The PermaSense project, a joint computer science and geoscience project, investigates the influence of climate change on permafrost and specifically the stability of steep rock walls in alpine regions and future natural hazard scenarios due to global warming. Current practice only allows to make observations in the mountain cryosphere using limited field studies; larger-scale and longer-term measurements are very difficult. To this extent we develop autonomous, wireless sensors that allow the collection, transmission and analysis of data online with reliable and high-quality measurement systems for extreme environmental conditions. The main goal of PermaSense is to provide long-term high-quality sensing in harsh environments, to obtain better quality data more effectively and make measurements that have previously been impossible. The system makes use of state-of-the-art ultra-low power wireless sensor nodes that can live off of a single battery for 3-5 years and survive the harsh environmental conditions in high-alpine regions. A base station is responsible of relaying data to a server using a long-haul wireless link, e.g. GSM/GPRS or WLAN with low latency on the order of seconds. Online data analysis allows to assess the state of a field site quickly and to adapt algorithms and analysis methods when necessary. We are currently operating sensor networks delivering online data on both the Jungfraujoch and the Matterhorn at 3500m a.s.l. In this paper we describe the technology currently used in PermaSense and explain how this can be adapted for other cases of environmental monitoring.

Natural hazard early warning, Permafrost, Remote sensing, Wireless sensors
International Snow Science Workshop, ISSW 09
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Beutel, J. (Jan), Gruber, S, Gubler, S. (Stefanie), Hasler, A. (Andreas), Keller, M. (Matthias), Lim, R. (Roman), … Yuc̈el, M. (Mustafa). (2009). The PermaSense remote monitoring infrastructure. In ISSW 09 - International Snow Science Workshop, Proceedings (pp. 187–191).