Climate Research and Development Program

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The Climate Research and Development (Climate R&D) Program strives 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.

News

Date published: April 5, 2019

California is ‘Browning’ More in the South During Droughts

Vegetation in the southern part of the state is being hit harder due to climate change, UCLA-led study finds.

Date published: March 4, 2019

USGS contributes to the Fourth National Climate Assessment

USGS Research Hydrologist Glenn Hodgkins co-authored the Fourth National Climate Assessment’s Northeast chapter. USGS Research Geologist Erika Lentz was also a co-author. The recently published chapter discusses historical and potential future impacts of climatic changes on New England’s people and natural resources, including it’s inland and coastal waters.

Date published: December 13, 2017

Eyes on the Coast—Video Cameras Help Forecast Coastal Change

USGS scientists have installed video cameras pointed at beaches on the coasts of western Florida and central California. They’re analyzing the videos to measure features of the beach and ocean so they can improve coastal-change forecasts.

Climate R&D research contributes the fundamental science basis needed to develop sustainable resource management strategies.

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Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Active

Drylands are highly vulnerable to climate and land use changes: what ecosystem changes are in store?

Improper land use during drought has been a major driver of land degradation in drylands globally, especially in the western U.S.  Increasing aridity in western U.S. drylands under future climates will exacerbate risks associated with drought and land use decisions. This project provides critical observational, experimental, and modelling evidence to support our DOI partners with decision...

Date published: December 14, 2018
Status: Active

National CASC Student Interns & Fellows

The National CASC provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in our program through paid internships and volunteer positions. Students work on everything from supporting NCASC research projects to communications and program operations. Read about some of our students and the work they're doing below!

Date published: September 10, 2018
Status: Active

Reconstructing Ancient Human and Ecosystem Responses to Holocene Climate Conditions

This research project will reconstruct Holocene climatic conditions to better understand human adaptation and response to past environmental variability. 

Contacts: Greg Pederson
Date published: March 7, 2018
Status: Active

Paleoclimate Reconstruction from Marine and Lake Sediments

Instrumental measurements of climate variables (e.g., precipitation, temperature, ocean circulation, etc.) are only available over the past century or less. In order to quantify the rate and magnitude of natural climate variability going back in time beyond the 20th century, scientists rely on paleoclimate reconstructions. 

Date published: February 27, 2018
Status: Active

Paleoceanographic Proxy Calibration

A sediment trap time series in the northern Gulf of Mexico is used to better assess the control of environmental variables (e.g., temperature and salinity) on the flux of both microfossils and molecular fossils to the sediments. The information gained from sediment trap studies is used to develop better proxy-based estimates of past oceanographic conditions from analyses of microfossils and ...

Date published: May 9, 2017

Time Series of Glacier Retreat

The retreat of glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana, has received widespread attention by the media, the public, and scientists because it is a clear and poignant indicator of change in the northern Rocky Mountains of the USA.  In 2017 the...

Date published: May 9, 2017
Status: Active

GLACIER SIMULATION

NOTICE:  Updated glacier projections are now available for Glacier National Park's glaciers in this 2019 publication 

The simulation reflects the predicted exponential rise in atmospheric CO2...

Date published: December 1, 2016
Status: Completed

Landscape Effects of Oil and Gas Development

Relatively new deep well drilling technology, such as is currently utilized in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), has created an economic boom in the market for hydrocarbons. Previously untapped deposits of oil and natural gas can now be accessed in areas that include the Marcellus and Utica Shale deposits in the east and the Bakken Formation in Montana and the Dakotas.

Contacts: Terry Slonecker
Date published: September 20, 2016

Post-fire Recovery Patterns in Southwestern Forests

High-severity crown fires in Southwestern dry-conifer forests — resulting from fire suppression, fuel buildups, and drought — are creating large treeless areas that are historically unprecedented in size. These recent stand-replacing fires have reset extensive portions of Southwest forest landscapes, fostering post-fire successional vegetation that can alter ecological recovery trajectories...

