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The Europe-wide monitoring system seeks to offer engineers information about whether their projects may be at risk from melting permafrost.

“The programme is targeted at identifying sensitive terrain,” Dr Charles Harris, co-ordinator of the Permafrost & Climate in Europe (PACE) project told edie.

Permafrost is permanently frozen ground and there are many buildings and other structures built on permafrost within Europe. PACE researchers are trying to discover which sites have permafrost that could result in destablisation when it melts, and which sites’ permafrost is more likely to remain stable during and after melting.

Boreholes have been drilled in Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Spain to collect data and to create a monitoring network.

PACE results will be presented at a conference in Rome in March 2001, but work is already underway to secure funding for further research. Dr Harris would like PACE’s monitoring and mapping systems to be put to use in predicting climate change scenarios.

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