Project Report

The European Union funded Horizon 2020 “NUNATARYUK”- project, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), has carried out a comprehensive six-year investigation into the rapidly changing permafrost regions in the northern hemisphere. The project aimed to answer pressing questions about the role of permafrost thaw in the global climate system, and the consequences for ecosystems, the economy, and the people living in these regions. The culmination of this ambitious endeavour is the "Arctic Permafrost Atlas," a ground-breaking publication launched during the Arctic Circle Assembly on October 20, 2023. The term "Nunataryuk", drawn from the Inuit language Inuvialuktun, means "between land and sea". It signifies the Arctic coastal zone, where a majority of the northern population resides. Those who live and work in this region must contend with the many dimensions of permafrost. The frozen ground shapes the land as well as the coast and the seabed. Rising global temperatures have left their mark, with permafrost thaw causing changes in landscapes, shoreline erosion, altered ecosystems, damaged infrastructure, and impacting the lives and livelihoods of Arctic residents.

To address the many challenges and uncertainties around permafrost thaw, the "Nunataryuk" project, which started in November 2017, brought together over 150 scientists from 26 partner institutions across 14 countries. The project blended on-site permafrost research and stakeholder input with modeling and socio-economic analyses. Based on new data from the project as well as existing data sources outside of the consortium, GRID-Arendal, a Norwegian-based environmental communications center, created the atlas that offers a comprehensive view of existing permafrost on land and beneath the sea. In collaboration with the International Arctic Science Committee, the launch was accompanied by an exhibition called “Permafrost Matters” at the Harpa conference centre for the duration of the Arctic Circle Assembly. The exhibition offered a glimpse into the changing world of permafrost, drawing from the stories, maps, and graphics presented in the Arctic Permafrost Atlas.

A PDF version of the book and the exhibition panels are now available online at with a print version of the atlas to follow. The atlas and the exhibit can be found online here.

The exhibit is supposed to be a travelling exhibit both a printed version and a digital version were made (apt for a wide screen). This was already used once at the Cryosphere Pavilion during UNFCCC COP28 in Dubai now in December: both printed posters decorated the Pavilion and the screen displayed the full exhibit at times. An application to bring the exhibit to Arctic Frontiers in Tromsø was unfortunately not possible but two possible venues in May are identified. The Arctic Permafrost Atlas is a key output of the international research project NUNATARYUK, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 773421). This exhibition is proudly presented with funding from the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

The goals of the exhibition were to:

  • Learn more about permafrost and climate warming and the importance of studying all aspects of permafrost to protecting Europe’s and the
    Arctic´s ecosystems, communities, and infrastructure as well as learn about the impacts of and solutions to permafrost thaw
  • Learn more about how scientists are working to understand permafrost thaw
  • Come away with a sense of urgency regarding, understanding permafrost thaw, its impacts, and adaptation solutions that are needed
  • Understand the project and its approaches - Inspire the visitors


Date and Location 

Autumn 2023 I Brussels, Belgium


IASC Working Groups funding the project


Project Lead

Tina Schoolmeester (GRID-Arendal)  


Year funded by IASC





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