Andrew Clelland’s Placement Report

Placement Location

Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, MA, USA

Placement Dates

Start Date : September 4, 2023
End Date : December 8, 2023


I was involved with the Woodwell Arctic Team’s “Permafrost Pathways” project, working alongside specialists in Google Earth Engine to develop my machine learning skills, which will be useful throughout the latter part of my PhD. I attended the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wildland Fires” and “Warming Permafrost Model Intercomparison Project” (WrPMIP) workshops and the “American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting 2023” conference, alongside taking part in various cultural and social events to be fully immersed in New England life.

The three-month placement gave me an insight into how a world-leading non-academic institution conducts research, liaising with specialists from around the globe and working with staff who are fully remote. The WrPMIP workshop especially was an eye-opener in seeing how many aspects and models of permafrost research need to be considered. As a mathematician I had not considered all the geophysical aspects involved – everything from eddy covariance fluxes on a site-level to pan-Arctic experimental warming studies must be included to fully represent the challenges of modelling permafrost change.

As a result of my time on Cape Cod I am stronger academically and professionally, but I also developed a greater appreciation for the work scientists do with indigenous communities in Alaska and Canada. Outside of the office I was able to enjoy traditional New England activities, such as attending the Wellfleet Oyster Fest and various sports events, celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving, and socialising at “clam jams” (gatherings centred around cooking several pots of clam chowder). I am hugely grateful to my supervisor Dr Brendan Rogers at Woodwell, and thank all the staff for their support – I’ve taken so much from these three short months.