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

We work intensively at two Arctic sites, one in Siberia (Lena Delta) and one in Spitsbergen (Ny-Alesund). In an international cooperation the additional sites in Alaska and Canada complement the circumpolar analysis. The Arctic ecosystems range from warm, maritime conditions with low above ground biomass (Spitsbergen), to medium, continental climate with high above ground biomass (North Slope, Alaska) to 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 potentially offset the balance and stability of the Arctic climate system.

In particular, we are focused on:

  • Establishing spatial and temporal linkages between water and energy fluxes at the plot and landscape scales in 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, balloons, kites and drones;
  • Spatially distributed measurements of soil thermal and hydrologic dynamics and micrometeorology;
  • Long term monitoring of meteorological and ground conditions at Arctic field sites (in Siberia, Svalbard and Canada)

Our research is based at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam in cooperation with the Climate Geography at Humboldt University.


Field measurements

Field measurements are a crucial part for our studies and allow us to get detailed information about the physical processes at our test sites. Measurements include energy and carbon fluxes, water balance terms, but also weather conditions as well as soil parameters. There are some instruments installed that are permanently recording – such as the weather stations – more specific or sophisticated measurements are done once or twice a year during field campaigns.

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the approach to monitor the landsurface from 'remote' - meaning without physically touching the object of interest. This can either be done by cameras installed above the ground, cameras transported by airplanes or sensors on satellites circling around the world. In our group we are using the following different methods: Aerial Imaging, Thermal Imaging and Radar.


Modelling plays an important role in permafrost research. With the help of the right modelling tools, the physical processeshappening in the frozen soils can be calculated based on measured input data, such as temperature, precipitation, soil conditions, energy fluxes and more. In our group we are mainly working with hydrologcial models computing the waterbalance terms, as well as energy flux models.



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

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



We conduct several field expedition to our test sites every year to maintain the permanent instruments and do 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, Siberia.

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



Nitzbon, J., Langer, M., Martin, L. C. P., Westermann, S., Schneider von Deimling, T., and Boike, J.: Effects of multi-scale heterogeneity on the simulated evolution of ice-rich permafrost lowlands under a warming climate, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2020.

Nitzbon, J., Westermann, S. , Langer, M., Martin, L. C. P. , Strauss, J., Laboor, S. and Boike, J. (2020): Fast response of cold ice-rich permafrost in northeast Siberia to a warming climate, Nature Communications, 11 (1).

Grünberg, I., Wilcox, E. J., Zwieback, S., Marsh, P., and Boike, J.: Linking tundra vegetation, snow, soil temperature, and permafrost, Biogeosciences Discuss.,, in review, 2020.

Zwieback, S., Boike, J., Marsh, P., and Berg, A. (2020): Debris cover on thaw slumps and its insulative role in a warming climate. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms,


Lembrechts, J. J. et al (2020): SoilTemp: a global database of near‐surface temperature , [Miscellaneous] doi: 10.1111/gcb.15123

Anders, K. , Marx, S. , Boike, J. , Herfort, B. , Wilcox, E. J. , Langer, M. , Marsh, P. and Höfle, B. (2020): Multitemporal terrestrial laser scanning point clouds for thaw subsidence observation at Arctic permafrost monitoring sites , Earth Surface Processes and Landforms . doi: 10.1002/esp.4833

Antonova, S. , Thiel, C. , Höfle, B. , Anders, K. , Helm, V. , Zwieback, S. , Marx, S. and Boike, J. (2019): Estimating tree height from TanDEM‑X data at the northwestern Canadian treeline , Remote Sensing of Environment, 231 . doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111251

Aas, K. S. , Martin, L. , Nitzbon, J. , Langer, M. , Boike, J. , Lee, H. , Berntsen, T. K. and Westermann, S. (2019) Thaw processes in ice-rich permafrost landscapes represented with laterally coupled tiles in a land surface model, The Cryosphere, 13 (2), pp. 591-609. doi:, hdl:10013/epic.2cde5927-8f74-4d49-832e-a0b4e4344d1f

