Call for Members - ABoVE Field Campaign Science Definition Team

3 December 2012

Call for Members
Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment Field Campaign
Science Definition Team

Response deadline: Friday, 14 December 2012 at 4:30 p.m. EDT

NASA is soliciting applications and nominations for members of the
Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) field campaign Science
Definition Team (SDT). Response will take the form of a Letter of
Application submitted to the Terrestrial Ecology Program Manager at NASA

1. Scope of the Program

The next major field campaign to be sponsored by the NASA Terrestrial
Ecology Program will focus on (1) developing a fuller understanding of
ecosystem vulnerability to climate change in the Arctic and boreal
regions of western North America, with some degree of concentrated
effort in Alaska; and (2) providing the scientific information required
to develop options for societal responses to the impacts of these
changes. The field campaign will be based on the Arctic-Boreal
Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) concept as described in the ABoVE
Scoping Study Report, Revised ABoVE Executive Summary, and report of the
June 13-15, 2012 ABoVE Workshop. All of these documents are available
at: If this website is
not available, please send an email ( to request
copies of the desired documents.

Climate change in the Arctic and boreal region is unfolding faster than
anywhere else on Earth, resulting in a longer ice-free Arctic Ocean
during summer, warming and thawing of permafrost, increases in the
frequency and severity of climate-driven disturbances, widespread
changes to surface water extent, and alterations in vegetation structure
and function. Environmental change in this region is increasingly
affecting society in a variety of ways, including impacts on forests
from insects and fires, erosion of arctic coastlines, and changes to
wildlife habitat and ecosystems that affect subsistence opportunities
and economic uses. Research conducted as part of ABoVE to address
ecosystem vulnerability in these systems will involve observations,
process-oriented analyses, scientific syntheses, and modeling. Emphasis
will be on research that integrates data collected by airborne and
spaceborne sensors with information obtained from field studies and
ground-based observations. The study will address questions that are
associated with processes that are critical to understanding the
environmental and societal impacts of climate change in Arctic-boreal
ecosystems, as well as ecosystem responses that in turn affect
trajectories of future change in the region and/or feedback to the
global climate system.

ABoVE will contribute to the priorities of the U.S. Global Change
Research Program (USGCRP), conducting research that responds to specific
calls for research that advances understanding of vulnerabilities in
human and biogeophysical systems and their relationships to climate
extremes, thresholds, and tipping points
( This
research will require: integrated cross-sectoral, biogeophysical, and
socioeconomic observations, as well as improved simulation and modeling.
Specific areas where progress is needed include: observations to detect
trends in extremes, integration of observations into models, attribution
of change to human or natural causes, integrated research on Earth and
human systems; simulation and prediction at spatial and temporal scale
conducive to decision making; and adaptation responses to changing
frequency and intensity of extreme events.

The ABoVE Science Definition Team (SDT) members will spend approximately
twelve to fifteen months refining the science questions and issues to be
addressed and developing a detailed study design for the ABoVE field
campaign. The SDT will be supported in its efforts by the Terrestrial
Ecology Program at NASA Headquarters and the ABoVE support team within
the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems (CC&E) Office at NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center. The work of the SDT will culminate in a report that will
serve as the Concise Experiment Plan NASA will use to guide its
implementation of the field campaign (for an example, please refer to
the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia Concise
Experiment Plan at

2. Science Definition Team for ABoVE

2.1 ABoVE SDT Structure

The ABoVE SDT will consist of approximately 8-20 members with expertise
in scientific disciplines relevant to the goals of ABoVE. These include,
but are not limited to ecology, biogeochemistry, ecohydrology,
geography, land surface climatology, and the social, behavioral, and
economic sciences. Members also will have expertise in the methodologies
to be used: satellite, airborne, and in situ observations; data
analysis; data synthesis; data management; and modeling. It will be
desirable for some members of the SDT to have knowledge of and
experience working in northern high latitude ecosystems and/or
experience in applying scientific knowledge to decision making in the
region. NASA also will be looking for members who have a demonstrated
ability to work well as constructive, engaged members of a
collaborative, interdisciplinary team. The Terrestrial Ecology Program
Manager will make a recommendation to the Selecting Official for a Chair
or Co-Chairs of the ABoVE SDT from the selected SDT members. The NASA
Terrestrial Ecology Program Manager and possibly other agency
representatives will be ex officio members of the ABoVE SDT.

NASA is currently seeking and discussing partnerships with other
organizations in the conduct of ABoVE. There is also the possibility
that partnerships may develop to involve ABoVE in abroader,
multidisciplinary field program in the Arctic. If such partnerships are
realized, NASA may ask its ABoVE SDT members to also engage in the
scientific planning for the combined activity, joining with the
scientists representing the scientific interests of the partner
organizations. NASA is not anticipating that such interactions will add
significantly to the burden of work to be undertaken by the ABoVE SDT.

