Elchin Jafarov Ph.D.

  • Senior Research Scientist
Elchin Jafarov

Dr. Elchin Jafarov is a computational climate and earth scientist, specializing in hydrology and the thermal physics of permafrost. He is motivated by the importance of communicating climate research to the public and uses numerical models to better understand the physical signals of warming permafrost.

Dr. Jafarov works with a terrestrial ecosystem model developed by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to better match modeled greenhouse gas fluxes with observed ones. This work will help reduce existing biases in what is known about thawing permafrost, and generate more accurate models to predict future greenhouse gas fluxes. He also participates in collaborative research linking inundation of permafrost soils to carbon and mercury uptake in Arctic aquatic food webs. Dr. Jafarov believes that improving our predictive capabilities will lead to better communication around climate impacts and their implications in order to motivate action.

He began his career as an applied mathematician and then pursued geophysics. Dr. Jafarov’s Ph.D. research involved developing a numerical model to predict permafrost warming in Alaska over the course of a century. While in the field, he witnessed the changes in the landscape firsthand and spoke to the people who were experiencing those changes in their daily lives. In his work at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, he helped to build a global-scale model of carbon fluxes from thawing permafrost. Dr. Jafarov has also worked on permafrost modeling at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Outside of climate modeling, Dr. Jafarov is interested in new technological developments in the fields of space, biology, science and the economy. He spends his free time outside, doing yoga, and playing soccer.


A severely eroding hillside sloughs land towards the water due to permafrost thaw

Permafrost Pathways

Connecting science, people, and policy for Arctic justice and global climate.

Selected Publications

Estimation of subsurface porosities and thermal conductivities of polygonal tundra by coupled inversion of electrical resistivity, temperature, and moisture content data

Jafarov, E. E., Harp, D. R., Coon, E. T., Dafflon, B., Tran, A. P., Atchley, A. L., Lin, Y., and Wilson, C. J. (2020). The Cryosphere.


Modeling the role of preferential snow accumulation in through talik development and hillslope groundwater flow in a transitional permafrost landscape

Jafarov, E.E., Coon E. T., Harp, D.R., Wilson, C. J., Painter, S. L., Atchley, A.L., Romanovsky V.E. (2018). Environmental Research Letters.


Numerical modeling of permafrost dynamics in Alaska using a high spatial resolution dataset

Jafarov, E. E., Marchenko, S. S., and Romanovsky, V. E. (2012). The Cryosphere.