Mission Areas

Climate and Land Use Change

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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: 65
Sandhill Crane
July 25, 2016

Playas in the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GPLCC) are at risk for both increased sedimentation and reduced inundation due to predicted increased summer temperatures, decreased annual precipitation, and agricultural intensification. Among other benefits, playas provide essential habitat for many wetland-dependent species and are especially important as critical refueling...

Figure 1. Example from previous investigations of wetland area change and shoreline erosion.
July 20, 2016

Significant damage to coastal communities and surrounding wetlands of the north Atlantic states was caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012, mostly tied to an associated storm surge of record extent and impact.

NCCWSC website screen shot.
June 27, 2016

Information Science staff help the National Office of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Centers and individual Climate Science Centers with a variety of project and data management activities, including storing, managing, and distributing datasets; building and maintaining metadata; discovering datasets; and delivering their data and metadata as web services through various...

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....

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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.

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? Can we develop credible near-term...

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Year Published: 2015

Air- and stream-water-temperature trends in the Chesapeake Bay region, 1960-2014

Water temperature is a basic, but important, measure of the condition of all aquatic environments, including the flowing waters in the streams that drain our landscape and the receiving waters of those streams. Climatic conditions have a strong influence on water temperature, which is therefore naturally variable both in time and across the...

Jastram, John D.; Rice, Karen C.
Jastram, J.D., and Rice, K.C., 2015, Air- and stream-water-temperature trends in the Chesapeake Bay region, 1960–2014: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015‒1207, 28 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151207.

Year Published: 2015

Summarizing components of U.S. Department of the Interior vulnerability assessments to focus climate adaptation planning

A secretarial order identified climate adaptation as a critical performance objective for future management of U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) lands and resources in response to global change. Vulnerability assessments can inform climate adaptation planning by providing insight into what natural resources are most at risk and why. Three...

Thompson, Laura M.; Staudinger, Michelle D.; Carter, Shawn L.
Thompson, L.M., Staudinger, M.D., and Carter, S.L., 2015, Summarizing components of U.S. Department of the Interior vulnerability assessments to focus climate adaptation planning: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1110, 14 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151110.

Year Published: 2015

Vulnerabilities and opportunities at the nexus of electricity, water and climate

The articles in this special issue examine the critical nexus of electricity, water, and climate, emphasizing connections among resources;  the prospect of increasing vulnerabilities of water resources and electricity generation in a changing climate;  and the opportunities for research to inform integrated energy and water policy and...

Frumhoff, Peter; Burkett, Virginia; Jackson, Robert B.; Newmark, Robin; Overpeck, Jonathan; Webber, Michael

Year Published: 2015

Coastal and wetland ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Applying palynology to understand impacts of changing climate, sea level, and land use

The mid-Atlantic region and Chesapeake Bay watershed have been influenced by fluctuations in climate and sea level since the Cretaceous, and human alteration of the landscape began ~12,000 years ago, with greatest impacts since colonial times. Efforts to devise sustainable management strategies that maximize ecosystem services are integrating data...

Willard, Debra A.; Bernhardt, Christopher E.; Hupp, Cliff R.; Newell, Wayne

Year Published: 2014

The impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems: chapter 6

In this chapter we stress two important features of coasts and coastal ecosystems. First, these are dynamic systems which continually undergo adjustments, especially through erosion and re-deposition, in response to a range of processes. Many coastal ecosystems adjust naturally at a range of time scales and their potential for response is examined...

Burkett, Virginia; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Nicholls, Robert J.; Forbes, Donald L.
The impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems: chapter 6; 2014; Book chapter; Book; Oceans and human health: implications for society and well-being; Burkett, Virginia; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Nicholls, Robert J.; Forbes, Donald L.

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2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data products, the scale factor of the data and other data...
2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Vegetation Indices data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about MODIS Vegetation Indices quality information, including how to decode quality bits, tools for working with quality...
2017 (approx.)
The Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center has created a video animation describing how Landsat 8 orbits the Earth. The video explains the 16-day cycle for capturing imagery of the entire world. Learn more about USGS Landsat .
2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data products, changes between the Version 5 and Version 6...
2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about MODIS Land Surface Temperature quality information, including how to decode quality bits, tools for working...
March 21, 2017
This webinar was recorded as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series (hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and FWS National Conservation Training Center). Webinar Summary: Accurate information on the atmospheric evaporative demand (i.e., thirst of the atmosphere) and the land-surface evaporative response (i.e., moisture...
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...
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...
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.
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Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
March 24, 2017

Access to consistent high-quality images to study changes on Earth’s surface is getting easier. The USGS Landsat standard (Level-1) product inventory is now structured by data quality and offers improved calibration. Data designated as Tier 1 provide the highest accuracy and can be reliably used to analyze changes to Earth’s surface over time.

Big Walnut Creek at Sunbury during a low flow period looking downstream
March 2, 2017

A new study published in Global Change Biology this week compares analytical frameworks for conducting ecological climate change impact assessments.

Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
February 27, 2017

On Tuesday, February 7, Landsat 7’s Flight Operations Team fired the spacecraft’s 1-pound thrusters for about 13 minutes. After a pause of about 7½ hours, the thrusters fired a second time for about 13 minutes.This was the last such maneuver for Landsat 7 and the beginning of the end for the satellite, which has provided images of the earth’s changing resources for more than 17 years. 

Spring 2017 Advances Very Early in Much of the USA
February 23, 2017

Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C.  This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, already bringing surprising signs of spring to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.

Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
February 13, 2017

“We’re seeing the loss of forests in many places,” said Matthew Hansen, a professor at the University of Maryland. “Dynamics include increasing tropical deforestation, more frequent and severe boreal forest fires, disease in temperate forests and the commoditization of subtropical forests.”

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.

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