Mission Areas

Land Resources

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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: 69
Date published: April 5, 2016

Benchmark Glacier: Sperry

Sperry Glacier was chosen as the benchmark glacier for the glacier monitoring studies, due to the combination of its topographic characteristics, historic data, and access. Annual mass balance measurements began in 2005. Sperry Glacier joined the long-established USGS Benchmark Glacier Research program in 2013 where common field and analysis methods enable regional comparison and improved...

Date published: April 5, 2016

Glacier Monitoring Studies

The purpose of the CCME's glacier monitoring studies is to systematically monitor changes in Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers and to determine the causes of changes, assess their ecological and hydrological effects, and predict future changes and effects.

Date published: March 28, 2016

Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB): Trout Lake

USGS initiated the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) program to understand the processes controlling water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes over a range of temporal and spatial scales, and the effects of atmospheric and climatic variables. Trout Lake is one of five small, geographically and ecologically diverse watersheds representing a range of hydrologic and climatic...

Date published: March 22, 2016

Mechanisms of Coastal Marsh Elevation Regulation

Sediment deposition serves an important role in the long-term maintenance of coastal marshes. USGS investigates the mechanisms of coastal marsh elevation regulation to help predict marsh sediment requirements under various sea level rise scenarios. 

Date published: March 22, 2016
Status: Active

Connectivity of Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Understanding Biodiversity and Trophic Relationships in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

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...

Date published: March 18, 2016

Potential Impact of Hydrology and Sedimentation Changes to Biodiversity, Dongting Lake, China

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 changes to the...

Date published: April 17, 2015
Status: Completed

A Decision Support Tool for Repatriation of Aquatic Fauna: A Case Study Involving the Striped Newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus) at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

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. 

Date published: January 6, 2004
Status: Completed

GW/SW Interactions

Knowing the interactions of ground water and river water can help reduce the fluctuation of water supplies in alluvial (sediment-deposit) river basins.

To develop general principles of these interactions in order to identify and analyze them, the USGS is reviewing the results of the numerous studies of these interactions in Pacific Northwest basins. The review will describe common...

Filter Total Items: 140
Year Published: 2016

Semi-arid vegetation response to antecedent climate and water balance windows

Questions Can we improve understanding of vegetation response to water availability on monthly time scales in semi-arid environments using remote sensing methods? What climatic or water balance variables and antecedent windows of time associated with these variables best relate to the condition of vegetation? Can we develop credible near-term...

Thoma, David P.; Munson, Seth M.; Irvine, Kathryn M.; Witwicki, Dana L.; Bunting, Erin
Thoma, D.P., Munson, S.M., K.M. Irvine, Witwicki, D.L., and Bunting, E.L., 2016, Semi-arid vegetation response to antecedent climate and water balance windows: Applied Vegetation Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12232 and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/avsc.12232/full.

Year Published: 2016

Earth as art 4

Landsat 8 is the latest addition to the long-running series of Earth-observing satellites in the Landsat program that began in 1972. The images featured in this fourth installment of the Earth As Art collection were all acquired by Landsat 8. They show our planet’s diverse landscapes with remarkable clarity.Landsat satellites see the Earth as no...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Earth as art 4: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 161, 20 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/gip161.

Year Published: 2016

Earth as art 4 bookmark

Images from Landsat 8, launched in 2013, already stand out as stellar additions to our popular Earth As Art series. We are proud to present the fourth collection—Earth As Art 4!

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Earth as art 4 bookmark: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 162, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/gip162.

Year Published: 2016

A hierarchical model of daily stream temperature using air-water temperature synchronization, autocorrelation, and time lags

Water temperature is a primary driver of stream ecosystems and commonly forms the basis of stream classifications. Robust models of stream temperature are critical as the climate changes, but estimating daily stream temperature poses several important challenges. We developed a statistical model that accounts for many challenges that can make...

