Land Change Science Program


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.

Earth Science Matters Newsletter

Earth Science Matters Newsletter


Data and Tools

Climate history, land cover and land surface data and models are 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 (NCCV)

Publications Search


Date published: May 20, 2019

New Land Cover Maps Depict 15 Years of Change across America

Today, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the latest edition of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) for the U.S. – the most comprehensive land cover database that the USGS has ever produced. The NLCD 2016 documents land cover change in the Lower 48 states from 2001 to 2016. During this 15-year period, 7.6 percent of the conterminous U.S. changed land cover at least once.

Date published: May 15, 2019

LCS-funded Scientist's Work Highlighted as USGS Top Story

LCS-funded scientist, Kristen Manies, recently had her research with methane sensing drones highlighted as a USGS top story. The work uses unmanned aircraft to “sniff” methane gas escaping from thawing permafrost. Learn more about the amazing work she's a part...

Date published: April 26, 2019

National Climate Change Viewer data used in an evaluation comparing statistical downscaling methods and data sets

A comprehensive evaluation comparing hydroclimate projections derived from six statistically downscaled data sets, including data underpinning the National Climate Change Viewer (NCCV) was recently published.


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Year Published: 2019

Carbon dioxide emissions and methane flux from forested wetland soils of the Great Dismal Swamp, USA

The Great Dismal Swamp, a freshwater forested peatland, has accumulated massive amounts of soil carbon since the postglacial period. Logging and draining have severely altered the hydrology and forest composition, leading to drier soils, accelerated oxidation, and vulnerability to disturbance. The once dominant Atlantic white cedar, cypress, and...

Gutenberg, Laurel; Krauss, K.W.; Qu, John; Ahn, Changwoo; Hogan, Dianna M.; Zhu, Zhiliang; Xu, Chenyang
Gutenberg, L., Krauss, K.W., Qu, J.J., Ahn, C., Hogan, D., Zhu, Z., and Xu, C., 2019, Carbon dioxide emissions and methane flux from forested wetland soils of the Great Dismal Swamp, USA: Environmental Management, First Online,

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Year Published: 2019

The dependence of hydroclimate projections in snow‐dominated regions of the western United States on the choice of statistically downscaled climate data

We assess monthly temperature and precipitation data produced by four statistically based techniques that were used to downscale general circulation models (GCMs) in the Climate Model Intercomparison Program Phase 5 (CMIP5) (Taylor et al., 2012). We drive a simple water-balance model with the downscaled data to demonstrate the effect of the...

Alder, Jay R.; Hostetler, Steven W.

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Year Published: 2019

Arctic vegetation, temperature, and hydrology during Early Eocene transient global warming events

Early Eocene global climate was warmer than much of the Cenozoic and was punctuated by a series of transient warming events or ‘hyperthermals’ associated with carbon isotope excursions when temperature increased by 4–8° C. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~55 Ma) and Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM2, 53.5 Ma) hyperthermals were of short...

Willard, Debra A.; Donders, Timme H; Reichgelt, Tammo; Greenwood, David R; Peterse, Francien; Sangiorgi, Francesca; Sluijs, Appy; Schouten, Stefan