Biskaborn, B. K. , Smith, S. L. , Noetzli, J. , Matthes, H. , Vieira, G. , Streletskiy, D. A. , Schoeneich, P. , Romanovsky, V. E. , Lewkowicz, A. G. , Abramov, A. , Allard, M. , Boike, J. , Cable, W. L. , Christiansen, H. H. , Delaloye, R. , Diekmann, B. , Drozdov, D. , Etzelmüller, B. , Grosse, G. , Guglielmin, M. , Ingeman-Nielsen, T. , Isaksen, K. , Ishikawa, M. , Johansson, M. , Johannsson, H. , Joo, A. , Kaverin, D. , Kholodov, A. , Konstantinov, P. , Kröger, T. , Lambiel, C. , Lanckman, J. P. , Luo, D. , Malkova, G. , Meiklejohn, I. , Moskalenko, N. , Oliva, M. , Phillips, M. , Ramos, M. , Sannel, A. B. K. , Sergeev, D. , Seybold, C. , Skryabin, P. , Vasiliev, A. , Wu, Q. , Yoshikawa, K. , Zheleznyak, M. and Lantuit, H. (2019) Permafrost is warming at a global scale, Nature Communications, 10 (1), pp. 1-11. doi: , hdl:10013/epic.54a153dc-a87e-4c2e-a9cd-35bdccc15cfc

Boike, J. , Nitzbon, J. , Anders, K. , Grigoriev, M. , Bolshiyanov, D. , Langer, M. , Lange, S. , Bornemann, N. , Morgenstern, A. , Schreiber, P. , Wille, C. , Chadburn, S. , Gouttevin, I. , Burke, E. and Kutzbach, L. (2019) A 16-year record (2002–2017) of permafrost, active-layer, and meteorological conditions at the Samoylov Island Arctic permafrost research site, Lena River delta, northern Siberia: an opportunity to validate remote-sensing data and land surface, snow, and permafrost models, Earth System Science Data, 11 (1), pp. 261-299. doi: , hdl:10013/epic.55b0cd61-441d-4b6b-a884-3fb8a03601e2

Holl, D. , Wille, C. , Sachs, T. , Schreiber, P. , Runkle, B. R. K. , Beckebanze, L. , Langer, M. , Boike, J. , Pfeiffer, E. M. , Fedorova, I. , Bolshianov, D. Y. , Grigoriev, M. N. and Kutzbach, L. (2019) A long-term (2002 to 2017) record of closed-path and open-path eddy covariance CO<sub>2</sub> net ecosystem exchange fluxes from the Siberian Arctic, Earth System Science Data, 11 (1), pp. 221-240. doi: , hdl:10013/epic.1df604ac-e67f-4b41-9c5c-b654280aa1ac

Muster, S. , Riley, W. J. , Roth, K. , Langer, M. , Cresto Aleina, F. , Koven, C. D. , Lange, S. , Bartsch, A. , Grosse, G. , Wilson, C. J. , Jones, B. M. and Boike, J. (2019) Size Distributions of Arctic Waterbodies Reveal Consistent Relations in Their Statistical Moments in Space and Time, Frontiers in Earth Science, 7 (5), pp. 1-15. doi: , hdl:10013/epic.1f7fa776-9fe3-49bb-aa98-275275945b53

Zwieback, S. , Westermann, S. , Langer, M. , Boike, J. , Marsh, P. and Berg, A. (2019): Improving Permafrost Modeling by Assimilating Remotely Sensed Soil Moisture , Water Resources Research, 55 . doi: 10.1029/2018WR023247

Nitzbon, J., Langer, M., Westermann, S., Martin, L., Aas, K. S., and Boike, J.: Pathways of ice-wedge degradation in polygonal tundra under different hydrological conditions, The Cryosphere, 13, 1089-1123,, 2019.


Aalstad, K. , Westermann, S. , Schuler, T. V. , Boike, J. and Bertino, L. (2018) Ensemble-based assimilation of fractional snow-covered area satellite retrievals to estimate the snow distribution at Arctic sites , The Cryosphere, 12 (1), pp. 247-270. doi:10.5194/tc-12-247-2018 , hdl:10013/epic.d9e11b5e-fcf7-4f8e-aacc-76edf1c00812

Antonova, S. , Sudhaus, H. , Strozzi, T. , Zwieback, S. , Kääb, A. , Heim, B. , Langer, M. , Bornemann, N. and Boike, J. (2018) Thaw subsidence of a yedoma landscape in northern Siberia, measured in situ and estimated from TerraSAR-X interferometry , Remote Sensing, 10(4) (494). doi:10.3390/rs10040494, hdl:10013/epic.62882e04-5b28-4d72-846c-5476d339af29