2.2 ABoVE SDT Responsibilities

The members of the ABoVE SDT will provide NASA with scientific
assistance in developing a Concise Experiment Plan for the ABoVE field
campaign. This plan will include the science questions to be addressed,
a compelling rationale explaining the scientific and societal importance
of the study, the research approach/strategy, a reasonably detailed
study design and description of required field and remote sensing
observations, required field infrastructure, logistics, and data
management capabilities.

NASA's charge to the SDT will be to design a regional, Arctic-boreal
terrestrial ecosystem research project to be conducted in western North
America, including Alaska, that is faithful to the scope and primary
objectives described in the Revised Executive Summary for ABoVE. The
ABoVE Scoping Study Report included details regarding study design and
management as a proof-of-concept demonstration of feasibility. The SDT
will be free to adopt those recommendations or further consider, refine,
and/or alter the study design to best address ABoVE goals and
objectives. The SDT will be charged to identify the particular societal
issues that will be studied in ABoVE, with the understanding that these
will likely require the incorporation of complementary social and
natural science perspectives and methods. The SDT will be charged to
design a study that leverages, complements, and is compatible with
ongoing Arctic-boreal research projects and field observations of
national and international organizations working in the region. The NASA
field campaign can then focus on filling gaps in scientific or
geographic coverage and providing integrated regional analyses through
effective use of satellite and airborne remote sensing, geospatial data
analysis tools, and integrative data synthesis and modeling studies.

The initial meeting of the ABoVE SDT will be targeted for late January
2013 and will be a teleconference call (for planning purposes, proposers
should hold the afternoons of January 24 and 28 for a one and a half
hour teleconference call to be scheduled on one or the other of those
two days). The SDT can be expected to meet in person four times over the
twelve to fifteen months following SDT selection. Meeting duration will
be for (typically) two to three days. The SDT also may have regular
phone-in meetings. Meetings will be called and their agendas set by the
SDT Chair in coordination with NASA HQ and CC&E Office management to
ensure that planned activities are aligned with programmatic needs and
expectations. NASA will support travel expenses for all ABoVE SDT work.
Salary and other financial support will not be provided to SDT members.
The CC&E Office will be responsible for any tasks necessary to support
the work of the ABoVE SDT.

All reports and other output of the ABoVE SDT will be made publicly
available. Once the SDT's work has concluded, it will be disbanded prior
to any solicitations for the field campaign being issued by NASA.

2.3 ABoVE SDT Membership Proposal Content

Response to this Call is in the form of a Letter of Application. In the
letter, the applicant should provide evidence of expertise and knowledge
in areas highly relevant to the ABoVE primary scientific goals and
related research activities. The types of expertise and knowledge
desired were listed in section 2.1; however, appropriate expertise is
not limited to the examples given there. All applicants must explain the
knowledge and skills they have to offer and why they are important for
SDT activities. Letters of application should provide a brief statement
regarding which aspects of the ABoVE study the applicant would be able
to help develop, as well as their overall vision regarding the
scientific direction and scope of the field campaign. Applicants may
express an interest in serving as SDT Chair (or co-Chair), but NASA will
not limit selection of the SDT Chair to those applicants who express

The Letter may contain a brief list of references to scientific or
technical papers the applicant has published and/or positions held and
work conducted that establish her/him as a leader in their area(s) of
expertise. The Letter should also contain a statement of how much time
the applicant will commit over the next twelve to fifteen months for
activities related to the ABoVE SDT, particularly if there are any major
constraints that may restrict full engagement in the significant amount
of work that will be required to define the scientific approach and
study design for the ABoVE field campaign.

Letter applications are invited from individuals, not groups.
Collaborations and teams are not solicited. Each Letter is to be limited
to three pages, with 11-point (or larger) font and one-inch margins. The
subject line of a responsive application must read "NASA ABoVE SDT
Application." Letter applications submitted by email are preferred, but
may also be submitted by regular mail or fax. Responses to this
invitation must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. EST on Friday, 14
December 2012.

3. Selection of the ABoVE Science Definition Team

NASA expects to select approximately 8-20 individuals for membership on
the ABoVE SDT and plans to announce its selection in January 2013. NASA
will select the ABoVE SDT members and the SDT Chair from the pool of
respondents after reviewing the letters received in response to this

Application letters should be submitted to:

Dr. Diane E. Wickland
Terrestrial Ecology Program
Earth Science Division - Science Mission Directorate
Mail Suite 3B74
NASA Headquarters
300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546
Tel: 202-358-0245
Email: Diane.
Fax: 202-358-3172

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