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The Arctic is warming rapidly and satellites indicate a greening of the these high latitude ecosystems, yet available datasets do not capture the spatial detail required to understand how warming (or other environmental changes) are actually causing this landscape greening. The longest running satellite datasets either use grainy pixels the size of Manhattan, or take snapshots so infrequently that clouds block out a substantial portion of each growing season. In contrast, Arctic field researchers have extremely deep understanding of what happens in garden-sized vegetation plots, but it can be difficult to link these to regional patterns. The HiLDEN network is a big step towards filling this gap. It provides a new opportunity to explore tundra vegetation change from a fresh perspective, and to better link satellite and on-the-ground observations by capturing high resolution data of tundra landscapes with drones.
https://earthengine.google.com/), we explored patterns of satellite data in conjunction with drone records at 42 sites around the Arctic. Throughout the working group, we identified our major research questions, outlined a manuscript, and discussed future avenues for the network.
Our dataset included over two hundred thousand aerial images from across the Arctic including tundra landscapes in Europe, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. What immediately stands out from looking at these pictures is the stunning diversity of tundra landforms - from wetlands to highlands, shrubs and trees to barren grounds, from treeline to the northern reaches of tundra biome. All of these patterns are lost in poor resolution satellite data. Beyond traditional color photographs, the group analyzed imagery taken from discrete regions of the radiometric spectrum to generate specialized vegetation indices (like the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index - NDVI) while also creating three dimensional surface models of these landscapes.
We thank the Neukom Institute for Computational Science (https://neukom.dartmouth.edu/) for supporting this workshop and HiLDEN data servers since the network was founded. We also thank the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment, and Society (SAGES) and the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth for their critical support in the preparations of the dataset and in planning the working group. Finally, we thank all of the HiLDEN members for contributing data and facilitating what we think might be the largest ecological drone data synthesis to date!
Jeff Kerby, Jakob Assmann, and Isla Myers-Smith