosion as someone studying retrogressive thaw slumps. This session aims to highlight ongoing permafrost science using machine and deep learning techniques and to discuss opportunities and common bottlenecks in creating big imagery derived science.

Keywords: big imagery, artificial intelligence, remote sensing

Cosponsor 1: Chandi Witharana: Paul Morin

Cosponsor 2: Ingmar Nitze: AWI

9. Bridging Research Gaps in Snow and Permafrost

Session Chair: Christopher Hiemstra
Affiliation: U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Snow has an immense influence on high latitude ecosystem water and energy budgets. Snow duration, depths, and interactions with canopies are also changing. Absent or late-arriving snow exposes the ground to a cold atmosphere in fall. When snow is present, it shields the ground from extremely low (<-20° C) winter air temperatures. The arrival and departure of snow has dramatic impacts on ground energy balance, as does snow metamorphism, structure, and thermal conductivity. While the interactions among snow-dominated landscapes and permafrost are obvious and abundant, research efforts linking these disparate fields are sparse. Part of the challenge is the paucity of accurate distributed snow measurements and model results. Other hurdles are demanding boreal and Arctic winter conditions for equipment and personnel.

The objective of this session is to identify what efforts are being made to link snow and permafrost processes and research. What research is occurring to improve our understanding of snow distributions and thermal interactions with permafrost in high-latitude environments? What can be done to address linkages among snow and permafrost? A secondary objective of this session entails linking ongoing and impending snow remote sensing and modeling efforts with the permafrost research community to mutual benefit.

Keywords: snow, permafrost, remote sensing, modeling, measurements, climate change

Cosponsor 1: Carrie M. Vuyovich: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Cosponsor 2: Taylor D. Sullivan: University of Wyoming; U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

10. Water in Permafrost Systems – An Interdisciplinary Consideration

Session Chair: Eva Stephani
Alaska Science Center, USGS Session

The linkages and feedbacks between components in permafrost settings result in highly dynamic systems that are sustained by heat and mass transfer. The geosystem approach recognizes that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, which is a key concept to understand permafrost dynamics and its coupling of thermal, mechanical, geomorphological, hydrological, and/or biogeochemical processes operating at variable temporal and/or spatial scales. Water is an intrinsic component of permafrost geosystems with potentials for strong feedbacks. The abundance of interactions between water and other components in permafrost geosystems results in a wide range of relevant topics in basic and applied sciences. Furthermore, as we assess the role of water with approaches distinctive of our own disciplines, gaps may form at the intersection of these disciplines, yet critical linkages and processes likely fall within those gaps. This session intends to bring together researchers and practitioners from various fields for an interdisciplinary session involving presentations and discussion on the role of water in permafrost geosystems and its potential effects on the resilience and vulnerability of these systems to changes, including potential systemic thresholds.

Keywords: permafrost dynamics, water, geosystem, feedbacks

Cosponsor 1: Josh Koch / William Quinton Cosponsor 1: J.Koch: Alaska Science Center, USGS / W.Quinton: Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) Cosponsor 2: Ylva Sjöberg / Ronald Daanen

Cosponsor 2: Y.Sjoberg: University of Copenhagen (Danmark) / R.Daanen: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys

11. Taking a Look at the Overlooked: Microorganisms and Their Processes in Permafrost

Session Chair: Robyn Barbato
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Intact permafrost harbors a diverse group of both active and dormant microorganisms. As permafrost thaws, these microbial populations face dramatic changes in both their physical and chemical environments. Unknowns remain regarding many microbial-mediated processes that have the potential to alter feedbacks between permafrost regions and the global climate system, including the rate and fate of transformation of the large stock of permafrost organic matter and changes in aboveground vegetation communities and growth rates. This session invites contributions that cover diverse aspects of permafrost microbiology. We highly encourage submissions that explore the diversity and activity of microbial communities in intact and thawing permafrost soils using a wide range of techniques including metagenomics, culturing, modelling of microbial processes, and laboratory and field studies.

