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: 64
Birds in a wetland
April 12, 2016

Science projects are the backbone of the NCCWSC and CSCs. Our projects are based on the needs of our partners, including land managers, natural/cultural resource managers, tribal and indigenous communities. Our research is complemented by our other efforts that include training the next generation of scientists and conducting national synthesis projects that cross CSC boundaries.

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.

Rookery Bay NERR, FL, USA
April 8, 2016

Hydrologic restoration is one of several approaches to rehabilitate mangroves on a large-scale. USGS evaluates how solely restoring tidal hydrologic flows affect the recovery of mangroves in Florida. ...

Elevated CO2 Facility, WARC, Lafayette, LA, USA
April 8, 2016

Wetlands have the potential to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, and flooded soils have low oxygen levels which decrease rates of decomposition to promote the retention of soil carbon. However, the type of greenhouse gases emitted from wetlands varies by wetland type and soil condition. A suite of approaches are being used to assess  fluxes of greenhouses...

Strawberry Swamp, Hobcaw Barony, SC, USA
April 8, 2016

USGS investigates the eco-physiological responses of coastal forested wetland vegetation to envrionmental stressors, and what role vegetation may have in affecting local hydrological cycling as a result of these stressors. ...

Figure 1. Major study areas of the TFFW vegetation modeling system (Krauss et al., 2009)
April 8, 2016

As tidal freshwater forested wetlands - TFFWs - are influenced by salinty due to salt water intrusion, they may experience changes in plant community composition, growth, and productivity. Models are needed to predict vegetation community change or dieback, as well as changes in carbon sequestration and storage due to changing climate, drought, changes in freshwater discharge, elevated carbon...

Sampit River, SC, USA
April 8, 2016

Tidal freshwater forested wetlands - TFFWs - can be found in the upper intertidal areas of many estuaries and act as a transition between coastal marshes and bottomland hardwood wetlands. However, it is because of their location that makes them vulnerable to sea-level rise, and they are constantly transitioning to different wetland types. USGS addresses how various processes are affected in...

Tidally Influenced Freshwater Forested Wetlands
April 8, 2016

Wetlands in river deltas - like the Mississippi River Delta Plain - may be more vulnerable to sea-level rise. Historically, coastal wetlands responded to these changes by increasing surface elevation or migrating up-slope. USGS conducts research to identify the biogeochemical influences on sediment addition in coastal wetland areas. ...

Controlled greenhouse experiments manipulating the marsh elevation and flood duration
April 8, 2016

Sudden Marsh Dieback - SMD - has been documented for the past two decades throughout coastal areas of the United States. With these large-scale diebacks comes the loss of ecosystem functions and services. USGS scientsts use field work and greenhouse studies to investigate the factors that control the resilience and resistance of coastal salt marshes to SMD. ...

Evelyn Anemaet using an RTK to determine elevation of tidal swamp near the mouth of the Pocomoke River, MD
April 7, 2016

When it comes to hurricanes, wind and storm surge effect vegetation differently. USGS anlyzes these differences following Hurricane Sandy to help inform management on storm mitigation and long-term planning. ...

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Year Published: 2007

Acid rain in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Visitors to Shenandoah National Park (SNP) enjoy the animal and plant life and the scenery but may not realize how vulnerable these features are to various threats, such as invasion of exotic plants and insects, improper use of park resources by humans, and air and water pollution. The National Park Service strives to protect natural resources...

Rice, Karen C.; Deviney, Frank A.; Olson, Gordon
Acid rain in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia; 2007; FS; 2007-3057; Rice, Karen C.; Deviney, Frank A., Jr.; Olson, Gordon

Year Published: 2006

Coastal-change and glaciological map of the Trinity Peninsula area and south Shetland Islands, Antarctica: 1843-2001: Chapter A in Coastal-change and glaciological maps of Antarctica

Changes in the area and volume of polar ice sheets are intricately linked to changes in global climate, and the resulting changes in sea level could severely impact the densely populated coastal regions on Earth. Melting of the West Antarctic part alone of the Antarctic ice sheet would cause a sea-level rise of approximately 6 meters (m). The...

Ferrigno, Jane G.; Cook, Alison J.; Foley, Kevin M.; Williams, Richard S.; Swithinbank, Charles; Fox, Adrian J.; Thomson, Janet W.; Sievers, Jorn
Coastal-change and glaciological map of the Trinity Peninsula area and south Shetland Islands, Antarctica: 1843-2001: Chapter A in Coastal-change and glaciological maps of Antarctica; 2006; I; 2600-A; Coastal-change and glaciological maps of Antarctica: IMAP 2600; Ferrigno, Jane G.; Cook, Alison J.; Foley, Kevin M.; Williams, Richard S., Jr.; Swithinbank, Charles; Fox, Adrian J.; Thomson, Janet W.; Sievers, Jorn

Year Published: 2004

Dust storms and their impact on ocean and human health: dust in Earth's atmosphere

Satellite imagery has greatly influenced our understanding of dust activity on a global scale. A number of different satellites such as NASA's Earth-Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) and Se-viewing Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) acquire daily global-scale data used to produce imagery for monitoring dust storm formation and movement....

Griffin, Dale W.; Kellog, Christina A.
Dust storms and their impact on ocean and human health: dust in Earth's atmosphere; 2004; Article; Journal; EcoHealth; Griffin, Dale W.; Kellog, Christina A.

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A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO
2016 (approx.)
A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO.
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...
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.
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
2016 (approx.)
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
2016 (approx.)
Did you know that tree canopy cover can be measured from space? The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor onboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites can do just that by providing data that are used to calculate Leaf Area Index (LAI). LAI is a measurement of green leaf area in broadleaf tree canopies and needle surface area in coniferous tree canopies. This data visualization...
2016 (approx.)
The Department of the Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo developed and hosted a Climate Change Boot Camp that showcased collaborative research efforts within UH Hilo’s Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program that are driven by local natural resource managers across Hawaiʻi Island. The event took place at the...
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.
Loveland Pass Colorado
2016 (approx.)
A view of the highway going over Loveland Pass in Colorado.
Recording information during a point count
2016 (approx.)
Sarah Frey, a Northwest Climate Science Center graduate fellow at Oregon State University, records information during a point count at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon.
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.
2016 (approx.)
An invitation and introduction to the 2017 CEOS Plenary being held in the Black Hills near Rapid City, SD.
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Weakened livestock, West Arsi, Ethiopia
December 15, 2016

Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief

Painting - the construction of James Fort, by Sidney E. King
November 28, 2016

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 Cape Lookout Lighthouse, Cape Lookout National Seashore
November 18, 2016

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?

This picture was taken June 23, 2010 along the Louisiana shoreline in Barataria Bay and shows oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon
November 17, 2016

A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.

A group of Brook Trout swim through a stream.
November 16, 2016

A new USGS study shows non-native Brown Trout can place a burden on native Brook Trout under the increased water temperatures climate change can cause.

USGS logo
October 31, 2016

Working together to advance international coordination of Earth observation programs