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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


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Section 1.3 Timing of Research Phases and Coordination Objectives

The research for ABoVE will be carried out over a 9 to 10 year period through individual investigator studies funded by NASA and its partners. The field campaigns are organized according to a timeline that includes three phases, where the research foci broadly address the Ecosystem Dynamics and Ecosystem Services objectives successively in each of the first two phases, followed by a third phase dedicated to the analysis and synthesis of ABoVE research. The first phase of ABoVE research is underway as of late 2015. To address the ABoVE science questions and objectives, research is being carried out at sites located in different research areas (clusters of research sites) across the study domain. These include research efforts based on coordinated field measurements, analysis of remotely sensed data, the use of models, and initial analyses focused on integration and scaling. These are detailed further below and in various sections of this dynamic web-based implementation plan.

ABoVE research coordination efforts already include a number of activities since Phase 1 projects were initiated, including science team meetings in Minneapolis, Anchorage, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. The Minneapolis meeting provided an opportunity for much of the science team to learn about what other ABoVE-funded projects plan to do in terms of research and stakeholder engagement, as well as to learn about the Carbon Cycle & Ecosystem (CCE) Office efforts in terms of field support, infrastructure development, the ABoVE science cloud computing environment, data management and coordination activities, and related efforts. The Anchorage meeting provided an opportunity for more of the science team to meet with ABoVE stakeholders in Alaska, which are diverse and well advanced in a wide range of research and resource management activities, including those of indigenous communities. At the Yellowknife meeting and Whitehorse meeting smaller subsets of the science team to met with Canadian Partners, particularly POLAR Knowledge Canada, but also a range of Canadian stakeholders at the national, territorial, and provincial levels – again including research and resource management agencies and First Nation and aboriginal peoples representatives. These meetings were specifically focused on advancing joint activities in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, respectively. Several additional meetings were held, and are ongoing, to coordinate research with Canadian collaborators via the ABoVE Coordinating Committee. The intent of all these efforts is to build strong, mutually beneficial collaborations with partner organizations that are also invested in understanding and addressing the causes and consequences of environmental change on ecological and social systems in Arctic and boreal regions. Such collaborative efforts include, but are not limited to, exchanging data, sharing access to research infrastructure, providing logistical support, supporting and coordinating additional research activities, and participating in developing information products needed for model development and prediction, as well as decision-support. In fact, the study domain and associated spatial hierarchy fundamental to the ABoVE experiment design was defined in part to be compatible with existing infrastructure and ongoing research by Partner organizations and agencies working in western North America.

The exact nature and extent of the activities of NASA and its Partners in implementing ABoVE are expected to continue to evolve as specific agreements are reached, responsibilities defined, and levels of funding available to support research activities determined. In addition, research conducted during ABoVE is being coordinated with other ongoing and expected future research activities sponsored by NASA in the study domain, including relevant Earth Venture projects, activities in support of satellite missions (SMAP, OCO-2, ICESat-2, NISAR), research for other campaigns funded by other NASA Programs (e.g. Interdisciplinary Science), and new research projects that are part of specific activities funded through NASA Research Opportunities.