Permafrost

Blockgletscher Alp Flix
Image: M. Phillips, WSL/SLF; snc-iugg / Marcia Phillips, WSL / SLF
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Blockgletscher Alp Flix
Blockgletscher Alp Flix (Image: M. Phillips, WSL/SLF; snc-iugg / Marcia Phillips, WSL / SLF)

Measurements of permafrost in Switzerland are coordinated by PERMOS (Permafrost Monitoring Switzerland) whereas the coordination office is at the moment located at the University of Fribourg .

The PERMOS monitoring network is build up by: a) borehole locations where temperatures, geophysical and climatic parameters are collected and b) dynamic/kinematic locations where geomorphological observations are recorded (especially measurements of glacier movement, rock glaciers and observation of debris flow and rock fall).

Permafrost denotes subsurface material which measures temperatures of below 0°C during the whole course of the year. Permafrost can be found beneath an unfrozen layer which can measure several meters and varies in its temperature according to the change of seasons. It exists within rock as well as within peak regions and scree slopes. In polar regions permafrost can reach a thickness of over 1 kilometer whereas in our latitudes the thickness can reach from decameters up to several hundred meters. It is estimated that approximately 5% of Swiss territory is permafrost ground. This corresponds to approximately double the surface that is covered by glaciers.

Blick auf den Muragl Blockgletscher im Val Muragl bei Pontresina

Permafrost

Permafrost (ständig gefrorener Untergrund) ist nicht direkt sichtbar, reagiert aber sehr empfindlich auf Klimaveränderungen.