Dr. Yu Zhang

Research Scientist

Monitor and mapping permafrost and its changes with climate using satellite remote sensing and models.

Current research and/or projects

I joined Canada Centre for Remote Sensing of Natural Resources department in 2000 and have carried out researches on monitoring, understanding, and mapping permafrost and northern ecosystems and their responses to climate change.

Research and/or project statements

Using satellite data and models to monitor and understand permafrost and northern ecosystems and their changes with climate, including:

  • Monitoring and mapping land surface and permafrost conditions along the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway corridor, a project funded by Polar Knowledge Canada science and technology program.

  • Mapping permafrost distribution and changes with climate at high spatial resolution for infrastructure development and environment assessment.

Education and awards


Ph.D. in Geophysics, Peking University, in conjunction with University of New Hampshire, 1999.


ESS Merit Award for outstanding contributions to multi-departmental initiatives using satellite-based approach (2003).

ESS Merit Award for exceptional achievement in the Arctic land use change and greenhouse gas monitoring and accounting (2006).

ESS Merit Award for exceptional achievement in development and application of models to assess permafrost thaw impacts on land and infrastructure (2007).

Departmental Merit Award of Natural Resources Canada for creativity and innovation in development and application of models to assess permafrost thaw impacts on land and infrastructure (2008).

Public Service Award of Excellence for creativity and innovation in permafrost thaw impact assessment (2009). 

ESS Merit Award for collaboration work of the ParkSPACE project (2012).

Key publications

  1. Zhang, Y., S. A. Wolfe, P. D. Morse, I. Olthof, and R. H. Fraser (2015), Spatiotemporal impacts of wildfire and climate warming on permafrost across a subarctic region, Canada, Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, 120, doi:10.1002/2015JF003679. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JF003679/abstract

  2. Zhang, Y., I. Olthof, R. Fraser, and S. A. Wolfe (2014), A new approach to mapping permafrost and change incorporating uncertainties in ground conditions and climate projections, The Cryosphere, 8, 2177-2194, doi: 10.5194/tc-8-2177-2014. www.the-cryosphere.net/8/2177/2014/

  3. Zhang, Y. (2013), Spatio-temporal features of permafrost thaw projected from long-term high resolution modeling for a region in the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Canada, Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, 118, 1-11. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrf.20045/abstract

  4. Zhang, Y., T. Sachs, C. Li, and J. Boike (2012), Upscaling methane fluxes from closed chambers to eddy covariance based on a permafrost biogeochemistry integrated model, Global Change Biology, 18, 1428-1440. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02587.x/abstract

  5. Zhang, Y., W. Chen, and D. W. Riseborough (2008), Disequilibrium response of permafrost thaw to climate warming in Canada over 1850-2100, Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L02502. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL032117/abstract

  6. Zhang, Y., W. Chen, and D. W. Riseborough (2008), Transient projections of permafrost distribution in Canada during the 21st century under scenarios of climate change, Global and Planetary Change, 60, 443-456. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2007.05.003

  7. Zhang, Y., W. Chen, and D. W. Riseborough (2006), Temporal and spatial changes of permafrost in Canada since the end of the Little Ice Age, Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 111, D22103. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006JD007284/abstract

  8. Zhang, Y., W. Chen, S. L. Smith, D. W. Riseborough, and J. Cihlar (2005), Soil temperature in Canada during the 20th century: complex responses to atmospheric climate change, Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 110, D03112. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2004JD004910/abstract

  9. Zhang, Y., W. Chen, and J. Cihlar (2003), A process-based model for quantifying the impact of climate change on permafrost thermal regimes, Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 108(D22), 4695. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2002JD003354/abstract

  10. Zhang, Y., C. Li., C. C. Trettin, H. Li, and G. Sun (2002), An integrated model of soil, hydrology and vegetation for carbon dynamics in wetland ecosystems, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16(4), 1061. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2001GB001838/abstract