Mission Areas

Climate Research and Development Program

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.

Visit Our Website

Science Topics

Science Topics

Learn about research to improve understanding of the rates, causes, and consequences of climate and land use change.

Explore Science

Research Projects

Research Projects

Climate R&D research provides the basic data and scientific interpretations needed to understand how the Earth system responds to changing climate and land use.

See All Research

Climate Matters Newsletter

Climate Matters Newsletter

Stay updated on recent research and its relevance to societal needs and issues important to resource managers, policy makers, and the general public.

View and Subscribe

News

Repeat oblique photographs of Gulkana glaciers in Alaska.
September 28, 2016

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

A seal pup kisses its mom in Antarctica. Photo by William Link, USGS, under NMFS Permit 1032-1917
May 6, 2016

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.  

view across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with sampling grid markers in forground
April 28, 2016

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.

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

Explore Science Topics
Filter Total Items: 6
This area needs to recover from fire damage to its trees.
September 20, 2016

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...

Image: Garden Wall Weather Station, MT
May 5, 2016

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...

Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

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...

Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

Sperry Glacier was chosen as the benchmark glacier for the glacier monitoring studies, due to the combination of its topographic characteristics, historic data, and access. Annual mass balance measurements began in 2005. Sperry Glacier joined the long-established USGS Benchmark Glacier Research program in 2013 where common field and analysis methods enable regional comparison and improved...

Researchers studying Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park
April 5, 2016

As Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers recede, CCME staff are monitoring many of the park’s glaciers to determine the causes of change, assess their ecological and hydrological effects, and predict future changes and effects. Intensive research to determine the mass balance of Sperry Glacier will determine whether small cirque glaciers like Sperry can serve as reliable...

Measuring the glacier margin.
April 5, 2016

The purpose of the CCME's glacier monitoring studies is to systematically monitor changes in Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers and to determine the causes of changes, assess their ecological and hydrological effects, and predict future changes and effects....

Filter Total Items: 4
Image of the Regional Climate Change Viewer
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.

Image of the Global Climate Change viewer
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.

National Climate Change Viewer
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).

Image of mean annual temperature simulations
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.

A few of our recent publications, for a more comprehensive list please visit the Climate R&D publications database that allows you to search by year, author’s last name, keywords, and publication type.

Search Climate R&D Publications
Filter Total Items: 5
Isotopes in North American Rocky Mountain Snowpack 1993–2014
Year Published: 2016

Isotopes in North American Rocky Mountain Snowpack 1993–2014

We present ∼1300 new isotopic measurements (δ 18 O and δ 2 H) from a network of snowpack sites in the Rocky Mountains that have been sampled since 1993. The network includes 177 locations where depth-integrated snow samples are collected each spring near peak accumulation. At 57 of these locations snowpack samples were obtained for 10–21 years and...

Anderson, L., Berkelhammer, M.,and Mast, M.A.
Anderson, L., Berkelhammer, M.,and Mast, M.A., 2016, Isotopes in North American Rocky Mountain Snowpack 1993–2014: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 131, p. 262-273.
The differing biogeochemical and microbial signatures of glaciers and rock glaciers
Year Published: 2016

The differing biogeochemical and microbial signatures of glaciers and rock glaciers

Glaciers and rock glaciers supply water and bioavailable nutrients to headwater mountain lakes and streams across all regions of the American West. Here we present a comparative study of the metal, nutrient, and microbial characteristics of glacial and rock glacial influence on headwater ecosystems in three mountain ranges of the contiguous U.S.:...

Fegel, T.S., Baron, J.S., Fountain, A.G., Johnson, G.F., Hall, E.K.
Fegel, T.S., Baron, J.S., Fountain, A.G., Johnson, G.F., Hall, E.K., 2016, The differing biogeochemical and microbial signatures of glaciers and rock glaciers: Journal of Geophysical Research, Biogeosciences, v. 121, p. 919-932.
Geochemical evidence for seasonal controls on the transportation of Holocene loess, Matanuska Valley, southern Alaska, USA
Year Published: 2016

Geochemical evidence for seasonal controls on the transportation of Holocene loess, Matanuska Valley, southern Alaska, USA

Loess is a widespread Quaternary deposit in Alaska and loess accretion occurs today in some regions, such as the Matanuska Valley. The source of loess in the Matanuska Valley has been debated for more than seven decades, with the Knik River and the Matanuska River, both to the east, being the leading candidates and the Susitna River, to the west,...

