Climate Research and Development Program

Home

Programs L2 Landing Page

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.

Filter Total Items: 15
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

GLACIER SIMULATION

The simulation reflects the predicted exponential rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a 2xCO2 "global warming" scenario, by 2030 with a concurrent warming of 2-3 degrees centigrade (4-5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2050. In addition it assumes that precipitation, primarily during the winter, will increase over the same time period five to 10 percent. The animation view of the Blackfoot-...

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...

Filter Total Items: 6
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.

Filter Total Items: 40
Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

North-south dipole in winter hydroclimate in the western United States during the last deglaciation

During the termination of the last glacial period the western U.S. experienced exceptionally wet conditions, driven by changes in location and strength of the mid-latitude winter storm track. The distribution of modern winter precipitation is frequently characterized by a north-south wet/dry dipole pattern, controlled by interaction of the storm...

Hudson, Adam M.; Hatchett, Benjamin J.; Quade, Jay; Boyle, Douglas P.; Bassett, Scott D.; Ali, Guleed; De los Santos, Marie G.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Overview of the oxygen isotope systematics of land snails from North America

Continental paleoclimate proxies with near-global coverage are rare. Land snail δ18O is one of the few proxies abundant in Quaternary sediments ranging from the tropics to the high Arctic tundra. However, its application in paleoclimatology remains difficult, attributable in part to limitations in published calibration studies. Here we present...

Yanes, Yurena; Al-Qattan, Nasser M.; Rech, Jason A.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Dodd, Justin P.; Nekola, Jeffrey C.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2018

The Las Vegas Formation

The Las Vegas Formation was established in 1965 to designate the distinctive light-colored, fine-grained, fossil-bearing sedimentary deposits exposed in and around the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada. In a coeval designation, the sediments were subdivided into informal units with stratigraphic and chronologic frameworks that have persisted in the...

Springer, Kathleen B.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Manker, Craig R.; Mahan, Shannon A.
Springer, K.B., Pigati, J.S., Manker, C.R., and Mahan, S.A., 2018, The Las Vegas Formation: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1839, 62 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1839.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2018

The geology and paleontology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada

On December 19, 2014, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, located in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada, was established by Congress as the 405th unit of the National Park Service to “conserve, protect, interpret, and enhance for the benefit of present and future generations the unique and nationally important paleontological,...

Springer, Kathleen B.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Scott, Eric
Springer, K.B., Pigati, J.S., and Scott, E., 2018, The geology and paleontology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3038, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183038.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2018

Examining the relationship between portable luminescence reader measurements and depositional ages of paleowetland sediments, Las Vegas Valley, Nevada

Portable luminescence readers are exciting new tools that have the potential to rapidly determine the age structure of late Quaternary stratigraphic columns. This is important because high-resolution age profiling can reveal details about the temporal dynamics of climate cause and ecosystem effect, often while...

Gray, Harrison J.; Mahan, Shannon A.; Springer, Kathleen B.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2018

Juke Box trench: A valuable archive of late Pleistocene and Holocene stratigraphy in the Bonneville basin, Utah

A backhoe trench in deposits of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and Holocene wetlands below the mouth of Juke Box Cave, near Wendover, Utah, provides an excellent view of the late Pleistocene and Holocene geologic history of the area. The following stratigraphic units are exposed (ascending): preBonneville gravel (fluvial or lacustrine) and oolitic...

Oviatt, Charles G.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Madsen, David B.; Rhode, David E.; Bright, Jordon

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2018

Desert wetlands record hydrologic variability within the Younger Dryas chronozone, Mojave Desert, USA

One of the enduring questions in the field of paleohydrology is how quickly desert wetland ecosystems responded to past episodes of abrupt climate change. Recent investigations in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada have revealed that wetlands expanded and contracted on millennial and sub-millennial timescales in response to changes in climate...

Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Springer, Kathleen B.; Honke, Jeffrey S.
Pigati, J.S., Springer, K.B., Honke, J.S., 2018, Desert wetlands record hydrologic variability within the Younger Dryas chronozone, Mojave Desert, USA. Quaternary Research. Available online.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2017

Oxygen stable isotopic disparities among sympatric small land snail species from northwest Minnesota, USA

The oxygen isotopic composition (δ18O) of land snail shells can be a valuable paleoenvironmental archive if the climatic parameters that influence the isotopic system are fully understood. Previous calibration studies have examined a limited number of species or individuals, and most have focused on larger (> 10 mm) taxa, which do not...

Yanes, Yurena; Nekola, Jeffrey C.; Rech, Jason A.; Pigati, Jeffery S.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2017

The Great Acceleration and the disappearing surficial geologic record

The surficial geologic record is the relatively thin veneer of young (<~1 Ma) and mostly unconsolidated sediments that cover portions of Earth’s terrestrial surface (Fig. 1). Once largely ignored as “overburden” by geologists, surficial deposits are now studied to address a wide range of issues related to the sustainability of human societies....

