For our divers research topics we are using conventional measurement methods, combined with new and innovative approaches.

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




Beck, I et al. (2015): Vertical movements of frost mounds in subarctic permafrost regions analyzed using geodetic survey and satellite interferometry, Earth Surface Dynamics, 3, pp. 409 -421, doi:10.5194/esurf-3-409-2015.

Beck, I. et al. (2015): Assessing Permafrost Degradation and Land Cover Changes (1986 - 2009) using Remote Sensing Data over Umiujaq, Sub-Arctic, Québec, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 26 (2), pp. 129 -141.

Boike, J. , et al. (2013): Baseline characteristics of climate, permafrost and land cover from a new permafrost observatory in the Lena River Delta, Siberia (1998-2011), Biogeosciences, 10 (3), pp. 2105-2128.

Muster, S. , et al. (2013): Water Body Distributions Across Scales: A Remote Sensing Based Comparison of Three Arctic Tundra Wetlands, Remote Sensing, 5 (4), pp. 1498-1523.

Muster, S. , et al. (2012): Subpixel heterogeneity of ice-wedges polygonal tundra: a multi-scale analysis of land cover and evapotranspiration in the Lena River Delta, Siberia, Tellus B, 64, 17301.

Muzalevskiy, K. , et al. (2013): The ability to measure the temperature of the frozen active topsoil of the Arctic tundra based on ALOS PALSAR data, Russian Physics Journal, 56 (10/3), pp. 91-94

Elger, K. , et al. (2012): Using ground data from the Global Terrestrial Network of Permafrost (GTN-P) for the Evaluation of the ESA DUE Permafrost remote sensing derived Products Land Surface Temperature and ASCAT Surface State Flag / K. Hinckel (editor), In: Tenth International Conference on Permafrost. Vol. 1: International Contributions, Tenth International Conference on Permafrost (TICOP ), Salekhard, Russia, The Northern Publisher (Severnoye Izdatelstvo), 492 p., ISBN: 978-5-905911-01-9

Heim, B. , et al. (2011): Data User Element DUE Permafrost: a spaceborne permafrost monitoring system, 31st EARSeL Symposium and 35th General Assembly 2011, C25 (A2484), 10 p.

Westermann, S. et al. (2011): Spatial and temporal variations of summer surface temperatures of high-arctic tundra on Svalbard - Implications for MODIS LST based permafrost monitoring, Remote Sensing of Environment, 115 (3), 908 - 922.

Langer M., et al (2010): Spatial and temporal variations of summer surface temperatures of wet polygonal tundra in Siberia - implications for MODIS LST based permafrost monitoring, Remote Sensing of Environment, 114 (9), 2095-2069.


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.



Gisnås, K., et al. (2014): A statistical approach to represent small-scale variability of permafrost temperatures due to snow cover, The Cryosphere, 8, 2063-2074, doi:10.5194/tc-8-2063-2014.

Ekici A., et al. (2014): Simulating high-latitude permafrost regions by the JSBACH terrestrial ecosystem model, Geoscientific Model Development, 7, 631 - 647.

Cresto Aleina, F. , et al. (2013): A stochastic model for the polygonal tundra based on Poisson–Voronoi diagrams, Earth System Dynamics, 4 (2), pp. 187-198.

Wischnewski, K. (2013): Temperature Simulation Model for Small Water Bodies in the Arctic Tundra, Lena River Delta (Siberia, Russia), Master thesis, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

Boike, J. , et al. (2012): Permafrost - physical aspects and carbon cycling, databases and uncertainties / R. Lal , K. Lorenz , R. Hüttl , B. Schneider and J. von Braun (editors), Recarbonization of the Biosphere (Ecosystems and the Global Carbon Cycle), Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London, Springer Book, 545 p.

Boike, J. (2011): Energy and water exchange of permafrost patterned ground - towards a scaling concept, Habil thesis, Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences Ruperto-Carola University Heidelberg, Germany.