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 leads Woodwell Climate’s Arctic Program, which investigates the drivers and consequences of rapid Arctic change. Her research examines the effects of climate change, including permafrost thaw and increasing wildfires, on northern ecosystems and the impact these changes have on Arctic residents and the global climate.

Dr. Natali’s research team combines field research of permafrost and carbon cycling with remote sensing and modeling to assess the current and future impacts of climate change across the Arctic. She 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.

Dr. Natali leads the Permafrost Pathways Initiative, which brings together leading experts in climate science, policy action, and environmental justice to inform and develop adaptation and mitigation strategies to address permafrost thaw.

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 the local and global impacts of a rapidly changing Arctic incorporated into policy. She has briefed federal lawmakers, testified before Congress, and presented her work at events associated with international climate negotiations. 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 and has presented her work on the TED stage.

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

Incorporating permafrost into climate mitigation and adaptation policy

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


Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals

Natali, S.M., et al. (2021). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.