Keywords: Microbiome, permafrost, thaw, biochemical processes

Cosponsor 1: Mary-Cathrine Leewis USGS

Cosponsor 2: Stacey Doherty: University of New Hampshire

12. Permafrost Dialogue: Using Storytelling and Multimedia to Communicate Arctic Change

Session Chair: Brendan Rogers
Woods Hole Research Center

Communicating the nature and implications of arctic change to policy makers and the general public can be challenging. Many people do not have a personal connection with the Arctic. Still, the changes occurring across permafrost landscapes impact the global community too. This session asks, “how can scientists more effectively share the story of arctic change and/or make information more accessible to enable discovery and knowledge-generation by the public?” This session seeks to foster conversations that can help identify opportunities for the impactful use of multimedia and storytelling to promote dialog, public engagement, and advances in climate policy. This session welcomes contributions that include or go beyond the common style of academic science outreach efforts and will feature a panel discussion in addition to poster and oral presentations.

Keywords: permafrost; communication; arctic change; climate policy; outreach; storytelling; multimedia

Cosponsor 1: Anna Liljedahl: University of Alaska Fairbanks; Woods Hole Research Center

Cosponsor 2: Jennifer Watts: Woods Hole Research Center

13. In Situ Permafrost Sensing and Monitoring Technologies

Session Chair: Anna Wagner
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Permafrost degradation reroutes surface and groundwater flow, changes vegetation patterns, increases wildfire susceptibility, modifies topography, and releases carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. The thermal, hydrological, and mechanical processes at play during degradation have been hypothesized to couple in complicated ways, but traditional single-point, ergodic, and remote sensing data collection campaigns are limited in their range and/or resolution in space and time. As a result, coupled multiphysics simulations have largely outpaced important calibration datasets. Meanwhile, recent efforts to generate in situ observations at the field-to-watershed scale using dense sensor deployments to capture transformations of permafrost are creating opportunities to test these hypotheses and numerical models. This session will explore novel advances in the field of in situ sensor technology including new sensing modalities, units, geometries, telemetry, data handling, and application domains with a focus on tracking the evolution of permafrost systems. We welcome case studies as well as relevant numerical and modeling studies used for guiding sensor design and installation.

Keywords: permafrost degradation, sensors, modeling

Cosponsor 1: Jonathan Ajo-Franklin Cosponsor Rice University

Cosponsor 2: Nate Lindsey: Stanford University

14. Flooding and Permafrost Thaw

Session Chair: Elchin Jafarov
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Climate change is affecting high-latitude ecosystems and raising concerns about thawing permafrost, sea-level rise, and increased risk of flooding. Flooding has direct impacts on communities and ecosystems, triggering severe and long-lasting consequences on the subsurface permafrost and hydrology, land surface changes, and extensive ground ice loss. Consequently, these changes independently and cumulatively influence the biosphere-atmosphere exchange leading to an acceleration of the permafrost carbon feedback timelines, in addition to increasing risk to communities and infrastructure. This session focuses on the consequences of Arctic flooding and its effect on ecosystems, communities, permafrost, and hydrology. We also invite studies related to post-flooding observations (in-situ and remote sensing) and modeling flooding impacts on ecosystems and landscapes.

Keywords: flooding, permafrost, observations, modeling

Cosponsor 1: Anastasia Piliouras: Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Cosponsor 2: Emily Eidam Cosponsor: young scientist

15. The Role of Permafrost in Structure, Function, and Evolution of Arctic Rivers and Deltas

Session Chair: Anastasia Piliouras
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Permafrost influences both the dynamics and characteristics of rivers and deltas across the Arctic. Frozen ground also strongly influences the magnitude, rate, and timing of fluxes of water, sediment, and biogeochemical constituents delivered to channel networks in Arctic watersheds. Through both thermal and physical erosion, river, stream, and deltaic channels thaw, erode, and alter the distribution of permafrost in watersheds and deltas. As both permafrost and river temperatures warm, the rate and pattern of permafrost change may accelerate and have feedbacks on the dynamics and planform characteristics of these landscapes. In this session we encourage field, remote sensing, and/or modeling based studies that investigate interactions between rivers and deltas and permafrost.

