Thawing permafrost

Örjan Gustafsson. Photo: Eva Dalin
Örjan Gustafsson. Photo: Eva Dalin

Örjan Gustafsson receives the grant to continue his group’s studies on Arctic permafrost. There are large quantities of frozen organic matter and greenhouse gases trapped in the permafrost in shallow soils and in coastal sediments. A warmer climate could trigger the thawing, which in turn may cause release of those gases, affecting the climate.

The project is called “Cryosphere-Carbon on Top of the Earth (CC-Top):  Decreasing Uncertainties of Thawing Permafrost and Collapsing Methane Hydrates in the Arctic”.  The ERC evaluation panel suggested that this five-year-project would get a budget of up to 2,5 million euros.

“Research on carbon cycle and climate in the Arctic is an area in which Stockholm University has a leading role internationally. This grant makes it possible for us to work deeper and further on how those complicated permafrost systems, mainly those in the subsea, are set and how they function. It is essential for us in order to be able to make informed predictions about future greenhouse gas releases from these sleeping giants in the global carbon cycle.” says Örjan Gustafsson.

Social economy

Torsten Persson
Torsten Persson

Torsten Persson’s research lies at the boundaries between economic, political science and sociology. It takes a starting point in a number of related questions and data sets with large amounts of individual-level data. The research project: “Social and Political Economics: Theory and Evidence” is suggested to get a grant of up to 1,1 million euros by the ERC evaluation panel.

Torsten Persson, along with other researchers, will examine how individual and social motives jointly shape the decision making of individuals or households. Four specific subprojects deal with why people choose to evade their taxes, when couples decide to have kids, which ethnic identity Chinese couples choose to give their kids when parents have different ethnic origins, and how much money U.S. individuals give to political campaigns.  

“The way humans around you react greatly affects what you do. Because of this, the same policy interventions can have radically different impacts in different social group, depending on how others in groups behave”, says Torsten Persson. 

Persson’s research deals with two programs. The ERC grant is dedicated mainly to the one that tackles how the interplay between economic and social motives drives individual decisions. The other program examines, among other things, who become politicians, how able they are relative to the population and other elite professions, and to which extent politicians truly represent the population at large. This program has already received a large grant from the Swedish Research Council.

This is the second time for Torsten Persson to receive an Advanced Grant from ERC. In 2010-2014 the ERC funded his projects "State capacity, Conflict and Development" and "The Economics of Climate Change".

ERC Advanced Grant:

The European Research Council (ERC) is a part of EU’s framework of research and innovation, Horizon 2020. ERC Advanced Grant targets top established researchers who had achieved significant results in their research projects during the last ten years. ERC received almost two thousand applications for the Advanced Grant in 2015. Of the 270 accepted applications, 9 researchers works in Sweden. The exact amounts of the grants will be decided at a later stage.