Letcher, Benjamin; Hocking, Daniel; O'Neil, Kyle; Whiteley, Andrew R.; Nislow, Keith H.; O'Donnell, Matthew
Letcher BH, Hocking DJ, O’Neil K, Whiteley AR, Nislow KH, O’Donnell MJ. (2016) A hierarchical model of daily stream temperature using air-water temperature synchronization, autocorrelation, and time lags. PeerJ 4:e1727 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1727

Year Published: 2016

Quantifying pollen-vegetation relationships to reconstruct ancient forests using 19th-century forest composition and pollen data

Mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its effects relies partly on how effectively land-atmosphere interactions can be quantified. Quantifying composition of past forest ecosystems can help understand processes governing forest dynamics in a changing world. Fossil pollen data provide information about past forest composition, but rigorous...

Dawson, Andria; Paciorek, Christopher J.; McLachlan, Jason S.; Goring, Simon; Williams, John W.; Jackson, Stephen T.

Year Published: 2016

Acadia National Park Climate Change Scenario Planning Workshop summary

This report summarizes outcomes from a two-day scenario planning workshop for Acadia National Park, Maine (ACAD). The primary objective of the workshop was to help ACAD senior leadership make management and planning decisions based on up-to-date climate science and assessments of future uncertainty. The workshop was also designed as a training...

Star, Jonathan; Fisichelli, Nicholas; Bryan, Alexander; Babson, Amanda; Cole-Will, Rebecca; Miller-Rushing, Abraham J.
Star, J., Fisichelli, N., Bryan, A. M., Babson, A., Cole-Will, R., and Miller-Rushing, A., 2016. Acadia National Park Climate Change Scenario Planning Workshop Summary. 50 pp.

Year Published: 2016

No damsel in distress

No abstract available.

Lynch, Abigail J.

Year Published: 2016

Novel and lost forests in the Upper Midwestern United States, from new estimates of settlement-era composition, stem density, and biomass

EuroAmerican land-use and its legacies have transformed forest structure and composition across the United States (US). More accurate reconstructions of historical states are critical to understanding the processes governing past, current, and future forest dynamics. Here we present new gridded (8x8km) reconstructions of pre-settlement (1800s)...

Goring, Simon; Mladenoff, David J.; Cogbill, Charles; Record, Sydne; Paciorek, Christopher J.; Dietze, Michael C.; Dawson, Andria; Matthes, Jaclyn; McLachlan, Jason S.; Williams, John W.

Year Published: 2015

Trans-Amazon Drilling Project (TADP): origins and evolution of the forests, climate, and hydrology of the South American tropics

This article presents the scientific rationale for an ambitious ICDP drilling project to continuously sample Late Cretaceous to modern sediment in four different sedimentary basins that transect the equatorial Amazon of Brazil, from the Andean foreland to the Atlantic Ocean. The goals of this project are to document the evolution of plant...

Baker, P.A.; Fritz, S.C.; Silva, C.G.; Rigsby, C.A.; Absy, M.L.; Almeida, R.P.; Caputo, Maria C.; Chiessi, C.M.; Cruz, F.W.; Dick, C.W.; Feakins, S.J.; Figueiredo, J.; Freeman, K.H.; Hoorn, C.; Jaramillo, C.A.; Kern, A.; Latrubesse, E.M.; Ledru, M.P.; Marzoli, A.; Myrbo, A.; Noren, A.; Piller, W.E.; Ramos, M.I.F.; Ribas, C.C.; Trinadade, R.; West, A.J.; Wahnfried, I.; Willard, Debra A.
Attribution: Land Resources
Baker, P.A., Fritz, S.C., silva, C.G., Rigsby, C.A., Absy, M.L., Almeida, R.P., Caputo, M., Chiessi, C.M., Cruz, F.W., Dick, C.W., Feakins, S.J., Figueiredo, J., Freeman, K.H., Hoorn, C., Jaramillo, C., Kern, A.K., Latrubesse, E.M., Ledru, M.P., Marzoli, A., Myrbo, A., Noren, A., Piller, W.E., Ramos, M.I.F., Ribas, C.C., Trinadade, R., West, A.J., Wahnfried, I., and Willard, D.A., 2015, Trans-Amazon Drilling Project (TADP): origins and evolution of the forests, climate, and hydrology of the South American tropics: Scientific Drilling, v. 20, p. 41-49.

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.

Year Published: 2015

Drivers and synergies in the management of inland fisheries: Searching for sustainable solutions

Freshwater is a shared resource.  Water challenges (i.e., too much, too little, too dirty) are recognized to have global implications.  Many sectors rely upon water and, in some cases, the limited availability of water leads to tough decisions.  Though inland fish and fisheries play important roles in providing food security, human...