Keywords: river, delta, sediment, biogeochemisry

Cosponsor 1: Irina Overeem: UC Boulder

Cosponsor 2: Jon Schwenk: Los Alamos National Laboratory

16. Rock Glaciers and Glaciers in Permafrost Environments

Session Chair: Anna Liljedahl
Woods Hole Research Center

Glacier cover is declining rapidly in a warming world, while rock glaciers and permafrost are experiencing a relatively slower rate of change. This session aims to gather studies of glaciers and rock glaciers in permafrost environments and their role on the flow and storage of water, human activities, biogeochemistry, soil temperatures and stability, for example.

17. Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P)

Session Chair: Alexey Maslakov
Lomonosov Moscow State University

The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) is the primary international programme concerned with long-term monitoring of permafrost. The core mission of GTN-P is to maintain a comprehensive and standardized long-term monitoring network to provide consistent, representative, and high quality long-term data on permafrost parameters. GTN-P ensures the distribution and availability of these data that can be used to assess the state of permafrost conditions and changes over time across Earth’s high latitude and altitude regions. This session will focus on the latest developments in permafrost monitoring and results of long-term analyses on permafrost and active layer measurements. All members of GTN-P, National Correspondents, and potential new members are invited to contribute with presentations sharing findings on the thermal state of permafrost and active layer dynamics from local, regional, and global scales.

Keywords: active layer, permafrost temperature, climate change

Cosponsor 1: Sarah Marie Strand: The University Centre in Svalbard

Cosponsor 2: Dmitry Streletskiy: The George Washington University

18. Permafrost Data Systems

Session Chair: Nick Brown
NSERC PermafrostNet

Permafrost research is increasingly data-driven due to advances in modelling, machine learning, and
high-performance computing. As the research field develops, integrating data beyond ground
temperature is becoming increasingly important. Regional and national organizations are developing
capacity for storing and disseminating this permafrost data. Access to the data is still primarily
download-based, but there is also work towards providing data-as-a-service and cloud-based platform
models. Despite this, there remains a great deal of legacy data that has not yet made it into the realm of
open data and is still inaccessible. This workshop will be aimed towards individuals and organizations
involved in the development of permafrost data systems as well as creators and users of permafrost
data. The objective of the workshop is to connect researchers and practitioners who are actively
involved in the production, curation, and dissemination of permafrost data; to identify current problems
and limitations; and to recommend how efforts within North America can be better connected or
coordinated. The expected output from the workshop is a short report summarizing the conclusions
from the workshop and describing recommended next steps.

Keywords: data, permafrost, interoperability

Cosponsor 1: Matt Jones: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis / Arctic Data Center
Cosponsor 2: Peter Pulsifer: Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability

19. Unique Challenges of Permafrost in Mountain Areas

Session Chair: Alexandre Bevington
British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Mountain permafrost, as an important variable of the cryosphere, continues to offer unique challenges
to the scientific community, these include a high degree of spatial heterogeneity in topo-climatic and
bio-physical characteristics, challenging conditions for field work and in-situ monitoring, and often rapid
environmental evolutions under climate change (e.g. deglaciation, vegetation expansion, mass wasting
processes and related hazards/risks). Changes occurring to other cryospheric components - snow and
glaciers - can impact mountain permafrost directly, or through a feedback system, which increases the
complexity of mountain hydrological and geomorphological processes.
This session seeks submissions that relate to the unique challenges of monitoring and modelling
permafrost in mountains, and contributions that advance our understanding of mountain permafrost,
and the processes that govern its evolution, behavior, and resultant impacts. We particularly encourage
submissions that aim to improve our understanding of processes (e.g. active layer dynamics, rock glacier
kinematics, thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of rock slopes) and hazards. We thus invite the
mountain permafrost community to gather at the RCOP in 2021 to present and discuss recent findings
and the (uncertain) future of the high mountain areas!

