CryoWALL - Steep permafrost slopes in Norway

The stability of steep slopes and rock walls is a major point of concern in relation to a changing climate, and is important for society, transport and more. Permafrost is a factor which can stabilize steep sloops. Rock wall permafrost has been intensively investigated in mountain areas like the Alps, but there is little knowledge about the topic in Norway. CryoWALL aims to investigate permafrost on rock walls in Norway.

Left: Debris flow triggered by a rock-slide from a permafrost rock wall in Signaldalen, Troms county. Right: Rock fall blocking a road in southern Norway. Photo: Celine Steiger, UiO & Jan Otto Larsen, Norwegian Road Adminstration

Left: Debris flow triggered by a rock-slide from a permafrost rock wall in Signaldalen, Troms county. Right: Rock fall blocking a road in southern Norway. Photo: Celine Steiger, UiO & Jan Otto Larsen, Norwegian Road Adminstration

About the Project

Working in the field. Photo: CryoWall project team

The stability of steep slopes and rock walls is a major point of concern in relation to a changing climate, and important for society, transport and more. It is well known that permafrost can be a major factor for the stability of steep slopes, covered either with debris or in rock walls. In Norway we find permafrost widespread all over the country. Many steep rock walls lie in the mountain permafrost zone, and in Jotunheimen monitoring of rock wall temperatures documents this fact.

In northern Norway, permafrost is attributed to be a major cause for the deformation pattern of a steep rock slope, which is a large threat if failure occurs. In the past decade, many thousand rock fall or slide events were recorded which affected the national road network and transport infrastructure, and many of those might originated from steep slopes underlain by permafrost.

Cryowall will evaluate the spatial distribution of steep permafrost rock walls in Norway, instrument selected sites of special interest both in southern and northern Norway, and help addressing risk areas by employing empirical and physical rockfall run out models from selected site. We will install rock wall temperature loggers, and use these data to model the thermal regime in rock walls depending on climate forcing and snow conditions. We will employ stability modelling of selected rock falls, along with laboratory testing of rock samples at the TU Munich, Germany.

Rock fall and rockslides have happened also earlier during the Holocene, and to understand future responses of permafrost in rock walls, it is important to address former conditions. We will therefore use advanced dating techniques to evaluate the development of slip planes in permafrost rock walls.

Objectives

CryoWALL - Steep permafrost slopes in Norway will:

  • evaluate the stability of selected steep frozen slopes
  • address the spatial distribution of steep permafrost rock walls
  • investigate the thermal state of steep rock walls in the mainland of Norway by instrumenting selected sites with temperature loggers
  • model the thermal regime at different locations, taking account environmental and topographic gradients in northern and southern Norway
  • evaluate the potential risk to infrastructure from permafrost rock walls in Norway, both nation-wide and for selected sites of special interest for road infrastructure, settlements and mountain tourism
  • will link the past (Holocene) development of selected rock walls to the present and future thermal regime

Background

CryoWALL gathering national and international scientists in an interdisciplinary project and addresses the gap of knowledge about permafrost in Norway.

The project period is from 2015 to 2019.

Financing

Project financing from The Research Council of Norway is acknowledged. NFR project number; 243784

Cooperation

Tags: Permafrost, Natural hazards
Published Aug. 27, 2015 11:22 AM - Last modified Feb. 23, 2017 11:23 AM

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