Mission Areas

Climate and Land Use Change

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

Climate and Land Use science is essential to improve understanding of past and present change; develop relevant forecasts; and identify those lands, resources, and communities most vulnerable to Earth system change processes.

Our Science Strategy
Filter Total Items: 62
USGS representatives have been working closely with the Tribes since Hurricane Sandy.
June 2, 2016

USGS is committed to meeting the science needs of four Native American Tribes impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New England and New York: the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head - Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard, MA; the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on Cape Cod, MA; the Narragansett Indian Tribe near Charlestown, RI; and the Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island....

Figure 2. Approximate boundaries of Chitimacha indigenous lands. Image courtesy Native American Law
June 2, 2016

This project will create a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana (Chitimacha), serving as an implementable plan for coastal community adaptation to climate change that can be used as a model in other small communities.

Wading birds and shorebirds in TTINWR
May 11, 2016

The interior marshes of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge (TTINWR) are currently negatively impacted by sea level rise through saltwater intrusion from the south which furthers mangrove encroachment into the freshwater marsh.

Satellite image of study areas
May 11, 2016

As Greater Everglades restoration project implementation progresses, wetlands in near coastal areas may undergo changes in salinity, hydroperiod, and water depth.

Study sites were established near Port Fourchon, Louisiana
May 11, 2016

Field observations over recent decades have confirmed mangrove expansion landward in tropical zones and poleward in temperate saltmarsh settings around the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Real-time kinematic GPS surveys combined with complimentary ground leveling
May 11, 2016

Storm surge waves and tides of hurricanes have the propensity to wash up marsh detritus of dead reeds and leaf debris along with plastic trash and lumber, commonly referred to as wrack, from overwashed beaches, marshes, forests, streets, and lawns.

Refuge managers must decide when and where to acquire or protect new land/habitat
May 9, 2016

As custodians of ecological goods and services valued by society, coastal National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) have an especially important role to play in helping socio-ecological systems adapt to global-change processes.

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...

Tree core collections of surviving trees were conducted in the landfall zone of Hurricane Sandy
May 2, 2016

The science of dating growth rings and history of live and fossil wood samples is called dendrochronology. This technique is valuable for conducting climate reconstructions where meteorological data is lacking and for detecting past disturbance events such as tropical storms and hurricanes....

Intensive ground surveys and line transects were established across the marsh/forest ecotones
May 2, 2016

As tropical storms and hurricanes move onshore and make landfall, wind and storm surge can be sufficiently high to damage built-infrastructure and natural systems, most notably coastal forests at the interface of land and sea.

Seaplane asset with camera mount and portal to accomplish post-hurricane reconnaissance missions
May 2, 2016

High resolution imagery (aerial videography) was obtained of Hurricane Sandy to assess forest damage by documenting disturbed canopy and downed trees. ...

Hurricane Sandy storm surge map
April 18, 2016

Detection of storm surge impacts on coastal marshes requires regional or broader mapping of surge flooding above and below the wetland canopy and estimation of abnormal change in wetland condition.

Filter Total Items: 47
U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center—Annual report for 2015
Year Published: 2016

U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center—Annual report for 2015

2015 was another great year for the Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) network. The DOI CSCs and USGS NCCWSC continued their mission of providing the science, data, and tools that are needed for on-the-ground decision making...

Varela Minder, Elda; Padgett, Holly A.
Varela Minder, Elda, and Padgett, H.A., 2016, U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center—Annual report for 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1043, 10 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161043.
Landsat International Cooperators and Global Archive Consolidation
Year Published: 2016

Landsat International Cooperators and Global Archive Consolidation

Landsat missions have always been an important component of U.S. foreign policy, as well as science and technology policy. The program’s longstanding network of International Cooperators (ICs), which operate numerous International Ground Stations (IGS) around the world, embodies the United States’ policy of peaceful use of outer space and the...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Landsat International Cooperators and Global Archive Consolidation (ver. 1.1, November 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3018, 2 p., http://doi.dx.org/10.3133/fs20163018.
Salt marsh-mangrove ecotones: using structural gradients to investigate the effects of woody plant encroachment on plant–soil interactions and ecosystem carbon pools
Year Published: 2016

Salt marsh-mangrove ecotones: using structural gradients to investigate the effects of woody plant encroachment on plant–soil interactions and ecosystem carbon pools

Changing winter climate extremes are expected to result in the poleward migration of mangrove forests at the expense of salt marshes. Although mangroves and marshes are both highly valued ecosystems, the ecological implications of mangrove expansion have not been fully investigated...

Semi-arid vegetation response to antecedent climate and water balance windows
Year Published: 2016

Semi-arid vegetation response to antecedent climate and water balance windows

Questions Can we improve understanding of vegetation response to water availability on monthly time scales in semi-arid environments using remote sensing methods? What climatic or water balance variables and antecedent windows of time associated with these variables best relate to the condition of vegetation?

Thoma, David P.; Munson, Seth M.; Irvine, Kathryn M.; Witwicki, Dana L.; Bunting, Erin
Thoma, D.P., Munson, S.M., K.M. Irvine, Witwicki, D.L., and Bunting, E.L., 2016, Semi-arid vegetation response to antecedent climate and water balance windows: Applied Vegetation Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12232 and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/avsc.12232/full.
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.
Earth as art 4 bookmark
Year Published: 2016

Earth as art 4 bookmark

Images from Landsat 8, launched in 2013, already stand out as stellar additions to our popular Earth As Art series. We are proud to present the fourth collection—Earth As Art 4!

