Project "Permafrost Change"

For most people, permafrost is a distant phenomenon that seems to have little to do with their own lives, making it hard for them to relate to. With the help of the resources provided by the Ralf Dahrendorf Prize, we will overcome that distance by showing interested members of the general public the broad landmasses that are home to permafrost soils, and the tremendous quantities of carbon they store. To do so, we will use a temporary exhibit format and workshops where people have the chance to see, hear, touch and smell permafrost, thanks to original archaeological artefacts from the Ice Age and hands-on permafrost experimentation boxes. More over visitors can use a 3D visor to immerse themselves in a virtual permafrost world. Lastly, ‘before-and-after’ lenticular images, together with video and audio recordings from expeditions to the Arctic, will help illustrate the thawing of the permafrost, and the fieldwork involved in investigating it.

In May 2019, the ERC PETA-CARB Project was honored with the Ralf-Dahrendorf Prize awarded by the Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Supported by the award, the new project “Permafrost Change” started in January 2020 led by Dr. Josefine Lenz. The aim of the outreach project is to communicate permafrost and changes by a warmer climate to the public.

recent activities

14 Januar 2020

students of the Internat. Lomonossow School Berlin @ AWI Potsdam (Presentation & lab tour)

7 April 2020

WWF 2°Campus @ AWI Potsdam (Presentation & live demonstration of experiments)

This year’s School Academy of WWF was spontaneously scheduled online, with contributions from AWI. Josefine presented „Frozen Worlds – About visible and invisible Changes in the Arctic“ from her „kitchen office“. Including two live experiments which demonstrated what happens when ice is melting in water and in the ground, she aimed at bringing the topic of permafrost change closer to the students.

Besides 20 WWF 2°Campus students, another 36 fellow students and friends, as well as teachers and undergrads participated so that the reach and range of audience was actually increased by this new online format. Followed another discussion session for the smaller group of WWF students, many oft hem used the chance to ask burning questions and have a more „direct“ contact via video chat. Even some „living statistics“ were applicable Josefine by using hand and finger signals (e.g. participants indicated they are located in all over Germany, the northernmost destination reached by the group was Iceland).

According to the organizers, the students provided very positive feedback: They find the work of a polar researcher very exciting and were impressed by Josefine’s presentation. Who knows, maybe we meet some them again as polar researchers…!

A recording of the presentation will become available online through the WWF 2°Campus School Academy.

29. May 2020 14:00 to 16:00

It's melting! Arctic permafrost in climate change

an online talk by Josefine Lenz "at the" Museum of Natural History Berlin (event in german)

Link to participation on the museum's website.

planned activities

~March/April 2020

3-day teacher training at Luxembourgish highschools incl. an excursion to see fossil permafrost evidence (outreach project of


21-30 April 2020

Nunataryuk-T-MOSAiC School, Abisko/Sweden (Permafrost Outreach lecture)


9 May 2020

8. Potsdam Day of Science in Potsdam-Bornim (Outdoor-Exhibition 13-20:00)

unfortunately cancelled

6 June 2020

Long Night of Science (Exhibition, experiments and presentation, 18-01:00)

unfortunately cancelled

In collaboration with AWI4Future Josefine Lenz, Matthias Fuchs and Ingmar Nitze invite you to an online presentation: Wissenschafts fürs Wohnzimmer (in German).

16 Juli 2020

Dauerfrostboden ohne Frost – Was bedeutet das für uns und den Kohlenstoffhaushalt?

23 Juli 2020

Permafrost in Zeit und Raum – Wie sich die arktische Landschaft verändert

The presentations can be followed via a livestream on youtube and a recording will be available afterwards.

More information on twitter

6-11 September 2020

International Polar Conference (Exhibition, students workshop)

unfortunately postponed