NERC Arctic Research Programme
Two permafrost grants have been awarded in 2012 as part of NERC’s Arctic Research Programme 2010–15:

Carbon Cycling Linkages of Permafrost Systems (CYCLOPS). The ultimate aim of the proposed project is to develop, parameterise and evaluate a detailed process-based model of vegetation-soil-permafrost interactions using data collected through directed field campaigns in the discontinuous and sporadic permafrost zones of western Canada, and data available from Alaskan tundra in the continuous permafrost zone. Site selection near Whitehorse and Yellowknife, in collaboration with Toni Lewkowicz (Ottawa), Chris Burn (Carleton) and Steve Wolfe (Geological Survey of Canada), was carried out in August 2012. The project is lead by Mathew Williams (Edinburgh), in collaboration with Gareth Phoenix (Sheffield), Iain Hartley and Dan Charman (Exeter), Richard Essery (Edinburgh) and Julian Murton (Sussex).

Permafrost catchments in transition: hydrological controls on carbon cycling and greenhouse gas budgets (HYDRA). The key objective is to quantify and understand the biotic and abiotic controls on C fluxes in permafrost environments, with particular emphasis on the interface between the water and C cycles, and on the implications for global radiative-forcing. Sites reconnaissance in the Whitehorse and Inuvik areas of Canada was carried out during August and September of 2012, with Project Partners Steve Kokelj (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), Toni Lewkowicz (Ottawa) and Phil Marsh (Environment Canada). The project is lead by Phil Wookey (Sheffield), in collaboration with Jens Subke (Stirling), Mike Billett and Kerry Dinsmore (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Doerthe Tetzlaff and Pete Smith (Aberdeen), and Bob Baxter (Durham).

Monitoring the thermal state of permafrost by automated time-lapse Capacitive Resistivity Imaging

At the University of Sussex Permafrost Laboratory, geophysical experiments are ongoing as part of the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Technology Proof of Concept Programme. The aim of the experiments is to test the technical feasibility of undertaking time-lapse tomographic measurements using permanent, in-situ capacitive sensors to remotely monitor permafrost temperatures. The sensors are placed on the rock surface, as distinct from galvanic sensors drilled into the rock and subject to ice-induced disturbance or variable electrical contact. Results from capacitive sensors are compared with those from galvanic electrodes used for time-lapse Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) in blocks of soft and hard limestone subject to one-sided and two-sided freezing. It is hoped that this will lead to significant improvements in monitoring capability, both for permafrost simulation experiments in the laboratory and for practical applications in the field (e.g. monitoring of thaw-sensitive alpine permafrost in Europe). The research has been funded by a NERC grant to Oliver Kuras, Paul Wilkinson, Phil Meldrum, Ed Haslam and Simon Holyoake (British Geological Survey), Julian Murton (University of Sussex) and Michael Krautblatter (Technical University of Munich), and is being carried out by this interdisciplinary team, which also includes Tim Cane, Phil Watson and Barry Jackson (University of Sussex). Preliminary results were presented at the December 2012 AGU meeting.

Please contact the Working Party Officers if you have any queries or suggestions related to the Working Party: Chair, Chris Martin (; Editor, Prof. Jim Griffiths (; or Secretary, Anna Morley (

Julian Murton (