Posted: October, 2019
Anticipated start:  Winter (January) or Fall (September) term 2020
Supervisory team: Stephan Gruber (Carleton University), Marten Geertsema (British Columbia Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development) and Michael Krautblatter (Technical University of Munich, Germany)

The expected outcome of this project is better understanding of permafrost and permafrost change in steep mountains of Canada and an estimation of corresponding effects on mass movements such as rock fall and landslides. This is important because Canada has large areas of steep mountains in permafrost, and yet most quantitative research on this topic has been done in the European Alps and Scandinavia. This project will generate permafrost observations and simulations, specifically for steep mountain areas and, based on this, compute a geomechanics-based proxy for distinguishing areas of increased likelihood of permafrost-related rock fall. Specifically, the project will: (a) collect and harmonize existing and new field evidence of temperature and prominent mass movements such as rock glaciers and rock fall in mountains, (b) optimize and test the simulation tools for application in steep mountains and (c) derive a proxy for the effects of permafrost change on rock instability and test whether it can constrain the location and timing of observed events. This work will be novel in simulating long-term permafrost change and a geomechanics-based stability proxy, and in focusing on Canadian mountains. Together with local partners, the student will use existing field observations of permafrost temperature in British Columbia and establish new observations in Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon. The methods developed here are intended to support forward-looking land-use planning and hazard zonation around infrastructure in steep mountains with permafrost.

This fully funded PhD studentship will be based at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. As part of PermafrostNet, the new Permafrost Partnership Network for Canada (, it will have an outstanding training environment.

The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in a relevant discipline, e.g., geography, Earth science, geophysics, atmospheric science, environmental engineering or geotechnical engineering; demonstrated skill in programming and data analysis; as well as excellent written communication in English. Wilderness and/or mountaineering skills are an asset.

This PhD studentship is fully funded for twelve months per year. For international students with demonstrated academic excellence, our graduate program usually has competitive additional funding to offset increased tuition per year.

APPLICATION: Send a cover letter, c.v., copies of transcripts, a writing sample, and contact details for three references to Stephan Gruber (