Mission Areas

Land Change Science Program

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The Land Change Science (LCS) Program strives to understand the Nation's most pressing environmental, natural resource, and economic challenges. Significant support is also provided to acquire and model the comprehensive land cover information which is essential in a wide variety of investigations.

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Research Projects

Research Projects

Studies contribute to the collection of comprehensive land cover information and development of the modeling and decision support tools needed for making knowledgeable resource allocation decisions.

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Data and Tools

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

Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium

Global Ecosystems

Global Croplands

News

bue and white street sign, circle with wave -shaped drawing indicating a tsunami evacuation route
March 20, 2017

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.

Weakened livestock, West Arsi, Ethiopia
December 15, 2016

Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief

Scientist laying cable in a field
June 1, 2016

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

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.

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Filter Total Items: 3
Photograph of Mount Rainier and Orting, Washington
April 11, 2016

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.

Photograph of bats
April 11, 2016

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.

Land Change in LCC regions
April 11, 2016

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.

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

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Filter Total Items: 4
Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska
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, 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.
Evaluating Coastal Landscape Response to Sea-Level Rise in the Northeastern United States—Approach and Methods
Year Published: 2015

Evaluating Coastal Landscape Response to Sea-Level Rise in the Northeastern United States—Approach and Methods

The U.S. Geological Survey is examining effects of future sea-level rise on the coastal landscape from Maine to Virginia by producing spatially explicit, probabilistic predictions using sea-level projections, vertical land movement rates (due to isostacy), elevation data, and land-cover data. Sea-level-rise scenarios used as model inputs are...

Erika E. Lentz, Sawyer R. Stippa, E. Robert Thieler, Nathaniel G. Plant, Dean B. Gesch, and Radley M. Horton
Lentz, E.E., Stippa, S.R., Thieler, E.R., Plant, N.G., Gesch, D.B., and Horton, R.M., 2015, Evaluating coastal landscape response to sea-level rise in the northeastern United States - Approach and methods: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1252, 26 p.
Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland–urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor
Year Published: 2015

Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland–urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor

We projected the spatial pattern of the WUI and its associated wildfire risk from 2005 to 2050 at 90-m spatial resolution and 5-year intervals in Colorado Front Range using CHANGE, a landscape change model that simulates land cover and land use change, natural vegetation dynamics, and wildfire in a unified framework. A total of four scenarios from...

Zhihua Liu, Michael C. Wimberly, Aashis Lamsal, Terry L. Sohl, Todd J. Hawbaker
Liu, Z., M.C. Wimberly, A. Lamsal, T.L. Sohl, and T.J. Hawbaker, 2015, Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland-urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor. Landscape Ecology: 1-15, doi:10.1007/s10980-015-0222-4.
Quantitative attribution of major driving forces on soil organic carbon dynamics
Year Published: 2015

Quantitative attribution of major driving forces on soil organic carbon dynamics

Soil organic carbon (SOC) storage plays a major role in the global carbon cycle and is affected by many factors including land use/management changes (e.g., biofuel production-oriented changes). However, the contributions of various factors to SOC changes are not well understood and quantified. This study was designed to investigate the impacts of...

Wu, Y., Liu, S., and Tan, Z.
Wu, Y., Liu, S., and Tan, Z., 2015, Quantitative attribution of major driving forces on soil organic carbon dynamics: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, v. 7, no. 1, p. 21-34.
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Scientist laying cable in a field
June 2016 (approx.)

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.

Filter Total Items: 4
bue and white street sign, circle with wave -shaped drawing indicating a tsunami evacuation route
March 20, 2017

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.

Weakened livestock, West Arsi, Ethiopia
December 15, 2016

Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief

Green USGS Logo
May 10, 2016

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.