Contacts: Collin Haffey
Date published: May 5, 2016
Status: Active

Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems (CCME)

Climate change is widely acknowledged to be having a profound effect on the biosphere with many and diverse impacts on global resources. Mountain ecosystems in the western U.S. and the Northern Rockies in particular are highly sensitive to climate change. In fact, the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies have experienced three times the global average temperature increase over the past...

Date published: April 6, 2016
Status: Active

Retreat of Glaciers in Glacier National Park

Worldwide glacier recession is well documented (1,2) and varied model projections suggest that certain studied GNP glaciers will disappear in the next few decades, between 2030 (3) to 2080 (4).  USGS scientists in Glacier National Park are collaborating with glaciologist from Alaska and Washington and using emerging technologies to understand glacier-climate interactions to advance the...

Date published: April 5, 2016

Secondary Glacier Network

The Secondary Glacier Network includes six glaciers (Chaney, Grinnell, Stanton, Agassiz, Swiftcurrent, Jackson-Blackfoot Glaciers) that form a north-south transect of approx. 60 km through the region, with Sperry Glacier just south of center. While these glaciers will be monitored less frequently than the benchmark glacier, Sperry, this network will provide data about the variability of...

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Date published: June 26, 2020

Alpine vegetation trends in Glacier National Park, Montana 2003-2018

This dataset is focused on alpine plant species presence/absence, species turnover, and trends in species abundance on four mountain summits in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA from 2003 through 2014.

Date published: February 15, 2018

Data and calculations to support the study of the sea-air flux of methane and carbon dioxide on the West Spitsbergen margin in June 2014

This dataset collected on the West Spitsbergen margin during U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program Field Activity 2014-013-FA, which was carried out in conjunction with the University of Tromso and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel on the R/V Helmer Hanssen.

Date published: May 15, 2017

Area of the Named Glaciers of Glacier National Park (GNP) and Flathead National Forest (FNF) including Little Ice Age extent, and years 1966, 1998, 2005 and 2015

These data represent a time series of the 37 named glaciers of Glacier National Park, MT, USA and two named glaciers in the Flathead National Forest.

Date published: May 2, 2016

Regional Climate Change Viewer (RCCV)

The Regional Climate Change Viewer (RCCV) allows a user to visualize model output  from the Dynamical Downscaling project as averages of model grid cell values over bounding polygons that we have selected.

Date published: May 2, 2016

CMIP5 Global Climate Change Viewer (GCCV)

Display past and future temperature and precipitation projections simulated by global climate models. Access maps for any country, model, or emissions scenario. Requires Flash.

Date published: May 2, 2016

National Climate Change Viewer (NCCV)

The National Climate Change Viewer (NCCV) allows users to visualize projected changes in climate (maximum and minimum air temperature and precipitation) and the water balance (snow water equivalent, runoff, soil water storage and evaporative deficit) for any state, county and USGS Hydrologic Units (HUC).

Date published: April 25, 2016

Simulated Climate and Vegetation Data for the Northwest United States and Southwest Canada

The northwest United States and southwest Canada data sets consist of statistically-downscaled historical (1901-2001) CRU TS 2.1 and projected future (2001-2099) CMIP3 A2 and A1B climate data (monthly temperature, precipitation, and sunshine), derived bioclimatic variables (e.g., growing degree days), and LPJ-simulated vegetation data on a 30-second grid.

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Year Published: 2020

Alternative stable states in inherently unstable systems

Alternative stable states are nontransitory states within which communities can exist. However, even highly dynamic communities can be viewed within the framework of stable‐state theory if an appropriate “ecologically relevant” time scale is identified. The ecologically relevant time scale for dynamic systems needs to conform to the amount of time...

Mushet, David M.; McKenna, Owen P.; Mclean, Kyle I.

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Year Published: 2020

Impacts of Hurricane Irma on Florida Bay Islands, Everglades National Park, U.S.A.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in south Florida, USA, on September 10, 2017 as a category 4 storm. In January 2018, fieldwork was conducted on four previously (2014) sampled islands in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park to examine changes between 2014 and 2018. The objectives were to determine if the net impact of the storm was gain or loss of...