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Earth as art 4 bookmark: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 162, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/gip162.
Earth as art 4
Year Published: 2016

Earth as art 4

Landsat 8 is the latest addition to the long-running series of Earth-observing satellites in the Landsat program that began in 1972. The images featured in this fourth installment of the Earth As Art collection were all acquired by Landsat 8. They show our planet’s diverse landscapes with remarkable clarity.Landsat satellites see the Earth as no...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Earth as art 4: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 161, 20 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/gip161.
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.
Increasing influence of air temperature on upper Colorado River streamflow
Year Published: 2016

Increasing influence of air temperature on upper Colorado River streamflow

This empirical study examines the influence of precipitation, temperature, and antecedent soil moisture on upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) water year streamflow over the past century. While cool season precipitation explains most of the variability in annual flows, temperature appears to be highly influential under certain conditions, with the...

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.
A hierarchical model of daily stream temperature using air-water temperature synchronization, autocorrelation, and time lags
Year Published: 2016

A hierarchical model of daily stream temperature using air-water temperature synchronization, autocorrelation, and time lags

Water temperature is a primary driver of stream ecosystems and commonly forms the basis of stream classifications. Robust models of stream temperature are critical as the climate changes, but estimating daily stream temperature poses several important challenges. We developed a statistical model that accounts for many challenges that can make...

Letcher, Benjamin; Hocking, Daniel; O'Neil, Kyle; Whiteley, Andrew R.; Nislow, Keith H.; O'Donnell, Matthew
Letcher BH, Hocking DJ, O’Neil K, Whiteley AR, Nislow KH, O’Donnell MJ. (2016) A hierarchical model of daily stream temperature using air-water temperature synchronization, autocorrelation, and time lags. PeerJ 4:e1727 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1727
Climate variables explain neutral and adaptive variation within salmonid metapopulations: The importance of replication in landscape genetics
Year Published: 2016

Climate variables explain neutral and adaptive variation within salmonid metapopulations: The importance of replication in landscape genetics

Understanding how environmental variation influences population genetic structure is important for conservation management because it can reveal how human stressors influence population connectivity, genetic diversity and persistence. We used riverscape genetics modelling to assess whether climatic and habitat variables were related to neutral and...

Hand, Brian K; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Wade, Alisa A.; Kovach, Ryan; Whited, Diane C.; Narum, Shawn R; Matala, Andrew P; Ackerman, Michael W.; Garner, B. A.; Kimball, John S; Stanford, Jack A.; Luikart, Gordon
Filter Total Items: 96
February 28, 2017
The distribution of water on the landscape influences many ecological functions such as the distribution of vegetation, soil development and the cycle of chemical nutrients. All of these functions are subject to change as a result of variations in the duration of soil water saturation and flow of water through the distributed channel networks of watersheds. The landscape of the Pacific coastal...
January 2017 (approx.)
Getting Started with MODIS Version 6 Surface Reflectance Data Part 2: Using the Data This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Surface Reflectance data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the definition of “Surface...
January 2017 (approx.)
Getting Started with MODIS Version 6 Surface Reflectance Data Part 1: All About Accessing Data This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Surface Reflectance data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6...
Closed canopy plantation
2016 (approx.)
Example of a closed canopy plantation logged 60 years ago at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon, old growth forests have bigger trees and a more complex understory.
USGS staff ski to and from  the Garden Wall weather station in Glacier National Park (elev. 7400 feet).
2016 (approx.)
USGS staff ski to and from the Garden Wall weather station in Glacier National Park (elev. 7400 feet) to complete maintenance and examine the snowpack for avalanche research.
2016 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 land data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). This video will cover how to learn more about MODIS Version 6 data using the LP DAAC website, the MODIS file naming convention, and the external...
A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO
2016 (approx.)
A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO.
USGS employees and Flathead National Forest staff dig pits in the snow to examine snow structure and depth in Montana.
2016 (approx.)
USGS employees and Flathead National Forest staff dig pits in the snow to examine snow structure and depth for avalanche research and forecasting in northwest Montana.
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...
The Garden Wall weather station in Glacier National Park (elev. 7400 feet) is used for avalanche research and forecasting.
2016 (approx.)
The Garden Wall weather station in Glacier National Park (elev. 7400 feet) is used for avalanche research and forecasting along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It records air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave radiation.
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
2016 (approx.)
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
Filter Total Items: 156
Photo of an active oil and gas pad on Bureau of Land Management lands near Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
February 7, 2017

A new scientific approach can now provide regional assessments of land recovery following oil and gas drilling activities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Dr. Christian Zimmerman, USGS Alaska Science Center Director
February 1, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.

Image shows a satellite view of the Okomu Forest of Nigeria
January 26, 2017

As part of a new atlas of imagery for West Africa, nearly 33 years of land-use change can be seen in Nigeria's Okomu Forest Reserve.

Wading birds feed near wooden posts marking a research site in a Louisiana salt marsh
January 25, 2017

Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century, a new study from the USGS and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.

Aerial view of the caldera of Mt Tambora, island of Sumbawa, Indonesia.
January 18, 2017

Hundreds of articles have been written about the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, at Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora just over 200 years ago. But for a small group of New England-based researchers, one more Tambora story needed to be told, one related to its catastrophic effects in the Gulf of Maine that may carry lessons for intertwined human-natural systems facing climate change today.

Map of Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries Showing Sediment Sources and Core Sites 1995-2006
January 17, 2017

Richard Batiuk got to know the Chesapeake Bay in the early 1970s. During visits with his friends and family, they would swim and boat, and fish would practically jump aboard. He was young but knew he wanted to live and work on the bay.

Filter Total Items: 13