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: 62
Nuket Bingol measuring Sediment Elevation Table, Porsuk River floodplain, Eskisehir, Turkey
April 18, 2016

The Porsuk River floodplain near Eskisehir, Turkey contains a large number of wetlands, which have been managed by humans for millennia.

Swamp tree growth study sites on the southern United States
April 18, 2016

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.

Climate Envelope Modeling for Evaluating Anticipated Effects of Climate Change on Threatened and Endangered Species
April 17, 2016

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 Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment
April 17, 2016

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....

Coral Bleaching and Disease: Effects on Threatened Corals and Reefs
April 17, 2016

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. ...

Macroclimatic Controls of Coastal Wetland Ecosystem Structure and Function
April 17, 2016

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...

Geographical Trends in Ecosystem Function and Biodiversity of Wetlands as a Surrogate for Climate Change
April 17, 2016

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. ...

Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species
April 16, 2016

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....

Climate Change Effects on Coastal Marsh Foundation Species
April 16, 2016

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. ...

Raw imagery from the Falcon using a sony ILCE-5100 sensor.
April 13, 2016

The USGS National UAS Project Office supports the safe, efficient, and cost-effective adoption of UAS technology into the research and operational activities of the DOI.

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.

Filter Total Items: 47
Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation
Year Published: 2016

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.
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., 2016, Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation: Nature communications, v. 7, article 10365.
Evaluating Coastal Landscape Response to Sea-Level Rise in the Northeastern United States—Approach and Methods
Year Published: 2015

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
Lentz, E.E., Stippa, S.R., Thieler, E.R., Plant, N.G., Gesch, D.B., and Horton, R.M., 2015, Evaluating coastal landscape response to sea-level rise in the northeastern United States - Approach and methods: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1252, 26 p.
Summarizing components of U.S. Department of the Interior vulnerability assessments to focus climate adaptation planning
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.
Vulnerabilities and opportunities at the nexus of electricity, water and climate
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 management...

Frumhoff, Peter; Burkett, Virginia; Jackson, Robert B.; Newmark, Robin; Overpeck, Jonathan; Webber, Michael
Effects of antecedent hydrologic conditions, time dependence, and climate cycles on the suspended sediment load of the Salinas River, California
Year Published: 2015

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
Gray, A.B., Pasternack, G.B., Watson, E.B., Warrick, J.A., and Goñi, M.A., 2015, Effects of antecedent hydrologic conditions, time dependence, and climate cycles on the suspended sediment load of the Salinas River, California: Journal of Hydrology, v. 525, pp. 632–649, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.04.025.
Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland–urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor
Year Published: 2015

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
Liu, Z., M.C. Wimberly, A. Lamsal, T.L. Sohl, and T.J. Hawbaker, 2015, Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland-urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor. Landscape Ecology: 1-15, doi:10.1007/s10980-015-0222-4.
Quantitative attribution of major driving forces on soil organic carbon dynamics
Year Published: 2015

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.
Wu, Y., Liu, S., and Tan, Z., 2015, Quantitative attribution of major driving forces on soil organic carbon dynamics: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, v. 7, no. 1, p. 21-34.
Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves
Year Published: 2015

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
Warrick, J.A., 2015, Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves: Hydrological Processes, v. 29 no. 6, pp. 936–949, doi: 10.1002/hyp.10198
The impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems: chapter 6
Year Published: 2014

The impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems: chapter 6

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.
Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city
Year Published: 2014

Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city

Codjoe, Samuel N.A.; Owusu, George; Burkett, Virginia
Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city; 2014; Article; Journal; Regional Environmental Change; Codjoe, Samuel N.A.; Owusu, George; Burkett, Virginia
Uncertainty and extreme events in future climate and hydrologic projections for the Pacific Northwest: providing a basis for vulnerability and core/corridor assessments
Year Published: 2014

Uncertainty and extreme events in future climate and hydrologic projections for the Pacific Northwest: providing a basis for vulnerability and core/corridor assessments

Littell, Jeremy S.; Mauger, Guillaume S.; Salathe, Eric P.; Hamlet, Alan F.; Lee, Se-Yeun; Stumbaugh, Matt R.; Elsner, Marketa; Norheim, Robert; Lutz, Eric R.; Mantua, Nathan J.
Uncertainty and extreme events in future climate and hydrologic projections for the Pacific Northwest: providing a basis for vulnerability and core/corridor assessments; 2014; Organization Series; Littell, Jeremy S.; Mauger, Guillaume S.; Salathe, Eric P.; Hamlet, Alan F.; Lee, Se-Yeun; Stumbaugh, Matt R.; Elsner, Marketa; Norheim, Robert; Lutz, Eric R.; Mantua, Nathan J.
Executive summary: Climate change in the northwest: Implications for our landscapes, waters, and communities
Year Published: 2013

Executive summary: Climate change in the northwest: Implications for our landscapes, waters, and communities

Dalton, Meghan M.; Bethel, Jeffrey; Capalbo, Susan M.; Cuhaciyan, J.E.; Eigenbrode, Sanford D.; Glick, Patty; Houston, Laurie L.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Lynn, Kathy; Mote, Philip W.; Raymondi, Rick R.; Reeder, W. Spencer; Shafer, Sarah L.; Snover, Amy K.
Executive summary: <i>Climate change in the northwest: Implications for our landscapes, waters, and communities</i>; 2013; Book chapter; Book; Climate change in the northwest: Implications for our landscapes, waters, and communities; Dalton, Meghan M.; Bethel, Jeffrey; Capalbo, Susan M.; Cuhaciyan, J. E.; Eigenbrode, Sanford D.; Glick, Patty; Houston, Laurie L.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Lynn, Kathy; Mote, Philip W.; Raymondi, Rick R.; Reeder, W. Spencer; Shafer, Sarah L.; Snover, Amy K.
Filter Total Items: 96
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...
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.
October 2016 (approx.)
This tutorial shows you how to select & download Landsat data using LandsatLook Viewer. The site can be found at: http://landsatlook.usgs.gov/ .
October 2016 (approx.)
This tutorial shows you how to search EarthExplorer using latitude and longitude coordinates.
Waterfall Bridge, Acadia National Park
October 2016 (approx.)
Waterfall Bridge is one of Acadia National Park's 16 historic stone bridges, located along the carriage road network. Each bridge has unique features, specifically designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify...
October 2016 (approx.)
This tutorial shows you how to do a bulk download of satellite imagery using EarthExplorer. The website can be found at earthexplorer.usgs.gov .
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
October 2016 (approx.)
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. Between October and March, it is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify potential future climate conditions, enabling...
Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park
October 2016 (approx.)
Jordan Pond, a mountain lake in Acadia National Park formed by a glacier and known for its clear waters. In the distance are two small peaks known as “The Bubbles”. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify potential future climate conditions, enabling managers to...
Photo of USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examining instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts.
September 29, 2016
USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examines instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts. Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new USGS study.
Photo of biocrust outdoor testing plots.
September 26, 2016
USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun. Arid and semiarid...
Filter Total Items: 156
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