Land Change Science Program

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Changes in the environment, land use, and climate can have significant impacts on our Nation’s economy, natural resources, infrastructure, and water, food, and energy security. To strengthen our Nation’s ability to respond and adapt to these stressors, the USGS Land Change Science Program conducts research to improve understanding of rates, causes, and consequences of climate and land use change.

Land Change

Land Change

Land change and land use studies contribute to the collection of land cover information and development of the modeling and decision support tools needed for making knowledgeable resource allocation decisions.

Research Studies

Climate Science

Climate Science

Climate science provides the data and scientific interpretations needed to understand how the Earth system responds to changing climate and its relevance to societal needs and issues important to resource managers and the public.

Explore Science

Data and Tools

Climate history, land cover and land surface information is vital for assessing the impacts of climate change, evaluating ecosystem status and health, understanding spatial patterns of biodiversity, and informing land use planning.

Global Croplands

Global Ecosystems

Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium

National Climate Change Viewer

News

Date published: September 14, 2018

Big Thompson Floods of 1976 and 2013 - A Visual Comparison

The Big Thompson Floods of 1976 and 2013 shown visually. The inundation images reflect the location and peak streamflows at certain points between Estes Park and Loveland, Colorado.

Date published: August 6, 2018

USGS Scientist Dr. Craig D. Allen Named Ecological Society of America Fellow

The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of Dr. Craig D. Allen, who was recently named an Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellow for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecology. Dr. Allen, a research ecologist with the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, joins 27 other newly-initiated ESA fellows from academia, public and private sectors. Fellows are elected for life.

Date published: October 24, 2017

New Tool Allows Users to Explore Mountains Worldwide

A new tool that gives users the most detailed view yet of the world’s mountains is now available from the USGS. And it’s as close as your computer or cellphone.

The surface of the earth is a dynamic patchwork of natural and cultural landscapes that regularly shifts due to changes resulting from natural phenomena and human activities. Land Change Science strives to study the spatial patterns, processes and consequences of these changes in land use, land condition and land cover.

Explore Science
Filter Total Items: 5
Date published: August 5, 2018
Status: Active

Global Hyperspectral Imaging Spectroscopy of Agricultural-Crops & Vegetation (GHISA)

This webpage showcases the key research advances made in hyperspectral remote sensing of agricultural crops and vegetation over the last 50 years. There are three focus areas:

Date published: February 6, 2018
Status: Active

Fire Danger Forecast

USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), in conjunction with the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest (PSW) Region, has developed several new products for understanding and forecasting the probability of large wildland fires on all land in the conterminous U.S.

Contacts: Kurtis Nelson
Date published: April 11, 2016

Assessing Societal Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

Risk and vulnerability studies that seek to improve the scientific basis for assessments and develop quantitative, qualitative, geospatial decision support tools that characterize and communicate the vulnerability of both human communities and natural ecosystems.

Date published: April 11, 2016

Ecosystems and Their Benefits

Researchers develop spatially-explicit models of ecosystem extent and functioning, and methodologies for the assessment of ecosystem goods and services, with an emphasis on understanding how they respond to changing landscape and climatic conditions.

Date published: April 11, 2016

Land Change Monitoring and Modeling

Scientific study of land use and land cover change at multiple scales, documenting geographic variability of change and defining the environmental, social, technological, and political drivers of change, as well as assessing the impacts of these changes.

Land cover and land surface information and data is useful for various types of research and management applications, including assessing the impacts of climate change, evaluating ecosystem status and health, understanding spatial patterns of biodiversity, and informing land use planning.

Learn More
Filter Total Items: 1
Date published: August 2, 2017

Fire Danger Forecast Viewer

USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, in conjunction with the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest (PSW) Region, has developed several new products for understanding and forecasting the probability of large wildland fires on all land in the conterminous U.S.

Filter Total Items: 10
Year Published: 2017

Baseline and projected future carbon storage and carbon fluxes in ecosystems of Hawai‘i

This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to improve understanding of factors influencing carbon balance in ecosystems of Hawai‘i. Ecosystem carbon storage, carbon fluxes, and carbon balance were examined for major terrestrial ecosystems on the seven main...

