CCSI Scientists Co-author NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment Research Plan

Jun 11, 2014

Climate science researcher Daniel Hayes of the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with Eric Kasischke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Maryland, co-chaired the science definition team charged with formulating the research plan for the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). Stan Wullschleger, CCSI scientist and lead principal investigator for the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments–Arctic (NGEE–Arctic), also served on the ABoVE science definition team. ABoVE is a large-scale study of environmental change in the Arctic and boreal region of western North America and its implications for ecological and societal systems.

The Arctic and boreal region is experiencing the effects of climate change faster than other parts of the globe. These changes include reduced volume and area of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean during summer; warming and thawing of permafrost; increases in the frequency and severity of climate-driven disturbances; and widespread changes to surface water extent, soil moisture, and vegetation structure and function.

The ABoVE research plan co-authored by CCSI and NASA researchers outlines the conceptual basis for the study’s field campaign, explains the scientific and societal importance of the study, and presents the science questions driving ABoVE research and the study design that will address them. ABoVE’s science objectives presented in the plan are broadly focused on (1) developing a fuller understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of the western North America Arctic and boreal ecosystems to environmental change and (2) providing the scientific basis for informed decision-making to guide societal responses at local to international levels. Aimed at improving the analysis and modeling capabilities needed to understand and predict ecosystem responses and societal implications of climate change, research for ABoVE will link field-based studies with geospatial data products derived from airborne and satellite sensor2.

Among the many goals of ABoVE, NASA hopes to encourage and, where possible, facilitate collaboration with existing research efforts in Alaska and western Canada. Discussions have been held between NASA and several agencies, including the Department of Energy Office of Science, to assess collaborations between ABoVE and NGEE-Arctic. The NGEE-Arctic project is quantifying the physical, chemical, and biological behavior of terrestrial ecosystesm of the North Slope in Alaska with the goal of improving process understanding and model representaiton of ecosystem-climate feedbacks.

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