The most important permafrost occurrences in Germany are found in the region of the Zugspitze (2962 m a.s.l.), Germany’s highest mountain. The summit crest is very steep and considerable infrastructure is built on the top. During construction massive ice and frozen sediments were found. Possible stability problems as a result of permafrost degradation can have severe consequences. In August 2007, a borehole was drilled through the crest for long-term monitoring of permafrost conditions. The temperature conditions in the crest were modeled in a preparatory study. Results show permafrost with temperatures down to -3 °C on the northern side and in parts of the southern side. The permafrost boundary is within the crest and nearly vertical in the upper part. Temperatures measured in the borehole show somewhat colder temperatures, but generally agree well with the model results, especially when the simulation includes transient effects and latent heat. Monitoring and modeling studies of the permafrost on the Zugspitze are being continued and extended in the scope of international projects.

Bedrock permafrost, Borehole temperatures, Three-dimensional modeling, Zugspitze
Geographica Helvetica
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Nötzli, J. (Jeannette), Gruber, S, & von Poschinger, A. (Andreas). (2010). Modeling and measurement of permafrost temperatures in the summit crest of the Zugspitze, Germany Modélisation et mesures des températures du pergélisol au sommet du Zugspitze (Allemagne) Modellierung und Messung von Permafrosttemperaturen im Gipfelgrat der Zugspitze, Deutschland. Geographica Helvetica, 65(2), 113–123. doi:10.5194/gh-65-113-2010