Muhs, D.R., Budahn, J.R., Skipp, G.L., and McGeehin, J.P.
Muhs, D.R., Budahn, J.R., Skipp, G.L., and McGeehin, J.P., 2016, Geochemical evidence for seasonal controls on the transportation of Holocene loess, Matanuska Valley, southern Alaska, USA: Aeolian Research, v. 21, p. 61-73.
Modeled historical land use and land cover for the conterminous United States
Year Published: 2016

Modeled historical land use and land cover for the conterminous United States

The landscape of the conterminous United States has changed dramatically over the last 200 years, with agricultural land use, urban expansion, forestry, and other anthropogenic activities altering land cover across vast swaths of the country. While land use and land cover (LULC) models have been developed to model potential future LULC change, few...

Sohl, T., Reker, R., Bouchard, Sayler, K., Dornbierer, J., Wika, S., Quenzer, R., and Friesz, A.
Sohl, T., Reker, R., Bouchard, Sayler, K., Dornbierer, J., Wika, S., Quenzer, R., and Friesz, A., 2016, Modeled historical land use and land cover for the conterminous United States: Journal of Land Use Science, p. 1-24.
Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation
Year Published: 2016

Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation

The hypothesis of a km-thick ice shelf covering the entire Arctic Ocean during peak glacial conditions was proposed nearly half a century ago. Floating ice shelves preserve few direct traces after their disappearance, making reconstructions difficult. Seafloor imprints of ice shelves should, however, exist where ice grounded along their flow paths...

Jakobsson, M., Nilsson, J., Anderson, L., Backman, J., Björk, G., Cronin, T.M., Kirchner, N., Koshurnikov, A., Mayer, L., Noormets, R., O’Regan, M., Stranne, C., Ananiev, R., Macho, N.B., Cherniykh, D., Coxall, H., Eriksson, B., Flodén, T., Gemery, L., Gustafsson, O., Jerram, K., Johansson, K., Khortov, A., Mohammad, R., and Semiletov, I.
Jakobsson, M., Nilsson, J., Anderson, L., Backman, J., Björk, G., Cronin, T.M., Kirchner, N., Koshurnikov, A., Mayer, L., Noormets, R., O’Regan, M., Stranne, C., Ananiev, R., Macho, N.B., Cherniykh, D., Coxall, H., Eriksson, B., Flodén, T., Gemery, L., Gustafsson, O., Jerram, K., Johansson, K., Khortov, A., Mohammad, R., and Semiletov, I., 2016, Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation: Nature communications, v. 7, article 10365.
Filter Total Items: 6
2016 (approx.)

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 located in a high profile location within a city park adjacent to Purdue University. Park visitors can view a brief video on their smart phone which will educate them on the history of the gage and provide them with information on how to obtain current readings. The USGS WaterAlert text or email notifications is also featured. Our goal is to better educate the public on the importance of USGS streamgages in Indiana and the data we provide to the nation.

Some material in this video is copyrighted and for use by USGS only. Contact Producer for details.

Image of simulated global temperature change
May 26, 2016

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 (RCP8.5) emission scenario. RCP8.5 is the most aggressive scenario in which green house gases continue to rise unchecked through the end of the century, leading to an equivalent of about 1370 ppm CO2, which is roughly four times the concentration at present. The CCSM4 simulation is part of the 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Program (CMIP5) and the data can be downloaded at https://pcmdi.llnl.gov/projects/cmip5/. The 21st century animations are an extension of the graphic (http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2016/spiralling-global-temperatures/) for the 1850-2010 observed air temperature created by E. Hawkins at Reading University, UK.

Email gs-w-or_regclim@usgs.gov for questions, comments or suggestions about the temperature spiral.

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

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 2014 (approx.)

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

Repeat oblique photographs of Gulkana glaciers in Alaska.
1967 (approx.)

Repeat oblique photographs of Gulkana glaciers in Alaska.  1967, Unknown USGS photographer. 2016, L. Sass, USGS.

Repeat oblique photographs of Wolverine glacier in Alaska.
1966 (approx.)

Repeat oblique photographs of Wolverine glacier in Alaska.  1966 image by unknown USGS photographer; 2015 image by L. Sass, USGS.

Filter Total Items: 9
Repeat oblique photographs of Gulkana glaciers in Alaska.
September 28, 2016

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

view across Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with sampling grid markers in forground
April 28, 2016

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.

USGS science for a changing world logo
November 9, 2015

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.

Image: Snakehead Fish
September 1, 2015

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

USGS science for a changing world logo
August 10, 2015

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.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
February 20, 2015

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.

USGS logo
December 18, 2014

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center is awarding nearly $150,000 to its host university and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
October 21, 2014

A new partnership will provide a clearer picture of the benefits of farmers' conservation practices on the quality of our Nation's water.  Working together, USDA's NRCS and DOI's USGS will quantify the benefits of voluntary agricultural practices at a watershed scale.