Implementing a building project in permafrost presents technical as are contained in the reference work in German “Bauen im Permafrost. Arenson L () Unstable alpine permafrost: a potentially important natural Keusen HR, Teysseire P (b) Bauen im Permafrost: ein praxisorientierter. Bommer, C., Phillips, M., Keusen, H.-R. and Teysseire, P. () Bauen im Permafrost – Ein Leitfaden für die Praxis. WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche.

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Building on permafrost

Building and maintaining infrastructure at high elevations is a major challenge. In the past, that data never has been available in such a format, suitable for global models. In that cases the database can be used as an early warning system. This practical guideline is subdivided into three main parts.

Influence of the summer heatwave on rock slope failures In summer an exceptionally large number of rock slope failures was reported in the Swiss Alps, with a concentration in permafrost regions.

Natural hazards caused by changes in permafrost are a potential problem for buildings at high elevations, settlements and, last but not least, mountaineers. Infrastructure on permafrost Structures typically found in the Swiss Alps include mountain railway and cable car stations, pylons, restaurants, mountain shelters, water pipelines, avalanche barriers, telecommunication facilities, snow sheds and railway tracks.

We are investigating how quickly various landforms like scree slopes, rock permzfrost and rock walls respond to temperature gauen and are examining the consequences of these responses.

Building on permafrost – WSL

Scientists from the Alfred Wegner Institute take measurements of permafrosf coastline Photo: The upper layers of the permafrost melt in summer active layerand water accumulates on the underlying ice. In addition, the specific handling of building materials for infrastructure in permafrost is discussed. In summer an exceptionally large number of rock slope failures was reported in the Swiss Alps, with a concentration in permafrost regions.

Monitoring systems can be used to detect and avoid problems or hazards, thus increasing safety during all project phases.

Permafrost and natural hazards – SLF

Data, 7,doi: In ;ermafrost third part, various technical solutions for foundations, anchors, excavations, flexible systems, substrate improvement, tunnels and insulation techniques are enumerated. Practical recommendations for planning, constructing and maintaining infrastructure in mountain Permafrost. In order to measure the temperature in permafrost and the active layer thickness, scientists need to drill a hole in the icy soils, before installing sensors.


Text, photos and graphics unless otherwise noted are under license of: Higher temperatures deepen the active layer and cause ice loss in permafrost. During expeditions, the gained data will be read out regularly.

Loading conditions taking into account potential changes to the permafrost substrate must be considered for the structure design. Our high-elevation research, simulations and laboratory tests help to improve the measures used to protect residents from potential hazards.

This problem is exacerbated by climate change and the thermal impact of the infrastructure on the ground. We apply various methods in the field to detect changes in the ground temperature and gauge the impact of these changes on slope stability: These play a crucial role in tourism, communication, energy supply, and protection against natural hazards.

Permafrost and natural hazards

We test new building methods on mountain permafrost and draw up practice-oriented recommendations to ensure the technical safety of mountain infrastructure.

A recently published study shows that the occurrence of a major rock slope failure, such as the one that took place on Piz Kesch in Februarydepends not only on the conditions prevailing at the time, but also on the long term interaction of geology and climate over millennia. Building methods must therefore be adjusted to take account of this. Depending on the ice content and rock temperatures, the opening of cracks may be accelerated.

All topics Natural hazards. If climate change causes glaciers to melt and permafrost to thaw, there may be an increase in natural hazards like rockslides or debris flows. Due to the unrestricted availability, not only scientists but politicians, governmental agents or other interested parties have access and are therefore able to use the information as basis for decisions.

With that in mind, we regularly forward the results of our research to the authorities and publish key findings. We use controlled laboratory experiments and computer models to simulate the mechanisms that trigger slope movement in permafrost terrain.

Infrastructure in exposed locations can additionally be affected by natural hazards originating in permafrost areas. Since the water content of the active layer is important for slope stability, we also measure the water content of the individual layers with special probes.

The former must be based on a detailed preliminary study which investigates whether the site is located in permafrost terrain and determines the substrate characteristics. Every construction project in mountain permafrost is unique and requires specially adapted solutions in order to account for the many exceptional situations which can be encountered.


Risk of rockslides and debris flows Thawing in scree slopes frees up additional material for landslides and debris flows, while thawing of permafrost rock walls is leading to an increase in rockslides.

The potential evolution of the permafrost during the service life of the structure must be forecasted and the substrate characteristics chosen accordingly. Furthermore the GTN-P team is going to report about the state of the permafrost and possible changes every two years. Thawing permafrost soils have a major impact on the Earth’s climate. The central part describes a recommended project schedule. Climate change Permafrost Global data portal for permafrost temperatures and active layer thickness With the help of a new established database, scientists get easily access to temperature development and active layer thickness data, which can be integrated into their models.

Phillips, Marcia Snow and Permafrost. However, up to now this issue has not been considered in any climate model. In the first part, permafrost is defined, its characteristics described and practically applicable permafrost detection techniques are presented.

The residual risks, consisting for example of excessive loads, natural hazards and other potential risks should be communicated to the constructors. Distribution of the GTN-P measurement stations in arctic and subarctic regions, which collect permafrost temperature and active layer thickness data in the summer season.

Estimating non-conductive heat flow leading to intra-permafrost talik formation at the Ritigraben rock glacier western Swiss Alps. Extreme weather conditions, complex geological conditions and natural hazards like avalanches and rockfall all have an impact on construction sites and buildings. Thawing in scree slopes frees up additional material for landslides and debris flows, while baue of permafrost rock walls is leading to an increase in rockslides.

Dem Umweltwandel auf der Spur. Bommer, Christian Snow and Permafrost. The importance of a detailed preliminary study and of pfrmafrost integral monitoring system during all project phases is emphasized here.

Due to their complexity, is not appropriate to develop general, all-encompassing ‘recipes’ for sustainable construction in permafrost. bayen