NGEE Arctic Team Hosts Permafrost Core “Jamboree”

The NGEE Arctic project is developing a predictive understanding of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics across spatial and temporal scales and their feedbacks to climate, with a focus on the vulnerable Arctic permafrost environment. As part of this effort, a team of scientists from LANL (Cathy Wilson and Heather Throckmorton) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Alex Kholodov) worked with LBNL scientists (Yuxin Wu, Craig Ulrich, Tim Kneafsey, Catherine McKnight and Shan Dou) to subsample and study permafrost cores collected from different regions of the NGEE Arctic Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) study site (Figure 1).

Much of the terrain at the BEO is polygonal ground, featuring high, low, and transitional polygons, with troughs in between. These geomorphic features are distributed within and between drained thaw lake basins (DTLBs) ranging in age from a few decades to thousands of years. At the Barrow study site, the first 30 cm (or so) from the ground surface is typically called the active layer (the region that thaws and refreezes every year). This active layer is underlain by permafrost (ground that remains frozen for two or more years) that extends down hundreds of meters. The research on permafrost cores is being performed to gain an understanding of the structure of the subsurface to a depth of about two meters, and particularly the physical and chemical properties of the shallow active layer and the upper permafrost zones. Understanding the structure and properties of soils is essential for developing process-rich models of greenhouse gas fluxes in and through Arctic soils.

Core Jamboree Team CT Scanning Cores

Figure 1. NGEE Arctic “permafrost core jamboree” team. Left to Right: Catherine McKnight (LBNL), Heather Throckmorton (LANL), Alex Kholodov (UAF), Craig Ulrich (LBNL), Cathy Wilson (LANL) and Yuxin Wu (LBNL). Photo credit Roy Kaltschmidt (LBNL).

Figure 2. Tim Kneafsey (LBNL) working on NGEE Arctic cores with the CT scanner (Left). CT images from a permafrost core that is ca. one meter in length (Right). Photo credit Roy Kaltschmidt (LBNL).

The team met at the UC Richmond Field Station, where Yuxin Wu and Craig Ulrich have developed a new cold room, enabling analysis of core material at -15°C conditions. A critical first step in the core analysis planning was the collection of CT scans by Tim Kneafsey at the LBNL rock physics laboratory (Figures 2). In order to limit the time that the team spent in the -15C cold lab, the CT scans were used to diagnose the core structure and assign the depth-intervals and sample sizes for each of the core samples needed for our physical and chemical analyses. Read more...

Review Article Published by NGEE Arctic Scientists Highlights Microbiology of Permafrost

The formation, persistence, and disappearance of permafrost are highly dependent on climate; yet measurements - either direct or indirect - of permafrost condition are difficult to derive and often labor intensive. In a new report from the National Research Council remote sensing of permafrost and related ecological characteristics are highlighted.Read more...

Taxonomic distribution of Bacteria Figure 3. Taxonomic distribution of Bacteria in different permafrost environments based on their 16S rRNA gene classifications. Pie charts represent relative abundances of different phyla in a sample set. Note that the differences in community composition could be a result of differences in sample origin as well as differences in technique used.

NGEE Arctic Data Policies and Data Management Guidance

NGEE Arctic data team has posted final drafts of three Data Policies for data sharing, fair-use, and collaboration at Implementing these policies is critical to meeting the scientific goals and objectives of NGEE Arctic.
In addition, the data team has prepared a series of guides/help files for use by investigators for reporting, processing, and archiving data for both project and public sharing. We answer the burning questions -- What is a data set? How do I organize my data files for sharing? And more, at


Safety Training Requirements -- New March 18, 2013

NGEE-Arctic participants and collaborators must complete the required viewing of safety videos and reading of safety manuals to be approved for field and laboratory work at NGEE-Arctic facilities in Barrow, Alaska.


Participants and collaborators are strongly encouraged to complete all training requirements prior to travel because computers and internet connectivity are limited in Barrow.

Training materials are only available on the NGEE-Arctic project website (

Access to training materials requires NGEE-Arctic website login. After login, the Safety tab will appear.

  • ORNL participants may access Training Materials with their ORNL UCAMS login UID and PWD.
  • Other participants and collaborators may access Training Materials with their website UID and PWD.
    • If you are not a registered website user, please request an account (Login tab). You will receive e-mail notification with your account information.
    • Note that it may take 24 to 48 hours for your account to be established.

Upon successful completion of the training requirements you will receive e-mail notification from NGEE-Arctic Management that you are approved for field and laboratory work at the NGEE-Arctic facilities in Barrow.