Lynch, Abigail; Beard, Douglas

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...

Frumhoff, Peter; Burkett, Virginia; Jackson, Robert B.; Newmark, Robin; Overpeck, Jonathan; Webber, Michael
Attribution: Land Resources

Filter Total Items: 239
September 29, 2017

Image of the Week - Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Landsat 8 imagery shows the change in vegetation on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

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/)

...
September 19, 2017

Landsat Collections — What are Tiers?

This is the third video in a series describing the new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat Collection 1 inventory structure. Collection 1 required the reprocessing of all archived Landsat data to achieve radiometric and geometric consistency of Level-1 products through time and across all Landsat sensors. This video explains how Landsat Collection Level-1 data products

...
September 19, 2017

Image of the Week - Irma Churns Up Sediment in the Florida Keys

Hurricane Irma churned up sediment around the Florida keys as shown by these Landsat images.

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/

...
September 15, 2017

Image of the Week: Hurricane Irma Slams Barbuda

Hurricane Irma's full force hit the small island of Barbuda, damaging estimated 95% of structures.

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.

...
Virginia Burkett
September 14, 2017

USGS scientist Virginia Burkett

USGS scientist Virginia Burkett

Attribution: Land Resources
Hoary marmots can be seen near large boulders in alpine meadows from Washington to Alaska.
September 13, 2017

Hoary marmots

Hoary marmots can be seen near large boulders in alpine meadows from Washington to Alaska. 

Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park showing smoke from forest fires.
September 12, 2017

Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier NP showing fire smoke.

Panoramic image from Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park showing smoke from forest fires. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior.

USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.
September 12, 2017

USGS scientist doing weather station repairs in Glacier National Park.

USGS scientist Erich Peitzsch does repair on the Sperry Weather Station in Glacier National Park. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior during the 2017 fire season. 

USGS weather station repair operations in Glacier NP.
September 12, 2017

USGS weather station repair operations in Glacier NP.

Crews perform repairs on the Sperry Weather Station as part of Fire Operations in Glacier National Park. Information gathered by the USGS managed Sperry Weather Station are being used by regional fire managers to forecast fire weather and future fire behavior during the 2017 fire season. 

September 8, 2017

Image of the Week: Hurricane Harvey Flooding

Hurricane Harvey dumped over 50 inches of rain near Houston, leaving extensive flooding throughout the area.

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://

...
Algal bloom off the coast of Brazil, Landsat 2017 image
September 5, 2017

Landsat 8 reveals algal bloom off Brazil's coast near Sao Paulo, 2017

In early September 2017, Landsat 8 captured this image of what looked like an oil spill off the coast of Brazil, near Sao Paulo. The "oil" turned out to be a vast algal bloom that covered more than 100 km. This bloom was the result of a species of tiny dinoflagellate that multiplied quickly to produce astronomical numbers -- enough to color the ocean water.

August 31, 2017

Image of the Week: Hurricane Harvey Inundates Gulf Coast

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25th. Over the next few days, record rain totals had devastated the area.

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 (

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Filter Total Items: 195
Date published: December 22, 2016

EarthView–Expansion at the Port of Rotterdam

In our last EarthView of 2016, you can see the port of Rotterdam grow by 5,000 acres!

Date published: December 15, 2016

Warmer Ocean Waters Seen to Spur Drought in Africa

Monitoring drought vital to success of humanitarian relief

Date published: December 4, 2016

EarthView–Landsat Chronicles Deforestation in Colombia

This EarthView from Landsat shows deforestation in Colombia between 1989 and 2016.

Date published: December 3, 2016

EarthView–Saudi Wheat Experiment Relied on Fossil Water

This EarthView shows how fossil water is used for agriculture in Saudi Arabia.

Date published: November 28, 2016

Safeguarding Our Cultural Past from Future Climate Change: Stories from Jamestown

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?

Date published: November 18, 2016

Safeguarding Our Cultural Past from Future Climate Change: Stories from Cape Lookout National Seashore

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?

Date published: November 17, 2016

USGS, NASA Study Finds Widespread Coastal Land Losses from Gulf Oil Spill

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.