Mission Areas

Land Resources

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

Understanding a changing world and how it affects our natural resources, livelihoods, and communities. Science plays an essential role in helping communities and resource managers understand the local to global implications of change, anticipate the effects of change, prepare for change, and reduce the risks associated with decisionmaking in a changing environment.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration

Scientists are working to assess both the potential capacities and the potential limitations of the various forms of carbon sequestration and to evaluate their geologic, hydrologic, and ecological consequences.

Learn More

Image of the week

Image of the week

This Image Gallery allows users to see how the surface of the Earth is changing rapidly, at local, regional, national, even global scales, with significant repercussions for people, the economy, and the environment.

Visit Gallery

Data and Tools

Land Resources supports the science community with its long-term observational networks and extensive databases encompassing the fields of climate history, land-use and land-cover change, and carbon and nutrient cycles.

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Data Discovery

Global Ecosystems

LandCarbon

National Climate Change Viewer

National Land Cover Database

News

Date published: April 11, 2018

NOROCK Scientist Receives USGS Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Communications

Research Ecologist Dan Fagre is the recipient of the 2017 Eugene M. Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications

Date published: March 1, 2018

Illuminating the Past to Guide the Future

On a humid August morning in south-central Alaska, a group of scientists hiked for four miles along a horse trail armed with rifles and an order to make as much noise as possible.

Attribution: Land Resources
Date published: December 15, 2017

USGS and NASA Select New Landsat Science Team

The USGS and NASA have selected the scientists and engineers who will serve on the next Landsat Science Team. 

Land Resource 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: 70
Date published: March 7, 2018
Status: Active

Paleoclimate Reconstruction from Marine and Lake Sediments

Instrumental measurements of climate variables (e.g., precipitation, temperature, ocean circulation, etc.) are only available over the past century or less. In order to quantify the rate and magnitude of natural climate variability going back in time beyond the 20th century, scientists rely on paleoclimate reconstructions. 

Date published: February 27, 2018
Status: Active

Paleoceanographic Proxy Calibration

A sediment trap time series in the northern Gulf of Mexico is used to better assess the control of environmental variables (e.g., temperature and salinity) on the flux of both microfossils and molecular fossils to the sediments. The information gained from sediment trap studies is used to develop better proxy-based estimates of past oceanographic conditions from analyses of microfossils and ...

Date published: February 1, 2018

2018 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 15, 2018

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Nominations for the 2018 award must be received by June 15, 2018.

Date published: May 12, 2017
Status: Active

Climate Change in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Effects on Riverine Discharge, Ecosystems, and Water Quality

The 64,000-square mile watershed that drains to the Chesapeake Bay is highly populated and has diverse land use, including forested, agricultural, and urbanized areas. Increased precipitation in the eastern United States over the last 100 years has affected stream flow and thus the loading of pollutants delivered to the bay. Such pollutants as suspended sediment and dissolved phosphorus and...

Contacts: Karen C Rice
Date published: May 9, 2017

Time Series of Glacier Retreat

The retreat of glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana, has received widespread attention by the media, the public, and scientists because it is a clear and poignant indicator of change in the northern Rocky Mountains of the USA.  In 2017 the...

Date published: May 9, 2017

GLACIER SIMULATION

The simulation reflects the predicted exponential rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a 2xCO2 "global warming" scenario, by 2030 with a concurrent warming of 2-3 degrees centigrade (4-5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2050. In addition it assumes that precipitation, primarily during the winter, will increase over the same time period five to 10 percent. The animation view of the Blackfoot-...

Date published: March 14, 2017

Quantitative Analysis Using Structural Equation Modeling

USGS scientists have been involved for a number of years in the development and use of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). This methodology represents an approach to statistical modeling that focuses on the study of complex cause-effect hypotheses about the mechanisms operating in systems. SEM is increasingly used in ecological and environmental studies and this site seeks to provide...

Date published: October 16, 2016

Modeling Past Variation in Florida Manatee Survival, Breeding, and Movements Rates to Establish Baselines for Aquatic Ecosystem and Restoration Research

Long-term monitoring data in the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS), developed and coordinated by WARC-Sirenia Project in collaboration with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory, are the basis for modeling manatee demography rates.

