News and events

Welcoming Jade Robinson

1 October 2021

We’re delighted to welcome Jade Robinson, ISOPERM’s first PhD student, to the project team. Jade brings a wealth of knowledge to the role already, having conducted work on Holocene stalagmites for her MSc thesis at UCL.

As you can see, Jade has already acclimatised to the cold Siberian winters, and brings a fair grasp of the Russian language with her – so we’re confident she’ll settle in just fine during our forthcoming fieldwork. Jade will spend the first part of her PhD working on samples from Botovskaya Cave to analyse past permafrost dynamics and the palaeoenvironment.

We’ll keep this page updated with the latest news from the ISOPERM project including announcements, events and dispatches from the field.

ISOPERM profiled by the Centre for Life

7 September 2021

We enjoyed showing Ben Rutherford-Orrock from Newcastle’s Centre for life around the lab today. Ben is making a series of videos profiling the work of environmental scientists in the North East, that will be released in the run-up to COP26.

The whole team pitched in to show Ben the process of analysing a speleothem from collection in the field, to data analysis on the mass spec. Here’s star of the show, Sevi, showing Ben our Thermo Delta V (AKA Dr Octopus).

Sebastian Breitenbach becomes Associate Professor

23 July 2021

Congratulations to our Principle Investigator Sebastian who’s groundbreaking research and teaching have been rewarded by Northumbria University with a promotion to the position of Associate Professor.

The ISOPERM team will be raising a glass to celebrate over the coming days. Congratulations Seb!

New autosampler arrives

22 July 2021

Out latest arrival in Northumbria’s NICEST lab is a Sercon XYZ autosampler. This snazzy bit of kit will be used predominantly for helium flushing prior to isotope analysis on our Thermo Delta V mass spectrometer.

It’s capable of flushing up to 240 vials at a time, helping to double our sample throughput.

ISOPERM appoints new Intern

15 June 2021

ISOPERM welcomes Rebecca, the latest member of the team. She joins as a GIS and Spatial Data Intern and will be working on producing spatially referenced maps of Botovskaya cave and providing a helping hand with the carbonate isotope measurements.

Rebecca joins us after completing her thesis involving the environmental reconstruction of Northeastern India using stalagmite proxy data. ‘After conducting my dissertation from home during the pandemic, I am eager to get some practical experience and excited to be a part of such a important project’ said Rebecca, who will be working alongside the team on campus at Northumbria University.

New study shows Siberian permafrost has survived several periods of past warming

15 June 2021

ISOPERM researcher Thomas Opel has been part of a major study of the Batagay Megaslump, a kilometer wide depression in eastern Siberia, formed by thawing permafrost.

The international team of researchers used multiple innovative dating techniques to show that the oldest permafrost in the region dates back approxiamately 650,000 years. This means it has survived several past interglacial periods, including the ‘super-interglacial’ MIS 11c some 420,000 years ago when temperatures were 4 – 5 oC warmer than our current climatic epoch.

Launch of the SYP autosampler

14 June 2021

The ISOPERM team have been working with the University of Waikato to develop SYP – a new portable fluid autosampler for extreme environments.

Exceptional battery and vial capacity allow sub weekly sampling over year long deployments with comprehensive sensing of humidity, temperature, and air pressure. SYP has been developed through years of in situ testing and we’re looking forward to deploying the final model out in Siberia over the coming months.

SYP is commercially available at

Thomas Opel joins ISOPERM

25 May 2021

We are delighted to welcome Thomas Opel to the ISOPERM team, who joins as a post-doc for three years. Thomas will be based at AWI Potsdam and will take the lead on analysis of relict ground ice.

Thomas brings a wealth of experience to the team, having worked in the Russian Arctic for over 15 years. His work with ISOPERM will continue his exceptional record of permafrost research in the area

ISOPERM welcomes Stuart Umbo

1 May 2021

ISOPERM welcomes its latest team member. Stuart Umbo joins as a post-doc at Northumbria and will be working on producing clumped isotope measurements on carbonates.

Stuart Joins us after completing his PhD in clumped isotope analysis of foraminifera at the University of East Anglia. ‘I can’t wait to get working on such an exciting project with obvious real-world applications in informing future projections of anthropogenic climate change’ said Stuart, who will be getting to grips with new instumentation over the coming months, before joining on fieldwork.

ISOPERM Receives funding

1 March 2021

ISOPERM have been awarded a £489,000 research grant from the Leverhulme Trust to assess the long term impacts of climate change on Siberian Permafrost.

Thawing permafrost is considered one of the key climate tipping elements that would lead to long-term irreversible changes to global climate. Better understanding historical changes in permafrost extent will help understanding of future vulnerability of this vast carbon store.

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