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Permafrost scientist receives $1.8 million in grants

Submitted by Melissa Hart
Phone: (907) 474-7853

03/26/07

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

After working for the past decade toward increased permafrost monitoring in Alaska, scientist Vladimir Romanovsky is going global due to funding from the National Science Foundation. For the next three years, Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a researcher in the Permafrost Lab at the Geophysical Institute, will use a $945,000 grant to establish a network of permafrost observatories in North America and Russia.

The proposed network serves as the United States' contribution to a global effort for the International Polar Year. Known as the Thermal State of Permafrost project, the idea is to measure temperatures in a large number of globally distributed boreholes in order to provide a snapshot of permafrost temperatures in both time and space, Romanovsky said.

In establishing a network of groups in Russia, which has more than half of the Far North's permafrost, Romanovsky hopes to set up a standardized system for monitoring permafrost and measuring temperatures at the surface and within the upper part of the permafrost layer in the boreholes. The longterm goals are to drill new holes as needed and digitize old data. The intent is to create a data collection system similar to the unique data set acquired through 25 years of monitoring in Alaska.

The permafrost observatories grant is in addition to $915,000 that the National Science Foundation awarded Romanovsky in August for the implementation of a climate model that can be used to map permafrost changes in Greenland and Alaska. The project will incorporate existing near-surface weather, climate and permafrost observations supplemented with new targeted measurements at locations where climate change is presently taking place.

Note to editors: Photos are available upon request.

CONTACT: Vladimir Romanovsky, professor of geophysics, Geophysical Institute, at (907) 474-7459 or vladimir.romanovsky@gi.alaska.edu. Melissa Hart, public relations assistant, Geophysical Institute, at (907) 474-7853 or melissa.hart@gi.alaska.edu.