Date published: September 20, 2016
Status: Active

Improving Our Ability to Forecast Tidal Marsh Response to Sea Level Rise

The Challenge: Accelerations in sea-level rise and changing environmental stressors have important implications for the integrity of coastal wetlands and for efforts to restore and protect the ecosystem services they provide. Their persistence and adaptation to these stressors depends on the net effects of changes in physical processes and biotic responses. Future planning by decision makers...

Date published: September 20, 2016

Post-fire Recovery Patterns in Southwestern Forests

High-severity crown fires in Southwestern dry-conifer forests — resulting from fire suppression, fuel buildups, and drought — are creating large treeless areas that are historically unprecedented in size. These recent stand-replacing fires have reset extensive portions of Southwest forest landscapes, fostering post-fire successional vegetation that can alter ecological recovery trajectories...

Contacts: Collin Haffey
Date published: August 2, 2016
Status: Active

Assessing Coastal Forest Impacts and Resource Management Implications following Hurricane Sandy

Tropical storms and hurricanes wreak havoc with coastal forests where damage can vary with wind speed and approach from isolated treefalls to wide-area blowdowns of whole forests.

Date published: August 1, 2016

Monitoring and Assessing Effects of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project (PSRP) on the Florida Manatee

Critical information predicting condition changes in manatee habitat resulting from the alteration of freshwater flows to estuaries is needed to develop the PSRP Detailed Design and PSRP Operations Plan components and complete consultation under the Endangered Species Act.

Filter Total Items: 3
Date published: February 12, 2018

Shoreline change rates in salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

This dataset displays shoreline change rates at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA

Date published: May 9, 2017

Area of the Named Glaciers of Glacier National Park (GNP) and Flathead National Forest (FNF) Derived from Aerial and Satellite Imagery, 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015

These data represent a time series of the 37 named glaciers of Glacier National Park, MT, USA and two named glaciers in the Flathead National Forest.

Date published: March 14, 2017

Quantitative Analysis Using Structural Equation Modeling

USGS scientists have been involved for a number of years in the development and use of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). This methodology represents an approach to statistical modeling that focuses on the study of complex cause-effect hypotheses about the mechanisms operating in systems.

Filter Total Items: 42
Year Published: 2017

A three-dimensional mapping of the ocean based on environmental data

The existence, sources, distribution, circulation, and physicochemical nature of macroscale oceanic water bodies have long been a focus of oceanographic inquiry. Building on that work, this paper describes an objectively derived and globally comprehensive set of 37 distinct volumetric region units, called ecological marine units (EMUs). They are...

Sayre, Roger; Wright, Dawn J.; Breyer, Sean P.; Butler, Kevin; Van Graafeiland, Keith; Costello, Mark J.; Harris, Peter T.; Goodin, Kathleen; Guinotte, John M.; Basher, Zeenatul; Kavanaugh, Maria T.; Halpin, Patrick N.; Monaco, Mark E.; Cressie, Noel; Aniello, Peter; Frye, Charles; Stephens, Drew
Attribution: Land Resources
Sayre, R.G., D.J. Wright, S.P. Breyer, K.A. Butler, K. Van Graafeiland, M.J. Costello, P.T. Harris, K.L. Goodin, J.M. Guinotte, Z. Basher, M.T. Kavanaugh, P.N. Halpin, M.E. Monaco, N. Cressie, P. Aniello, C.E. Frye, and D. Stephens. 2017. A three-​dimensional mapping of the ocean based on environmental data. Oceanography 30(1):90–103, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.116.

Year Published: 2017

Modeling global Hammond landform regions from 250-m elevation data

In 1964, E.H. Hammond proposed criteria for classifying and mapping physiographic regions of the United States. Hammond produced a map entitled “Classes of Land Surface Form in the Forty-Eight States, USA”, which is regarded as a pioneering and rigorous treatment of regional physiography. Several researchers automated Hammond?s model in GIS....

Karagulle, Deniz; Frye, Charlie; Sayre, Roger; Breyer, Sean P.; Aniello, Peter; Vaughan, Randy; Wright, Dawn J.
Attribution: Land Resources
Karagulle, D., C. Frye, R. Sayre, S. Breyer, P. Aniello, R. Vaughan, and D. Wright. 2017. Modeling global Hammond landform regions from 250-m elevation data. Transactions in GIS,

Year Published: 2017

Climate change and the eco-hydrology of fire: Will area burned increase in a warming western USA?

