Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


Principal Investigator

Scott Goetz (Science Lead)


Charles Miller (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Peter Griffith (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Mike Falkowski (NASA Headquarters Terrestrial Ecology Program Scientist), Hank Margolis (NASA Headquarters Terrestrial Ecology Program Manager), ABoVE Science Team.


ABoVE is a large-scale, NASA-led study of environmental change, including climate change, in Arctic & boreal regions, and the implications for ecological systems and society. The overarching ABoVE science question is, “how vulnerable or resilient are ecosystems and society to environmental change in the Arctic and boreal region of western North America?” NAU Professor Goetz is the Lead of the ABoVE Science Team, as well as Principal Investigator for a specific ABoVE project, “Mapping and Modeling Attributes of an Arctic-Boreal Biome Shift.” ABoVE field campaigns are taking place across Alaska and western Canada, with a wide range of interdisciplinary science objectives designed to address ecosystem and societal vulnerability, or resilience, to environmental changes ongoing and expected in the region.

The first 4-year phase of ABoVE is underway, with a focus on ecosystem dynamics and ecosystem services objectives. Some 87 core and affiliated projects are currently active, including ~614 participants from about 150 institutions funded by NASA, other U.S. agencies, and Canadian and European organizations. Eight core projects were added in late 2016 to utilize airborne observations linking field and satellite measurements, with major airborne campaigns taking place in 2017 and 2019. The Science Team is organized around working groups (WGs) focused on vegetation, permafrost and hydrology, disturbance, carbon dynamics, wildlife and ecosystem services, and modeling. Additional WGs focus on airborne science, stakeholder engagement, geospatial products, and other themes. All are supplemented by infrastructure activities including data management, cloud computing, laboratory, and field support.

Although organized by disciplinary WGs, ABoVE research broadly focuses on the complex interdependencies and feedbacks across disciplines. Ultimately, ABoVE will improve our understanding of the consequences of environmental changes occurring across the study domain, our ability to quantify and monitor land-atmosphere exchanges and climate feedbacks, as well as increase our confidence in making projections of the ecosystem responses, resiliency, and vulnerability to changes taking place both within and outside the domain. ABoVE will also build a lasting legacy of collaboration through an expanded knowledge base, provision of key datasets to a broader network of researchers and resource managers, and the development of data products and knowledge designed to foster decision support and applied research partnerships with broad societal relevance. To find a great deal more information on ABoVE, please visit the ABoVE/NASA website.


This work is supported in part by the NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program.

Related publications

Please see a list of ABoVE publications. A focus collection of Environmental Research Letters on Resiliency and Vulnerability of Arctic and Boreal Ecosystems to Environmental Change will also remain open to submissions over the next decade, capturing some of the research output of ABoVE as it progresses.