Keywords: Mountain permafrost; climate change; monitoring; modelling; geohazards; hydrology;

Cosponsor 1: Ludovic Ravanel: EDYTEM, Univ. Savoie Mont-Blanc
Cosponsor 2: Renoj Thayyen: National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, India

20. Changing Biogeochemistry of Permafrost Regions

Session Chair: Kevin Schaefer
National Snow and Ice Data Center

Changing climate in permafrost regions has important implications for biogeochemical cycling of
numerous constituents including carbon, nitrogen, and mercury. It affects the size of constituent pools
available for active cycling upon permafrost thaw, it affects the rates of processes, and ultimately affects
the movement of constituents throughout the biosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere system. This session
focuses on how permafrost region biogeochemistry of carbon, nutrients, and contaminants is changing
in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems over a range of temporal and spatial scales. Field, modeling, and
synthesis studies are welcome. We encourage studies on coupled biogeochemical cycles, studies on
contaminants, and studies that merge field-based data with models for upscaling and projections. This
session focuses on the impacts of climate change on permafrost biogeochemistry. This includes the
impacts on the carbon and nutrient cycles. This also includes contaminant transport, particularly
mercury. This includes field studies, syntheses, and modeling studies.

Keywords: Soil carbon, biogeochemistry, contaminants, nutrients, mercury

Cosponsor 1: Kimberly Wickland: United States Geological Survey


21. Rock glacier inventories and kinematics

Session Chair: Alessandro Cicoira
Alpine Cryosphere and Geomorphology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland

Rock glacier inventories have been set up for decades all around the world, yet without coordination, making their global assemblage and uniform completion not feasible. Similarly, the assessment of rock glacier kinematics was limited to a handful of landforms and mostly restricted to short time series. Recently, numerous datasets of increasing quality have been made available for numerous rock glaciers, particularly with the development of remote sensing techniques. Consequently, the potential for mapping and monitoring rock glaciers is rapidly advancing. The IPA Action Group on rock glacier inventories and kinematics (2018-2023), also with the support of ESA CCI+ Permafrost, is promoting both the establishment of standards for inventorying rock glaciers, including refined indications on the activity rate, and the integration of rock glacier kinematics as a new associated parameter to Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Permafrost within the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) reflecting indirectly the evolution of mountain permafrost. In this session, we welcome contributions from various approaches (in-situ measurements, remote sensing, geophysics, numerical modelling) that foster our understanding of rock glacier morphology and kinematics with the goal of stimulating the scientific discourse and sustaining the efforts presently being developed by the IPA Action Group community.

Keywords: Rock glaciers; Inventory; Kinematics; Essential Climate Variable; IPA Action Group

Cosponsor 1: Yan Hu Earth System Science Programme, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Cosponsor 2: Line Rouyet Cosponsor 2: NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS, Tromsø, Norway

30. General Session on Permafrost Science and Engineering

Session Chair: Torsten Mayrburger
PND Engineers

This session is for studies bridging permafrost science and engineering from a wide range of disciplines, scales, and methods, and especially, if none of the other sessions fit your research topic.

31. General Session on Permafrost Engineering

Session Chair: Susan Wilson
3rd Rock Consulting

This session is for permafrost engineering from a wide range of disciplines, scales, and methods, and especially if none of the other permafrost engineering sessions fit your topic.

32. Infrastructure Engineering on Permafrost

Session Chair: Xiangbing Kong
PYRN Vice-President, Laval University, Quebec, Canada Session

Infrastructure construction on continuous and discontinuous permafrost coupled with changing climate conditions lead to changed thermal conditions of the surface and subsurface, commonly resulting in permafrost degradation. Degradation of thaw-sensitive permafrost reduces the infrastructure serviceability level, increases maintenance cost and risk for infrastructure users. Potential social and economic consequences of infrastructure engineering failures in permafrost environments are considerable, especially for risk-sensitive infrastructure (airstrips, oil and gas pipelines, highways, utilities and others).

This session aims to advance the frozen ground engineering profession by sharing challenges and solutions addressing sustainable infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance on thaw-sensitive permafrost.

