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Frederick (Fritz) Nelson

Title: Ph.D., University of Michigan
Department: Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
Phone: 517-355-4619
Email: fnelson(at)

Fritz Nelson has conducted field research in Alaska almost continuously since the late 1970s, and has field experience in Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet, and subarctic Canada. He has served as President of the U.S. Permafrost Association, as a member of the Board of Governors of the Arctic Institute of North America, as Councilor and Vice-President of the American Geographical Society, and as a Councilor of the International Permafrost Association. Nelson’s research group focuses on several themes: (1) the evolution of cold, nonglacial (periglacial) landscapes; (2) the impacts of climatic change in permafrost environments; (3) terrain-climate interactions (topoclimate); (4) the distribution and mapping of permafrost and periglacial features; and (5) the history of American geography and cold-regions science. He has supervised M.S. and Ph.D. research in each of these areas. He is currently a co-PI on the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) program, an international global-change monitoring effort involving investigators from 15 countries and more than 200 permafrost observatories operating in Antarctica, the Arctic, the Tibetan Plateau, and several high-elevation regions in the mid-latitudes. Nelson also co-manages an extensive field-based climatology program in the Upper Peninsula’s Huron Mountain Club, one of the largest areas of old-growth forest in the eastern United States.