Project: Permafrost coast erosion: Quantifying the carbon flux from carbon rich coasts

My interests cover most aspects of the cryosphere, having previously studied the interaction between air pressure patterns and Arctic sea ice for my BSc, and optical remote sensing of snow cover for my MSc. This PhD project will focus on the monitoring and modelling of carbon rich Arctic permafrost cliffs. As the Arctic warms faster than the global average, numerous alterations to the polar environment are occurring which strongly impact coastal erosion rates. Among them:

-Increased air temperatures thawing permafrost soils

-Rising sea levels inundating more Arctic coastlines

-Thinning and reduced sea ice coverage allowing the Arctic ocean to warm more during the polar summer and generate larger waves and swells

By utilising a wide variety of monitoring techniques (laser scanning, drone based surveys, time-lapse photography, etc.) and applying some novel modelling methods to better represent the mixed geotechnical characteristics of permafrost soils, we hope to gain insight into mechanisms behind, and drivers of, permafrost cliff failure and erosion. Ultimately, this research will help our ability to quantify and predict erosion rates and carbon flux from Arctic permafrost cliffs, as well as providing data to improve the representation of coastal processes in global carbon models.

Dr Mike Lim