Rachael Treharne Ph.D.

  • Research Scientist
  • Senior Campaigner
Rachael Treharne

Dr. Rachael Treharne is an Arctic ecologist studying disturbances in northern ecosystems, with a particular interest in abrupt and difficult-to-predict processes. She is currently researching permafrost thaw and wildfire, and their implications for climate change. Working with simple modeling frameworks, Dr. Treharne hopes to advance quantitative understanding of these and other processes which are typically excluded from global climate models on the feasibility of international climate goals. She is also working on a project soliciting expert assessments of the relationships between climate change, abrupt disturbances, and high-latitude carbon balance.

Left: Sawing a slice of dead wood from a burned area to measure carbon content and growth history. Right: Measuring net CO2 exchange in a wetland in an area of permafrost thaw.

Dr. Treharne first became interested in the Arctic region when she traveled to northern Sweden as an undergraduate at the University of Sheffield, UK, where she completed her Master’s in Biological Sciences and Ph.D. Spending several months working in remote regions of the European boreal, sub-Arctic, and High Arctic, she studied extreme climatic events that cause large-scale abrupt vegetation death, and the carbon consequences of those processes. Pursuing an ongoing interest in climate advocacy, Dr. Treharne worked in communication and policy-focused roles before returning to Arctic science and joining Woodwell Climate Research Center.

Dr. Treharne is driven by the urgent need to change the trajectory of global emissions. Still passionate about communicating science and advocating for ambitious climate policies, she has spoken at venues including music festivals, schools, and activist events and gave a TEDx Talk in 2019.

I’ve always wanted to work on climate change. It’s the issue of our time—it’s a crisis. What attracted me to Woodwell is that our science doesn’t stay on the bench; we combine research with a focus on policy impact.


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

Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals

Natali, S. M., J. P. Holdren, B. M. Rogers, R. Treharne, P. B. Duffy, R. Pomerance, and E. MacDonald (2021). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Development of new metrics to assess and quantify climatic drivers of extreme event driven Arctic browning

Treharne, R., J. W. Bjerke, H. Tømmervik, and G. K. Phoenix (2020). Remote Sensing of Environment.


Arctic browning: Impacts of extreme climatic events on heathland ecosystem CO2 fluxes

R Treharne, JW Bjerke, H Tømmervik, L Stendardi, GK Phoenix (2019). Global Change Biology.