Future changes in climate and land use are likely to have significant impacts on the natural resources and infrastructure of our Nation. They also will alter patterns and impacts of natural hazards such as landslides, sea level rise, and droughts in ways beyond those known from the historic record. Planners and resource managers are using a variety of climate models as tools to predict impacts of different climate scenarios on local, regional, and global scales. To increase the accuracy of the models and resulting predictions, continuing research is needed to better understand the components of the Earth system and how they are influenced by changes in climate and land use.
The USGS Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development (R&D) Program supports fundamental multidisciplinary research needed to address complex issues associated with climate and land use change. Our long-standing and globally respected expertise in studies of geology, hydrology, geography, and biology provides the opportunity to document patterns of climate and land-use change on daily to millennial timescales and to assess the impacts of changes on local, regional, and national spatial scales. This breadth of knowledge and experience allows us to tailor research efforts to address the needs of multiple stakeholders across the Nation.
R&D research is designed to advance the understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological components of the Earth system, the causes and consequences of climate and land use change, and the vulnerability and resilience of the Earth system to such changes. USGS researchers conduct observations of these components over broad temporal and spatial scales and provide the basic data and scientific interpretation needed to understand the rates and patterns of Earth system response to a range of climate and land use changes. Integration of these data with modeling efforts provides a means to improve understanding of the impacts of change and feedbacks between the Earth and climate systems. R&D data and scientific interpretation improve model performance and our ability to forecast likely changes under a range of climate and land use scenarios.
R&D research contributes to our understandings of the rates, causes, and impacts of past global changes, the global carbon cycle and other biogeochemical cycles, the rates, causes, and consequences of land-use and land-cover change, impacts of changing climate and land use on water availability and hydrologic extremes, coastal response to climate and land use change, and impacts of climate and land-use change on ecosystems. Research efforts are synthesized to address more specific priorities:
- Abrupt Climate Change
- Carbon Cycle — Processes Influencing Carbon Flux
- Climate Data and Model Integration
- Distinguishing Natural Climate Variability from Anthropogenic Climate Change
- Hydrologic Extremes: Patterns, Causes, and Impacts
- Impacts of Climate and Land Use Change on Terrestrial and Marine Systems
- Rates, Causes, and Consequences of Land Use and Land Cover Change
- Sea Level Rise and Coastal Regions