Water cycle

Water is essential to our lives. Japan benefits from a humid climate and a wealth of precipitation that cultivates mountains and forests and provides stable water resources. However, intensive runoff generated by heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt has induced significant flooding and geological hazards that threaten lives. Accordingly, understanding water cycles is essential to avoiding hazards while maintaining abundant water resources.
Material cycles

It is important to understand material cycles associated with water cycles. The discharge of sediment accompanied by landslides in source areas induces problems in sedimentary systems, such as river-bed fluctuations and sedimentation overloading in dams. In addition, excessive levels of nitrates and anthropogenic chemicals transported by rivers may lead to human health problems.
Effects of global warming

Climate change, including ongoing global warming, eventually affects water and material cycles. The fourth report of the IPCC recently suggested that there have been increases in the amount of summer rainfall and frequency of intensive rainfall, which may lead to frequent flooding and sediment hazards. Moreover, rising temperature may increase snowmelt runoff on mountains, thereby accelerating erosion of mountain slopes and discharge of water.
Significance of research in the Japanese Alps

The Japanese Alps and surrounding regions, which are the target of our program, are sensitive to environmental changes similar to those that occur in circumpolar regions. Their complicated geomorphologic, geologic and climatic settings provide a variety of research subjects. Accordingly, environmental research projects in the Japanese Alps will help identify countermeasures to global warming.

Scientists in hydrology, geomorphology, erosion control, snow hydrology, sanitary engineering and other related academic disciplines cooperate to predict the effects of global warming on water and material cycles.

Research in progress

Our group consists of scientists from a variety of academic disciplines, and their targets extend over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This permits synthetic and interdisciplinary evaluation of environmental problems in mountainous areas. A portion of our interdisciplinary activities presented in a scientific session entitled ‘Environmental changes in the Japanese Alps region’, held during the Japan Geoscience Union meeting on 20th May 2012, are listed below. The session was proposed and operated by JALPS.

Recent variation of snow as a water resource in the Japanese Alps

SUZUKI, Keisuke

Inter-annual variation of the timing of snowmelt runoff in the Japanese Alps region

YAMANAKA, Tsutomu, WAKIYAMA, Yoshifumi, SUZUKI, Keisuke

Spatial-temporal variations in isotopic composition of precipitation over the Japan Alps area

WAKIYAMA, Yoshifumi, MAKINO, Yuki, YAMANAKA, Tsutomu, SUZUKI, Keisuke

Monitoring rockwall erosion and soil transport in an alpine area, Southern Japanese Alps

MATSUOKA, Norikazu, NISHII, Ryoko, IKEDA, Atsushi

Denudation rate of a large landslide in the Japanese Alps

NISHII, Ryoko, IMAIZUMI Fumitoshi, MURAKAMI, Wataru, DAIMARU Hiromu, MIYAMAE Takashi, OGAWA Yasuhiro

Geo-environmental monitoring on post-fire alpine slopes of Mount Shirouma-dake, northern Japanese Alps

SASAKI, Akihiko, KARIYA, Yoshihiko, IKEDA, Atsushi, SUZUKI, Keisuke

Permafrost monitoring and mapping on Mt. Fuji


Ground thermal conditions around an alpine-subalpine transition

IKEDA, Atsushi, TANAKA, Kenta, KOBAYASHI Hajime

Effects of roots on slope stability in mountain area

IMAIZUMI, Fumitoshi, SUWA, Yutaka

Spatial distribution of chemical components in snow layers at mountainous area, central Japan

KARIYAMA, Hiroaki, SUZUKI Keisuke

Changing of snow chemistry in the Japanese Alps

SUZUKI, Daichi, KURAMOTO Takayuki, SASAKI Akihiko, SUZUKI Keisuke

Spatial distribution of chemical components in fresh snow at the Japanese Alps

KURAMOTO, Takayuki, SUZUKI Daichi, SASAKI Akihiko, SUZUKI Keisuke

The regional and chemical characteristics of spring water in Kamikochi, the Japanese Alps