We invite presentations that provide insight into infrastructure engineering including, but not limited to: innovative construction methods and monitoring techniques; innovative ground cooling technologies; practical limitations and uncertainty of computer-aided geothermal design; and assessments of risk, cost, and adaptive strategies in response to climate change.

Keywords: infrastructure; climate change, permafrost degradation; risk assessment, adaptive strategy, geothermal design

Cosponsor 1: Peppi Croft: Shannon & Wilson Inc, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Cosponsor 2: Karlis Rieksts: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

33. Transportation Engineering in Permafrost

Session Chair: Joey Yang
University of Alaska Anchorage

Transportation engineering in permafrost regions under a changing climate faces many challenges at various stages of engineering, including site characterization, analysis and design, construction, and performance monitoring during operation. This session aims to provide a platform for engineers and scientists to present the latest progress in various aspects of transportation engineering in the broad cold regions. This session welcomes papers dealing with

1) Effective technologies/methods for site characterization and detection of ice-rich/thaw unstable permafrost or ice wedges,

2) Fundamental properties (such as mechanical, thermal, electrical, etc.) of frozen soils and modeling,

3) Frozen soil-structure interaction,

4) Climate change impact on transportation infrastructure,

6) Innovative construction methods,

7) Case studies on the short- and long-term performance of transportation infrastructure, and

8) Other related topics within this theme.

Keywords: transportation engineering, permafrost, climate change

Cosponsor 1: Fujun Niu: State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China

Cosponsor 2: Feng Zhang Cosponsor: School of Transportation Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, China

34. Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure Built on Permafrost and Societal Challenges

Session Chair: Thomas Schneider von Deimling
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Climate warming induced abrupt changes in ground thermal and hydrological state puts Arctic infrastructure at risk of future failure within their lifetime. For better assessing the risk of large-scale future damage, new strategies for improved monitoring in combination with modelling are urgently needed.

We would like to attract contributions from different disciplines, with a focus on:

•Process-based studies increasing our understanding of hydrothermal interactions between infrastructure and permafrost, including model developments for an improved representation of permafrost degradation •Modelling studies of permafrost degradation impacts on infrastructure stability, including studies discussing model limitations •Pan-Arctic risk assessments of future permafrost thaw and infrastructure failure •Studies exploring early-warning signs of Arctic infrastructure failure •Adaptation studies for infrastructure built on permafrost and potential adaptation limits under climate change •General studies of Arctic infrastructure vulnerability under climate change •Studies evaluating the upcoming risks for Arctic societies This session intends to promote discussions of infrastructure stability under climate warming as a consequence of degrading permafrost and subsequent risks in the Arctic society. We invite contributions ranging from observational studies, remote sensing, GIS-based approaches, to studies using models of different scope and complexity. We hope to create a discussion across different disciplines to foster future collaboration.

Keywords: permafrost degradation, infrastructure failure, climate change, adaptation, modelling, monitoring

Cosponsor 1: Erin Trochim, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute and Department of Geology and Geophysics, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Cosponsor 2: Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen, Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

35. Unique Aspects of Northern Soils

Session Chair: Taylor Hodgdon
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Northern environments experience large seasonal changes throughout the year that are becoming more pronounced with the changing global climate. This seasonality has a direct impact on the soils in these northern environments. Processes such as freezing and thawing of soils causes drastic changes to the overall physical behavior of the soil. In addition to this, northern terrains contain vastly different soil types due to their varied geomorphological histories. These deposits range from highly heterogeneous soils deposited from past glaciations to abundant organic soils whose physical and engineering properties are not well studied. This session aims to highlight the unique attributes of soils in these environments including but not limited to: seasonal impacts to physical soil properties, freeze/thaw cycling of soils, engineering properties of highly organic/peat soils, and determination of soil characteristics using geomorphic landform data.

Keywords: Northern soils, freeze, thaw, seasonality

Cosponsor 1: U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

36. Permafrost Engineering: State-of-the-Art and Climate Warming – Methods, Innovations, and Periglacial Associations

Session Chair: Kevin Bjella

Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Session

In the last few decades permafrost engineering has reached a technological plateau mostly in the realm of innovations to maintain the frozen condition, but also in assessing the risk of permafrost thaw and associated costs in light of the changing climate. Warming permafrost will weaken foundation soils, prompting adjustment of established methodolgies to ensure robust designs, and this will challenge engineers to make estimates of future climate impacts, and what degree adjustments for the future are economically and liability acceptable. As a consequence, it is increasingly clear that permafrost response to warming and the consequences on infrastructure are not fully understood both for warming permafrost temperatures and the transition to seasonal freezing conditions. Recent advancements in the use of surface based geophysics for geotechnical characterization are demonstrating that the heterogeneity of the permafrost ground-ice condition can often be exploited to the benefit of infrastructure projects. Additionally, thermal modeling techniques are becoming standard engineering tools for determining the results of innovative designs, and for projecting to the future warmed condition. Presentations are invited that provide insight into the current methods for engineering on warming permafrost, and also illustrate consequences of miss-adjusted or altered design parameters. We encourage demonstrations of innovation for maintaining or modifying founding soil conditions (mechanically or thermally), innovation on the methods for characterizing the geotechnical condition, incorporation of permafrost cryostructure and geo-cryomorphology into the applied realm, and improved techniques for assessing, designing and constructing on warming permafrost.

Keywords: permafrost, permafrost engineering, thaw settlement, permafrost degradation, warming permafrost

Cosponsor 1: Heather Brooks: BGC Engineering Incorporated

37. Highway Bridges in Cold Regions: Seismic Performance and Design Issues

Session Chair: Asif Iqbal
University of Northern British Columbia

Bridge infrastructure represents a significant portion of the transportation network of any country. Several seismic regions around the world (Alaska, Quebec, Hokkaido-Japan) experience seasonal freezing that can drastically alter the soil-foundation-structure interaction and structural response under earthquake loads. Under subfreezing temperature, the yield and ultimate strengths of steel reinforcement increases, compressive strength and Poisson’s ratio of concrete changes, shear strength and stiffness of soil increases, and mechanical properties of elastomeric and friction bearings are affected. All these changes in bridge component material properties can significantly alter the behavior of bridges in cold regions under earthquake loads. More research is required to investigate the detrimental effect of subfreezing temperature on seismic performance of bridges, which will pave the way to meet future transportation challenges while developing resilient infrastructure. The main objective of this session is to present results from recent research and practical examples on seismic performance and design of highway bridges in cold regions. The session will also provide a forum for researchers and practicing engineers to share and discuss related issues for new and retrofitted structures in cold regions.

Keywords: highway bridges, cold regions, seismic performance, seismic design, serviceability.

Cosponsor 1: Shahria Alam: University of British Columbia

Cosponsor 2: Muntasir Billah Cosponsor: Lakehead University

38. Frost Action in Soil

Session Chair: Dr. Sally Shoop
U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Frost action in soils can cause major issues in infrastructure due to freezing ground, frost heave, and thaw weakening. These events present engineering challenges in areas with climates subjected to freezing temperatures and can be exacerbated by freeze-thaw cycling. The recent ASCE publication on Frost Action in Soils presents fundamentals, mitigation strategies, and case studies on these topics. Discussions on sections and updates from this new book are invited as presentation topics, as are all topics dealing with freeze and thaw mechanisms, experiments, field measurements and theory. New techniques and procedures are especially welcome, as are case studies of interest to practitioners. The presentations from this session will supplement the ASCE publication as a valuable resource for those involved in cold regions engineering.

