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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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.

Photograph of bats
April 11, 2016

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.

Land Change in LCC regions
April 11, 2016

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.

Rookery Bay NERR, FL, USA
April 8, 2016

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. ...

Elevated CO2 Facility, WARC, Lafayette, LA, USA
April 8, 2016

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...

Strawberry Swamp, Hobcaw Barony, SC, USA
April 8, 2016

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. ...

Figure 1. Major study areas of the TFFW vegetation modeling system (Krauss et al., 2009)
April 8, 2016

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...

Sampit River, SC, USA
April 8, 2016

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...

Tidally Influenced Freshwater Forested Wetlands
April 8, 2016

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. ...

Controlled greenhouse experiments manipulating the marsh elevation and flood duration
April 8, 2016

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. ...

Evelyn Anemaet using an RTK to determine elevation of tidal swamp near the mouth of the Pocomoke River, MD
April 7, 2016

When it comes to hurricanes, wind and storm surge effect vegetation differently. USGS anlyzes these differences following Hurricane Sandy to help inform management on storm mitigation and long-term planning. ...

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Year Published: 2008

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.
Modeling and Dynamic Monitoring of Ecosystem Performance in the Yukon River Basin; 2008; FS; 2008-3016; Wylie, B. K.; Zhang, L.; Ji, L.; Tieszen, L. L.; Bliss, N. B.

Year Published: 2007

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
Acid rain in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia; 2007; FS; 2007-3057; Rice, Karen C.; Deviney, Frank A., Jr.; Olson, Gordon

Year Published: 2006

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
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; 2006; I; 2600-A; Coastal-change and glaciological maps of Antarctica: IMAP 2600; Ferrigno, Jane G.; Cook, Alison J.; Foley, Kevin M.; Williams, Richard S., Jr.; Swithinbank, Charles; Fox, Adrian J.; Thomson, Janet W.; Sievers, Jorn

Year Published: 2004

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.
Dust storms and their impact on ocean and human health: dust in Earth's atmosphere; 2004; Article; Journal; EcoHealth; Griffin, Dale W.; Kellog, Christina A.

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2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data products, changes between the Version 5 and Version 6...
2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Land Surface Temperature data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about MODIS Land Surface Temperature quality information, including how to decode quality bits, tools for working...
2017 (approx.)
The Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center has created a video animation describing how Landsat 8 orbits the Earth. The video explains the 16-day cycle for capturing imagery of the entire world.
2017 (approx.)
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Vegetation Indices data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Vegetation Indices products, changes between the Version 5 and Version 6 products, and how to...
Satellite image showing New Orleans and Mississippi River delta
March 31, 2017
This image of the New Orleans/Lake Pontchartrain area in Louisiana was acquired March 31, 2017, from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Resourcesat-2 LISS-3 sensor. Land loss and hurricane hazards are key landscape issues here.
March 21, 2017
This webinar was recorded as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series (hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and FWS National Conservation Training Center). Webinar Summary: Accurate information on the atmospheric evaporative demand (i.e., thirst of the atmosphere) and the land-surface evaporative response (i.e., moisture...
February 28, 2017
The distribution of water on the landscape influences many ecological functions such as the distribution of vegetation, soil development and the cycle of chemical nutrients. All of these functions are subject to change as a result of variations in the duration of soil water saturation and flow of water through the distributed channel networks of watersheds. The landscape of the Pacific coastal...
2017 (approx.)
Getting Started with MODIS Version 6 Surface Reflectance Data Part 1: All About Accessing Data This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Surface Reflectance data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6...
2017 (approx.)
Getting Started with MODIS Version 6 Surface Reflectance Data Part 2: Using the Data This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Surface Reflectance data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the definition of “Surface...
Satellite image showing the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay region
January 25, 2017
This Indian Space Research Organization LISS-3 image of the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay region, acquired on January 25, 2017, shows the landscape along the densely populated U.S. East coast. Ecosystems and sea-level rise are among the regional landscape changes that satellite imagery helps to monitor.
Closed canopy plantation
2016 (approx.)
Example of a closed canopy plantation logged 60 years ago at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon, old growth forests have bigger trees and a more complex understory.
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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?

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.