Research units

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Research units

Biogeography and Geomatics

Biogeography is the study of the spatial distribution of plants and animals – in other words “Life on Earth”. Our research focuses on understanding historical and present interactions of humans, plants and animals with landscapes, and their effects on biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem services. We work at multiple scales, from pastures to regions, from seeds to elephants, both in water and on land. Geomatics is the acquisition, management and analysis of geospatial data. It includes geographical information science (GIS), Earth Observation (EO), surveying and geodesy. Our research develops methods to exploit the capabilities of geodata for a range of applications in Earth and environmental sciences. Presently our research focus is on questions related to the Arctic and sub-Arctic, including research into snow and permafrost. Both areas have become increasingly important for informing environmental policy relating to climate and land use change from the local to the international scale. 

Climate Science and Quaternary Geology

We are about 30 teachers, researchers and PhD students who study climate and environmental changes, both under present conditions and back in time during the glacial cycles of the Quaternary period. Modern instrumental observational data are used together with information from natural archives such as lake sediments, peat bogs, ice cores, cave deposits, tree rings, glacial sediments, and archaeological material, to study changes in climate and the environment. Our research material come from the entire world and we have ongoing projects in the Nordic countries, Europe, Africa, South America, Northern Russia, the Himalayas, Canada, Antarctica and on Greenland. We also perform simulations with computers to study the functional behaviour of the climate system under conditions different from those of today. That helps us to better interpret the information stored in the different natural archives.

Environment, Resource dynamics and Management

Our research and education is transdisciplinary, with a focus on sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystems, in both rural and urban areas, for the benefit of human well-being.

Environmental issues are complex social-ecological linked problems; environmental science, policy and economics are often highly intertwined and require a broad analysis to identify potential solutions. The ability to understand and problematize the driving factors behind both the scientific and societal aspects of environmental problems calls for systems thinking.

Our research, often in co-operation with stakeholders, is focused on sustainability issues, geographical landscapes and resource use as well as environmental planning, ecosystem services, indicator development and governance. 

Geomorphology and Glaciology

Analysis of the landscape enables us to reconstruct past environments and processes; with a particular focus on glaciated and formerly glaciated landscapes. We also conduct research on contemporary processes in glaciers and ice sheets, as well as on applied geomorphology in tropical regions.

Our methods include data collection and observations in the field, remote sensing and GIS techniques, dating of glacial and other sediments, and numerical modelling. Today, we conduct research in all glaciated regions in the world, including Antarctica, the Arctic, North America, Northern Europe and Eurasia, and the central Asian highlands; but also in non-glacial regions such as the Mediterranean and East Africa.

An important component of our research facilities is the Tarfala Research Station in northern Sweden, where our department runs an extensive glacier monitoring programme and has a well-equipped base for field education in arctic-alpine environments. 

Hydrology, Water Resources and Permafrost

We investigate natural processes and anthropogenic effects and their variability and change in water, land and permafrost environments.

The conditions and changes of Earth’s freshwater and permafrost systems affect people and ecosystems and are central in global change. We study these conditions and their changes in order to understand them and contribute to knowledge advancement needed for sustainable development.
We study water quantity and quality, how liquid and frozen subsurface and surface water interacts, and how water flows and carries other substances and energy with it through the landscape – locally, regionally and globally, and from past, through present, to future times.
We study soil water and groundwater, lakes and rivers, wetlands, permafrost and glacial water, engineered water systems and water use by vegetation - separately and linked in hydrological catchments, landscapes and water management districts – in different parts of the world.

Our studies include field and laboratory observations, measurements and experiments linked with quantitative modeling and computational methods.


Head of Department
Georgia Destouni

Director of Studies, PhD Level
Helle Skånes
Tel: +46 8-16 47 73

Information Officer
Malin Stenberg de Serves
Tel: +46 8-16 10 52
Mobile: +46 70-618 25 35

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