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 8, 2016

Restoration of Climate Change-Induced Retreat of Tidally Influenced Freshwater Forested Wetlands

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. 

Date published: April 8, 2016

Factors Controlling Resilience and Resistance of Coastal Salt Marshes to Sudden Marsh Dieback

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. 

Date published: April 7, 2016

Salinity Intrusion Impacts from Hurricane Sandy in Tidal Freshwater Swamps, Delmarva Peninsula, Mid-Atlantic Coast, USA

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. 

Date published: April 7, 2016

Structural Equation Modeling in Support of Conservation

Understanding systems sometimes requires approaches that allow for both the discovery of the a system's structure and the estimation of its implications. Structural Equation Modeling - SEM - is one tool scientists use to better understand the complex world in which we live. 

Date published: April 7, 2016
Status: Active

Agassiz Glacier, 1913 - 2005

A view of Agassiz Glacier from Boulder Pass, Glacier NP.

Please respect the photographer: When using these photographs, please credit the photographer and source (eg. T.J. Hileman, courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives). The paired images at the top of this page are examples of proper crediting for each photo. 

To download images, select the Multimedia tab....

Contacts: Lisa McKeon
Date published: April 7, 2016

Surface Elevation Vulnerability of Coastal Forested Wetlands to Sea-Level Rise

Wetlands vary in their abilities to keep up with sea-level rise; they either adjust vertically and/or move inland. USGS is working with partners around the world to measure rates of surface elevation change relative to local sea-level rise. 

Date published: April 6, 2016
Status: Active

Repeat Photography Project

Climate change research in Glacier National Park, Montana entails many methods of documenting the landscape change, including the decline of the parks namesake glaciers. While less quantitative than other high-tech methods of recording glacial mass, depth, and rate of retreat, repeat photography has become a valuable tool for communicating effects of global warming. With evidence of worldwide...

Contacts: Lisa McKeon
Date published: April 6, 2016

Retreat of Glaciers in Glacier National Park

Worldwide glacial glacier recession is well documented (1,2) and varied model projections suggest that certain studied GNP glaciers will disappear in the next few decades, between 2030 (3) to 2080 (4).  USGS scientists in Glacier National Park are collaborating with glaciologist from Alaska and Washington and using...

Date published: April 6, 2016

Alpine Climatology of Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a topographically diverse region, making localized effects of elevation, aspect, and cold air drainage several of many important factors that necessitate a diversity of long-term climate monitoring sites. Additionally, many studies have shown more rapid warming at higher elevations across the Intermountain West, but with relatively few high-elevation stations available...

Date published: April 6, 2016

Landscape Change Photography

Repeat photography is being used by the CCME program to document landscape change. Glaciers have been the primary focus of this park-wide survey and this collection of repeat photographs, available for download on the CCME website, have been used to illustrate the effects of climate change in venues across the globe. These powerful images, with their inherent ease of interpretation, have...

Date published: April 5, 2016
Status: Active

Snow and Avalanche Research

Since 1991, CCME staff have conducted snow surveys throughout Glacier National Park. These data have contributed to regional climate change and hydrologic models. Snowpack characteristics have also been evaluated in relation to avalanche forecasting and plowing of GNP’s Going to the Sun Road efforts. Studies of natural snow avalanches reveal connections with large-scale climate and wildfire...

Date published: April 5, 2016

Secondary Glacier Network

The Secondary Glacier Network includes six glaciers (Chaney, Grinnell, Stanton, Agassiz, Swiftcurrent, Jackson-Blackfoot Glaciers) that form a north-south transect of approx. 60 km through the region, with Sperry Glacier just south of center. While these glaciers will be monitored less frequently than the benchmark glacier, Sperry, this network will provide data about the variability of...

Filter Total Items: 140
Year Published: 2016

Reconstructions of Columbia River streamflow from tree-ring chronologies in the Pacific Northwest, USA

We developed Columbia River streamflow reconstructions using a network of existing, new, and updated tree-ring records sensitive to the main climatic factors governing discharge. Reconstruction quality is enhanced by incorporating tree-ring chronologies where high snowpack limits growth, which better represent the contribution of cool-season...

Littell, Jeremy; Pederson, Gregory T.; Gray, Stephen T.; Tjoelker, Michael; Hamlet, Alan F.; Woodhouse, Connie A.
Littell, Jeremy S., Gregory T. Pederson, Stephen T. Gray, Michael Tjoelker, Alan F. Hamlet, and Connie A Woodhouse, 2016. Reconstructions of Columbia River Streamflow from Tree-Ring Chronologies in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1–21. DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12442

Year Published: 2016

Report from the workshop on climate downscaling and its application in high Hawaiian Islands, September 16–17, 2015

In the subtropical and tropical Pacific islands, changing climate is predicted to influence precipitation and freshwater availability, and thus is predicted to impact ecosystems goods and services available to ecosystems and human communities. The small size of high Hawaiian Islands, plus their complex microlandscapes, require downscaling of...

Helweg, David A.; Keener, Victoria; Burgett, Jeff M.
Helweg, D.A., Keener, V., and Burgett, J.M., 2016, Report from the workshop on climate downscaling and its application in high Hawaiian Islands, September 16–17, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1102, 25 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161102.

