We present the development and validation of a simplified permafrost-carbon mechanism for use with the land surface scheme operating in the CLIMBER-2 earth system model. The simplified model estimates the permafrost fraction of each grid cell according to the balance between modelled cold (below 0 °C) and warm (above 0 °C) days in a year. Areas diagnosed as permafrost are assigned a reduction in soil decomposition rate, thus creating a slow accumulating soil carbon pool. In warming climates, permafrost extent reduces and soil decomposition rates increase, resulting in soil carbon release to the atmosphere. Four accumulation/decomposition rate settings are retained for experiments within the CLIMBER-2(P) model, which are tuned to agree with estimates of total land carbon stocks today and at the last glacial maximum. The distribution of this permafrost-carbon pool is in broad agreement with measurement data for soil carbon content. The level of complexity of the permafrost-carbon model is comparable to other components in the CLIMBER-2 earth system model.