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
Intensive ground surveys and line transects were established across the marsh/forest ecotones
May 2, 2016

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.

Seaplane asset with camera mount and portal to accomplish post-hurricane reconnaissance missions
May 2, 2016

High resolution imagery (aerial videography) was obtained of Hurricane Sandy to assess forest damage by documenting disturbed canopy and downed trees. ...

Hurricane Sandy storm surge map
April 18, 2016

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.

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. ...

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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.
Air- and stream-water-temperature trends in the Chesapeake Bay region, 1960-2014
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.
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
Coastal and wetland ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Applying palynology to understand impacts of changing climate, sea level, and land use
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
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
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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...
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.
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...
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.
November 2016 (approx.)
An invitation and introduction to the 2017 CEOS Plenary being held in the Black Hills near Rapid City, SD.
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 .
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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?