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
Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs
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
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. ...
Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city
Several recent international assessments have concluded that climate change has the potential to reverse the modest economic gains achieved in many developing countries over the past decade. The phenomenon of climate change threatens to worsen poverty or burden populations with additional hardships, especially in poor societies with weak...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
The purpose of this project was to (1) provide an internally-consistent set of downscaled projections across the Western U.S., (2) include information about projection uncertainty, and (3) assess projected changes of hydrologic extremes. These objectives were designed to address decision support needs for climate adaptation and resource...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
Climate Change in the Northwest: Implications for Our Landscapes, Waters, and Communities is aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about key climate impacts and consequences to various sectors and communities in the northwest United States. It draws on a wealth of peer-reviewed literature, earlier state-level assessment reports conducted for...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.
Choosing and using climate change scenarios for ecological-impact assessments and conservation decisions
Increased concern over climate change is demonstrated by the many efforts to assess climate effects and develop adaptation strategies. Scientists, resource managers, and decision makers are increasingly expected to use climate information, but they struggle with its uncertainty. With the current proliferation of climate simulations and downscaling...Amy K. Snover; Nathan J. Mantua; Littell, Jeremy; Michael A. Alexander; Michelle M. McClure; Janet Nye
Forest ecosystems: Vegetation, disturbance, and economics: Chapter 5
Forests cover about 47% of the Northwest (NW–Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) (Smith et al. 2009, fig. 5.1, table 5.1). The impacts of current and future climate change on NW forest ecosystems are a product of the sensitivities of ecosystem processes to climate and the degree to which humans depend on and interact with those systems. Forest...Littell, Jeremy S.; Hicke, Jeffrey A.; Shafer, Sarah L.; Capalbo, Susan M.; Houston, Laurie L.; Glick, Patty
A high-resolution bioclimate map of the world: a unifying framework for global biodiversity research and monitoring
Aim: To develop a novel global spatial framework for the integration and analysis of ecological and environmental data. Location: The global land surface excluding Antarctica. Methods: A broad set of climate-related variables were considered for inclusion in a quantitative model, which partitions geographic space into bioclimate regions....Metzger, Marc J.; Bunce, Robert G.H.; Jongman, Rob H.G.; Sayre, Roger G.; Trabucco, Antonio; Zomer, Robert
Coastal-change and glaciological map of the Amery Ice Shelf area, Antarctica: 1961–2004
Reduction in the area and volume of Earth’s two polar ice sheets is intricately linked to changes in global climate and to the resulting rise in sea level. Measurement of changes in area and mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet was given a very high priority in recommendations by the Polar Research Board of the National Research Council. On the...Foley, Kevin M.; Ferrigno, Jane G.; Swithinbank, Charles; Williams, Richard S.; Orndorff, Audrey L.
Water quality status and trends in the United States
Information about water quality is vital to ensure long-term availability and sustainability of water that is safe for drinking and recreation and suitable for industry, irrigation, fish, and wildlife. Protecting and enhancing water quality is a national priority, requiring information on water-quality status and trends, progress toward clean...Ahuja, Satinder; Larsen, Matthew C.; Hamilton, Pixie A.; Werkheiser, William H.
Coastal impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities: a technical input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment
The coast has long provided communities with a multitude of benefits including an abundance of natural resources that sustain economies, societies, and ecosystems. Coasts provide natural harbors for commerce, trade, and transportation; beaches and shorelines that attract residents and tourists; and wetlands and estuaries that are critical for...Burkett, Virginia; Davidson, Margaret; Burkett, Virginia; Davidson, Margaret
Gender and occupational perspectives on adaptation to climate extremes in the Afram Plains of Ghana
Although sub-Saharan Africa does not contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, significant adverse impacts of climate change are anticipated in this region. Countries in West Africa, which are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, are projected to experience more frequent and intense droughts, altered rainfall patterns and...Codjoe, Samuel N.A.; Atidoh, Lucy K.; Burkett, Virginia
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.
Landsat gives us a view of one of the worst wildfires in Chile's history.
“We’re seeing the loss of forests in many places,” said Matthew Hansen, a professor at the University of Maryland. “Dynamics include increasing tropical deforestation, more frequent and severe boreal forest fires, disease in temperate forests and the commoditization of subtropical forests.”
See a decade of California drought ease in this EarthView from Landsat.
This EarthView from Landsat shows how flooding in Argentina can affect global soybean prices.
A new scientific approach can now provide regional assessments of land recovery following oil and gas drilling activities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.
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.