Mission Areas

Land Change Science Program

Programs L2 Landing Page

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.

Visit Our Website

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.

See All Research

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

Mapping the World’s Ocean Ecosystems
April 24, 2017

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. 

Hydrologic Regions of Alaska
April 14, 2017

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.

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.

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: 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.

Filter Total Items: 6
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; Cribbs, Douglas; Hopkins, Dabney; Nauman, Richard; Derrenbacher, William; Wright, Dawn; Brown, Clint; Convis, Charles; Smith, Jonathan H.; Benson, Laurence; Van Sistine, Darren; 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: 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: 1
Scientist laying cable in a field
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: 6
Mapping the World’s Ocean Ecosystems
April 24, 2017

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. 

Hydrologic Regions of Alaska
April 14, 2017

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.

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.