Wingard, G. Lynn; Bergstresser, Sarah E.; Stackhouse, Bethany; Jones, Miriam; Marot, Marci E.; Hoefke, Kristen; Daniels, Andre; Keller, Katherine

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Year Published: 2020

Winter climate change and the poleward range expansion of a tropical invasive tree (Brazilian pepper ‐ Shinus terebinthifolius)

Winter climate change is expected to lead to the tropicalization of temperate ecosystems, where tropical species expand poleward in response to a decrease in the intensity and duration of winter temperature extremes (i.e., freeze events). In the southeastern United States, freezing temperatures control the northern range limits of many invasive...

Osland, Michael; Feher, Laura

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Year Published: 2020

Effects of climate-related variability in storage on streamwater solute concentrations and fluxes in a small forested watershed in the Southeastern United States

Streamwater quality can be affected by climate-related variability in hydrologic state, which controls flow paths and affects biogeochemical processes. Thirty-one years of input/output solute fluxes at Panola Mountain Research Watershed, a small, forested, seasonally water-limited watershed near Atlanta, Georgia, were used to quantify the effects...

Aulenbach, Brent T.

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Year Published: 2019

Invertebrate communities of Prairie-Pothole wetlands in the age of the aquatic Homogenocene

Simplification of communities is a common consequence of anthropogenic modification. However, the prevalence and mechanisms of biotic homogenization among wetland systems require further examination. Biota of wetlands in the North American Prairie Pothole Region are adapted to high spatial and temporal variability in ponded-water duration and...

Mclean, Kyle I.; Mushet, David M.; Jon N. Sweetman; Anteau, Michael J.; Wiltermuth, Mark T.

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Year Published: 2019

Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana

Currently, the volume of land ice on Earth is decreasing, driving consequential changes to global sea level and local stream habitat. Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana, U.S.A., is one example of land ice loss and glacier change. The U.S. Geological Survey Benchmark Glacier Project conducts glaciological research and collects field...

Florentine, Caitlyn
Florentine, C., 2019, Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana (ver. 1.1, December 2019): U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2019–3068, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20193068.

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Year Published: 2019

Synergistic interaction of climate and land-use drivers alter the function of North American, Prairie-pothole Wetlands

Prairie-pothole wetlands provide the critical habitat necessary for supporting North American migratory waterfowl populations. However, climate and land-use change threaten the sustainability of these wetland ecosystems. Very few experiments and analyses have been designed to investigate the relative impacts of climate and land-use change drivers...

McKenna, Owen P.; Kucia, Samuel Richard; Mushet, David M.; Anteau, Michael J.; Wiltermuth, Mark T.

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Year Published: 2019

Dissolved organic matter in the deep TALDICE ice core: A nano-UPLC-nano-ESI-HRMS method

Trace organic compounds in deep ice cores supply important paleoclimatic information. Untargeted analyses of dissolved organic matter provide an overview of molecular species in ice samples however, sample volumes usually required for these analyses are generally not available from deep ice cores. Here, we developed an analytical method using a...

Zangrando, Roberta; Zanella, Veronica; Karroca, Ornela; Barbaro, Elena; Kehrwald, Natalie; Battistel, Dario; Gambaro, Andrea; Barbante, Carlo

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Year Published: 2019

The potential resiliency of a created tidal marsh to sea-level rise

The purpose of this study was to determine the elevation dynamics of a created tidal marsh on the North Carolina coast. Deep rod surface elevation tables (RSET) and feldspar marker horizons (MH) were installed in plots to measure net surface elevation changes and to quantify contributing processes. Twelve total plots were placed on four elevation...

Kamrath, Brock J. W.; Burchell, Michael R.; Cormier, Nicole; Krauss, Ken W.; Johnson, Darren

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Year Published: 2019

Landsat time series assessment of invasive annual grasses following energy development

Invasive annual grasses are of concern in many areas of the Western United States because they tolerate resource variability and have high reproductive capacity, with propagules that are readily dispersed in disturbed areas like those created and maintained for energy development. Early-season invasive grasses “green up” earlier than the most...

