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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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Permasense j an beutel stephan gruber workshop on methods for monitoring in permafrost environment

PERMASENSEJan Beutel, Stephan GruberWorkshop on methods for monitoring in permafrost environment



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 deployment sites

Established: deployment sites

A. Hasler

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


Wireless technology for a laboratory on the mountain

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

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