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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


More About Research Areas for ABoVE

The ABoVE Science Definition Team (SDT) identified 15 conceptual Research Areas within the Study Domain that offer the range of environmental conditions necessary to address most of the research questions and objectives for ABoVE.  Key (but not all) attributes distinguishing these Research Areas are detailed in Table A1 of the ACEP (please make note of the Erratum regarding the ecoregions in Table A1).  The distribution of these Research Areas across the Study Domain provides the opportunity for locating individual investigator sites in the range of terrestrial (forest, tundra, human settlement) and freshwater aquatic (wetlands, peatlands, ponds, and lakes) ecosystems that exist across the study domain, for studying changes ecosystems and ecosystem services, and for investigating how people respond to these changes.  It also provides opportunities to study gradients of important drivers of change (e.g., climate and disturbance), as well as gradients of ecosystem characteristics that are important in boreal and arctic regions (permafrost, hydrology, soil carbon, flora, and fauna).  

Within most of the Research Areas (except G and N) a logistical hub for research has been identified.  These hubs are places where investigators will have the ability to build upon previous and/or planned research activities by other institutions and the opportunity to access or request access to existing infrastructure needed to support research activities. The generalized locations of these logistical hubs are shown in Figure 4.1 of the ACEP, denoted by the flags labelled A-O.  Exact geographic boundaries have not been specified for the Research Areas surrounding the hubs.  

It is expected that the majority of individual site- or region-based projects funded by NASA during ABoVE will be carried out near the logistical hub of one or more Research Areas.  The exact distance from the hub to the investigator sites or regions will depend on balancing the scientific need for collecting data with the accessibility, safety, and cost of establishing a field site in a particular location.  For example, the available transportation and its cost may determine how far from the hub individual research sites can be sustained. 

NASA does not expect to necessarily populate all 15 conceptual Research Areas with site- or region-based investigations; the number and types of investigations within a given Research Area as well as across Research Areas may vary greatly and will depend on the individual studies selected for funding.  Thus, the final number and exact boundaries of Research Areas, as well as the types of investigations to be carried out within each, will not be known until the ABoVE Science Team has been selected and completes a detailed implementation plan.

In addition, NASA also expects to fund some field research at sites within both the Core and Extended Regions of the Study Domain based on the need to study processes that are unique to a site and do not exist in a specific Research Area.  Research conducted outside the 15 Research Areas is likely to be based on collaborations with ongoing or planned research and monitoring activities of other institutions.