Paleoclimate science - its principles and importance to society
Biological proxies such as diatoms, foraminifers, ostracodes, and pollen allow scientists to make inferences about climate conditions in the past.Learn More
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
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.
High resolution imagery (aerial videography) was obtained of Hurricane Sandy to assess forest damage by documenting disturbed canopy and downed trees. ...
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.
The Porsuk River floodplain near Eskisehir, Turkey contains a large number of wetlands, which have been managed by humans for millennia.
This study will examine the potential effects of climate-change-induced sea level rise, drought and water extraction by examining tree growth patterns across the Gulf Coast, specifically targeting long-term research plots available in the North American Baldcypress Swamp Network (NABCSN) and the Suwannee River.
Modeling both potential changes in climate and responses of species and habitats can increase certainty in management decisions by helping managers to understand the range of possible species and habitat responses under different alternative futures. Climate envelope modeling is one type of modeling that can be useful in understanding species and habitat responses to climate change...
Peninsular Florida is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the United States. With complex socioeconomic and ecology dynamics and a large number of governing agencies involved in conservation planning, USGS worked to created an appropriate framework for landscape conservation cooperative-scale decision-making across current conservation planning agencies and jurisdictions....
Severe coral bleaching in 2005, followed by a disease outbreak, resulted in severe reef degradation in the US Virgin Islands; the amount of living coral cover at long-term monitoring sites decreased an average of 60%. With climate change, high seawater temperatures are expected to lead to more frequent bleaching episodes and possibly more disease outbreaks. ...
At the global-scale, macroclimatic drivers govern ecosystem structure and function in tidal saline wetlands (e.g., salt marshes, mangrove forests, salt flats). However, global reviews and models for these ecosystems typically do not directly include climatic drivers. The objective of this research is to examine and forecast the effects of macroclimatic drivers on wetland ecosystem structure...
Extreme drought and temperature in the southeastern United States may become more frequent in the future, and any extreme shifts in climate condition are likely to have effects on wetland ecosystem function. USGS research predicts the effects of climate change by shifts in function and biodiversity across existing climate gradients in baldcypress swamps. ...
USGS aims to integrate biological and hydrological models to help develop management tools to deal with the projected ecological consequences of rising sea level in coastal south Florida....
Mangrove forests have migrated inland over the past few decades at many locations along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. This expansion has been attributed to factors associated with climate change, such as increased salinity resulting from sea-level rise and longer intervals between winter freezes, which can kill cold-intolerant mangrove species. ...
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.
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
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.
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.
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 management...Frumhoff, Peter; Burkett, Virginia; Jackson, Robert B.; Newmark, Robin; Overpeck, Jonathan; Webber, Michael
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
Effects of antecedent hydrologic conditions, time dependence, and climate cycles on the suspended sediment load of the Salinas River, California
Previous estimations of sediment flux for the Salinas River of central California were based on data collected in the 1970s and assumptions of time invariant suspended sediment–discharge behavior. The goals of this study were to estimate sediment flux from the Salinas River using data from 1967–2011 by incorporating time dependent behavior and...Andrew B. Gray, Gregory B. Pasternack, Elizabeth B. Watson, Jonathan A. Warrick, Miguel A. Goñi
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
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.
Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves
Sediment rating curves, which are fitted relationships between river discharge (Q) and suspended-sediment concentration (C), are commonly used to assess patterns and trends in river water quality. In many of these studies, it is assumed that rating curves have a power-law form (i.e. C = aQb, where a and b are fitted parameters). Two fundamental...Jonathan A. Warrick
The impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems: chapter 6Burkett, Virginia; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Nicholls, Robert J.; Forbes, Donald L.
Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African cityCodjoe, Samuel N.A.; Owusu, George; Burkett, Virginia
Water users around the country can now view the past and simulated future of hydrologic processes.
The Australian Marree Man is reborn!
Last month, the Sahara saw a rarity: snow!
In our last EarthView of 2016, you can see the port of Rotterdam grow by 5,000 acres!
Celebrate Indiana's Bicentennial with a Landsat Mosaic Image!
Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief
In this Landsat EarthView, one glacier in Chile bucks the global trend:
This EarthView from Landsat shows deforestation in Colombia between 1989 and 2016.
This EarthView shows how fossil water is used for agriculture in Saudi Arabia.
The Interior Department’s Climate Science Centers, managed by USGS, are helping the NPS pinpoint the specific impacts of climate change on parks and their cultural and natural resources. Doing so will help managers answer a critical question: which resources will require human intervention to ensure their continued existence?
The Interior Department’s Climate Science Centers, managed by USGS, are helping the National Park Service pinpoint the specific impacts of climate change on parks and their cultural and natural resources. Doing so will help managers answer a critical question: which resources will require human intervention to ensure their continued existence?
Before and after the Three Gorges Dam for the Yangtze River