Land Change Science Program

Paleoclimate

Earth’s modern climate is influenced by a combination of natural climate variability, changing land cover, and greenhouse gas concentrations. The Land Change Science Program integrates geologic and instrumental climate to understand and anticipate potential timing and range of future change and the impacts on marine and terrestrial systems and society.

Filter Total Items: 16
Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Past Perspectives of Water in the West

In the intermountain west, seasonal precipitation extremes, combined with population growth, are creating new challenges for the management of water resources, ecosystems, and geologic hazards. This research contributes a comprehensive long-term context for a deeper understanding of past hydrologic variability, including the magnitude and frequency of drought and flood extremes and ecosystem...

Date published: February 26, 2020
Status: Active

Impacts of coastal and watershed changes on upper estuaries: causes and implications of wetland ecosystem transitions along the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are coastal transition zones where freshwater rivers meet tidal seawater.  As sea levels rise, tidal forces move saltier water farther upstream, extending into freshwater wetland areas. Human changes to the surrounding landscape may amplify the effects of this tidal extension, impacting the resiliency and function of the upper estuarine wetlands. One...

Contacts: Ken Krauss, Ph.D., Gregory Noe, Camille LaFosse Stagg, Ph.D., Hongqing Wang, Ph.D., Eric J Ward, Ph.D., Jamie A. Duberstein, William H. Conner, Zhaohua Dai, Thomas L. O'Halloran
Date published: October 23, 2019
Status: Active

Drivers and Impacts of North Pacific Climate Variability

Climate model forecasts indicate an increase in extreme hydrologic events, including floods and droughts, for California and the western U.S. in the future. To better understand what the consequences of this future change in climate may be, USGS scientists are studying the frequency, magnitude, and impacts of past hydroclimate variability and extremes in the region. This project produces well-...

Date published: May 30, 2019
Status: Active

Wetlands in the Quaternary

Wetlands accumulate organic-rich sediment or peat stratigraphically, making them great archives of past environmental change. Wetlands also act as hydrologic buffers on the landscape and are important to global biogeochemical cycling. This project uses wetland archives from a range of environments to better understand how vegetation, hydrology, and hydroclimate has changed on decadal to multi-...

Date published: April 19, 2019
Status: Active

Pacific Ocean Patterns, Processes, and Productivity (POP3): Impacts of ancient warming on marine ecosystems and western North America

Projections for AD 2100 suggest warming of +1-4°C in the North Pacific Ocean, which will result in widespread transformations throughout the marine environment and western North America. Many of these changes are beyond the predictive capabilities of current climate models. To better address this future uncertainty, our team is developing a geological framework using past warm intervals as...

Date published: March 28, 2019
Status: Active

Sea Level and Storm Hazards: Past and Present

Sea level and Storm Hazards: Past and Present is a multidisciplinary study of past changes in sea level. Prehistoric shorelines can be used as a baseline for current and future sea level changes under warmer-than-present climate. Emphasis is placed on looking at sea levels during warm periods of the last 500,000 years as well as how base level changes increase the risk of coastal inundation...

Date published: March 25, 2019
Status: Active

Reconstructing Ocean Circulation & Hydroclimate in the Subtropical Atlantic

Changes in rainfall patterns as a result of anthropogenic climate change are already having large ecological and socioeconomic impacts across the globe. Increases in flood damage, wildfire damage, and agricultural losses can all be attributed to anomalous rainfall events and prolonged droughts across the United States in recent years. Additionally, Atlantic Ocean circulation, which has a large...

Date published: November 28, 2018
Status: Active

Natural Drought and Flood Histories from Lacustrine Archives

Previous work performed as part of the USGS Holocene Synthesis project illuminated complex centennial-scale patterns of drought and wetter-than-average conditions across the North American continent interior during the past two millennia, where paleorecord data coverage is sparse.  In order to explain the patterns of naturally-occurring drought, floods, and storms for the past, identified by...

Date published: November 12, 2018
Status: Active

Geological Investigations of the Neogene

More than a third of the United States population lives in counties directly on the shoreline, making them vulnerable to hazards associated with changing sea level and storm surges associated with hurricanes and severe storms. The geologic record contains many examples of past intervals of warm climate and high sea level. "Geological Investigation of the Neogene" is examining proxy records of...

Date published: October 31, 2018
Status: Active

Land-Sea Linkages in the Arctic

The Arctic is undergoing historically unprecedented changes in weather, sea ice, temperature and ecosystems.  These changes have led to greater coastal erosion, greater export of freshwater, and changes to marine and terrestrial ecosystems, habitats, and productivity, among other trends. Meanwhile, many believe the Arctic “amplifies” large climate changes during both warm periods and ice ages...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Exploring Future Flora, Environments, and Climates Through Simulations (EFFECTS)

Climate changes can significantly affect species and ecosystems. Historical and paleoenvironmental data record species and ecosystem responses to past climate changes, but these records become sparse as one goes further back in time. Model simulations can be used fill the spatial and temporal gaps in observed records to improve our understanding of the potential magnitude, rate, and spatial...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Geologic Records of High Sea Levels

This project studies past high sea levels on coastlines that preserve fossil coral reefs or marine terraces. We ascertain the magnitudes of sea-level high stands by field mapping, stratigraphic measurements, and precise elevation measurements. Geochronology is accomplished by radiocarbon dating of mollusks (for Holocene-to-last-glacial deposits), uranium-series dating of corals (for high-sea...