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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 gases, like...
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.
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...
A similar view of Grinnell Glacier from the glacier's eastern terminus shows extensive melting and subsequent result, Upper Grinnell Lake.
Please respect the photographer: When using these photographs, please credit the photographer and source (eg. T.J. Hileman, courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives). The paired images at the top of this page are examples of proper crediting for...
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...
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.
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.
Coastline degradation as an indicator of global change
Finding a climate change signal on coasts is more problematic than often assumed. Coasts undergo natural dynamics at many scales, with erosion and recovery in response to climate variability such as El Niño, or extreme events such as storms and infrequent tsunamis. Additionally, humans have had enormous impacts on most coasts, overshadowing...Letcher, Trevor M.; Nicholls, Robert J.; Woodroffe, Colin D.; Burkett, Virginia
Late Cenozoic geology and lacustrine history of Searles Valley, Inyo and San Bernardino Counties, California
Searles Valley is an arid, closed basin lying 70 km east of the south end of the Sierra Nevada, California. It is bounded on the east and northeast by the Slate Range, on the west by the Argus Range and Spangler Hills, and on the south by the Lava Mountains; Searles (dry) Lake occupies the north-central part of the valley. During those parts of...Smith, George I.
Modeling and dynamic monitoring of ecosystem performance in the Yukon River Basin
Central Alaska is ecologically sensitive and experiencing stress in response to marked regional warming. Resource managers would benefit from an improved ability to monitor ecosystem processes in response to climate change, fire, insect damage, and management policies and to predict responses to future climate scenarios. We have developed a method...Wylie, B.K.; Zhang, L.; Ji, L.; Tieszen, L.L.; Bliss, N.B.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
This week's EarthView shows the effects of 2 dozen wildfires in Argentina.
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.
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.
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: