Permafrost observation

Long-term observation

Permafrost is permanently frozen bedrock whose thermal, hydrological and mechanical properties are affected by climatic conditions. Permafrost monitoring, i.e. the long-term observation of these properties, is important to assess the impact of climate change on permafrost and resulting threats and challenges.

Long-term stable and reliable scientific data collection places special demands on measurement set-up and technology. This is especially true since it is typically operated at exposed sites without existing infrastructure. We operate measurement facilities (together with Alpug GmbH and Waljag GmbH) on behalf of the research institutions participating in PERMOS.


Borehole measurements

Measurements in boreholes deeper than 10 m are the only direct, long-term measurements in alpine permafrost. Typically temperatures and partly deformations are measured in various depths. In the last decade the thermistor chains of Waljag GmbH have established themselves as a standard in alpine permafrost research. The example opposite shows a depth profile of permafrost temperatures in the borehole on the Murtèl block glacier in the Corvatsch ski resort, which was installed in 2015.

Example station

Our permafrost measurement stations are fully autonomous and transmit the measurement data in near-real time to our query server. In addition to borehole temperature measurements, climate data are also collected to determine the energy balance at the surface: these are typically wind, air temperature (ventilated), radiation balance, humidity as well as snow depth. Optionally, further meteorological parameters can be added.