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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


Airborne Science

Referenced on page A.4-8 in NASA Research Announcement for Terrestrial Ecology: Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment – Phase 2 NNH18ZDA001N-TE

The 2017 Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment Airborne Campaign (AAC) was one of the largest, most complex airborne science experiments conducted by NASA’s Earth Science Division. Between April and November, the AAC involved ten aircraft in more than 200 science flights that conducted surveys across over 4 million km2 in Alaska and northwestern Canada. Many flights were coordinated with same-day ground-based measurements to link process-level studies with geospatial data products derived from satellite sensors. The AAC collected data spanning the critical intermediate space and time scales that are essential for a comprehensive understanding of scaling across the ABoVE Study Domain and ultimately extrapolation to the pan-Arctic using satellite data and ecosystem models. The AAC provided unique opportunities to validate satellite and airborne remote sensing data and data products for northern high latitude ecosystems. The science strategy coupled domain-wide sampling with so-called “Foundational Instrument”, L-band and P-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), imaging spectroscopy, full waveform LIDAR, atmospheric trace gases (including carbon dioxide and methane), as well as PI-led studies using Ka-band SAR and solar induced chlorophyll fluorescence. Targets of interest included field sites operated by the ABoVE Science Team as well as the intensive and/or long-term sites operated by US and Canadian partners.
Environmental Research Letters (ERL) Paper
An overview of ABoVE airborne campaign data acquisitions and science opportunities, Miller et. al. 2018
Paper In Review
Flown Lines

Detailed flight lines for each sensor were constructed to overlap the ground projections for each sensor while simultaneously maximizing field site sampling. The ~12 km swath of the P-band SAR was used to anchor all flight lines. The L-band SAR (~15 km swath) flight lines were designed with the requirement to maximize near-field overlap of the P-band and L-band swaths, while extending past the P-band swath in the far field. Flight lines for LVIS (~1.4 km swath), AVIRIS-NG (~3.6 km swath) and Ka-band SAR (~4 km swath) were slaved to the centerline of the P-band swath, except where deviations were required to capture critical ground sites.

Targets of interest included field sites operated by the ABoVE Science Team as well as the intensive sites operated by the DOE NGEE-Arctic team on the Seward Peninsula and in Barrow, NSF’s LTER sites at Toolik Lake (Arctic/North Slope) and Bonanza Creek (Boreal/Interior Alaska), the Canadian Cold Regions Hydrology sites in the Arctic tundra near Trail Valley Creek NT, the interdisciplinary science stations at Daring Lake NT and Scotty Creek NT, the Government of the Northwest Territories Slave River/Slave Delta watershed time series, the Kluane Lake (YT) Research Station, and numerous forest and fire disturbance plots maintained by the National Park Service, and the US and Canadian Forestry Services. (doi to archive).
Upcoming Flights in 2018

Notional flightlines, subject to modification, will be posted as this planning progresses.

Sign up for ABoVE Airborne Daily Flight Reports

NASA is planning to conduct L-Band SAR flights in late August of 2018 and 2019.

L-Band SAR will be repeating lines flown during the 2017 campaign, with the objective of establishing multi-year time series for ABoVE science investigations, and is tentatively scheduled to fly the BERMS site in Saskatchewan, road-accessible sites near Yellowknife and Inuvik, and a subset of sites in Alaska and Yukon that are of greatest interest to the SAR Working Group.

G-LiHT began Alaskan flights in July 2018: Friday 13 July - Susitna-Copper Valley was socked in by clouds and raining, so G-LiHT transited to the Tanana Valley to pick up G-LiHT data over 1) forests that burned since the 2014 G-LiHT acquisitions; 2) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) permafrost transects flown by G-LiHT in 2014; and 3) ABoVE 2018 requests over a) Creamer’s Field near Fairbanks (uniformly overcast) and b) Yukon Flats (mostly clear with a few cumulus). July 14 and 15 were down days due to low, dense clouds and rain. Additional collections (including those over Delta Junction lines) are planned beginning the week of July 16 when the weather forecast improves.

During the active flight season, the NEON project flies two Airborne Observation Platforms (AOP) to collect data across NEON field sites. See the NEON Airborne Remote Sensing webpage.

Sign up for NEON daily flight reports.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

The DLR plans to fly an F-SAR instrument over regions of the ABoVE Domain including the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Saskatchewan in the summer of 2018. Overlap with ABoVE Airborne Campaign sensors is expected at the Boreal Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Sites (BERMS) in Saskatchewan as well as other sites near Yellowknife, NT.


Instrument Availability Data Product Download Searching Instructions
L-Band SAR Now  
P-Band SAR Now
  1. Deselect L-band and Ka-band
  2. Type “above” into the free text field
  3. Search
  4. More than one version is available for some lines due to multiple DEM versions used.
  5. All lines have been processed with ASTER GDEM, but some lines have also been processed with Arctic DEM or SRTM.
  6. The DEM Working Group is preparing a new DEM, after which all lines will be reprocessed.
LVIS Now  
G–LiHT Now  

PI Instrument

Instrument & Data Product Download Availability
AirSWOT 2018
ArcticCAP Now
ATom 2018

Partner Instruments

Instrument Availability Data Product Download
NEON 2018

Field Data Products

Data products from research sponsored by NASA as part of ABoVE; from partner projects sponsored by DOE NGEE-Arctic and Polar Knowledge Canada; and other affiliated projects.