Franz, D. , Mammarella, I. , Boike, J. , Kirillin, G. , Vesala, T. , Bornemann, N. , Larmanou, E. , Langer, M. and Sachs, T. (2018) Lake-Atmosphere Heat Flux Dynamics of a Thermokarst Lake in Arctic Siberia, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. doi:10.1029/2017JD027751 , hdl:10013/epic.75ef96ca-a159-462e-bd04-a0dcd1e24712

Kneier, F. , Overduin, P. , Langer, M. , Boike, J. and Grigoriev, M. N. (2018) Borehole temperature reconstructions reveal differences in past surface temperature trends for the permafrost in the Laptev Sea region, Russian Arctic, arktos, 4 (7). doi: , hdl:10013/epic.4efb536e-78fd-4d98-abc5-19300e907e2d

Krinner, G. , Derksen, C. , Essery, R. , Flanner, M. , Hagemann, S. , Clark, M. , Hall, A. , Rott, H. , Brutel-Vuilmet, C. , Kim, H. , Ménard, C. B. , Mudryk, L. , Thackeray, C. , Wang, L. , Arduini, G. , Balsamo, G. , Bartlett, P. , Boike, J. , Boone, A. , Chéruy, F. , Colin, J. , Cuntz, M. , Dai, Y. , Decharme, B. , Derry, J. , Ducharne, A. , Dutra, E. , Fang, X. , Fierz, C. , Ghattas, J. , Gusev, Y. , Haverd, V. , Kontu, A. , Lafaysse, M. , Law, R. , Lawrence, D. , Li, W. , Marke, T. , Marks, D. , Ménégoz, M. , Nasonova, O. , Nitta, T. , Niwano, M. , Pomeroy, J. , Raleigh, M. S. , Schaedler, G. , Semenov, V. , Smirnova, T. G. , Stacke, T. , Strasser, U. , Svenson, S. , Turkov, D. , Wang, T. , Wever, N. , Yuan, H. , Zhou, W. and Zhu, D. (2018) ESM-SnowMIP: assessing snow models and quantifying snow-related climate feedbacks, Geoscientific Model Development, 11 (12), pp. 5027-5049. doi:, hdl:10013/epic.91547151-7815-4731-8140-a858ea7bed8e

Obu, J. , Košutnik, J. , Overduin, P. P. , Boike, J. , Blatnik, M. , Zwieback, S. , Gostinčar, P. and Mihevc, A. (2018) Sorted patterned ground in a karst cave, Ledenica pod Hrušico, Slovenia, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, pp. 1-10. doi:10.1002/ppp.1970 , hdl:10013/epic.bca82e0a-711b-41c8-a9c5-f58d3135dda6

Rößger, N. , Wille, C. , Veh, G. , Boike, J. and Kutzbach, L. (2018) Scaling and balancing methane fluxes in a heterogeneous tundra ecosystem of the Lena River Delta, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2018.06.026 , hdl:10013/epic.bf327927-df35-42f6-abb1-a1caa038e8cf

Zwieback, S. , Kokelj, S. V. , Günther, F. , Boike, J. , Grosse, G. and Hajnsek, I. (2018) Sub-seasonal thaw slump mass wasting is not consistently energy limited at the landscape scale, The Cryosphere, 12 (2), pp. 549-564. doi:10.5194/tc-12-549-2018 , hdl:10013/epic.0965e7c9-defd-4db3-adbc-a2f1ca338337


Abramova, E. , Vishnyakova, I. , Boike, J. , Abramova, A. , Solovyev, G. and Martynov, F. (2017) Structure of freshwater zooplankton communities from tundra waterbodies in the Lena River Delta, Russian Arctic, with a discussion on new records of glacial relict copepods ,Polar Biology, pp. 1-15. doi:10.1007/s00300-017-2087-2 , hdl:10013/epic.50477

