Press release

International Honour for Permafrost Research in Potsdam - The International Permafrost Association elects Prof. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten as its New President

[22. July 2008] 

The head of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, Prof. Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, is the new president of the International Permafrost Association IPA. His appointment took place at the 9th International Conference on Permafrost in Fairbanks, Alaska. Prof. Hubberten will lead the International Permafrost Association for the next four years. During his term in office he will coordinate, among other things, the analysis of the scientific results of the International Polar Year.


“In these times of global warming, research on permafrost gains in importance”, explains Hubberten. Permanently frozen areas of the polar region and higher latitudes, which make up about 25% of the earth's surface, are called permafrost. “We have to expect dramatic changes to the ecosystem and the infrastructure of the respective region in the case of the thawing of the permafrost soils”, continues the researcher from Potsdam. Heavy soil erosions of the coastal regions as well as the release of huge amounts of carbon, greenhouse gases and freshwater, frozen in the extensive permafrost regions of Siberia and North America, could affect global water and carbon cycles.


“The appointment as president of the IPA is a special honour”, says the delighted Hubberten, “but it appreciates in particular the outstanding results which our team has produced for the research on permafrost during the last years.” Potsdam's researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute examine among other things the effects of soil erosion, emission of greenhouse gases in tundra regions, material and energy flow in the permafrost as well as the climate and environmental history of Siberian permafrost regions.


Prof. Hubberten was appointed head of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute in 1992, and he built up a permafrost research team which is today held in internationally high esteem. He participated in more than 20 expeditions into the Arctic and Antarctic and contributed with his research papers to a better understanding of the processes in permafrost soils and in marine gas hydrates. Hubberten is the first IPA president ever elected from a country not bordering on the Arctic.


The IPA was founded in 1983 with the aim to spread knowledge on permafrost and to support the cooperation between researchers as well as national and international organisations working on permafrost. The IPA is governed by an executive committee and a scientific council and representatives from the 28 member states.

More information:


Notes for Editors:

Your contact person at the Alfred Wegener Institute is Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten (phone: +49 331 288-2100; email: Your contact person in the public relations departement is Dr. Ude Cieluch (phone: +49 471 4831-2008; email:


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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.