Keywords: frost, thaw, freeze, heave, weakening, climate

Cosponsor 1: Spencer Guthrie, Brigham Young University

Cosponsor 2: Danielle Kennedy, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

39. Geologic Terrain Analysis, Geomorphic Mapping in Support of iInfrastructure Development

Session Chair: Susan Wilson
3rd Rock Consulting LLC

Terrain analysis provides site-specific and corridor characterization based on desktop studies including existing geologic mapping, satellite imagery, aerial photography, elevation data, drone surveys, as well as incorporation and extrapolation of reconnaissance data, ground temperature measurements, geophysical surveys, and subsurface borehole information. These analyses can anticipate engineering soil and ground ice conditions as well as contributing to engineering assumptions for planning, field exploration, and recommendations. This mapping can be utilized for route selection and site suitability studies allowing infrastructure to be constructed in optimum areas with relatively better site, soil and ground ice conditions. Identification of poor soil, areas of massive ice, and permafrost degradation are some conditions affecting engineering considerations, constructability, and ultimately cost. The availability and quality of granular construction materials also can greatly affect the costs and feasibility of projects and can influence site selection and routing. In this session we welcome presentations and papers focusing on methods and project examples of geologic terrain analysis and geomorphology supporting engineering projects in permafrost and cold regions.

Keywords: mapping, permafrost degradation, site characterization, engineering assumptions, geology, geomorphology, remote sensing, ground ice

Cosponsor 1: Michelle Gavel, Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

40. Permafrost Thermal Analysis

Session Chair: Torsten Mayrberger
PND Engineers, Inc.

The stability and integrity of structures and facilities constructed on permafrost are greatly dependent on keeping the foundation permafrost frozen. Increasing climate temperatures in Arctic and Subarctic regions makes the study and analysis of permafrost ground temperatures and prediction of disturbed ground more critical. This session will look at case histories, state-of-the-practice thermal analysis methods, n-value development, thaw settlement, disruption of in-situ thermal regimes due to construction of structures and facilities, influence of permafrost temperatures due to climate change, and probabilistic methods for risk of exceedance for subsurface temperature changes.

Keywords: cold regions engineering, climate change, thermal analysis, permafrost degradation, active layer, thaw settlement, probabilistic methods, warm permafrost

Cosponsor 1: Kannon Lee, EIT, PND Engineers, Inc.

41. Community Resilience; Protect, Migrate, Relocate

Session Chair: Susan Wilson
3rd Rock Consulting, LLC

This session highlights considerations, planning, and factors driving protect-in-place, migration, and relocation planning and execution for new and existing infrastructure in environmentally impacted communities in permafrost and cold region areas; and welcomes case studies, hazard assessment, engineering, and construction-related presentations.

Keywords: environmentally threatened, community, village, planning, protect, migrate, relocate, hazard assessment, engineering, permafrost

Cosponsor: Sally Russell Cox, Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs

42. Engineering Properties of Frozen Soils

Session Chair: Torsten Mayrberger
PND Engineers, Inc.

Presentation of the latest in the engineering properties of frozen ground including but not limited to:

  • Effect of temperature, salinity, and loading rate on soil strength
  • Thaw settlement
  • Strength of warm permafrost
  • Resistivity of frozen soils
  • New methods for collecting frozen ground
  • In-situ thermal monitoring
  • Creep rates of frozen soils

Keywords: frozen soil strength, stiffness, saline permafrost, rate of loading, cold regions engineering, thaw settlement, engineering properties

Cosponsor 1: Kannon Lee, EIT, PND Engineers, Inc.

43. Transportation Infrastructure in Cold Climates

Session Chair: Jenny Liu
Missouri University of Science and Technology

This session aims to provide a forum to discuss challenges and recent development and advances associated with materials, design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure under extreme conditions such as those in cold or higher latitude climates. This session will gather a variety topics including but not limited to: 1) Climatic effects on transportation infrastructure including issues related to expansive soils, freeze and thaw, scouring and erosion, etc., 2) Engineering behavior of transportation materials, 3) Properties of frozen and unfrozen materials, 4) Pavement performance, 5) Innovative materials and designs for climate adaptation, 6) Soil stabilization and ground improvement techniques, 7) new techniques on snow/ice control and erosion control, 8) Condition assessment and monitoring, 9) Preservation and management

Keywords: transportation infrastructure, cold climates, materials, design, maintenance

Cosponsor 1: Xiong Zhang Professor, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Cosponsor 2: Chao Xing, Assistant Professor, Harbin Institute of Technology, China