Selmants, Paul C.; Giardina, Christian P.; Jacobi, James D.; Zhu, Zhiliang
Selmants, P.C., Giardina, C.P., Jacobi, J.D., and Zhu, Zhiliang, eds., 2017, Baseline and projected future carbon storage and carbon fluxes in ecosystems of Hawai‘i: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1834, 134 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1834.

Year Published: 2016

Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska

This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to contribute to knowledge of the storage, fluxes, and balance of carbon and methane gas in ecosystems of Alaska. The carbon and methane variables were examined for major terrestrial ecosystems (uplands and wetlands) and...

Zhu, Zhiliang; McGuire, A. David
Zhu, Zhiliang, and McGuire, A.D., eds., 2016, Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1826, 196 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1826.

Year Published: 2014

Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of the eastern United States

This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to conduct a comprehensive national assessment of storage and flux (flow) of carbon and the fluxes of other greenhouse gases in ecosystems of the Eastern United States. These carbon and greenhouse gas variables were...

Zhu, Zhi-Liang; Reed, Bradley C.; Zhu, Zhi-Liang; Reed, Bradley C.
Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of the eastern United States; 2014; PP; 1804; Edited by Zhu, Zhiliang; Reed, Bradley C.

Year Published: 2014

A new map of global ecological land units—An ecophysiographic stratification approach

In response to the need and an intergovernmental commission for a high resolution and data-derived global ecosystem map, land surface elements of global ecological pattern were characterized in an ecophysiographic stratification of the planet. The stratification produced 3,923 terrestrial ecological land units (ELUs) at a base resolution of 250...

Sayre, Roger; Dangermond, Jack; Frye, Charlie; Vaughan, Randy; Aniello, Peter; Breyer, Sean P.; Cribbs, Douglas; Hopkins, Dabney; Nauman, Richard; Derrenbacher, William; Wright, Dawn J.; Brown, Clint; Convis, Charles; Smith, Jonathan H.; Benson, Laurence; VanSistine, D. Paco; Warner, Harumi; Cress, Jill Janene; Danielson, Jeffrey J.; Hamann, Sharon L.; Cecere, Thomas; Reddy, Ashwan D.; Burton, Devon; Grosse, Andrea; True, Diane; Metzger, Marc; Hartmann, Jens; Moosdorf, Nils; Durr, Hans; Paganini, Marc; Defourny, Pierre; Arino, Olivier; Maynard, Simone; Anderson, Mark; Comer, Patrick
Sayre, R., Dangermond, J., Frye, C., Vaughan, R., Aniello, P., Breyer, S., Cribbs, D., Hopkins, D., Nauman, R., Derrenbacher, W., Wright, D., Brown, C., Convis, C., Smith, J., Benson, L., Paco VanSistine, D., Warner, H., Cress, J., Danielson, J., Hamann, S., Cecere, T., Reddy, A., Burton, D., Grosse, A., True, D., Metzger, M., Hartmann, J., Moosdorf, N., Dürr, H., Paganini, M., DeFourny, P., Arino, O., Maynard, S., Anderson, M., and Comer, P., 2014, A New Map of Global Ecological Land Units—An Ecophysiographic Stratification Approach: Washington, DC, Association of American Geographers, 46 p.

Year Published: 2012

United States Geological Survey fire science: fire danger monitoring and forecasting

Each day, the U.S. Geological Survey produces 7-day forecasts for all Federal lands of the distributions of number of ignitions, number of fires above a given size, and conditional probabilities of fires growing larger than a specified size. The large fire probability map is an estimate of the likelihood that ignitions will become large fires. The...

Eidenshink, Jeff C.; Howard, Stephen M.
United States Geological Survey fire science--Fire danger monitoring and forecasting; 2012; FS; 2012-3121; Eidenshink, Jeff C.; Howard, Stephen M.

