Permafrost research at DTU

Critical community infrastructure on permafrost

Beautiful aurora borealis, Sisimiut

Application of geophysical methods to mapping and monitoring permafrost

Complex cryostructure in exposed permafrost of river bank

Geotechnical drilling and sampling in permafrost

Nærbillede af base og stempel. Begge er konstrueret med køling og mulighed for dræning af overskydende vand fra smeltende is.

State-of-the-art experimental facilities for permafrost research

Eksempel på kerne af isholdig permafrost fra Ilulissat (2018), som kan udsættes for deformationsforsøg i thaw strain cellen.

Ice lenses in a permafrost core

Permafrost research at DTU Civil Engineering

Permafrost is defined as soil or rock with a temperature that remains below 0 °C for two or more consecutive years. The existence of permafrost is related to the climate, as mainly the energy balance at the ground surface drives the ground temperature regime. Globally, permafrost affects approximately 24% of Earth’s land areas.

In Greenland, more than 75% of the ice-free area is affected, and most communities north of Maniitsoq are situated in areas with permafrost. Knowledge about permafrost ice content is essential for evaluation of ground and rock slope stability under the impact of climate warming. Thawing of the permafrost results in melting of ground ice and a risk of differential settlements and slope instability constituting a hazard to the maintenance of existing and construction of new infrastructure.

This site presents the ongoing permafrost research activities at the Department of Civil Engineering and the research center Arctic DTU.

Selected ongoing projects

Greenland Integrated Observing System

Establishing world-class research infrastructure for long-term monitoring of essential climate, ecosystem and societal variables in Greenland. DTU Civil Engineering contributes with a network of permafrost monitoring stations



EU H2020 projekt

Impacts of thawing coastal and subsea permafrost on coastal communities in the Arctic and the global climate system



Properties of saline permafrost

Salinity effects on heat transfer in permafrost soils and the impact of climate warming on stability of critical infrastructure in Greenland



Regional scale mountain permafrost in Greenland

Siku Aajuitsoq develops regional scale knowledge of mountain permafrost in central west Greenland. It covers a Sisimiut-Kangerlusuaq transect where mountain permafrost is surveyed using temperature monitoring and geophysics. 



Temperature Monitoring of Rockwalls in the Arctic

Developing a protocol for rock wall monitoring based on temperature logging and geophysics, to characterize the impacts of climate change on rock wall stability and its impact on communities in Greenland


Anticipating future stability of Arctic key infrastructure

This project aims to develop accurate, quantitative geophysical subsurface characterization methods along with methodologies for the use the geophysics to map permafrost degrading in an infrastructure setting.


Past projects


Fjeld- og Sprængstensegenskaber i Grønland

Collecting and systematising Greenland data on Rock and Blastrock properties.




Active Layer Monitoring for Infrastructure Management

Using satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) to map the seasonal variations in surface deformation in support of planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in Greenland