Thawing permafrost in the High Arctic: Understanding climate, herbivore and belowground feedbacks

The aim of this project is to establish an experiment in Adventdalen that will investigate warming, icing events and grubbing events. The experiment will compare two different plant communities, a mesic Dryas-dominated heath and a moss-dominated tundra.

Project description

Predicting ecosystems responses to changing environmental conditions is one of the most pressing challenges in ecology today. In the past few decades, mean annual temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 2-4 ºC while rain-on-snow events are becoming more frequent. Other environmental changes can be seen in a drastic increase in the goose population. All of these changes may have repercussions on C and N cycling as well as microbial functional diversity and activity in the soil.


The student will join the on-going TERRA project. You will assist with field work. Depending on when you join, this can entail several tasks.

In June, plots will be established. Open top chambers and exlosures will be set out in the tundra. Grubbing will be artificially simulated.  During summer (June – August) we will set out data loggers for soil temperature and soil moisture. Participation in vegetation recording is possible in July. In August, we will sample litter of different plant species that will be incubated in the field in September. Polar bear watch will also be a part of field work.

The project involves: Field work

Starting date/period: possible from beginning of June to end of September

Prerequisites: Able to carry and handle a rifle. Basic knowledge in ecology.

Experience/skills to be acquired

The student will gain some knowledge on how to establish an experiment as well as how to conduct abiotic measurements in the field. Depending on timing, the students may also gain some knowledge in plant species identification. The student will also learn how to operate in a high Arctic environment where polar bears can be present.


Flexible (max 40h). It is recommended to work at least 7 h/day when being in the field.

Interested in this project or need more info? Contact:

Simone Lang (, Emelie Winquist (

Project number: 25

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