Year Published: 2009

Forecasting distributions of large federal-lands fires utilizing satellite and gridded weather information

The current study presents a statistical model for assessing the skill of fire danger indices and for forecasting the distribution of the expected numbers of large fires over a given region and for the upcoming week. The procedure permits development of daily maps that forecast, for the forthcoming week and within federal lands, percentiles of the...

Preisler, H.K.; Burgan, R.E.; Eidenshink, J.C.; Klaver, Jacqueline M.; Klaver, R.W.
Forecasting distributions of large federal-lands fires utilizing satellite and gridded weather information; 2009; Article; Journal; International Journal of Wildland Fire; Preisler, H. K.; Burgan, R. E.; Eidenshink, J. C.; Klaver, J. M.; Klaver, R. W.

Year Published: 2007

USGS Fire Science: Fire Danger Monitoring and Forecasting

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has advanced the use of moderate-resolution satellite data in a decision support system for assessing national fire potential. Weekly updated digital images of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), based on data acquired at 1-kilometer (km) resolution (about 0.6 mi), have been used for the past 19...

Eidenshink, Jeff
USGS Fire Science: Fire Danger Monitoring and Forecasting; 2007; FS; 2005-3066; Eidenshink, Jeff

Year Published: 2003

Introduction to fire danger rating and remote sensing - Will remote sensing enhance wildland fire danger prediction?

While ‘Fire Danger’ per se cannot be measured, the physical properties of the biotic and abiotic world that relate to fire occurrence and fire behavior can. Today, increasingly sophisticated Remote Sensing methods are being developed to more accurately detect fuel properties such as species composition (fuel types), vegetation structure or plant...

Chuvieco, Emilio; Allgöwer, Britta; Carlson, J.D.; Van Wagtendonk, Jan W.
Introduction. Fire danger rating and remote sensing- Will remote sensing enhance wildland fire danger prediction?; 2003; Article; Report; Wildland fire danger estimation and mapping: the role of remote sensing data; Allg444wer, B.; Carlson, J. D.; van Wagtendonk, J. W.

Year Published: 2001

Mississippi Basin Carbon Project: upland soil database for sites in Nishnabotna River basin, Iowa

The conversion of land from its native state to an agricultural use commonly results in a significant loss of soil carbon (Mann, 1985; Davidson and Ackerman, 1993). Globally, this loss is estimated to account for as much as 1/3 of the net CO2 emissions for the period of 1850 to 1980 (Houghton and others, 1983). Roughly 20 to 40 percent of original...

Harden, J.W.; Fries, T.L.; Haughy, R.; Kramer, L.; Zheng, Shuhui
Mississippi Basin Carbon Project: upland soil database for sites in Nishnabotna River basin, Iowa; 2001; OFR; 2001-217; Harden, J. W.; Fries, T. L.; Haughy, R.; Kramer, L.; Zheng, Shuhui

Year Published: 2000

Recovery of perennial vegetation in military target sites in the eastern Mohave Desert, Arizona

The effect of the age of geomorphic surfaces on the recovery of desert vegetation in military target sites was studied in the Mohave and Cerbat Mountains of northwestern Arizona. The target sites were cleared of all vegetation during military exercises in 1942-1943 and have not been subsequently disturbed. The degree of recovery was measured by...

Steiger, John W.; Webb, Robert H.
Recovery of perennial vegetation in military target sites in the eastern Mohave Desert, Arizona; 2000; OFR; 2000-355; Steiger, John W.; Webb, Robert H.

Filter Total Items: 13
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.

Satellite image showing FPI.
October 10, 2018

FPI Forecast

Fire Potential Index map for October 10, 2018.

Satellite data image for expected fires.
August 30, 2018

USGS Fire Danger Forecast Large Fire Probability

Large Fire Probability for August 30, 2018.  Percent change estimate, given a source for ignition that a fire will grow to 100+ acres.

Image showing expected number of large fires.
August 30, 2018

Fire Danger Expected Number of Fires per PSA

This map takes into account both probability of ignition and conditional probability of spread (to 500+ acres in East and 1000+ acres in West*) given ignition.

Image showing fire potential.
August 30, 2018

Fire Potential Index (FPI) forecast

The FPI is most similar to the Energy Release Component of the National Fire Danger Rating System in that both are moisture related indexes and neither indicates the effect of wind on fire potential. 

