The Arctic is among the regions with the most rapid changes in climate and has the expected highest increase in temperature. Changes in the timing of phenological phases, such as onset of the growing season observed from remote sensing, are among the most sensitive bio-indicators of climate change. The study area here is the High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, located between 76°30ʹ and 80°50ʹN. The goal of this study was to use MODIS Terra data (the MOD09Q1 and MOD09A1 surface reflectance products, both with 8-day temporal composites) to map the onset of the growing season on Svalbard for the 2000–2013 period interpreted from field observations. Due to a short and intense period with greening-up and frequent cloud cover, all the cloud free data is needed, which requires reliable cloud masks. We used a combination of three cloud removing methods (State QA values, own algorithms, and manual removal). This worked well, but is time-consuming as it requires manual interpretation of cloud cover. The onset of the growing season was then mapped by a NDVI threshold method, which showed high correlation (r2
= 0.60, n
= 25, p
< 0.001) with field observations of flowering of Salix polaris
(polar willow). However, large bias was found between NDVI-based mapped onset and field observations in bryophyte-dominated areas, which indicates that the results in these parts must be interpreted with care. On average for the 14-year period, the onset of the growing season occurs after July 1st in 68.4% of the vegetated areas of Svalbard. The mapping revealed large variability between years. The years 2000 and 2008 were extreme in terms of late onset of the growing season, and 2002 and 2013 had early onset. Overall, no clear trend in onset of the growing season for the 2000–2013 period was found.