Barrio, I. C. , Lindén, E. , Te Beest, M. , Olofsson, J. , Rocha, A. , Soininen, E. M. , Alatalo, J. M. , Andersson, T. , Asmus, A. , Boike, J. , Bråthen, K. A. , Bryant, J. P. , Buchwal, A. , Bueno, C. G. , Christie, K. S. , Denisova, Y. V. , Egelkraut, D. , Ehrich, D. , Fishback, L. , Forbes, B. C. , Gartzia, M. , Grogan, P. , Hallinger, M. , Heijmans, M. M. P. D. , Hik, D. S. , Hofgaard, A. , Holmgren, M. , Høye, T. T. , Huebner, D. C. , Jónsdóttir, I. S. , Kaarlejärvi, E. , Kumpula, T. , Lange, C. Y. M. J. G. , Lange, J. , Lévesque, E. , Limpens, J. , Macias-Fauria, M. , Myers-Smith, I. , van Nieukerken, E. J. , Normand, S. , Post, E. S. , Schmidt, N. M. , Sitters, J. , Skoracka, A. , Sokolov, A. , Sokolova, N. , Speed, J. D. M. , Street, L. E. , Sundqvist, M. K. , Suominen, O. , Tananaev, N. , Tremblay, J. P. , Urbanowicz, C. , Uvarov, S. A. , Watts, D. , Wilmking, M. , Wookey, P. A. , Zimmermann, H. H. , Zverev, V. and Kozlov, M. V. (2017) Background invertebrate herbivory on dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa-nana complex) increases with temperature and precipitation across the tundra biome ,Polar Biology, 40 (11), pp. 2265-2278. doi:10.1007/s00300-017-2139-7 , hdl:10013/epic.728a3326-bda4-49f4-ad90-acc8c0452f39

Beermann, F. , Langer, M. , Wetterich, S. , Strauss, J. , Boike, J. , Fiencke, C. , Schirrmeister, L. , Pfeiffer, E. M. and Kutzbach, L. (2017) Permafrost Thaw and Liberation of Inorganic Nitrogen in Eastern Siberia ,Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. doi:10.1002/ppp.1958 , hdl:10013/epic.51702

Muster, S. , Roth, K. , Langer, M. , Lange, S. , Cresto Aleina, F. , Bartsch, A. , Morgenstern, A. , Grosse, G. , Jones, B. , Sannel, A. K. , Sjöberg, Y. , Günther, F. , Andresen, C. , Veremeeva, A. , Lindgren R., P. , Bouchard, F. , Lara, M. J. , Fortier, D. , Charbonneau, S. , Virtanen, T. A. , Hugelius, G. , Palmtag, J. , Siewert, M. B. , Riley, W. J. , Koven, C. D. and Boike, J. (2017) PeRL: a circum-Arctic Permafrost Region Pond and Lake database, Earth System Science Data, 9 , pp. 317-348. doi:10.5194/essd-9-317-2017 , hdl:10013/epic.51288

Westermann, S. , Peter, M. , Langer, M. , Schwamborn, G. , Schirrmeister, L. , Etzelmüller, B. and Boike, J. (2017) Transient modeling of the ground thermal conditions using satellite data in the Lena River delta, Siberia, The Cryosphere, 11 , pp. 1441-1463. doi:10.5194/tc-11-1441-2017 , hdl:10013/epic.51289

Yao, Y. , Liang, S. , Li, X. , Zhang, Y. , Chen, J. , Jia, K. , Zhang, X. , Fisher, J. B. , Wang, X. , Zhang, L. , Xu, J. , Shao, C. , Posse, G. , Li, Y. , Magliulo, V. , Varlagin, A. , Moors, E. J. , Boike, J. , Macfarlane, C. , Kato, T. , Buchmann, N. , Billesbach, D. , Beringer, J. , Wolf, S. , Papuga, S. A. , Wohlfahrt, G. , Montagnani, L. , Ardö, J. , Paul-Limoges, E. , Emmel, C. , Hörtnagl, L. , Sachs, T. , Gruening, C. , Gioli, B. , López-Ballesteros, A. , Steinbrecher, R. and Gielen, B. (2017) Estimation of high-resolution terrestrial evapotranspiration from Landsat data using a simple Taylor skill fusion method, Journal of Hydrology, 553 , pp. 508-526. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.08.013 , hdl:10013/epic.51716



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

Projects and partners

Currently we are working on the following projects:

We cooperate with scientists around the world, including:

  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Cold Regions Research Centre, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • University of Oslo, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks · Geophysical Institute, USA
  • Melnikov Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
  • Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Russia