Villarreal, Miguel L.; Soulard, Christopher E.; Eric Waller
Villarreal, M.L., Soulard, C.E. and E.K. Waller. 2019. Landsat time series assessment of invasive annual grasses following energy development. Remote Sensing 11(21), 2553. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11212553

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Year Published: 2019

Study design and methods for a wetland condition assessment on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fee-title lands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, USA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages wetlands and grasslands for wildlife habitat throughout the central North American Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). PPR wetlands, or potholes, are widely recognized as critical habitats for North American migratory waterfowl, waterbirds, and other wildlife. Potholes also provide other ecosystem...

Tangen, Brian; Bansal, Sheel; Fern, Rachel R.; DeKeyser, Edward S.; Hargiss, Christina L. M.; Mushet, David M.; Dixon, Cami S.
Tangen, B.A., Bansal, S., Fern, R.R., DeKeyser, E.S., Hargiss, C.L.M., Mushet, D.M., and Dixon, C.S., 2019, Study design and methods for a wetland condition assessment on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fee-title lands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, USA: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1118, 24 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191118.

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Year Published: 2019

1200 years of Upper Missouri River streamflow reconstructed from tree rings

Paleohydrologic records can provide unique, long-term perspectives on streamflow variability and hydroclimate for use in water resource planning. Such long-term records can also play a key role in placing both present day events and projected future conditions into a broader context than that offered by instrumental observations. However,...

Martin, Justin; Pederson, Gregory T.; Woodhouse, Connie A.; Cook, Edward R; McCabe, Gregory J.; Wise, Erika K.; Erger, Patrick; Dolan, Larry; McGuire, Marketa; Gangopadhyay, Subhrendu; Chase, Katherine J.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Gray, Stephen; St. George, Scott; Friedman, Jonathan M.; Sauchyn, David J.; St. Jacques, Jannine; King, John W.

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Scientists collect alpine plant species and distribution data in Glacier National Park
June 16, 2020

Scientists collect alpine plant species and distribution data in GNP

Scientists collect alpine plant species and distribution data to complete a GLORIA site inventory on the summit of Seward Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Alpine summits often support a great variety of vegetation species despite harsh environmental conditions. Glacier NP
June 16, 2020

Alpine summits often support a great variety of vegetation species

Alpine summits often support a great variety of vegetation species despite harsh environmental conditions. Bison Mountain GLORIA plot, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Scientists use grids to collect alpine plant data according to GLORIA protocols on the summit of Bison Mountain in Glacier NP
June 16, 2020

Scientists use grids to collect alpine plant data according to GLORIA

Scientists use grids to collect alpine plant data according to GLORIA protocols on the summit of Bison Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Researcher evaluates vegetation during a GLORIA alpine plant survey near the summit of Dancing Lady Mountain in Glacier NP
June 16, 2020

Researcher evaluates vegetation during a GLORIA alpine plant survey

Researcher evaluates vegetation during a GLORIA alpine plant survey near the summit of Dancing Lady Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Researchers evaluate vegetation near the summit of Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park
June 16, 2020

Researchers evaluate vegetation during a GLORIA alpine plant survey

Researchers evaluate vegetation during a GLORIA alpine plant survey near the summit of Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

A botanist collects vegetation data near the summit Pitamakin Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.
June 16, 2020

A botanist collects vegetation data near the summit of Pitamakin Mt

A botanist collects vegetation data near the summit Pitamakin Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Scientists collect alpine plant species on the summit of Seward Mountain, Glacier NP
June 16, 2020

Scientists collect alpine plant species in Glacier NP

Scientists collect alpine plant species and distribution data to complete a GLORIA site inventory on the summit of Seward Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Several pieces of coral arranged in rows in a cardboard box
January 28, 2020

