Polarforschung, vol.81, no.1, pp.47-55, 2012 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions)
Antarctic permafrost is generally dry and cold and is placed – if not in hardrock – in coarse-grained debris. In continental Antarctica the minimum temperatures in permafrost boreholes reach down to -23 °C. In contrast, permafrost in the maritime Antarctica (Antarctic Peninsula and offshore islands) is relatively warm and extends to the 0 °C mark. The landforms in this area include dead ice bodies at the edge of glaciers, rock glaciers and patterned ground. Permafrost temperatures and active layer depths are increa- singly monitored as climate indicators in the Antarctic. Most monitoring sites are set up around Antarctic research bases. While the permafrost temperatures and active layer depths in the maritime Antarctic increase slightly, this is not true for the continental Antarctic with its much lower temperatures. However, the permafrost observation period is relatively short. Individual measurements reach back 40 years at maximum and continuous measurements at individual sites have been operating only for the last ten years. In the valley bottoms of the Transantarctic Mountains polygonal surfaces are found, which are similar to Martian surfaces and which are used for analogue studies based on satellite image interpretation. This overview paper reflects on the current state of knowledge about Antarctic permafrost and suggests some future research.