Britta Sannel, Associate Professor in Physical Geography, Stockholm University

What is your research about?
– My research is about climate change and permafrost, which is ground in Arctic regions that is so cold that it is frozen all year round. I try to find out how permafrost landscapes have been affected by climate change in recent decades, and I also monitor ground temperatures to understand how today’s climate is changing the thermal properties in the soil.

Why do you think your research is relevant to the outside world to know more about?
– Soils in the permafrost region contain nearly twice as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere! So the permafrost is like a ticking ”carbon bomb”… Global warming will cause permafrost thaw and then dead plant remains and other organic matter that has previously been frozen can be decomposed by bacteria emitting greenhouse gases, both carbon dioxide and methane. We risk to to end up in a vicious spiral where climate change leads to increased emissions of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost, which in turn further accelerate the warming and so on.

If you had to say one thing to Sweden’s business leaders – what would this be?
– It is urgent to as soon as possible reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases considerably. The young generation will have much higher demands on climate smart goods and services in the future, so why not take the opportunity and lead the transition?

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