Three decades of remote sensing subarctic vegetation in northern Russia: A case study in science diplomacy
The vegetation at and beyond the northern edge of the world’s boreal forest plays an important though imperfectly understood role in the climate system. This is particularly true within Russia, where only a small proportion of the boreal land area has been studied in depth, and little is known about its recent evolution over time. We describe a long-term collaboration between institutions in Russia and the United Kingdom, aimed at developing a better understanding of high-latitude vegetation in Russia using remote sensing methods. The focus of the collaboration has varied over time; in its most recent form, it is concerned with the dynamics of the Russian boreal forest during the 21st century and its relation to climate change. We discuss the support framework within which it has been developed and reflect on its relationship to science diplomacy. We consider the factors that have contributed to the success of a decades-long international collaboration and make recommendations as to how such joint efforts can be encouraged in future.