Icepolygones (Photo: Konstanze Piel)

Our main objective is to elucidate the two major cycles (water and heat) in the complex Arctic landscape system at scales from metres to kilometres (meso-scale). The goal is to close the gap between our small-scale process understanding and the large scale that is accessible to satellite remote sensing.

We work intensively at two Arctic sites in Siberia (Lena Delta) and Spitsbergen (Ny-Alesund). Through international cooperation, additional sites in Alaska and Canada complement the circumpolar analysis. The Arctic ecosystems range from warm, maritime conditions with low above ground biomass (Spitsbergen), over medium, continental climate with high above ground biomass (North Slope, Alaska) towards extreme cold, dry but ice rich permafrost conditions with medium biomass (Lena Delta, Siberia).

By studying these different locations, we hope to gain an understanding of how changes in annual and inter-annual heat and water processes and potentially offset the balance and stability of the Arctic climate system.

In particular, we focus on:

  • Establishing spatial and temporal linkages between water and energy fluxes at the plot and landscape scales of different permafrost affected ecosystems;
  • Developing a process-oriented model for the typical Arctic permafrost system to predict subsurface processes (soil water and heat);
  • Use of innovative aerial imaging methods, including telescopic rods, ballons, kites and drones;
  • Instrumentation on soil thermal and hydrologic dynamic and micrometeorology with spatially distributed measurements; and
  • Long term monitoring of data.

The research is based at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam and networked with the Faculty of Chemistry and Geosciences and Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg.



Antonova, S. , Duguay, C. , Kääb, A. , Heim, B. , Langer, M. , Westermann, S. and Boike, J. (2016)
Monitoring Bedfast Ice and Ice Phenology in Lakes of the Lena River Delta Using TerraSAR-X Backscatter and Coherence Time Series, Remote Sensing,8 (11), p. 903 . doi:10.3390/rs8110903 , hdl:10013/epic.48963

Antonova, S. , Kääb, A. , Heim, B. , Langer, M. and Boike, J. (2016)
Spatio-temporal variability of X-band radar backscatter and coherence over the Lena River Delta, Siberia , Remote Sensing of Environment, 182 , pp. 169-191 . doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.05.003 , hdl:10013/epic.47995

Boike, J. , Grau, T. , Heim, B. , Günther, F. , Langer, M. , Muster, S. ,Gouttevin, I. and Lange, S. (2016)
Satellite-derived changes in the permafrost landscape of central Yakutia, 2000–2011: Wetting, drying, and fires , Global and Planetary Change, 139 , pp. 116-127 . doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.01.001 , hdl:10013/epic.46867

Liljedahl, A. K. , Boike, J. , Daanen, R. P. , Fedorov, A. N. , Frost, G. V. , Grosse, G. , Hinzman, L. D. , Iijma, Y. , Jorgenson, J. C. , Matveyeva, N. , Necsoiu, M. , Raynolds, M. K. , Romanovsky, V. E. , Schulla, J. , Tape, K. D. , Walker, D. A. , Wilson, C. J. , Yabuki, H. and Zona, D. (2016)
Pan-Arctic ice-wedge degradation in warming permafrost and its influence on tundra hydrology , Nature Geoscience . doi:10.1038/ngeo2674 , hdl:10013/epic.47421

López-Moreno, J. , Boike, J. , Sanchez-Lorenzo, A. and Pomeroy, J. (2016)
Impact of climate warming on snow processes in Ny-Ålesund, a polar maritime site at Svalbard , Global and Planetary Change, 146 , pp. 10-21 . doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.09.006 , hdl:10013/epic.48647

Zwieback, S. , Liu, X. , Antonova, S. , Heim, B. , Bartsch, A. , Boike, J. and Hajnsek, I. (2016)
A Statistical Test of Phase Closure to Detect Influences on DInSAR Deformation Estimates Besides Displacements and Decorrelation Noise: Two Case Studies in High-Latitude Regions , IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 54 (9), pp. 5588-5601 . doi:10.1109/TGRS.2016.2569435 , hdl:10013/epic.48652


Aas, K. S. , Berntsen, T. K. , Boike, J. , Etzelmüller, B. , Kristjánsson, J. E. , Maturilli, M. , Schuler, T. V. , Stordal, F. and Westermann, S. (2015)
A Comparison between Simulated and Observed Surface Energy Balance at the Svalbard Archipelago , Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 54 (5), pp. 1102-1119 . doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0080.1 , hdl:10013/epic.45518

