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Polygon patterns on the earth’s surface give an indication of permafrost in the soil
(© Josefine Lenz)

Our Objective

The Arctic is currently heating up more rapidly than any other part of the world. This is causing thawing of the frozen ground, known as permafrost. The decomposition of frozen plant remains releases greenhouse gasses resulting in increasing global warming.

Unlike glaciers or sea ice, permafrost seems not directly visible on the Earth’s surface and is more difficult to monitor using satellite data. Our aim is to improve observations on thawing permafrost and refine our understanding in Arctic landscape change with the help of citizen scientists.

Our Concept

School classes in Canada and Germany are working together to understand changes of the Earth’s surface.

With the help of drones, young citizen scientists in Aklavik in Northwest Canada collect high-resolution airborne images of the Arctic land surface. The data is being pre-processed by the project team and divided into small mapping tasks (“micro-tasks”). These tasks are then tested and carried out by young citizen scientists in Germany, thus completing an important image processing step.

The contribution of citizen scientists will create a unique reference dataset for research. In combination with machine learning methods, it enables for the first time large-scale mapping of permafrost structures and simultaneously brings the urgent topic of climate change and permafrost thaw into classrooms.

© Marek Muchow

Duration and funding of the project

The project runs from July 2021 to December 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the Citizen Science funding area. It is one of 15 projects that will advance the cooperation between citizens and scientists in terms of content and methodology as well as provide answers to society’s challenges until the end of 2024.

The project is a cooperation between