Rech, Jason A.; Springer, Kathleen B.; Pigati, Jeffrey S.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2017

The Tule Springs local fauna: Rancholabrean vertebrates from the Las Vegas Formation, Nevada

A middle to late Pleistocene sedimentary sequence in the upper Las Vegas Wash, north of Las Vegas, Nevada, has yielded the largest open-site Rancholabrean vertebrate fossil assemblage in the southern Great Basin and Mojave Deserts. Recent paleontologic field studies have led to the discovery of hundreds of fossil localities and specimens, greatly...

Scott, Eric; Springer, Kathleen B.; Sagebiel, James C.
Scott, E., Springer, K.B., Sagebiel, J.C., 2017. The Tule Springs Local Fauna: Rancholabrean vertebrates from the Las Vegas Formation, Nevada. Quaternary International 443A, 105-121.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2017

Pliocene-Pleistocene water bodies and associated geologic deposits in Southern Israel and Southern Jordan

No abstract available.

Enzel, Yehouda; Bar-Yosef, Ofer; Rech, Jason A.; Ginat, Hanan; Catlett, Gentry; Mischke, Steffen; Winer-Tully, Emily; Pigati, Jeffrey S.
Rech, J.A., Ginat, H., Catlett, G.A., Mischke, S., Winer, E.R., Pigati, J.S., 2015, Pleistocene water bodies and associated geologic deposits in the southern Levant. In The Quaternary of the Levant, O. Bar-Yosef and Y. Enzel, (Eds.)

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2017

Vertebrate paleontology, stratigraphy, and paleohydrology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada (USA)

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK) preserves 22,650 acres of the upper Las Vegas Wash in the northern Las Vegas Valley (Nevada, USA). TUSK is home to extensive and stratigraphically complex groundwater discharge (GWD) deposits, called the Las Vegas Formation, which represent springs and desert wetlands that covered much of the...

Springer, Kathleen B.; Pigati, Jeffery S.; Scott, Eric
Springer, K.B., Pigati, J.S., and Scott, E., 2017, Vertebrate paleontology, stratigraphy, and paleohydrology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada (USA): Geology of the Intermountain West, v. 4, p. 55–98 ​

Filter Total Items: 16
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.

Rainbow Glacier perimeter: 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015.
December 31, 2017

Rainbow Glacier perimeter: 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015.

This image shows the perimeter of Rainbow Glacier in Glacier National Park: 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015. 

multicores
December 31, 2017

Multicores

Multicores collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico. These cores contain roughly 1 meter of sediment from the seafloor, and represent the past ~2000 years of deposition. USGS scientists slice these cores in 5 mm increments, and analyze the chemical composition of microfossils (e.g., foraminifera) and molecular fossils (e.g., alkenones, GDGTs, leaf waxes, etc.), to

...
Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park showing smoke from forest fires.
September 12, 2017

Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier NP showing fire smoke.

Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park showing smoke from forest fires. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior.

USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.
September 12, 2017

USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.

USGS scientist Erich Peitzsch does repair on the Sperry Weather Station in Glacier National Park. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior during the 2017 fire season. 

USGS weather station repair operations in Glacier NP.
September 12, 2017

USGS weather station repair operations in Glacier NP.

Crews perform repairs on the Sperry Weather Station as part of Fire Operations in Glacier National Park. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior during the 2017 fire season. 

July 30, 2017

A Record of Change: Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo N.

A Record of Change—Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo Nation is a 25-minute documentary about collaborative studies using conventional physical sciences, combined with tribal elder observations to show that local knowledge and conventional science partnerships can effectively document ecosystem change and determine the resulting challenges to livelihoods. 

...
December 31, 2016

Historic USGS Streamgage on the Wabash River at Lafayette Indiana

This video will provide a brief history and purpose for one of the oldest streamgages in Indiana. The gage is at the Wabash River at Lafayette, Indiana. The site number is 03335500. This video was produced at the request of the West Lafayette Parks Department where this historic gage is located. A QR code is displayed on an interpretive plaque next to the gage which is

...
Image of simulated global temperature change
May 26, 2016

Simulated global temperature change

This animated spiral portrays the simulated changes in the global averaged monthly air temperature from 1850 through 2100 relative to the 1850 - 1900 average. The temperature data are from Community Climate System (CCSM4) global climate model maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The simulation is for the IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5

...
view across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with sampling grid markers in forground
June 30, 2014

Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod with sample grid markers

Sunset view looking northwest from Fishermans Cove, across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The small sticks and flags in the lake are a sampling grid. 

view across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
April 30, 2014

Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod

View looking west from Fishermans Cove, across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The small sticks in the lake are a small-scale sampling grid. 

Beach erosion and overwash deposition occurred uniformly along this section of the barrier island.
December 31, 2012

Elevation difference maps of Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague Island, Maryland. The pre-storm map shows a narrow, low-lying area that crosses the island from front to back. In the post-storm and difference maps, waves and surge deposited sand into the bay as an overwash fan and widened the island at this location. Beach erosion and overwash deposition occurred uniformly along this section of the barrier

...
Filter Total Items: 14
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.

Filter Total Items: 2