Within the framework of joint professorship appointments with the University of Potsdam and the collaboration with the University of Heidelberg senior scientists of the section Permafrost Research are actively involved in teaching at these universities. We currently offer lectures, seminars, and field courses for Master and Bachelor level students. Usually, classes are conducted in English.
Climate modelling and data analysis
Master “Global Change Geography”
We will introduce dynamical and statistical climate models on the global and regional scale. The physical principles of these models will be explained with emphasis on land surface schemes from urban environments to tundra landscapes. Students will apply these models. To this end, we will train the usage of all required aspects of an hight performance computing environment.
Another focus point is the analysis of climate model and climate model ensemble output. Research questions will be discussed and required tools will be explained.
Field Observation in Climatology and Hydrology
Master “Global Change Geography”
The lecture comprises topics of climatological and micro-meteorological and hydrological field methods. Central are the energy and mass exchange between atmosphere and ground, the theory of eddy-covariance measurement systems, runoff measurements, exchange between surface and ground water, and glaciological field methods.
Field work is on proglacial and periglacial grounds and on the glacier "Fürkelenferner". Alpine experience is not required.
Monobachelor Geography, will be offered again in WiSe2018/19
What role do the polar regions play in the Earth system? In this module we want to explore the landscapes, ecosystems, habitats and climates beyond the polar circle. In a diverse program of introductory lectures, practical exercises and student-presentations we will get to the bottom of the cold facts.
Among other, the following topics are at the center:
• The climate and global warming in the Arctic and Antarctic
• The glaciers, ice shelves and sea ice
• The West Antarctic ice sheet, Greenland and the sea level in the 21st and 22nd centuries
• Permafrost in the Arctic and Subarctic and its importance for the global climate
• Cultural and social change of the indigenous population in the Arctic
• Shipping and resource use in the Arctic
• The ecosystems of the polar regions
Students acquire advanced knowledge of the principles of the formation and properties of permafrost, including its critical reflection and evaluation.
Students can describe the landscape development of permafrost regions and develop scenarios of how the permafrost region has changed in the past and may change in the future.
Students know which methods and techniques for the study of permafrost characteristics and dynamics on various spatial and temporal scales are applied.
Students are able to perform specific and multidisciplinary discussions on permafrost related topics.
Students are able to provide constructive feedback to presentations and discussions.
Students are able to evaluate scientific publications, including preparation and explanation to an audience.
This module gives an overview and insights of the formation and degradation of permafrost during the last glacial and interglacial cycle. The basic features of freezing and thawing processes of frozen ground and the related energy, water and element fluxes are explained. The complex relationship between these fluxes and the emission of greenhouse gases is covered, with a special focus on processes related to climate change. Typical permafrost landscapes and their degradation along with Arctic warming are studied using remote sensing methods. The consequences of warming permafrost landscapes on the environment and on infrastructure will be shown. Specific topics will be prepared and presented by the students in oral exercises.
Snow Hydrology and Terrain Climate
Prof. Dr. Julia Boike
Snow Hydrology and Terrain Climate (WS 2018/2019)
The study project is aimed at students with an interest in in-depth and problem-oriented work in the field of quantitative physical geography. For this purpose, the Harz, especially the Upper Harz, is considered with regard to its climate and its hydrology in winter, especially with regard to snow in the landscape.
The obligatory off-road days in the Oberharz include an intensive exploration of the region (with a focus on snow hydrological and terrain climatological issues) and a short visit to the DWD Bergobservatorium am Brocken. During the whole time, meteorological and hydrological measurements and the recording of snow cover parameters will be carried out independently, which will then be incorporated into a geo-information system to be developed in the course and used for various modelling purposes.
Remote Sensing of Permafrost Regions
University of Potsdam
Master-Module in Earth Sciences / Remote GEW-OBS04
The students understand the remotely detectable properties and dynamics of permafrost regions. They have in-depth knowledge of permafrost-relevant data processing methods. They are able to independently carry out an image processing project and present the results.
In this module, we will focus on terrestrial regions of the Arctic that are not glaciated but affected by permafrost - about one quarter of the northern hemisphere landmass is part of the permafrost zone and thus a huge diversity of landforms, land cover, processes, and dynamics are encountered that are partially or fully driven by freezing and thawing processes on various spatial and temporal scales. These regions are vast, far away, logistically challenging, and data-sparse - Remote sensing therefore often provides the tools of choice for many analyses needed to better understand how permafrost regions change in a rapdily warming Arctic and what the local to global feedbacks are.
Learn about Arctic Climate Change, Cryosphere, and Permafrost; Permafrost landscapes, disturbances, trends; Northern land cover and vegetation; Permafrost terrain and landforms; Thaw subsidence and frost heave; Permafrost coastal dynamics; and Thermokarst lake dynamics. Learn to use cool data and techniques for characterizing and quantifying landscape dynamics in a rapidly changing Arctic: We will will cover high resolution airborne data, high and medium resolution satellite imagery, LiDAR, Big Data approaches with Google Earth Engine, hyperspectral data, and an overview into many other methods. The module will consist of lectures, hands-on exercises in the PC pool, and work on a specific semester project you will be able to select at the beginning.
PhD and Postdoc Positions
Depending on external funding availability we are also offering PhD or Postdoc positions in our section. These positions will be posted at the official AWI Jobs webpage.
Furthermore, there are options to conduct an own research project in our Permafrost Research section related to our core research themes with stipends from various funding agencies. Currently, several PhD students have stipends and conduct their research projects as guests within our section.
Master Thesis Projects and Student Internships
The section Permafrost Research regularly offers opportunities for students to get involved in ongoing research projects with a Master Thesis or an internship. The possible themes are related to our main research fields and range from sedimentology, biogeochemistry and stable isotope chemistry, physical geography and remote sensing, to paleoecology and genetics.
If you are interested in a Master thesis project in one of our main research fields you are welcome to send an email application to the responsible senior scientist. The application should contain a cover letter, a CV, relevant certificates, a list of courses attended during the studies, and your computer skills (software and programming languages). You also should state the envisaged starting point for the thesis project.
Apprenticeship as Chemical Laboratory Assistant
Are you interested in an exciting apprenticeship in Potsdam and Berlin emphasizing polar research in the Arctic and Antarctic? Then, you are at the right place!
Together with the bbz Chemie Berlin and the OSZ Lise-Meitner Berlin, the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam offers a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant recognized by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). The language of the apprenticeship will be in German.
More information is available on the
Further information (only in German language) is available at: