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
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Understanding host-parasite and parasite consumer trophic relationships
March 22, 2016

Marine reserves and protected areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico encompass a variety of tropical ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds, but questions remain regarding how effective these areas are at preserving and protecting the habitats and species they encompass. USGS and collaborators address this question by examining the biodiversity and food web...

Sediment Elevation Table assembly and field shelter, Dongting Lake, China
March 18, 2016

Dongting Lake, one of the wetlands that make up the floodplains of China's Yangtze River, is important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. However, the re-engineering of the water way and the intensification of agricultural practices has contributed to changes in hydrology and sedimentation. USGS and partners from China are assessing the potential impact of these...

A Decision Support Tool for Repatriation of Aquatic Fauna: A Case Study Involving the Striped Newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus) a
April 17, 2015

The Striped Newt is a small salamander found in xeric habitats (e.g., scrub, sandhill, dry flatwoods) of the lower coastal plain and northern peninsular Florida. Though once considered "common," they are currently a candidate species for federal listing. ...

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Landsat 1992 vs 2010 Pine Beetle Assault on Forest E.of Salt Lake City.
2016 (approx.)
Landsat image taken in 1992 shows the Uinta Mountains east of Salt Lake City. The shades of dark green indicate healthy, undisturbed forest. Landsat image of the same area in 2010 captures the dramatic assault of mountain pine beetles. The dark red stains reveal widespread pine beetle destruction.
June 15, 2016
What inspired a USGS geologist to study how dam removal changes rivers. Profile of Amy East.
Scientist inspecting permafrost
2016 (approx.)
USGS scientist Neal Pastick inspects a permafrost plot in North Slope of Alaska near Galbraith Lake.
Scientist laying cable in a field
2016 (approx.)
USGS scientist Burke Minsley and project partners from the U. Alaska Fairbanks lay ground cable to measure permafrost depth at Nome Creek site north of Fairbanks, Alaska.
2016 (approx.)
On the remote western coast of Australia lies a UNESCO World Heritage Site above and below the sea. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Western Australia convened here at Ningaloo Reef and Jurabi Coastal Reserve to embark on the most extensive study EVER done into how coral reefs shape our coasts.
2016 (approx.)
This short clip is representative of a large amount of video footage of an adult female polar bear, equipped with a point of view camera, that is used by scientists to study polar bear behavior and feeding rates. Camera were attached to 10 animals in the southern Beaufort Sea over the course of several years, and stay on the animals for about 2 weeks until it is retrieved by scientists. No bears...
April 26, 2016
This video was recording as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, hosted by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center. Webinar Speaker: Noelani Puniwai, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Webinar Summary: Seascapes symbolize both the physical dimensions of ocean and coastal areas, as well as the meanings...
A USGS scientist skis in to Dead Horse Point on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier NP.
2016 (approx.)
A USGS scientist skis in to Dead Horse Point on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier NP.
Avalanche forecasters ski out to investigate the crown of a large wet slab avalanche in Haystack Creek drainage. This drainage i
2016 (approx.)
Avalanche forecasters ski out to investigate the crown of a large wet slab avalanche in Haystack Creek drainage. This drainage is one of the largest avalanche paths affecting the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
Black-throated gray warbler
2016 (approx.)
Black-throated gray warbler at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon.
Varied thrush
2016 (approx.)
Varied thrush at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon.
Old growth forest
2016 (approx.)
Old growth forest at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon, old growth forests have bigger trees and a more complex understory.
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An American pika collects grass and flowers to stockpile its winter food supplies.
August 25, 2016

American pikas – small herbivores that typically live in rocky slopes, known as talus, across many mountain ranges in the American West – are disappearing from some locations across the West due to climate change, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey and some of its partners.

Catawba rhododendron blooming at Round Bald, NC
August 11, 2016

“From the mountains to the coast, the southeastern U.S. contains ecosystems that harbor incredible biodiversity. Many of those ecosystems are already highly at risk from urbanization and other human land-use change. Identifying the ecosystems at risk from climate change will help inform conservation and management to ensure we don’t lose that biodiversity.” (Jennifer Constanza, report author)

Grizzly Bears and Wolves
August 10, 2016

Natural and cultural areas that will remain similar to what they are today -- despite climate change -- need to be identified, managed and conserved as “refugia” for at-risk species, according to a study published today in PLOS One. The study sets out, for the first time, specific steps to help identify and manage these more resilient and climate-stable havens for plants, animals and fishes.

A landscape view of the drylands of southern Utah
August 9, 2016

U.S. Geological Survey scientists will present their research at the Ecological Society of America meeting from Aug. 7-12, 2016, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The theme is "Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene."