Research database

Project information
Project title
TUNDRAscape: Analyzing the effect of climate and human uses on tundra ecosystems by remote sensing
Year
2011/2012
Project leader
Per Fauchald, NINA
Participants
  • Per Fauchald, project leader, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, Tromsø
  • Alma Thuestad, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, Fram Centre, Tromsø
  • Hans Tømmervik, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, Tromsø
  • Dorothee Ehrich, University of Tromsø, Tromsø
  • Vera Helene Hausner, University of Tromsø, Tromsø
Flagship

Terrestrial, Theme: Vegetation state change and herbivore management

Summary of Results
In this project we analyze high-resolution remote sensing images of the
landscape surrounding selected arctic tundra settlements in Russia, Alaska,
Canada and Norway. One image covering the settlement and a reference image
taken 30 km from the settlements are analyzed with respect to traces of human
use and the state of the vegetation.
The remote sensing data will be related to data on structural variables such as
climate, governance system, socio-economic conditions and ecosystem services
to local people. These data are collected through the NRC funded project TUNDRA. 17 satellite scenes of settlements and 7 reference areas have been taken this summer. Additionally 15 archive scenes have been ordered.The settlements are also used as intensive study sites in theTUNDRA project, and interviews with local people in the settlements will be conducted in 2012-2013. The images were received in early September 2011, and the analyses of the images with respect to vegetation and human traces started immediately. A protocol for the analyses has been produced on the basis of the analyses of images from Khatanga (Russia) and Brevig Mission (Alaska). The analyses will continue throughout the winter 2011 and 2012 and analyses of the 39 images received so far will be finished in February 2012. Vegetation types identified include short and tall shrubs, forest, lichens, moss, grass, barren rock and soil. We identify fragments of homogeneous vegetation and calculate spatial indices of fragmentation. Traces of human use including ATV tracks, land-fills, fences, camps, mining activity and garbage deposits are detected. Community data collected in the TUNDRA project include: socio-economic conditions, infrastructure, governance regime, interview data including participatory mapping, history of the settlement, data on harvest and subsistence activity, activity related to extractive industries, data on reindeer husbandry, climate, bedrock and topography.
 
 
 
Figur 1 - Tundrascape
 
Fig. 1. Map showing the model settlements studied in TUNDRAscape. Settlements were chosen in adminstrative regions with contrasting governance systems (Taimyr / Yamal; Murmansk Obl. / Finnmark; Nunavut / Labrador; and Alaska). Within the regions settlements were chosen to have a contrast in economic structure with more (black dots) or less (white dots) opportunities for wage income. 
 
 
Figur 2a-1 - Tundrascape
 
 
Figur 2a-2 - Tundrascape
A)
 
Figur 2b - Tundrascape
 
B)
 
Fig. 2 Examples of satellite images. a) Human traces mapped on the images from the settlement area of Brevig Mission in Alaska and from the area representing extensive use (chosen at random at 30km from the settlement. b) Vegetation cover map of the extensive use area close to the Khatanga in Taimyr (Russia) as determined by unsupervised classification.
 
Figur 3a - Tundrascape
 
Fig. 3. Encroachment on tundra habitat in relation to settlement size. Squares represent settlements with real opportunities for wage income (2), whereas triangles represent settlements with little such opportunities (1). a) Area occupied by the settlement in km2 in relation to the population (log scale).
 
In this project we analyze high-resolution remote sensing images of the
landscape surrounding selected arctic tundra settlements in Russia, Alaska,
Canada and Norway. One image covering the settlement and a reference image
taken 30 km from the settlements are analyzed with respect to traces of human
use and the state of the vegetation.
The remote sensing data will be related to data on structural variables such as
climate, governance system, socio-economic conditions and ecosystem services
to local people. These data are collected through the NRC funded project TUNDRA. 17 satellite scenes of settlements and 7 reference areas have been taken this summer. Additionally 15 archive scenes have been ordered.The settlements are also used as intensive study sites in theTUNDRA project, and interviews with local people in the settlements will be conducted in 2012-2013. The images were received in early September 2011, and the analyses of the images with respect to vegetation and human traces started immediately. A protocol for the analyses has been produced on the basis of the analyses of images from Khatanga (Russia) and Brevig Mission (Alaska). The analyses will continue throughout the winter 2011 and 2012 and analyses of the 39 images received so far will be finished in February 2012. Vegetation types identified include short and tall shrubs, forest, lichens, moss, grass, barren rock and soil. We identify fragments of homogeneous vegetation and calculate spatial indices of fragmentation. Traces of human use including ATV tracks, land-fills, fences, camps, mining activity and garbage deposits are detected. Community data collected in the TUNDRA project include: socio-economic conditions, infrastructure, governance regime, interview data including participatory mapping, history of the settlement, data on harvest and subsistence activity, activity related to extractive industries, data on reindeer husbandry, climate, bedrock and topography.
 
 
 
Figur 1 - Tundrascape
 
Fig. 1. Map showing the model settlements studied in TUNDRAscape. Settlements were chosen in adminstrative regions with contrasting governance systems (Taimyr / Yamal; Murmansk Obl. / Finnmark; Nunavut / Labrador; and Alaska). Within the regions settlements were chosen to have a contrast in economic structure with more (black dots) or less (white dots) opportunities for wage income. 
 
 
Figur 2a-1 - Tundrascape
 
 
Figur 2a-2 - Tundrascape
A)
 
Figur 2b - Tundrascape
 
B)
 
Fig. 2 Examples of satellite images. a) Human traces mapped on the images from the settlement area of Brevig Mission in Alaska and from the area representing extensive use (chosen at random at 30km from the settlement. b) Vegetation cover map of the extensive use area close to the Khatanga in Taimyr (Russia) as determined by unsupervised classification.
 
Figur 3a - Tundrascape
 
Fig. 3. Encroachment on tundra habitat in relation to settlement size. Squares represent settlements with real opportunities for wage income (2), whereas triangles represent settlements with little such opportunities (1). a) Area occupied by the settlement in km2 in relation to the population (log scale).
 
Published Results/Planned Publications

We have not been able to publish anything from the project yet.

Communicated Results

Results will be communicated as fast as they appear.

Interdisciplinary Cooperation
The project involves researchers with different background including personnel with
expertise in remote sensing, vegetation science, ecology, archeology and social
sciences. The TUNDRA and TUNDRAscape are inter-disciplinary projects and the
research would not have been feasible without this approach.
The project involves researchers with different background including personnel with
expertise in remote sensing, vegetation science, ecology, archeology and social
sciences. The TUNDRA and TUNDRAscape are inter-disciplinary projects and the
research would not have been feasible without this approach.
Budget in accordance to results
The analyses of the remote sensing data would not have been done without the
funding from the Fram Centre to TUNDRAscape. We believe that the datasets that we
obtain through TUNDRAscape will be of large importance for the research in TUNDRA
but also for future research on socio-ecological systems in Arctic areas.
The analyses of the remote sensing data would not have been done without the
funding from the Fram Centre to TUNDRAscape. We believe that the datasets that we
obtain through TUNDRAscape will be of large importance for the research in TUNDRA
but also for future research on socio-ecological systems in Arctic areas.
Could results from the project be subject for any commercial utilization
No
Conclusions

The present report is a progress report, and the project will be finished in February 2012. The datasets obtained in TUNDRAscape will be used as a basis for a wide array of future research. Specifically, the data will be used in analyses of:

a. human use of the landscape under different socio-economic conditions and

governance systems

b. how local people of the tundra use the landscape

c. vegetation transitions due to historic and contemporary human use

d. effects of grazing pressure and climate on the state of the vegetation