Land Change Science Program

Societal Risk and Vulnerabilities

Risk and vulnerability studies develop quantitative, qualitative, and geospatial methods and decision support tools that characterize and communicate the vulnerability of both human communities and natural ecosystems to hazard events. Land Change Science research utilizes models, sensitivity analyses, and geographic distributions of people and infrastructure along with the probability of specific disturbance factors, to evaluate a community's vulnerability and risk.

Filter Total Items: 13
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: December 20, 2018
Status: Active

Ecosystems on the Edge: Landscape and Fire Ecology of Forests, Deserts, and Tundra

Climate changes and interacting disturbances such as wildfires, insect and disease outbreaks, and erosion and flooding can perturb and reorganize ecosystems.

Date published: December 13, 2018
Status: Active

Connections between Forested and Urban Landscapes and Implications for Water Supply

Interactions between forested and urban landscapes can lead to reciprocal effects that have substantial impacts on water supply and ecology. Air pollution from urban and forested landscapes can be deposited on adjacent forests, while forest disturbance, such as wildfires and floods, can remobilize those contaminants. Additionally, pollutants from legacy land use (e.g., mining) can also be...

Date published: December 4, 2018
Status: Active

The Influence of Climatic, Watershed, and Water-use Changes on Extreme Low Streamflows in the United States

Extreme low streamflows impact water availability for human systems and ecosystems. Numerous researchers have analyzed trends in low streamflows in the U.S. There is no known published work, however, on historical trends over time in the most extreme low streamflows—the flows with the largest impacts on human systems and ecosystems. The current study attempts to fill this gap. The wealth of...

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: November 6, 2018
Status: Active

USGS Glaciers and Climate

Scientists with the USGS Glaciers and Climate Project study the process and impacts of glacier change, including sea-level rise, water resources, environmental hazards and ecosystem links. At the core of this research are mass balance measurements at five glaciers in the United States. These glaciers have been studied since the 1960s, to help us understand how glaciers respond to changes in...

Date published: October 25, 2018
Status: Active

Cheatgrass Dieoff Time-series Dynamics (2000 – 2010)

Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) is a winter annual grass that has invaded and altered the shrub steppe ecosystem in the Great Basin for about 100 years. This highly competitive grass invades recently disturbed areas and then outcompetes most native vegetation by using requisite resources like soil water and nutrients in early spring before other native plants. It also can alter its phenotype...

Contacts: Bruce Wylie
Date published: September 12, 2018
Status: Active

Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability

The importance of sea-level rise in shaping coastal landscapes is well recognized within the earth science community, but as with many natural hazards, communicating the risks associated with sea-level rise remains a challenge.

Contacts: Dean Gesch
Date published: March 19, 2018
Status: Active

Hazards Vulnerability Team

Our country faces a wide array of natural hazards that threaten its safety, security, economic well-being, and natural resources. To minimize future losses, communities need a clear understanding of how they are vulnerable to natural hazards and of strategies for increasing their resilience. Vulnerability and resilience are influenced by (1) how communities choose to use hazard-prone land, (2...

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Aridland Water Harvesting Study

Most of western North America has been severely grazed by cattle, causing grasslands to deteriorate and desert scrub expansion. Climate in arid and semi-arid regions is often typified by short, intense rainfall events which contribute to short-term flooding and erosion. Associated arroyo cutting occurs when ephemeral creek beds are carved into the floodplain when erratic overland flow occurs;...

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: May 30, 2017
Status: Active

Patterns in the Landscape – Analyses of Cause and Effect

For two decades, USGS scientists with the Land Cover Trends team have used satellite data to study landscape change across the United States. Increasingly, research is focused on understanding why change occurs. Insights into the underlying causes of shifts in land use and land cover (LULC) will allow managers and stakeholders to make more informed...