Earth’s Cryosphere, 2011, Vol. XV, No. 3, p. 3-19


А.А. Abramov, R.S. Sletten*, E.M. Rivkina, V.A. Mironov, D.A. Gilichinsky

Soil Cryology Laboratory, Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science, RAS, 142290, Pushchino, Moscow reg., Institutskaya str., 2, Russia,
* Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Quaternary Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

The review of the geocryological conditions of Antarctica and results obtained during our studies in collaboration with USA Antarctic Expedition (1995–1999) and Russian Antarctic Expedition within the framework of International Polar Year (2007/08) are presented. The severity of geocryological conditions increases in the following sequence: sub-Antarctic islands (Bellinsghausen station)–Bunger Hills (Oasis II station)–Schirmacher Hills (Novolazarevskaya station)–Larsemann Hills (Progress station)–Thala Hills (Molodezhnaya station)–Marie Byrd Land (Russkaya station)–Wilson Hills (Leningrdskaya station). The most severe conditions have been found in Dry Valleys (American McMurdo station). Thereafter, mean ground temperatures decrease from close to zero values to –25…–30 °С, and the active layer depth reduces from several meters to zero. The cryogenic processes are wide spread in ice-free areas, and the first centimeters from the day surface are affected by primary soil-forming processes. The permafrost studied in the coastal ice-free areas are of Holocene and late Pleistocene age, and in Dry Valleys – late Miocene, middle and late Pleistocene. At the same time in Dry Valleys it is possible to find out permafrost of the age up to 30 million years.

Key words: Antarctica, ice-free areas, permafrost, temperature regime, active layer.