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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.

ABoVE: Directory of Field Sites Associated with 2017 ABoVE Airborne Campaign
This dataset provides a listing of the ~6,700 field sites used in planning the ABoVE Airborne Campaign (AAC) for 2017. The sites included point, polygon, and line locations that were used in determining the 2017 AAC flight paths. We intend this compilation to assist investigators in understanding the flight line choices and as a method for investigators to identify ground locations used in the airborne campaign. Data users may also search for the underlying data available at each of these locations. Site descriptors include name, coordinates, principal investigators with emails, data types, long-term archive locations, and links to project descriptions.
We request that users properly cite the data when used in publications, to enable readers to find the data files. The citation is the following:

Hoy, E.E., P. Griffith, C.E. Miller, and ABoVE Science Team. 2018. ABoVE: Directory of Field Sites Associated with 2017 ABoVE Airborne Campaign. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA.

Flights Completed in 2018
NASA conducted flights using AVIRIS-ng, L-band SAR (UAVSAR), and G-LiHT in 2018. Coordinated flights and ground validation were conducted with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Targets of interest included field sites occupied by the ABoVE Science Team as well as the intensive sites operated by the DOE NGEE-Arctic 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 station at 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. Media coverage organized with help from the NASA Office of Communications is posted here.

NASA conducted AVIRIS-NG flights during July 21 through 18 August, 2018. Primary mission was to obtain imagery over areas that were not imaged in 2017 due to weather conditions. Some flights were flown in “methane mode” over regions known or suspected to have high methane emissions.

2018 ABoVE AVIRIS-NG final coverage:

NASA conducted L-Band SAR (UAVSAR) flights during 18-31 August of 2018, repeating lines flown during the 2017 campaign to establish a multi-year time series. Sites included the BERMS site in Saskatchewan, the Peace-Athabascan Delta, road-accessible sites near Yellowknife and Inuvik, and a subset of sites in Alaska and Yukon that were of greatest interest to the SAR Working Group. New flight lines were planned and executed in coordination with the German Aerospace Center (see below). The BERMS sites was flown in TomoSAR mode.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

The DLR flew their F-SAR instrument over regions of the ABoVE Domain in the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan in August 2018. DLR and ABoVE will share airborne and ground validation data from the coordinated collections at the Boreal Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Sites (BERMS) in Saskatchewan and at the Baker Creek watershed near Yellowknife, NT.

G-LiHT conducted flights for ABoVE during 13-15 July. The aircraft transited to the Tanana Valley to collect 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 and b) Yukon Flats near Ft. Yukon. Weather did not permit collections over Delta Junction sites in 2018, but these may be attempted in 2019.

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.

Science Summaries
Science Summaries show a combination of the daily status of the different aircraft, photos relevant to the flights, first-looks of the imagery acquired, and graphics of the completed flight lines. These summaries are preliminary, but can provide information about the current status of the campaign.
Weather Maps


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.