Image showing probability of large fire.
August 30, 2018

Large Fire Probability

This map takes into account both probability of ignition and conditional probability of spread (to 500+ acres in East and 1000+ acres in West*) given ignition.

Graph image for fires in upcoming week.
August 29, 2018

Historic Distribution of 100+ acres Fires per Forthcoming Week

Summary of Fires by GACC Units: For the week of 08/29/2018

October 10, 2017

Global Mountain Explorer Video Tutorial

This video contains a narrated introduction to the Global Mountain Explorer, or GME. The GME is a web-based tool for visualizing and exploring three well known global mountain datalayers. The video tutorial provides background information on the three global mountain characterizations, and provides users with a walk through of all the functionality of the map exploration

...
Scientist laying cable in a field
June 1, 2016

Laying Ground Cable to Measure Permafrost

USGS scientist Burke Minsley and project partners from the U. Alaska Fairbanks lay ground cable to measure permafrost depth at Nome Creek site north of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Remnants of a spruce forest
December 31, 1969

Remnants of a spruce forest

Remnants of a spruce forest complex following a severe wildfire in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Wildfires are the dominant landscape-scale disturbance operating at annual time scales in Alaska, and fires play a major role in the rate and extent of vegetation growth and productivity of a site. Wildland fires typically result in the reduction of

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Tuscon Presentation Thumbnail - Thenkabail
September 17, 2018

Tucson Presentation

Dr. Aneece also presented her research at the USGS in Tucson, AZ, USA in February 2018.  There she shared results on reducing data redundancy, crop growth stage classification, and crop type classification.

Filter Total Items: 9
Date published: September 14, 2018

Big Thompson Floods of 1976 and 2013 - A Visual Comparison

The Big Thompson Floods of 1976 and 2013 shown visually. The inundation images reflect the location and peak streamflows at certain points between Estes Park and Loveland, Colorado.

Date published: August 6, 2018

USGS Scientist Dr. Craig D. Allen Named Ecological Society of America Fellow

The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of Dr. Craig D. Allen, who was recently named an Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellow for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecology. Dr. Allen, a research ecologist with the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, joins 27 other newly-initiated ESA fellows from academia, public and private sectors. Fellows are elected for life.

Date published: October 24, 2017

New Tool Allows Users to Explore Mountains Worldwide

A new tool that gives users the most detailed view yet of the world’s mountains is now available from the USGS. And it’s as close as your computer or cellphone.

Date published: April 24, 2017

Mapping the World’s Ocean Ecosystems

The world’s oceans are vital to life on Earth. They provide food, moderate the climate, water the land, and drive the local and global economy. But the living conditions and resources in the enormous water masses of the open ocean have been mostly unknown and unmapped. 

Date published: April 14, 2017

Freshwater Ecosystems are an Important Part of the Alaskan Carbon Cycle

While freshwater ecosystems cover only a small amount of the land surface in Alaska, they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. An invited feature article for Ecological Applications provides the first-ever major aquatic carbon flux assessment for the entire state. Carbon flux refers to the rate of carbon transfer between pools.

Date published: March 20, 2017

Preparing for Tsunami Hazards on Washington’s Pacific Coast

Hours before Japan was struck by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the ensuing catastrophic tsunami, John Schelling spoke at a public meeting in the coastal community of Oceans Shores, Washington, about preparing for tsunami hazards. The few dozen people attending the meeting went home that evening and watched in horror as the events in Japan unfolded.

Date published: December 15, 2016

Warmer Ocean Waters Seen to Spur Drought in Africa

Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief

Date published: June 1, 2016

USGS Assesses Carbon Potential of Alaska Lands

Fate of Alaska's large carbon reserves could affect greenhouse gas concentration.

Date published: May 10, 2016

USGS Scientists Receive Presidential Awards for Research on Earthquakes, Fish Disease, and Paleoclimate

The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the success of three distinguished researchers who are recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This award is the highest recognition granted by the United States government to scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers.