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  • University of California, Irvine | Gent | Associate Project Scientist | 2016-05-01 - present

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Personal information

I am an Earth system scientist with specific interest in studying the interactions between climate, the terrestrial biosphere, the atmosphere and carbon cycle. I am interested in the effects of high-latitude climate change on ecosystem disturbances and carbon fluxes, and their feedbacks to climate. I received my PhD in Geography in 2010 from Ghent University. Between 2011 and 2016 I worked in the US; first as postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, later as project scientist at the University of California, Irvine. In 2016, I started as Assistant Professor in Remote Sensing at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2018, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research granted my Vidi project Fires Pushing Trees North. I am a member of the NASA Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment science team and NASA Hyperspectral Infrared Imager science study group.

My research focuses on the role of ecosystem disturbance, primarily fires, on the water, carbon and energy cycles within the context of global change. I use a combination of field, modeling and remote sensing methods. My goal is to better understand the complex interactions between ecosystems, carbon cycling, climate and humans in a changing world. I have a broad interest in remote sensing, landscape ecology, terrestrial ecosystems, biosphere-atmosphere interactions and global environmental change.


Environmental Remote Sensing (MSc)

Statistics and Data Analysis (BSc)


Fires Pushing Trees North: a Vidi project funded by NWO and affiliated with NASA ABoVE, 2018-2023

The vast arctic-boreal region stores about 35% of the world’s soil carbon. Climate warming is occurring more rapidly in these northern high latitudes than in the rest of the world. These warmer temperatures are causing the number of wildfires to rise. These fires release large amounts of terrestrial carbon into the atmosphere. After tundra fires, freshly exposed mineral soils may be susceptible to tree colonization. This alters surface heating patterns: darker forests absorb more heat than brighter tundra. This may further amplify high-latitude warming.

Much of what we know about these dynamics is based on research carried out in arctic-boreal North America, even though the surface area of arctic-boreal Eurasia is about twice as large. The knowledge gained from North America may not be transferable to Eurasia regions because ecosystems and fire regimes are fundamentally different between the two continents; stand-replacing high-intensity fires dominate in North America compared to lower intensity surface fires in Eurasia.

This project will sample carbon fluxes from fires and post-fire tree colonization around two field sites in Siberia. These rare field observations will be analyzed in combination with similar data collected in North America from NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). I will combine these sets of field data with remote sensing and climate datasets. This will result in a new circumpolar geospatial database of carbon emissions from all arctic-boreal fires since 2001. I will assess also continental-scale, including differences between continents, ecosystem shifts driven by fires and their effect on the carbon balance and climate.

The overarching objective of this project is quantify and understand the role of fire in high-latitude climate feedback loops. Our results are relevant to the process which provides evidence-based policy for governments.

Ancillary activities

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  • 1 Similar Profiles
carbon cycle Earth & Environmental Sciences
remote sensing Agriculture & Biology
Remote sensing Engineering & Materials Science
Fires Engineering & Materials Science
spectroscopy Earth & Environmental Sciences
climate Earth & Environmental Sciences
vegetation Earth & Environmental Sciences
imagery Earth & Environmental Sciences

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Research Output 2010 2019

Hyperspectral remote sensing of fire: State-of-the-art and future perspectives

Veraverbeke, S., Dennison, P., Gitas, I., Hulley, G., Kalashnikova, O., Katagis, T., Kuai, L., Meng, R., Roberts, D. & Stavros, N., 1 Oct 2018, In : Remote Sensing of Environment. 216, p. 105-121 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

remote sensing
Remote sensing
fire severity
sensors (equipment)

Lightning as a major driver of recent large fire years in North American boreal forests

Veraverbeke, S., Rogers, B. M., Goulden, M. L., Jandt, R. R., Miller, C. E., Wiggins, E. B. & Randerson, J. T., Jul 2017, In : Nature Climate Change. 7, 7, p. 529-+

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Carbon dioxide sources from Alaska driven by increasing early winter respiration from Arctic tundra

Commane, R., Lindaas, J., Benmergui, J., Luus, K. A., Chang, R. Y. -W., Daube, B. C., Euskirchen, E. S., Henderson, J. M., Karion, A., Miller, J. B., Miller, S. M., Parazoo, N. C., Randerson, J. T., Sweeney, C., Tans, P. P., Thoning, K., Veraverbeke, S., Miller, C. E. & Wofsy, S. C., 23 May 2017, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114, 21, p. 5361-5366

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Daily burned area and carbon emissions from boreal fires in Alaska

Veraverbeke, S., Rogers, B. M. & Randerson, J. T., 2015, In : Biogeosciences. 12, 11, p. 3579-3601

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

The temporal dimension of differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) fire/burn severity studies: The case of the large 2007 Peloponnese wildfires in Greece

Veraverbeke, S., Lhermitte, S., Verstraeten, W. W. & Goossens, R., 15 Nov 2010, In : Remote Sensing of Environment. 114, 11, p. 2548-2563

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review