Wildfire area is predicted to increase with global warming. Empirical statistical models and process-based simulations agree almost universally. The key relationship for this unanimity, observed at multiple spatial and temporal scales, is between drought and fire. Predictive models often focus on ecosystems in which this relationship appears to be...

McKenzie, Donald; Littell, Jeremy
McKenzie, D. and Littell, J. S. (2017), Climate change and the eco-hydrology of fire: Will area burned increase in a warming western USA?. Ecol Appl, 27: 26–36. doi:10.1002/eap.1420

Year Published: 2017

Macroclimatic change expected to transform coastal wetland ecosystems this century

Coastal wetlands, existing at the interface between land and sea, are highly vulnerable to climate change. Macroclimate (for example, temperature and precipitation regimes) greatly influences coastal wetland ecosystem structure and function. However, research on climate change impacts in coastal wetlands has concentrated primarily on sea-level...

Gabler, Christopher A.; Osland, Michael J.; Grace, James B.; Stagg, Camille L.; Day, Richard H.; Hartley, Stephen B.; Enwright, Nicholas M.; From, Andrew; McCoy, Meagan L.; McLeod, Jennie L.
Gabler, C.A., Osland, M.J., Grace, J.B., Stagg, C.L., Day, R.H., Hartley, S.B., Enwright, N.M., From, A.S., McCoy, M.L., and McLeod, J.L., 2017, Macroclimatic change expected to transform coastal wetland ecosystems this century: Nature Climate Change, Advanced Online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3203.

Year Published: 2017

Ecosystem extent and fragmentation

One of the candidate essential biodiversity variable (EBV) groups described in the seminal paper by Pereira et al. (2014) concerns Ecosystem Structure. This EBV group is distinguished from another EBV group which encompasses aspects of Ecosystem Function. While the Ecosystem Function EBV treats ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling, primary...

Sayre, Roger; Hansen, Matt
Attribution: Land Resources

Year Published: 2016

Multidecadal increases in the Yukon River Basin of chemical fluxes as indicators of changing flowpaths, groundwater, and permafrost

The Yukon River Basin, underlain by discontinuous permafrost, has experienced a warming climate over the last century that has altered air temperature, precipitation, and permafrost. We investigated a water chemistry database from 1982 to 2014 for the Yukon River and its major tributary, the Tanana River. Significant increases of Ca, Mg, and Na...

Toohey, Ryan C; Herman-Mercer, Nicole M.; Schuster, Paul F.; Mutter, Edda A.; Koch, Joshua C.
Toohey, R. C., Herman-Mercer, N. M., Schuster, P. F., Mutter, E. A., and Koch, J. C., 2016, Multidecadal increases in the Yukon River Basin of chemical fluxes as indicators of changing flowpaths, groundwater, and permafrost, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 10.1002/2016GL070817.

Year Published: 2016

Assessing climate-sensitive ecosystems in the southeastern United States

Climate change impacts ecosystems in many ways, from effects on species to phenology to wildfire dynamics. Assessing the potential vulnerability of ecosystems to future changes in climate is an important first step in prioritizing and planning for conservation. Although assessments of climate change vulnerability commonly are done for species,...

Costanza, Jennifer; Beck, Scott; Pyne, Milo; Terando, Adam; Rubino, Matthew J.; White, Rickie; Collazo, Jaime
Costanza, Jennifer, Beck, Scott, Pyne, Milo, Terando, Adam, Rubino, Matthew, White, Rickie, and Collazo, Jaime, 2016, Assessing climate-sensitive ecosystems in the southeastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1073, 278 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161073.

Year Published: 2016

Ecosystem vulnerability to climate change in the southeastern United States

Two recent investigations of climate-change vulnerability for 19 terrestrial, aquatic, riparian, and coastal ecosystems of the southeastern United States have identified a number of important considerations, including potential for changes in hydrology, disturbance regimes, and interspecies interactions. Complementary approaches using geospatial...

Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Costanza, Jennifer
Cartwright, J.M., and Costanza, Jennifer, 2016, Ecosystem vulnerability to climate change in the southeastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3052, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163052.

Year Published: 2016

Insular ecosystems of the southeastern United States—A regional synthesis to support biodiversity conservation in a changing climate

In the southeastern United States, insular ecosystems—such as rock outcrops, depression wetlands, high-elevation balds, flood-scoured riparian corridors, and insular prairies and barrens—occupy a small fraction of land area but constitute an important source of regional and global biodiversity, including concentrations of rare and...

Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Wolfe, William J.
Cartwright, J.M., and Wolfe, W.J., 2016, Insular ecosystems of the southeastern United States—A regional synthesis to support biodiversity conservation in a changing climate: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1828, 162 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1828.

Year Published: 2016

Identifying bird and reptile vulnerabilities to climate change in the southwestern United States

Current and future breeding ranges of 15 bird and 16 reptile species were modeled in the Southwestern United States. Rather than taking a broad-scale, vulnerability-assessment approach, we created a species distribution model (SDM) for each focal species incorporating climatic, landscape, and plant variables. Baseline climate (1940–2009) was...

Hatten, James R.; Giermakowski, J. Tomasz; Holmes, Jennifer A.; Nowak, Erika M.; Johnson, Matthew J.; Ironside, Kirsten E.; van Riper, Charles; Peters, Michael; Truettner, Charles; Cole, Kenneth L.
Hatten, J.R., Giermakowski, J.T., Holmes, J.A., Nowak, E.M., Johnson, M.J., Ironside, K.E., van Riper, Charles, III, Peters, Michael, Truettner, Charles, and Cole, K.L., 2016, Identifying bird and reptile vulnerabilities to climate change in the Southwestern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1085, 76 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161085.

Year Published: 2016

Increased water deficit decreases Douglas fir growth throughout western US forests

Changes in tree growth rates can affect tree mortality and forest feedbacks to the global carbon cycle. As air temperature increases, evaporative demand also increases, increasing effective drought in forest ecosystems. Using a spatially comprehensive network of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) chronologies from 122 locations that experience...

Restaino, Christina M; Peterson, David L.; Littell, Jeremy
Restaino, C.M., D.L. Peterson, and J.S. Littell. 2016. Increased water deficit decreases Douglas fir growth throughout western US forests Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PNAS 2016 ; published ahead of print August 8, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1602384113

Year Published: 2016

Wildfire risk as a socioecological pathology

Wildfire risk in temperate forests has become a nearly intractable problem that can be characterized as a socioecological “pathology”: that is, a set of complex and problematic interactions among social and ecological systems across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Assessments of wildfire risk could benefit from recognizing and...

Fischer, A. Paige; Spies, Thomas A; Steelman, Toddi A; Moseley, Cassandra; Johnson, Bart R.; Bailey, John D.; Ager, Alan A; Bourgeron, Patrick S.; Charnley, Susan; Collins, Brandon M.; Kline, Jeffrey D; Leahy, Jessica E; Littell, Jeremy; Millington, James D. A.; Nielsen-Pincus, Max; Olsen, Christine S; Paveglio, Travis B; Roos, Christopher I.; Steen-Adams, Michelle M; Stevens, Forrest R; Vukomanovic, Jelena; White, Eric M; Bowman, David M J S

Filter Total Items: 198
April 2, 2018

Image of the Week - Volcan de Fuego, Guatemala

Landsat 8 shows the effects after Volcan de Fuego erupted in Guatemala.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (https://eros.usgs.gov/)

March 27, 2018

Landsat in Action - Advocating for Landsat with Kass Green

Kass Green talks about the role Landsat plays to help create high resolution maps, the benefits of the archive at EROS and the value of Landsat imagery to agencies throughout the government.
 

March 16, 2018

LP DAAC Prospectus 2017 - 2019

The “LP DAAC Prospectus: 2017 to 2019” short video features the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC), a key access point for global land remote sensing data. The video provides an overview of the significance of the LP DAAC’s archive and distribution functions, explains the depth of the user community, and outlines...

February 27, 2018

Landsat's Calibration and Validation

Engineers and scientists from both Landsat and Sentinel missions are working together to calibrate observation data and validate its quality to improve the science using these resources.
 

February 26, 2018

Landsat in Action - Forestry Research with Warren Cohen

Warren Cohen with the USDA Forest Service talks about the value of Landsat's long history of observations in monitoring and assessing forests.
 

February 23, 2018

Image of the Week - Olympic Skiing and Land Change

South Korea transformed a mountain forest into an Olympic skiing centre for the 2018 Winter Games. These images show that transformation.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (...

February 22, 2018

Ungulates in a Warmer Climate

Researchers supported by NCCWSC are working to improve managers’ understanding of ungulates’ response to a warmer climate. For example, when surface water is unavailable, the water content within ungulates’ food provides them with their main source of water, and they must make resourceful foraging decisions to meet their water needs. Scientists researching desert bighorn sheep populations in...