KURAMOTO, Takayuki, SASAKI Akihiko, SUZUKI Keisuke

Mapping of stable isotopes in precipitation over the Japan Alps area and its verification

MAKINO, Yuki, WAKIYAMA, Yoshifumi, YAMANAKA, Tsutomu, SUZUKI, Keisuke

Estimation of catchment transit time in Fuji River Basin by using an improved lumped Model

MA, Wenchao, YAMANAKA, Tsutomu, WAKIYAMA, Yoshifumi, MAKINO, Yuki

Snow depth measurement using kinematic GPS on Karasawa cirque, Japanese Northern Alps

SASAKI, Akihiko, MAKI Takuto, SUZUKI Keisuke

The names of our group members are underlined.

Future plans

Research focusing on altitudes

The Japanese Alps have a wide range of climate zones, ranging from periglacial to temperate, because they have large altitudinal variations within short distances. Fieldwork and analysis focusing on altitudinal variations also allows us to assess temporal variations in water and material cycles. The expected outcomes include atmospheric and ground-thermal lapse rates, and the correlation between elevation and water stable isotope and climatic controls on sediment discharge. Therefore, we continue to update monitoring systems and obtain long-term data.

We also promote the following tasks:

(1) Sharing common data pertaining to meteorology, water chemistry and discharge
(2) Establishing a network for monitoring of snow
(3) Establishing a network for monitoring of water chemistry

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Following articles have been published by our group.

Ikeda, A. and Iwahana, G. (2010): Thawing processes of frozen ground on the summit of Mt. Fuji: A preliminary assessment of long-term variations of permafrost. Journal of Geography (Chigaku Zasshi), 119, 917-923. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Iwahana, G., Ikeda, A., Fukui, K., Saito, K., Sueyoshi, T., Harada, K. and Sawada, Y. (2011): Monitoring of 3m-profiles of ground temperature on the summit area of Mt. Fuji (2008-2010) : Toward elucidation of permafrost occurrence and its long-term change. Journal of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice (Seppyo),73, 119-131. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Ikeda, A. and Nishii, R. (2011): Radiocarbon dates for rock-glaciers around Mt. Mibudake, southern Japanese Alps. The Quaternary Research (Daiyonki Kenkyu), 50, 309-317. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Ikeda, A., Iwahana, G. and Sueyoshi, T. (2012): Year-round monitoring of shallow ground temperatures at high altitudes of Mt. Fuji with a critical discussion on the popular belief of rapid permafrost degradation.Journal of Geography (Chigaku Zasshi), 121, 306-331. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Imaizumi, F. and Miyamaoto, K. (2011): Non-dimensional parameters controlling occurrence and characteristic of landslides that provide sediment for debris flow development. in Proceedings of 5th International Conference on Debris-Flow Hazards Mitigation: Mechanics, Prediction and Assessment, 101-106.

Imaizumi, F. and Ueji, Y. (2012): Soil movement in artificial forests located in steep mountain area and its countermeasures using thinned woods. Journal of the Japanese Forest Society (Shinrin Gakkaishi), 94(1), 24-30. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Matsuda, S., Miyamoto, K. and Imaizumi, F. (2012): The easy measurement method of sediment yield by laser distance meter. Journal of the Japan Society of Erosion Control Engineering (Shin Sabo), 64(6), 43-46. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Tsuchiya, S., and Imaizumi, F. (2010): Large sediment movement caused by the catastrophic Ohya-kuzure landslide. Journal of Disaster Science, 5(3), 257-263.

Kobayashi, H., Inoue, S. and Gyokusen, K. (2010): Spatial and temporal variations in the photosynthesis-nitrogen relationship in a Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica D. Don) canopy. Photosynthetica, 48, 249-256.

Kobayashi, H. (2010): Effect of thinning on carbon dioxide absorption in a Cryptomeria japonica canopy: valuation using canopy photosynthesis model. Bulletin Shinshu University Alpine Field Center, 8, 77-80. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Kobayashi, H., Inoue, S. and Gyokusen, K. (2012): Photosynthesis-nitrogen relationship in a Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) canopy: a comparison with Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Photosynthetica, 50, 317-320.

