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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

Work in the field on a rock wall with measurement of temperatures of the permafrost in the rock. Photo: CryoWall
Work in the field on a rock wall with measurement of temperatures of the permafrost in the rock. Photo: CryoWall

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

In the project CryoWALL – Steep permafrost slopes in Norway we 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.

Financing

This is a research project with financing from The Research Council of Norway through the KLIMAFORSK-programme. The NFR project number is 243784.

The project period for CryoWALL is from 2015 to 2020.

Cooperation

CryoWALL is a collaboration between the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Geological Survey in Trondheim, the Technical Universe in Munich / Germany, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

Publications

  • Hilger, Paula; Gosse, John C. & Hermanns, Reginald (2019). How significant is inheritance when dating rockslide boulders with terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating?-a case study of an historic event. Landslides. Journal of the International Consortium on Landslides. ISSN 1612-510X. 16(4), p. 729–738. doi: 10.1007/s10346-018-01132-0.
  • Magnin, Florence; Etzelmüller, Bernd; Westermann, Sebastian; Isaksen, Ketil; Hilger, Paula & Hermanns, Reginald (2019). Permafrost distribution in steep rock slopes in Norway: measurements, statistical modelling and implications for geomorphological processes . Earth Surface Dynamics. ISSN 2196-6311. 7(4), p. 1019–1040. doi: 10.5194/esurf-7-1019-2019. Full text in Research Archive
  • Myhra, Kristin Sæterdal; Westermann, Sebastian & Etzelmüller, Bernd (2019). Modelling conductive heat flow between steep rock walls and talus slopes–thermal processes and geomorphological implications. Frontiers in Earth Science. ISSN 2296-6463. 7, p. 1–14. doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00192. Full text in Research Archive
  • Böhme, Martina; Hermanns, Reginald; Gosse, John C; Hilger, Paula; Eiken, Trond & Lauknes, Tom Rune [Show all 7 contributors for this article] (2019). Comparison of monitoring data with paleo–slip rates: Cosmogenic nuclide dating detects acceleration of a rockslide. Geology. ISSN 0091-7613. 47(4), p. 339–342. doi: 10.1130/G45684.1.
  • Hilger, Paula; Hermanns, Reginald; Gosse, John C; Jacobs, B; Etzelmüller, Bernd & Krautblatter, Michael (2018). Multiple rock-slope failures from Mannen in Romsdal Valley, western Norway, revealed from Quaternary geological mapping and 10Be exposure dating. The Holocene. ISSN 0959-6836. 28(12), p. 1841–1854. doi: 10.1177/0959683618798165. Full text in Research Archive
  • Myhra, Kristin Sæterdal; Westermann, Sebastian & Etzelmuller, Bernd (2017). Modelled Distribution and Temporal Evolution of Permafrost in Steep Rock Walls Along a Latitudinal Transect in Norway by CryoGrid 2D. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. ISSN 1045-6740. 28(1), p. 172–182. doi: 10.1002/ppp.1884.
  • Magnin, Florence; Westermann, Sebastian; Pogliotti, Paolo; Ravanel, Ludovico; Deline, Phillip & Malet, Eric (2017). Snow control on active layer thickness in steep alpine rock walls (Aiguille du Midi, 3842 m a.s.l., Mont Blanc massif). CATENA. ISSN 0341-8162. 149(Part 2), p. 648–662. doi: 10.1016/j.catena.2016.06.006.

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View all works in Cristin

Tags: Permafrost, Natural hazards
Published Aug. 27, 2015 11:22 AM - Last modified Mar. 3, 2022 1:13 PM

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