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Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM Team 2003)

The Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) is a geoecological map of the entire Arctic with a unified legend. It is the first vegetation map of an entire global biome at a comparable resolution. It was funded by the US National Science Foundation (OPP-9908-829), the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey and the US Bureau of Land Management.

The CAVM region is north of the climatic limit of trees and is characterized by an arctic climate, arctic flora, and tundra vegetation. It excludes tundra regions than have a boreal flora such as the boreal oceanic areas of Iceland and the Aleutian Islands and alpine tundra south of the latitudinal treeline. The map was published at 1:7.5 million scale and displays the vegetation using 15 units (CAVM Team 2003, legend details: The methods used to make the map are described in Walker et al. 2005.

The CAVM is a polygon (vector) map. The GIS data are in shapefile format, and include fields for bioclimate subzone, floristic province, lake cover, landscape, substrate chemistry and vegetation category. There is also a landscape age shapefile which was created after the publication of the CAVM (Raynolds et al. 2009)

In addition, there are a number of raster maps of the same extent (the Arctic), based on satellite data from the Advanced High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instruments. These include the false color-infrared and NDVI images which formed the base maps for the CAVM mapping effort (Walker et al. 2005, Raynolds et al. 2006), a recent biomass map (Raynolds et al. 2012), biomass trends (Epstein et al. 2012), NDVI trends (Bhatt et al. 2010), and Summer Warmth Index (Raynolds et al. 2008).

Go to Website Link :: Toolik Arctic Geobotanical Atlas below for details on legend units, photos of map units and plant species, glossary, bibliography and links to ground data.

Map Themes: AVHRR Biomass 2010, AVHRR Biomass Trend 1982-2010, AVHRR False Color-Infrared 1993-1995, AVHRR NDVI 1993-1995, AVHRR NDVI Trend 1982-2010, AVHRR Summer Warmth Index 1982-2003, Bioclimate Subzone, Coastline and Treeline, Elevation, Floristic Provinces, Lake Cover, Landscape, Landscape Age, Substrate pH, Vegetation Layer


CAVM Team. 2003. Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map, scale 1:7 500 000. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Map No. 1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

Bhatt, U. S., D. A. Walker, M. K. Raynolds, J. C. Comiso, H. E. Epstein, G. J. Jia, R. Gens, J. E. Pinzon, C. J. Tucker, C. E. Tweedie, and P. J. Webber. 2010. Circumpolar arctic tundra vegetation change is linked to sea ice decline. Earth Interactions 14:1-20. doi: 10.1175/2010EI1315.1171.

Epstein, H. E., M. K. Raynolds, D. A. Walker, U. S. Bhatt, C. J. Tucker, and J. E. Pinzon. 2012. Dynamics of aboveground phytomass of the circumpolar arctic tundra during the past three decades. Environmental Research Letters 7:015506 (015512 pp).

Raynolds, M. K., D. A. Walker, and H. A. Maier. 2006. NDVI patterns and phytomass distribution in the circumpolar Arctic. Remote Sensing of Environment 102:271-281.

Raynolds, M. K., J. C. Comiso, D. A. Walker, and D. Verbyla. 2008. Relationship between satellite-derived land surface temperatures, arctic vegetation types, and NDVI. Remote Sensing of Environment 112:1884-1894.

Raynolds, M. K. and D. A. Walker. 2009. The effects of deglaciation on circumpolar distribution of arctic vegetation. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 35:118-129.

Raynolds, M. K. 2009. A geobotanical analysis of circumpolar arctic vegetation, climate, and substrate. PhD Thesis, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Raynolds, M. K., D. A. Walker, H. E. Epstein, J. E. Pinzon, and C. J. Tucker. 2012. A new estimate of tundra-biome phytomass from trans-Arctic field data and AVHRR NDVI. Remote Sensing Letters 3:403-411.

Walker, D. A., M. K. Raynolds, F. J. A. Daniels, E. Einarsson, A. Elvebakk, W. A. Gould, A. E. Katenin, S. S. Kholod, C. J. Markon, E. S. Melnikov, N. G. Moskalenko, S. S. Talbot, B. A. Yurtsev, and CAVM Team. 2005. The Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map. Journal of Vegetation Science 16:267-282.


Data and Resources

  • Download

    Download :: Publication

    Walker_et_al_2005_JVS_CAVM.pdf (1.18 MB)

  • Download

    Download :: GIS Data (6.94 MB)

  • Download

    Download :: Map Images (3.4 MB)

  • View website

    Website :: Toolik Arctic Geobotanical Atlas

Status: Complete
Type: Data
Data Types: GIS, Image, Map, Report
Primary Contacts
Name: Donald A. (Skip) Walker
Other Contacts
Name: Martha Raynolds
Name: Alaska Geobotany Center (AGC)
Primary Organizations
Alaska Geobotany Center


Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map
All Maps

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