Photo of Professor Stephan Gruber

Professor Stephan Gruber

Permafrost and impacts of its thaw; Cold environments at high latitude or elevation

Degrees:Ph.D. (UZH, Switzerland)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2562
Office:B443A Loeb Building


Stephan joined Carleton University in 2013 as the Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Impacts/Adaptation in Northern Canada. Previously, he worked at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and as a postdoctoral fellow at the Université de Savoie (France). Stephan was educated in Zurich, Switzerland (PhD in Natural Science, 2005); Giessen, Germany (MSc in Physical Geography, 2000); Enschede, the Netherlands (Special Programme in Environmental Systems Analysis and Monitoring, 1999) and Rovaniemi Finland (Diploma in Arctic Studies, 1997).

2023 – 2024 Courses

  • GEOG 4108 Fall – Permafrost
  • GEOG 5006 Summer – Geocryology in a Warming World

Recent roles:

  • NSERC CREATE for training tomorrow’s LEAders in Permafrost thaw and northern research (CREATE LEAP), director, 2023-2029
  • NSERC Permafrost Partnership Network for Canada (PermafrostNet), scientific director, 2019-2025
  • IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, lead author, 2017 – 2019
  • Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP), lead author, 2016 – 2018
  • Carleton University Institute of Data Science, board member, 2015 – present
  • The Cryosphere, co-editor-in-chief, 2009 – 2017

Publications are listed on Google Scholar, ResearcherID and ORCID.


Stephan’s research focuses on permafrost and related phenomena in high-latitude and high-elevation environments. He aims to better anticipate and quantify the impacts that local human activity and global climate change have on geohazards and natural systems. His interest in novel predictive methods and tools is reflected in projects that bridge fundamental and applied research. He works with partners from diverse disciplines and sectors (academia, industry and government organisations).

Stephan’s current research program is focused on Quantifying Permafrost Thaw, i.e. the loss of ice in the subsurface, and the persistent changes in physical characteristics of ground materials that this causes. This program works on multiple scales and has three complementary components:

  • Field observations: Current field sites, operated jointly with local scientists, are in western and northern Canada as well as in Ladakh, India. Methods include terrestrial laser-scanning and surveying, continuous subsidence monitoring, temperature observations in boreholes and near the surface, measurements of liquid water content in boreholes, and geophysical techniques to quantify ice and water content in the subsurface.
  • Computer simulation and data analysis: The group develops and operates tools for simulating and analyzing the ground thermal regime as well as phase change and water transport. These can be driven with observations, atmospheric re-analyses or synthetic data and run on high-performance computing environments. A database for observations allows combining field data and simulations for a high number of locations, effectively. This is important for obtaining reliable measures of simulation quality for model development and for prediction in practical applications.
  • Laboratory experiments:The Geocryology laboratory has new equipment for temperature calibration, measurement and control. Instruments for measuring thermo-physical soil properties as well as for temperature-dependent dielectric spectroscopy of frozen soil are available. Equipment, procedures, and software for effective experimentation on small soil samples and on larger soil columns are being established.