Research & Innovation - Participant Portal

TOPIC : The effect of climate change on Arctic permafrost and its socio-economic impact, with a focus on coastal areas

Topic identifier: BG-11-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Planned opening date:
04 October 2016
Deadline: 14 February 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Arctic permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, stored in the upper metres of the ground. Thawing of permafrost may trigger the release of this carbon and its transformation to greenhouse gases, reinforcing global warming (permafrost carbon feedback). Moreover, permafrost coasts make up 34% of the world's coasts. Increasing sea-level in combination with changing sea-ice cover and permafrost thawing expose these coastal areas to higher risks. Knowledge gaps exist in relation to the transfer of material - including organic matter - from land to sea and its fate, with the consequence that processes of accumulation and/or subsea permafrost degradation are not accounted for in global climate and Earth system models. The pressing challenge is to understand the impact of permafrost thawing on climate change and its implications for the environment, for the indigenous populations and the local communities. Finally, permafrost thawing affects the stability of built infrastructure.


Actions should assess the impact of permafrost thawing on Arctic (natural and human) coastal systems and its effect on the availability/accessibility of resources, the stability of infrastructure, the growth of potential new economic activities, as well as on pollution and health. The research should employ a holistic and trans-disciplinary approach and in co-operation with stakeholders. It should consider the needs of and the impacts on indigenous populations, local communities and economic actors operating in this vulnerable region in the sustainable development context. Actions should address key processes of environmental change and develop appropriate adaptation and mitigation responses with an emphasis on permafrost at the interface between land and water.

Proposals should develop relevant forms of communication for EU (and possible national) services to adequately disseminate results that could be used for policy action. Trans-disciplinary and participatory approaches, including social sciences and humanities, in the process are considered necessary. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation[1], actions will contribute to implementing the Transatlantic Ocean Research Alliance. Due to the specific challenge of this topic, in addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the General Annexes, proposals should benefit from the inclusion of partners from the USA and from Canada[2]. International cooperation with partners from other Arctic and non-Arctic third countries is also strongly encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Projects funded under this topic will by default participate in the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020, with the option to opt-out, as described in the introduction[3].

Expected Impact:
  • Improve the capacity to predict the impacts of permafrost thawing, both sub-sea and on land, identify and reduce uncertainties, and quantify key processes not currently or poorly represented in predictive models;
  • Develop capacity to manage risks and to take advantage of opportunities emerging from Arctic changes;
  • Promote the engagement of and interaction with residents of Arctic coastal communities and indigenous societies and develop a legacy of collaborative community involvement with scientific, economic, and societal actors and stakeholders on the development of Responsible Research and Innovation agendas that meet their concerns and expectations.
  • Contribute to the ongoing and possible future OSPAR actions in Arctic water
  • Improve the professional skills and competences for those working and being trained to work within this subject area.


[2]Please note that participants from developed countries are not eligible for Horizon 2020 funding.

[3]Beneficiaries of projects participating in the pilot on open research data should follow the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Data Sharing Principles and register in GEOSS the geospatial data, metadata and information generated as part of the project. Further information on GEOSS can be found at

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
          For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
          For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and innovation actions:

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

Classified information

Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.


7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved. This topic participates per default in the open access to research data pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects:

  • The pilot applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available for open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan (to be provided within six months after the project start).
  • Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they are part of the Pilot, and will not be penalised for opting out of the Pilot.
  • Projects can at any stage opt-out of the pilot.
  • The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement
  • Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.


8. Additional documents

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