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Ancillary activities

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

Ancillary activities are updated daily

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 (JPL), 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 a management committee member of the European COST research network ‘Fire in the Earth System’.

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

Selected press & media

The rise of zombie fires. EOS, June 2020 

Lightning is silently killing forests – and it's going to get worse. New Scientist, June 2020

'Zombie' fires might be reigniting after Siberian winter. E&E News, June 2020

Nunavut warmed, Siberia burned and Greenland melted: the Arctic summer that was like no other, The Star, September 2019

Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown, Science News, April 2019  

Discussion about climate change and fires in the Arctic, This Morning (South Korean radio), July 2018

Climate change: Greenland wildfires triggered by rising temperatures, scientists warn, Newsweek, August 2017

Lightning-caused fires on the rise in the world's largest forest, National Geographic, June 2017

Lightning-caused fires rise in Arctic as regions warms, Scientific American, June 2017

Alaska’s wildfire season was so intense you can see the consequences from space, Washington Post, September 2015

Satellite images show how wildfires have devastated Alaska, Time, September 2015

In Dutch 

Hoe kunnen we de branden temmen?, Bureau Buitenland NPO Radio 1, September 2020

Temperaturen Siberië stijgen snel, De Ochtendspits BNR Nieuwsradio, Juni 2020

Interview about fires in Siberia,NOS Nieuwsuur, July 2019

Steeds vaker bosbranden op de poolcirkel, De Ochtendspits BNR Nieuwsradio, July 2019

Vlucht naar waar het vuur al was, NRC HandelsbladJuly 2018

De ongelijke strijd tegen bliksem, Het Parool, March 2018

Discussion of the 2017 fires in Southern California, RTL Boulevard, December 2017

Brand bij de Poolcirkel, Met Het Oog Op Morgen NPO Radio 1, August 2017

Discussion of the 2017 fire season in southern Europe, RTL Summer Night, July 2017

Het is niet de droogte maar de bliksem die de bossen in Alaska en Canada in vlammen doet opgaan, de Volkskrant, June 2017

Grotere kans op bosbranden, Radio Een Vandaag, June 2017

Bliksem ontsteekt branden in noordelijke bossen, NRC, June 2017

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Research Output

Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate

Lasslop, G., Coppola, A. I., Voulgarakis, A., Yue, C. & Veraverbeke, S., 15 Jun 2019, In : Current Climate Change Reports. 5, 2, p. 112-123 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

  • 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

  • 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-+ 6 p.

    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 6 p.

    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