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Still little research into permafrost

Langensteineishöhle

Erforschung des Eises in der Langsteinhöhle/A © Theo Pfarr http://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/nhm/hoehle/hoehleneis.htm

During a six-year experimental series Reynold Delaloye, geographer at Fribourg University/CH, has found that permafrost reacts less sensitively to warming than was previously assumed, with no change noted in soil temperature at greater depths. He attributes his findings to a cooling ventilation mechanism that sets in in winter.
Overall, however, science still knows little about the eternal ice deep in the rock. At Zurich University/CH geographer Stefan Gruber is working on a computer programme designed to help cable-car operators assess the risk of rock fall. His computer model simulates how much rock in the Alps is subject to warming, and the regional differences in warming.
Studies in Austria have shown that cave ice has melted significantly over the past fifteen years. According to Rudolf Pavuza of the Association of Austrian Cave Researchers this is due less to higher annual average temperatures than to greater summer rainfall and warm rainwater filtering through the soil.
Sources and information: Tages Anzeiger 05.07.2004, www.unifr.ch/main/news/detailD.php?nid=257 (de/fr) 20.07.2004, www.nhm-wien.ac.at/nhm/hoehle/hoehleneis.htm (de)