Coral-reef core from the USGS core archive

This core sample was taken from an elkhorn coral reef offshore of the Fort Lauderdale region of Florida. Samples from coral skeletons are taken from numerous locations in the core for radiocarbon dating, which tells scientists the age of each coral and of sections within the reef. The corals in this core lived from 7,100 to 6,200 years ago. Coral type, orientation of

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A scientist holds a piece of a coral-reef core that is over 6,000 years old
January 28, 2020

Various clues determine reliable coral samples

This piece of a core sample taken from offshore of the Fort Lauderdale region of Florida is from an elkhorn coral that lived 6,200 years ago. Coral type, orientation of corallites, and evidence of other fauna and characteristics within the core sample are used to determine how reliable the coral sample is to use for past sea-level reconstruction. Here, USGS Oceanographer

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Map of AK showing probability of change occurrence
December 31, 2018

Map of AK showing probability of change occurrence

Map of Alaska showing probability (%) of change occurrence. Insets show fire boundaries from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Large Fire Database and Landsat 8 imagery (bottom right; 2016) north of Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Date published: April 5, 2019

California is ‘Browning’ More in the South During Droughts

Vegetation in the southern part of the state is being hit harder due to climate change, UCLA-led study finds.

Date published: March 4, 2019

USGS contributes to the Fourth National Climate Assessment

USGS Research Hydrologist Glenn Hodgkins co-authored the Fourth National Climate Assessment’s Northeast chapter. USGS Research Geologist Erika Lentz was also a co-author. The recently published chapter discusses historical and potential future impacts of climatic changes on New England’s people and natural resources, including it’s inland and coastal waters.

Date published: December 13, 2017

Eyes on the Coast—Video Cameras Help Forecast Coastal Change

USGS scientists have installed video cameras pointed at beaches on the coasts of western Florida and central California. They’re analyzing the videos to measure features of the beach and ocean so they can improve coastal-change forecasts.

Date published: October 5, 2017

Scientists Ground Truth What Influences Hurricanes

Scientists looked back 10 to 13 thousand years to gain real-world insight into the environmental factors that influence hurricanes near Florida and, by extension, the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

Date published: August 10, 2017

Study Links Major Floods in North America and Europe to Multi-Decade Ocean Patterns

The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased overall during the past 80 years, a recent study has concluded. Instead researchers found that the occurrence of major flooding in North America and Europe often varies with North Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns.

Date published: September 28, 2016

Fifty Years of Glacier Change Research in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the longest continuous glacier research efforts in North America.

Date published: May 6, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms of All Species

USGS wishes to honor all mothers, of all species. Many of our research findings have and are shedding light on the lives of non-human moms.  

Date published: April 28, 2016

Nitrogen in Lakes Connected to Groundwater

A recent scientific study shows new, important information about how groundwater cannot only contribute nutrients such as nitrogen to lakes, but can also carry it away. Nitrogen is an important nutrient but harmful when over-supplied. The fate and transport of nitrogen are critically important issues for human and aquatic ecosystem health.

Date published: November 9, 2015

Las Vegas Holds Key to Abrupt Climate Change

According to new U.S. Geological Survey research springs and marshes in the desert outside Las Vegas expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm.

Date published: September 1, 2015

EarthWord: Anthropogenic

Scientists use the word “anthropogenic” in referring to environmental change caused or influenced by people, either directly or indirectly.

Date published: August 10, 2015

Global Vulnerability of Forests to Climate Change-Related Tree Mortality is Widely Underestimated

BALTIMORE -- Forests worldwide are vulnerable to growing risks of drought- and heat-induced tree mortality and forest die-off because of a rapidly warming Earth, according to just-published research in the scientific journal Ecosphere. The paper is an invited “ESA Centennial Paper” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America.

Date published: February 20, 2015

Study Reveals Recent Geologic History of Roanoke River Floodplain

After surveying and analyzing centuries of evidence in the floodplain of the lower Roanoke River, USGS researchers, along with colleagues from the universities of Wisconsin and North Carolina, have developed a highly accurate estimate of sediment deposition amounts along the course of the river over three timescales — annual, decadal, and centennial.

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