We observe and quantify the modern and past state of terrestrial and submarine permafrost and predict its future transformation in a changing climate. We measure long-term hydroclimate and ground temperatures, study water and energy balance, use remote sensing to quantify thaw, and model past, current, and future permafrost. We employ geophysics, quantify fluxes from permafrost thaw and coastal erosion, and determine greenhouse gas and biogeochemical fluxes. We reconstruct periglacial landscape dynamics over the past 200,000 years, studying ecosystem dynamics and the biogeochemical cycles in the terrestrial Arctic using multiproxy analyses of permafrost and lacustrine records.

Our Permafrost Section staff has diverse expertise and uses a wide range of methods.

Our section, now active in researching permafrost-affected landscapes since 1992, is focusing on Arctic and Subarctic Regions in Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and Spitzbergen. Since 1998, we conduct regular geoscientific and ecological studies during the Russian-German ‘Lena’ field expeditions at the research station Samoylov Island in the Lena River Delta of Northeast Siberia. These studies include long-term observations of permafrost state, energy and water balances, and trace gas fluxes.

Siberian permafrost ecosystems in transition - over 25 years of joint research

Siberian permafrost and the ecosystems there are of global importance due to their interaction with the climate. For more than 25 years we have been researching the interrelationships between permafrost, biodiversity and climate in close and friendly cooperation. With joint Arctic expeditions, jointly operated observatories and laboratories, and a lively exchange of young scientists, we provide an internationally unique and recognised research contribution to one of the major challenges facing society.