Susan M. Natali Ph.D.

  • Arctic Program Director
  • Associate Scientist
Susan Natali

Dr. Susan Natali is an Arctic ecologist whose focus on permafrost thaw is motivated by an acute awareness of the risks it poses. She leads Woodwell Climate’s Arctic Program, which investigates the drivers and consequences of rapid Arctic change. Her research examines the effects of permafrost thaw and fire on the storage or release of carbon, and thus, on global climate. Recent findings have highlighted the importance of poorly understood ecological activity during winter. Dr. Natali’s work spans local to global scales through a combination of process-focused field science, remote sensing, and computational modeling. Dr. Natali has worked extensively in remote regions of Alaska and Siberia, conducting research and—as the Director of the Polaris Project—training the next generation of Arctic scientists.

Left: Dr. Natali enjoying time with colleagues while conducting field work in the Alaskan Arctic.

Right: Dr. Natali presenting her work to the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2016.

Dr. Natali is committed to seeing both the human and climate impacts of rapid Arctic change incorporated into policy. She has briefed federal lawmakers, contributed to U.N. climate science reports, and presented her work at events associated with international climate negotiations. She is active in the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative. Dr. Natali frequently speaks with the media, and has been quoted by the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, The New Yorker, CBS News, and BBC News.

The flow of carbon and other nutrients through ecosystems is always on Dr. Natali’s mind, even when she’s tending her beehives or enjoying a walk in the woods. 

The rate of change in the Arctic has accelerated more than expected, and people are living with impacts - daily and inescapably. We are working to ensure policy-makers understand the consequences of thawing permafrost, from local to global.