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Project Information

Project Information

Understanding Northern Latitude Vegetation Greening and Browning - A Workshop

Project Scope:

An ad hoc committee will plan and conduct a public workshop that convenes experts to discuss the current state of knowledge regarding shifts in Arctic and subarctic vegetation, as well as knowledge gaps and future research and observational needs to improve understanding. Workshop participants will present on and discuss the broad suite of identified potential drivers of vegetation change, necessary measurements, available tools and satellites for evaluating this change, and the implications of observed patterns.  


Specific topics to be addressed include:


Spatial and temporal patterns in Arctic tundra and boreal forest greening versus browning


·         What has caused the change from widespread, long-term greening to increased variability in the extent and duration of greening versus browning in tundra and boreal forest?


·         What is driving some regions to green while others brown or remain largely unchanged?


·         What factors control "flipping" from greening to browning (or vice versa) in tundra ecosystems and at what timescales is this occurring?


·         Can we predict future northern latitude vegetation dynamics given what is currently known?



Methods and tools for evaluating northern latitude vegetation change


·         Are current observing systems (both satellite and field measurements) adequate for identifying vegetation change and providing information needed to understand the factors influencing vegetation dynamics?


·         What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various satellite datasets in evaluating tundra and boreal greening and browning? Are there remote sensing technologies beyond optical remote sensing that can improve understanding of vegetation change?


·         Are there new metrics, methods, or measurement tools that could improve understanding of observed vegetation changes?




Implications for Arctic vegetation change


·         Can we quantify the effects of shifts in Arctic tundra and boreal forest vegetation on Earth energy balance?


·         How does green versus brown vegetation influence soil warming and associated changes in permafrost and carbon cycling?


·         Are there hydrological changes that are influencing observed vegetation shifts? Conversely, are shifts in vegetation altering hydrological processes?


·         What are the impacts of vegetation change on plant communities and other biota (e.g., birds and mammals)?


·         How might variability in greening versus browning on annual or multi-year timescales influence these potential implications?


The product of this workshop will be a workshop proceedings written by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.



Status: Current


RSO: Melvin, April


Biology and Life Sciences
Environment and Environmental Studies

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Scott Goetz - (Chair)
Dr. Scott Goetz is a Professor at Northern Arizona University in the School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems (SICCS). He has conducted satellite remote sensing research for environmental science applications over some 30 years, having organized and served on numerous working groups for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations programs on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), the U.S. Global Change Research Program, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) programs on arctic and carbon cycle science, climate change, and terrestrial ecology. He is the Science Lead of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) and deputy principal investigator of NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation. He has authored approximately 180 refereed publications that have been cited over 19,000 times. His research has been covered by numerous news agencies (including the New York Times and National Public Radio), popular magazines (e.g. National Geographic, Scientific American) and science news venues (e.g. Nature, Science). He was awarded a Fulbright Research Scholarship in Toulouse France (2010) and has received NASA team awards for interdisciplinary science (1990, 1996). Between 2002 and 2015 he was a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), including 5 years as Deputy Director, and serves on WHRC’s Board of Directors. He has been a board member of Environmental Research Letters (ERL) since 2012, a member of ERL’s Executive Board since 2016, and served for 10 years as an Associate editor of Remote Sensing of Environment (2005-2015). He has also supported and mentored dozens of early career scientists and graduate students.
Elizabeth Campbell
Dr. Elizabeth Campbell is a Forest Ecologist with the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada. At the Canadian Forest Service, Dr. Campbell’s research includes the analysis of observational data (from tree rings, permanent sample plots, and remote sensing) to quantify changes in forest growth and productivity, historical disturbance regimes, and forest dynamics; and the use of multiple model approaches to forecast potential climate change impacts on forest structure and dynamics. She currently leads a Natural Resources Canada Forest Change Program research project on “Western Boreal Forest Vulnerability to Climate Change,” and also serves on the core science team Forest Change Program. Dr. Campbell is a member of the Vegetation Dynamics Working Group for NASA’s ABoVE and represents Canada on a Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations), North American Forest Commission Working Group examining the implications of climate change on forest genetic resources. She has also served as an expert witness for resource development hearings (pipelines/hydro) in Canada’s boreal forest and provided expert review for the second order draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II contribution to the 5th Assessment Report, Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Before joining the Canadian Forest Service in 2011, Dr. Campbell worked for 10 years as a Research Forest Ecologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Forests. During her tenure there she was lead author on the province’s scientific foundation report on adapting forest management to a changing climate. She obtained a Ph.D. in boreal forest ecology from the University of Quebec at Montreal, Centre for Forest Studies.
Eugene S. Euskirchen
Dr. Eugenie Euskirchen is an Associate Research Professor in the Institute for Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research focuses on terrestrial ecology in high latitude regions, and interactions with the surrounding natural and human-altered landscapes. This includes working towards a better understanding of the sensitivity of Arctic tundra and boreal forest ecosystems to warming, and in particular, how ecosystem changes shift the timing and dynamics of climatological and ecological factors, eventually feeding back to influence the climate. She pursues research questions at multiple temporal and spatial scales, using both model- and field-based approaches. Dr. Euskirchen currently holds multiple leadership positions, including serving as co-chair of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Technical Working Group Advisory Board for Surface-Atmosphere Exchange and as a working group member for the Terrestrial Instrument Data quality assurance/quality control group; on the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) Science Team; on the Steering Committee for synergies between NEON and the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network; as a working group lead for a National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Arctic Data Center activity focused on reconciling historical and contemporary trends in terrestrial carbon exchange of the northern permafrost-zone; and on the Integrated Arctic Social Observation System Arctic-Atmosphere Surface Coupling Initiative. She received her B.S. from Marymount College, M.S. from Johns Hopkins University, and Ph.D. from Michigan Technical University.
Benjamin Poulter
Dr. Benjamin Poulter is a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). His research integrates process models and remote sensing to understand how terrestrial ecosystems are responding to climate change, changing atmospheric trace gases, land-use and land-cover change, and disturbance. He has worked internationally and in the United States working with colleagues to understand the role of the terrestrial carbon cycle in the Earth system, which included investigations of vegetation greening and browning in various ecosystem types as well as in global syntheses. These studies included exploring how changes in light-use efficiency, carbon dioxide fertilization, land-use change, and interactions between drivers have been linked to vegetation greening and browning. He currently serves on the North American Carbon Program (NACP) and the Integrated Land Ecosystem Processes Study (iLEAPS) scientific steering committees and on the Editorial Board for Global Ecology and Biogeography. Dr. Poulter received a B.S. from the University of Idaho and a Ph.D. from Duke University.


Event Type :  

Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  April Melvin
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2684

Supporting File(s)
Is it a Closed Session Event?

Publication(s) resulting from the event: