Permafrost in Svalbard: a review of research history, climatic background and engineering challenges

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Humlum, Ole ; Instanes, Arne ; Sollid, Johan Ludvig (2003)

This paper reviews permafrost in High Arctic Svalbard, including past and current research, climatic background, how permafrost is affected by climatic change, typical permafrost landforms and how changes in Svalbard permafrost may impact natural and human systems. Information on active layer dynamics, permafrost and ground ice characteristics and selected periglacial features is summarized from the recent literature and from unpublished data by the authors. Permafrost thickness ranges from less than 100 m near the coasts to more than 500 m in the highlands. Ground ice is present as rock glaciers, as ice-cored moraines, buried glacial ice, and in pingos and ice wedges in major valleys. Engineering problems of thaw-settlement and frost-heave are described, and the implications for road design and construction in Svalbard permafrost areas are discussed.
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