Whereas specialists have been studying this phenomenon for years, it is only now that society in general is becoming aware of its importance.
At an altitude of approx. 2400m on shaded slopes and 2800m on sunny slopes, in the National Park the ground remains frozen all year round. Only the surface layers, to a depth of 1 to 2 metres, thaw during the summer. Permafrost cannot be seen from the surface so that often one is not even aware of it.
In connection with global warming, greater importance is now being attached to the permafrost phenomenon. The stability of slopes where permafrost is beginning to thaw can no longer be guaranteed, thereby posing a threat of mudslides to zones of habitation. For this reason, certain villages, for instance the Upper Engadine resort of Pontresina, have built special dams in order to minimise this danger.
Marmots seem to know where the permafrost begins and never build their winter burrows there. Such a location would be unsuitable, as temperatures in the winter burrow should never drop below freezing.