A b o u t  P E R M O S 

PERMOS has been built up by several research institutes since the early 1990s followed by a 6-year pilot-phase 2000–2006. Since 2007 the network is officially implemented with a coordination office and secured long-term funding. The networks develops towards an operational monitoring service with a sustainable and congruent network.

The monitoring strategy (including key variables, sites, and observation techniques) have been and still are subject to changes and adaptations based on new experiences and findings from both, monitoring and research. The connection between air and subsurface temperatures is not straightforward in high mountains since snow conditions, surface characteristics and cover, subsurface ice content, and mountain topography mask changes in atmospheric conditions when they propagate into the subsurface. In order to capture these features and to deliver a comprehensive picture of permafrost state and changes the PERMOS strategy builds on three types of observation to complement each other. They have been continuously evaluated and integrated during the past 10 years:

(1) The core of the network are temperatures measured in boreholes. These are complemented by near-surface temperature measurements at locations around the site in order to capture the influence of the differing surface cover types and topographic settings, as well as the spatial variability of the changes. The temperature changes at depth integrate and filter the signal from the surface and reflect trends delayed, but more clearly. They are additionally altered by effects 3D geometry and latent heat and little below the melting point, only very small or no changes can be observed in ground temperatures.

(2) Corresponding changes in subsurface ice and unfrozen water content can be detected by electrical resistivity tomography monitoring, which was integrated in the 3rd PERMOS Report (PERMOS 2009).

(3) Since the 4th PERMOS Report (PERMOS 2010) also permafrost kinematics determined by geodetic surveys and/or photogrammetry is an approved part of the documentation. In addition to the permafrost creep kinematics, fast mass movements from permafrost areas (such as rock fall events) are reported.

Correspondingly, the PERMOS network includes 14 Temperature Sites where near-surface temperatures, borehole temperatures, and ERT are measured, and 14 Kinematics Sites, where terrestrial surveys and photogrammetric analyses are performed and/or air photos are taken regularly (Tab. 1.1, Figs. 1.1 and 1.2). In 2007 and 2009 a sound evaluation of all monitoring sites has taken place. The sites where long-term monitoring is reasonable and feasible are designated as PERMOS Reference Site, which build the corner stones of the network and are treated with priority. The standardization of site instrumentation as well as data homogenization are still ongoing.

The main work load of field work, site maintenance and data preprocessing is carried out by the PERMOS Partners. Observation data and results are published annually in the bulletin Die Alpen (SAC-CAS) and every second year in the Glaciological Reports (Permafrost) by the Cryospheric Commission (EKK) of the SCNAT.

The PERMOS network is coordinated by the PERMOS Office and supervised by the PERMOS Steering Committee. PERMOS is operated by six university institutes, the PERMOS Partners. They are responsible for data acquisition and processing, site maintenance, and reporting. Monitoring strategies, approval of sites, data processing strategies, and results are discussed within the PERMOS Scientific Committee. The network receives substantial funds from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (scnat).

PERMOS is now implemented in the responsible federal monitoring structures and part of the Swiss cryosphere monitoring, which includes the observation of glaciers, snow and permafrost in the Swiss Alps. It complements the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network, which was established at the end of the 19th century. The Cryospheric Commission (EKK) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (scnat) is responsible for their coordination. The Swiss GCOS Office at MeteoSwiss coordinates the climatological observations in Switzerland. Within the international framework of permafrost monitoring, PERMOS is one of the early components of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) that is established within the worldwide climate-monitoring program (GCOS/GTOS) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and others (FAO, UNEP, UNESCO, ICSI). Within the five-tiered principle proposed for the Global Hierarchical Observing Strategy (GHOST, cf. also Harris et al. 2001) PERMOS supports research in studies that contribute to tier 2 (shallow permafrost thermal state, energy fluxes and surface controls), but mainly concerns the observations to reflect regional patterns in permafrost thermal state of tier 3 and coupling of temperature measurement with other variables to provide representative permafrost conditions in tier 4.