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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


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Section 3.0 Science Team Working Group Research & Monitoring Activities

The approach to implementing ABoVE science objectives is organized by thematic working groups. The Science Team has developed initial Phase 1 plans for field measurement protocols and data organization, as well as for the development, refinement, and validation of the remote sensing data products. Because addressing the ABoVE Tier 2 science questions and objectives will require significant ongoing modeling research and application activities, the Science Team also collectively aids in the development of plans for coordinating the modeling research for ABoVE with that being carried out by other organizations, particularly modeling activities being carried out by ABoVE Partners. This implementation plan also addresses the various elements of the modeling research that need to be coordinated across investigations, including identifying benchmark data products and variables that are needed to initialize, drive, validate, and calibrate different models. In addition, investigators carrying out modeling research are already participating in workshops with various stakeholders to identify the needs of models for diagnosis and prognosis to address objectives related to the consequences of and responses to the impacts of environmental change.

While integration, synthesis, and scaling activities occur within individual investigator studies, the Science Team has already outlined and initiated some broader analysis and synthesis activities. As ABoVE progresses to later phases, these synthesis activities will consider the refinement of conceptual models and the development of frameworks to facilitate the overarching ABoVE science question: How vulnerable or resilient are ecosystems and society to environmental change in the Arctic and boreal region of western North America? Inevitably, this integration and synthesis research is likely to take various forms depending on the science objective, data availability, and the phase of the activity, including (1) the temporal extension of key datasets and new understanding of system response through data synthesis and novel analyses across studies; (2) the spatial scaling of individual studies across larger domains through remote sensing, geospatial mapping and analysis of environmental and social correlates; and (3) the development of decision-support products related to the vulnerability/resiliency of ecosystem services to change through integrated social and ecological studies. These efforts necessarily include key stakeholder groups so that careful consideration is given to developing data products at the scale and information content that maximizes their value for multiple audiences and purposes, including decision support. This objective was a key rationale for the ABoVE Science Team meetings in Anchorage (January 2016), and Yellowknife and Whitehorse (May 2016). In brief, integration and synthesis research is not only a concluding activity for ABoVE, but rather will take place throughout the duration. Initial activities in this area are providing connections between ABoVE research and previous studies while also determining the most important gaps in knowledge needed to address the broader Ecosystem Dynamics objectives. Early research is focused on identifying the spatial and temporal gaps in key datasets associated with uncertainties in ecosystem processes and, more broadly, system-level understanding. The assessment of critical data gaps forms a basis for prioritization of (1) the field, remote sensing and modeling studies to be conducted in the latter phases of ABOVE and (2) the key partnerships and collaborations with other relevant on-going research that are being and will continue to be fostered.