Recently observed Arctic greening trends from normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data suggest that shrub growth is increasing in response to increasing summer temperature. An increase in shrub cover is expected to decrease summer albedo and thus positively feed back to climate warming. However, it is unknown how albedo and NDVI are affected by shrub cover and inter-annual variations in the summer climate. Here, we examine the relationship between deciduous shrub fractional cover, NDVI and albedo using field data collected at a tundra site in NE Siberia. Field data showed that NDVI increased and albedo decreased with increasing deciduous shrub cover. We then selected four Arctic tundra study areas and compiled annual growing season maximum NDVI and minimum albedo maps from MODIS satellite data (2000–10) and related these satellite products to tundra vegetation types (shrub, graminoid, barren and wetland tundra) and regional summer temperature. We observed that maximum NDVI was greatest in shrub tundra and that inter-annual variation was negatively related to summer minimum albedo but showed no consistent relationship with summer temperature. Shrub tundra showed higher albedo than wetland and barren tundra in all four study areas. These results suggest that a northwards shift of shrub tundra might not lead to a decrease in summer minimum albedo during the snow-free season when replacing wetland tundra. A fully integrative study is however needed to link results from satellite data with in situ observations across the Arctic to test the effect of increasing shrub cover on summer albedo in different tundra vegetation types.