IAB Research Project Description

Collaborative Research: Greening of the Arctic

PLACEHOLDER IMAGE - Skip Walker, in the red shirt, describes the vegetation on a patterned-ground feature. Standing from left, are: Bill Krantz, University of Colorado; Hilmar Maier and Walker, IAB, UAF; Vladimir Romanovsky, GI, UAF; and Alexia Kelly, University of Virginia, near Deadhorse, Alaska, July 2000. Credit: Photo by Julie Knudson/UAF

Any and all uses of these images must include photographer credit.

Changes to the vegetation of the Arctic are intimately linked to changes to the sea-ice cover, land-surface temperatures, and a host of terrain variables.

The overarching goals of this research are to

(1) explore the sea-ice/terrain/vegetation linkages by synthesizing a group of recently available long-term circumpolar databases,

(2) examine how the vegetation of the circumpolar Arctic is responding to global climate change, and

(3) use this information in combination with models to help predict future response of arctic vegetation.

Intellectual merit of the project is that it will directly address the question of how the terrestrial vegetation of the Arctic has responded to climate change to date and how it will respond in the future as portions of the Arctic Ocean become seasonally ice free as indicated by current understanding of trends in sea ice. An average 17% increase in greenness, as measured by the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), occurred in northern Alaska from 1981 to 2001, concomitant with strong ice retreat in the Beaufort Sea and rising land-surface temperatures. The trend in NDVI is consistent with observations regarding shrub cover, modeling, and experimental evidence linking temperature increases to biomass increases.

Project Funding

National Science Foundation
1 Jan 2006 – 31 Dec 2008
IAB Proposal #05-077
UAF Grant #G2739
IAB Project #79

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412