Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Mapping Project

Overview - Abstract - Glossary - Credits - Awards


The Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) shows the types of vegetation that occur across the Arctic—between the Arctic Ocean to the north and the northern limit of forests (“treeline”) to the south. Here, environmental and climatic conditions are extreme, with a short growing season and low summer temperatures.

The region supports plants such as dwarf shrubs, herbs, lichens and mosses, which grow close to the ground. As one moves southward, the amount of warmth available for plant growth increases , allowing the size, abundance, and variety of plants to increase. Other environmental controls, such as elevation, topography, soil chemistry, soil moisture, and the past history of plant colonization, also influence the distribution of plant communities. The colors on the map indicate the differences that occur in the outward appearance of vegetation.

An international team of Arctic vegetation scientists representing the six countries of the Arctic—Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States—prepared the map. Methods, additional thematic maps, detailed descriptions of the 16 map units, and photos of representative plant communities and species are on the reverse side. Get a more detailed overview at About the CAVM.

Raster CAVM

The Raster Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (Raster CAVM) map groups over 400 described plant communities into 16 vegetation types, glaciers, saline water, and freshwater at 1-km resolution. It builds on the strengths of the original CAVM, using the same legend, extent and projection, while providing a finer spatial resolution, raster format, and improved mapping of Arctic vegetation.

Raster CAVM Data (Version 2)

New vs original raster CAVM

Download Raster CAVM Data, Mendeley Data, doi:10.17632/c4xj5rv6kv.2

New Raster CAVM Poster (Final version, April 2024)

Front Side   Download back side - 22.7 MB

Download full-size PDF (36x36 in, standard quality without bleed)
Suggested citation: CAVM Team. 2024. Raster Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map. Scale 1:7,000,000. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, Akureyri, Iceland.

Original CAVM

The original CAVM (CAVM Team 2003, Walker et al. 2005) was the first vegetation map that covered the entire Arctic using a single, unified legend. It has been widely used as a base map for studies in the Arctic and was the framework for terrestrial vegetation sections of the AMAP Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (CAFF 2013) and many other applications.

side 1, CAVM   side 2, CAVM

Download PosterDownload Data

Suggested Citation: CAVM Team. 2003. Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map. (1:7,500,000 scale), Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Map No. 1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
ISBN: 0-9767525-0-6, ISBN-13: 978-0-9767525-0-9


Funding for this project was provided primarily by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Land Cover and Land Use Change Program (Award Nos. NNG6GE00A, NNX09AK56G, NNX14AD90G). Additional support was provided by the NASA Pre-ABoVE program (Award No. NNX13AM20G), National Science Foundation (NSF) Arctic Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program (ArcSEES Award No. 1263854), NSF Arctic System Science program (ARCSS Award No. 1737750), NSF Arctic Sciences program (ARC Award No. 0425517), NSF Arctic Transitions in the Land-Atmosphere System (ATLAS) project (Award No. 9732076), and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant No. 18-04-01010 А). We appreciate the international support of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group of the Arctic Council for both the original Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) and the Raster CAVM.