Susan M. Natali Ph.D.

  • Senior 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 has worked extensively across the Arctic, in Alaska and Siberia, combining field research of permafrost and carbon cycling with remote sensing and modeling to assess current and future climate impacts across the Arctic.

Dr. Natali leads the Permafrost Pathways Initiative, which brings together leading experts in climate science, policy action, and environmental justice to assess the local to global impacts of permafrost thaw and other climate changes in the Arctic, in order to inform climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. She works with Indigenous communities, scientists, resource managers, and policymakers at all levels to craft just and effective strategies for limiting harm from Arctic warming.

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

photo © Chris Linder

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

photo courtesy of Arctic Circle

Dr. Natali is committed to seeing both the human and climate impacts of Arctic change incorporated into public understanding and policy. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed studies, briefed federal lawmakers, contributed to international science reports and presented at several UN climate change conferences. She holds leadership and advisory roles in major multi-institution initiatives including the Permafrost Carbon Network, U.S. Advisory Council for Adaptation Science, and the International Conference on Arctic Research Planning. She was featured in the documentary film Permafrost Now, was a contributor to the award-winning book The Big Thaw, and she presented her research on the TED stage. As lead of the Polaris Project, she has mentored dozens of students in Arctic research, and she has received the Sulzman Award for excellence in education and mentoring from the American Geophysical Union.

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 local to global consequences of thawing permafrost.


Charred standing trunks in a burned boreal forest

Changing Boreal Fire Regimes

Understanding intensifying boreal fire regimes and their role in driving climate change
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

Winter soil temperature varies with canopy cover in Siberian larch forests

Loranty, M.M., H.D. Alexander, S.P. Davydov, A.L. Kholodov, H. Kropp, M.C. Mack, S.M. Natali, & N.S. Zimov (2024). Environmental Research Letters.


Incorporating permafrost into climate mitigation and adaptation policy

Natali, S.M., et al. (2022). Environmental Research Letters.