Hosokawa, N., Ito, D., Kobayashi, H. and Hirai, K. (2012): Annual change of soil nitrogen mineralization in a young Hinoki cypress stand (Chamaecyparis obtusa) at middle and lower slope positions. Bulletin Shinshu University Alpine Field Center, 10, 109-114. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Kawatani, S., Kobayashi, H. and Seino, T. (2012): Crown architecture of Chamaecyparis obtusa and C. pisifera saplings growing on a closed forest floor. Bulletin Shinshu University Alpine Field Center, 10, 85-90. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Matsuoka, N. (2011): Climate and material controls on periglacial processes: Toward improving periglacial climate indicators. Quaternary Research, 75(2), 356-365. .

Miyabara, Y., Asai, K. and Yamamoto, M. (2011): Determination of chlorofluorocarbons in lake waters of Japan. Japanese Journal of Limnology (Rikusui Gakkaishi), 72(1), 41-55. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Ishimota, M. Tanaka, K., Yamashita, T., Tsunoda, S. and Miyabara, Y. (2010): Seasonal variation and distribution of herbicides in Lake Suwa. Journal of Environmental Chemistry (Kankyo Kagaku) 20(3), 241-248. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Nishii, R. and Matsuoka, N. (2012): Kinematics of an alpine retrogressive rockslide in the Japanese Alps.Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 37, 1641-1650.

Nishii, R. and Matsuoka, N. (2012): Monitoring of a retrogressive rockslide in an alpine area : a case of Aresawa rockslide, Akaishi Range. Journal of the Japan Society of Erosion Control Engineering (Shin Sabo),64(5), 61-64. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Nishii, R. and Matsuoka, N. (2010): Monitoring rapid head scarp movement in an alpine rockslide.Engineering Geology, 115, 49-57.

Suzuki, K., Ikeda, A., Kaneko, Y., Suzuki, D. and Maki, T. (2011): Estimation of winter precipitation at a mountainous site by snow chemical analysis. Journal of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice (Seppyo),73(5), 281-294. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Suzuki, K. and Sasaki, A. (2012): Meteorological observation in Shiga highlands. Bulletin of Institute of Natural Education in Shiga Heights, 49, 10-13. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Suzuki, K. (2012): Snow hydrological study in the mountainous area and associated problem of meteorological observation. Journal of Japanese Association of Hydrological Sciences (Suimon Mizushigen Gakkaishi), 42, 109-118. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Suzuki, K., Yokoyama, K. and Ichiyanagi, H. (2012): Chemical survey of the snowpack in central Japan.Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 30, 25-32.

Suzuki, K. (2012): Snow chemistry in the seasonal snow region. Low Temperature Science, 70, 119-129. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Suzuki, K. (2011): Effects of global warming on climate conditions in the Japanese Alps region. in Planet earth 2011- global warming challenges and opportunities for policy and practice, edited by Carayannis, E. G., Intech, Croatia, 73-88.

Ishii, Y. and Suzuki, K. (2011): Regional characteristics of variation of snowfall in Japan. Journal of Japanese Association of Hydrological Sciences (Suimon Mizushigen Gakkaishi), 41, 27-37.

Tanaka, M. and Suzuki, K. (2010): Winter precipitation chemistry at a high elevation site of Japan Northern Alps. Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 28, 17-26.

Yamanaka, T., Wakiyama, Y. and Suzuki, K. (2012): Is snowmelt runoff timing in the Japanese Alps region shifting toward earlier in the year? Hydrological Research Letters, 6, 87-91.

Wakasa, S., Nishimura, S., Shimizu, H. and Matsukura, Y. (2012): Does lightning destroy rocks?: Results from a laboratory lightning experiment using an impulse high-current generator. Geomorphology, 161-162, 110-114.

Updated on 2012.12.28.