Beck, I. , Ludwig, R. , Bernier, M. , Lévesque, E. and Boike, J. (2015)
Assessing Permafrost Degradation and Land Cover Changes (1986-2009) using Remote Sensing Data over Umiujaq, Sub-Arctic Québec , Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, n/a-n/a . doi:10.1002/ppp.1839 , hdl:10013/epic.45298

Boike, J. , Georgi, C. , Kirilin, G. , Muster, S. , Abramova, K. , Fedorova, I. , Chetverova, A. , Grigoriev, M. , Bornemann, N. and Langer, M. (2015)
Thermal processes of thermokarst lakes in the continuous permafrost zone of northern Siberia – observations and modeling (Lena River Delta, Siberia) , Biogeosciences, 12 (20), pp. 5941-5965 . doi:10.5194/bg-12-5941-2015 , hdl:10013/epic.46121

Chadburn, S. E. , Burke, E. J. , Essery, R. L. H. , Boike, J. , Langer, M. , Heikenfeld, M. , Cox, P. M. and Friedlingstein, P. (2015)
Impact of model developments on present and future simulations of permafrost in a global land-surface model , The Cryosphere, 9 (4), pp. 1505-1521 . doi:10.5194/tc-9-1505-2015 , hdl:10013/epic.46057

Ekici, A. , Chadburn, S. , Chaudhary, N. , Hajdu, L. H. , Marmy, A. , Peng, S. , Boike, J. , Burke, E. , Friend, A. D. , Hauck, C. , Krinner, G. , Langer, M. , Miller, P. A. and Beer, C. (2015)
Site-level model intercomparison of high latitude and high altitude soil thermal dynamics in tundra and barren landscapes , The Cryosphere, 9 (4), pp. 1343-1361 . doi:10.5194/tc-9-1343-2015 , hdl:10013/epic.46058

Fedorova, I. , Chetverova, A. , Bolshiyanov, D. , Makarov, A. , Boike, J. , Heim, B. , Morgenstern, A. , Overduin, P. P. , Wegner, C. , Kashina, V. , Eulenburg, A. , Dobrotina, E. and Sidorina, I. (2015)
Lena Delta hydrology and geochemistry: long-term hydrological data and recent field observations , Biogeosciences, 12 (2), pp. 345-363 . doi:10.5194/bg-12-345-2015 , hdl:10013/epic.44870

Langer, M. , Westermann, S. , Walter Anthony, K. M. , Wischnewski, K. and Boike, J. (2015)
Frozen ponds: production and storage of methane during the Arctic winter in a lowland tundra landscape in northern Siberia, Lena River delta , Biogeosciences, 12 (4), pp. 977-990 . doi:10.5194/bg-12-977-2015 , hdl:10013/epic.45219

Muster, S. , Langer, M. , Abnizova, A. , Young, K. and Boike, J. (2015)
Spatio-temporal sensitivity of MODIS land surface temperature anomalies indicates high potential for large-scale land cover change detection in Arctic permafrost landscapes , Remote Sensing of Environment, 168 , pp. 1-12 . doi:10.1016/j.rse.2015.06.017 , hdl:10013/epic.45789


To tackle our research questions, we are using different methods.

This includes conventional measurements, as well as innovative and new approaches. Detailed information about the used methods can be found here:


projects and partners

Currently we are working on the following projects:

Cooperations are between us and:


Our team consists of researchers, engineers and students. Together we are working at different research topics.

Some information about recent and finished projects, as well as dissertations, master- and bachelor thesis can be found here.



Several field expedition are conducted every year in our test sites for our field measurements.

More information about our last expeditions as well as pictures can be found here:


field sites and observatories

Depending on our partners and the research project our group is working at different places in the Arctic.

Since many years we are responsible for research stations on Svalbard, Norway and in the Lena Delta, Sibiria.

The exact location, pictures and more information about the sites can be found here.


outreach and education

Our team is actively involved in many education and outreach activities, to make the research results transparent and easy to understand for everybody.

Therfore we go at schools or supporting the 'Kinderuniversität'.

Other examples are the participation in the fairplanet discussion about frozen ground, the contribution to the article: 'Siberia's melting permafrost fuels climate change' or the publication of the article 'In the Far North. When the Climate Desert Thaws' by Inga Beck in the research magazine Ruperto Carola of the University of Heidelberg.

Please find more about our recent activities at 'news'.