February 20, 2018

Terra MODIS Global Land Surface Temperature 2017

Observe changes in land surface temperature over the course of 2017, with Terra MODIS images. The images were created using the 8-day composite Terra MODIS LST data product (MOD11C2). To learn more about MODIS LST data, and other data products distributed by the LP DAAC, please visit https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/.

The LP DAAC is one of...

February 13, 2018

Getting Started with VIIRS Surface Reflectance Data Part 3

This video focuses on how to interpret quality information for Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Surface Reflectance data products created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). VIIRS is a sensor that flies on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite, which was launched as a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric...

Satellite images showing the new ski runs at the 2018 Olympics.
February 12, 2018

Olympic Skiing and Land Change

Images from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard NASA's Terra satellite show how one area in South Korea transformed from mountainous forest to a world-class downhill skiing venue to get ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

February 9, 2018

Landsat 8 Completes 5 Years of Operation

USGS Scientists John Dwyer and Tom Loveland from EROS discuss the major accomplishments of Landsat 8 as it reaches it's 5 year design life. The Landsat program started in 1972, and has a bright future thanks to these extraordinary satellites.
 

February 8, 2018

Image of the Week - Theewaterskloof Reservoir, South Africa

The Theewaterskloof Reservoir near Cape Town, South Africa is drying up as a result of a growing population and several dry years. Now at 13% capacity, the shortage could reach a crisis if the rainy season doesn't replenish water supplies.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images...

Filter Total Items: 180
Date published: April 11, 2018

NOROCK Scientist Receives USGS Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Communications

Research Ecologist Dan Fagre is the recipient of the 2017 Eugene M. Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications

Date published: March 1, 2018

Illuminating the Past to Guide the Future

On a humid August morning in south-central Alaska, a group of scientists hiked for four miles along a horse trail armed with rifles and an order to make as much noise as possible.

Attribution: Land Resources
Date published: December 15, 2017

USGS and NASA Select New Landsat Science Team

The USGS and NASA have selected the scientists and engineers who will serve on the next Landsat Science Team. 

Date published: November 20, 2017

Satellite Imagery Aids Rescue Efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Free and rapid imagery was provided through the USGS Hazard Data Distribution System.

Date published: November 17, 2017

New Map Showcases the Recreational, Mining and Historical Heart of Colorado

Bringing together decades of research and mapping, the U.S. Geological Survey just released a geologic map and companion pamphlet featuring the Arkansas River Valley region in north-central Colorado.  

Date published: November 15, 2017

USGS-NASA Pecora Award Recognizes Excellence in Earth Observation

Two awardees have been presented with the 2017 William T. Pecora Award for achievements in Earth remote sensing. 

Date published: November 8, 2017

Significant Milestone in Improving Usability of Landsat Satellite Data

Improvements to the quality and usability of Landsat satellite data have been made with the release of a new USGS product called Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD). 

Date published: November 8, 2017

Media Advisory: Pecora 20 Conference on New Trends in Remote Sensing

Monitoring our changing planet is critical to supporting a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025. Observing the Earth from space offers unprecedented levels of data and a holistic view, which enables scientists to detect the most critical trends in natural resource conditions at local and global scales.

Date published: October 24, 2017

New Tool Allows Users to Explore Mountains Worldwide

A new tool that gives users the most detailed view yet of the world’s mountains is now available from the USGS. And it’s as close as your computer or cellphone.

Date published: October 5, 2017

Scientists Ground Truth What Influences Hurricanes

Scientists looked back 10 to 13 thousand years to gain real-world insight into the environmental factors that influence hurricanes near Florida and, by extension, the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

Date published: September 18, 2017

Tracking the Bad Guys: Toxic Algal Blooms

Every few days, a fleet of satellites orbiting 700 kilometers above the Earth scans the continental United States to help keep Americans safe. But these eyes in the sky aren’t seeking terrorists or enemy combatants: they scrutinize lakes to locate problems of the microbial variety, namely cyanobacteria.

Date published: September 14, 2017

New USGS Report Uncovers the Underground Geology Along the Rio Grande

A new U.S. Geological Survey report describes the below ground geology of the Rio Grande transboundary region of New Mexico and Texas, United States, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico.