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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


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Section 1.4 Research Framework

Identification of resilience and vulnerability in Arctic and boreal ecosystems is needed and intended to predict how they will be altered as a consequence of changes in climate and disturbances, including their role in the Earth system, the services they provide to society, and societal responses to these changes. To quantify resilience and vulnerability, research is being conducted, and will be expanded in further phases, to improve our scientific understanding of: (1) changes occurring across the study domain at multiple spatial and temporal scales; (2) the underlying processes and their interactions driving these changes; (3) the consequences of these changes for ecosystem services; and (4) how society is responding to the changes, which may influence future resilience and vulnerability. Addressing these four areas of investigation provides a basis for developing the policies and management strategies needed to help mitigate and adapt to the changes that are occurring in the study domain.

The science questions and objectives being addressed during ABoVE are organized in a Vulnerability/Resilience Framework that provides guidance for conducting individual studies within a broader context and a structure for developing synthetic, interdisciplinary and integrated assessments of vulnerability and resilience of the social-ecological systems in the study domain. Beyond the diagnosis of changes to ecosystem structure and function, research is typically intended to address questions of attribution through understanding the drivers of and responses to change, which is critical for the prediction of future ecosystem change. The identification of plausible and probable future changes (i.e., scenarios) is a key need of resource managers, policy-makers, and stakeholders at all levels.

Figure 2. Conceptual diagram of the Vulnerability/Resilience Framework used for organizing the science questions and objectives to be addressed during ABoVE.