permasense j an beutel stephan gruber workshop on methods for monitoring in permafrost environment
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PERMASENSE J an Beutel, Stephan Gruber Workshop on methods for monitoring in permafrost environment. PermaSense. Consortium of several projects, start in 2006 Multiple disciplines (geo-science, engineering) Fundamental as well as applied research

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Consortium of several projects, start in 2006

Multiple disciplines (geo-science, engineering)

Fundamental as well as applied research

More than 20 people, 8 PhD students

competence in outdoor sensing
Competence in outdoor sensing
  • Wireless systems, low-latency data transmission
  • Customized sensors
  • Ruggedized equipment
  • Data management
  • Planning, installing, operating (years) large deployments
established rock ice temperature
Established: rock/ice temperature

A. Hasler

Aim: Understand temperatures in heterogeneous rock and ice

Measurements at several depths

Two-minute interval, autonomous for several years

Survive, buffer and flush periods without connectivity

results rock ice temperatures
Results: rock/ice temperatures

Hasler, A., Gruber, S. & Haeberli, W. (in review) Temperature variability and thermal offset in steep alpine rock and ice faces, The Cryosphere

established crack dilatation
Established: crack dilatation

Aim: To understand temperature/ice-conditioned rock kinematics

Temperature-compensated, commercial instrument

Auxiliary measurements (temperature, additional axes,…)

Two-minute interval, autonomous for several years

Protection against snow-load and rock fall

results rock kinematics
Results: rock kinematics


Hasler, A., Gruber, S. & Beutel, J. (in revision) Kinematics of steep bedrock permafrost, Journal of Geophysical Research.

new acoustic emissions
New: acoustic emissions

Aim: To understand the importance that ice-segregation, volume expansion and thermal cycling have on rock damage in natural conditions – to infer instability zones.

  • Continuous measurement, transmission of event statistics
  • Storage of raw traces
  • Auxiliary data (temperature, moisture, camera, … )

L. Girard

new slope movement
New: slope movement

S. Endrizzi / P. Limpach

Aim: To understand cryosphere-related slope movements based on their temporal patterns of acceleration and deceleration.

  • Continuous GPS (years)
  • Daily fix (accuracy: few mm)
  • Auxiliary data (2 axis inclination, camera, temperatures, … )
  • Several locations

V. Wirz

low power wireless sensors
Low-power wireless sensors

Contention window

Data transfer


Application processing window



slot 2

slot k

slot 1

  • Shockfish TinyNode584
    • MSP430, 16-bit, 8MHz, 10k SRAM, 48k Flash
    • LP Radio: XE1205 @ 868 MHz
  • Sensor interface board
    • 1 GB storage
  • 3-year life-time
  • Dozer - ultra low-power data gathering system
    • Multi-hop, beacon based, 1-hop synchronized TDMA
    • Optimized for ultra-low duty cycles
    • 0.167% duty-cycle, 0.032mA

[Burri – IPSN2007]

ruggedized for alpine extremes
Ruggedized for Alpine extremes

[Beutel – IPSN2010]

field site support
Field site support

Goal: On-site data collection

  • Base station
    • Embedded Linux
    • Solar power system
    • Redundant connectivity
    • Local data buffer
    • Database synchronization
  • Cameras
    • PTZ webcam
    • High resolution imaging (D-SLR)
  • Weather station
  • Remote monitoring and control
wlan long haul c ommunication
WLAN long-haul communication
  • Data access from weather radar on Klein Matterhorn (P. Burlando, ETHZ)
  • Leased fiber/DSL from Zermatt Bergbahnen AG
  • Commercial components (Mikrotik)
  • Weatherproofed
online data m anagement
Online data management

Web export

Import from field








Sensor type

Validity period

  • Global Sensor Network (GSN)
    • Data streaming framework from EPFL (K. Aberer)
    • Organized in “virtual sensors”, i.e. data types/semantics
    • Hierarchies and concatenation of virtual sensors enable on-line processing
    • Dual architecture translates data from machine representation to SI values, adds metadata
value of online data

Revision / Extension June 2010

Installation & Service 2008

Service 2009

Value of online data

Duplicate Data

[Keller – IPSN2011]

  • Data quality/integrity
    • Inconsistencies
    • Duplicates
    • Gaps
    • Sporadic/systematic
    • Long-term stability
  • Equipment health
  • Future: Early warning…

ETH Zurich

  • Computer Engineering and Networks Lab
  • Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry
  • University of Zurich
  • Department of Geography
  • University of Basel
  • Computer Science Department

Thank you for your attention

Main contributors:

J. Beutel, B. Buchli, A. Geiger, L. Girard, S. Gruber, T. Gsell, S. Gubler, A. Hasler, J. Hunziker, M. Keller, R. Lim, T. Strozzi, F. Sutton, I. Talzi, L. Thiele, C. Tschudin, C. Walser, V. Wirz, M. Yuecel, F. Neyer, P. Limpach, Z. Su, C. Plessl, S. Schoenborn, D. VonderMuehll, K. Aberer