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

On the sustainability of inland fisheries: Finding a future for the forgotten

At present, inland fisheries are not often a national or regional governance priority and as a result, inland capture fisheries are undervalued and largely overlooked. As such they are threatened in both developing and developed countries. Indeed, due to lack of reliable data, inland fisheries have never been part of any high profile global...

Cooke, Steven J.; Allison, Edward H.; Beard, Douglas; Arlinghaus, Robert; Arthington, Angela; Bartley, Devin; Cowx, Ian G.; Fuentevilla, Carlos; Léonard, Nancy J.; Lorenzen, Kai; Lynch, Abigail; Nguyen, Vivian M.; Youn, So-Jung; Tayor, William W.; Welcomme, Robin

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

Year Published: 2016

Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska

This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to contribute to knowledge of the storage, fluxes, and balance of carbon and methane gas in ecosystems of Alaska. The carbon and methane variables were examined for major terrestrial ecosystems (uplands and wetlands) and...

Zhu, Zhiliang; McGuire, A. David
Zhu, Zhiliang, and McGuire, A.D., eds., 2016, Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1826, 196 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1826.

Year Published: 2016

The social, economic, and environmental importance of inland fish and fisheries

Though reported capture fisheries are dominated by marine production, inland fish and fisheries make substantial contributions to meeting the challenges faced by individuals, society, and the environment in a changing global landscape. Inland capture fisheries and aquaculture contribute over 40% to the world’s reported finfish production...

Lynch, Abigail J.; Cooke, Steven J.; Deines, Andrew M.; Bower, Shannon D.; Bunnell, David B.; Cowx, Ian G.; Nguyen, Vivian M.; Nohner, Joel K.; Phouthavong, Kaviphone; Riley, Betsy; Rogers, Mark W.; Taylor, William W.; Woelmer, Whitney; Youn, So-Jung; Beard, T. Douglas
6) Lynch, A. J., S. J. Cooke, A. Deines, S. Bower, D. B, Bunnell, I. G. Cowx, V. M. Nguyen, J. Nonher, K. Phouthavong, B. Riley, M. W. Rogers, W. W. Taylor, W.M. Woelmer, S. Youn, T. D. Beard, Jr. 2016. The social, economic, and ecological importance of inland fishes and fisheries. Environmental Reviews. 24:1-8.

Year Published: 2016

A review of the relationships between drought and forest fire in the United States

The historical and pre-settlement relationships between drought and wildfire are well documented in North America, with forest fire occurrence and area clearly increasing in response to drought. There is also evidence that drought interacts with other controls (forest productivity, topography, fire weather, management activities) to affect fire...

Littell, Jeremy; Peterson, David L.; Riley, Karin L.; Yongquiang Liu; Luce, Charles H.

Year Published: 2016

An evaluation of 20th century climate for the Southeastern United States as simulated by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) global climate models

The 20th century climate for the Southeastern United States and surrounding areas as simulated by global climate models used in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) was evaluated. A suite of statistics that characterize various aspects of the regional climate was calculated from both model simulations and observation-based...

David E. Rupp
Attribution: Land Resources
Rupp, D.E., 2016, An evaluation of 20th century climate for the Southeastern United States as simulated by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) global climate models: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1047, 32 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161047.

Year Published: 2016

Landsat International Cooperators and Global Archive Consolidation

Landsat missions have always been an important component of U.S. foreign policy, as well as science and technology policy. The program’s longstanding network of International Cooperators (ICs), which operate numerous International Ground Stations (IGS) around the world, embodies the United States’ policy of peaceful use of outer space and the...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2016, Landsat International Cooperators and Global Archive Consolidation (ver. 1.1, November 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3018, 2 p., http://doi.dx.org/10.3133/fs20163018.

Year Published: 2016

U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center—Annual report for 2015

2015 was another great year for the Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) network. The DOI CSCs and USGS NCCWSC continued their mission of providing the science, data, and tools that are needed for on-the-ground decision making...

Varela Minder, Elda; Padgett, Holly A.
Varela Minder, Elda, and Padgett, H.A., 2016, U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center—Annual report for 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1043, 10 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161043.

Filter Total Items: 239
November 9, 2017

Image of the Week - Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana

Off the coast of Louisiana, the small Isle de Jean Charles has nearly been swallowed by the ocean. Only about 2% of the land mass remains compared to it's size in the 1950s.

November 7, 2017

Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD)

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has improved Landsat data quality and usability through the creation of Analysis Ready Data (ARD) for the conterminous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Landsat ARD greatly reduces the preparatory work currently required to do time-series analysis for understanding landscape change for operational and science users. Landsat Collections

October 25, 2017

Choosing a Data Access Tool: AppEEARS Area Sampler

This video focuses on the Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AρρEEARS) Area Sampler. With AρρEEARS, users can retrieve analysis ready data for specific areas of interest for a variety of NASA data products, including those derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. AρρEEARS

October 25, 2017

Image of the Week - The Belo Monte Dam Complex, Brazil

The Belo Monte Dam Complex's construction has had a significant impact on the flow of water along the Xingu River. These Landsat images show the changing landscape over the past several years. 

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

October 19, 2017

Can Prescribed Fire Help Forests Survive Drought in the Sierra Nevadas

This webinar was conducted as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, held in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center. 

Webinar Summary: Prescribed fire is commonly used by managers in the western U.S. to remove potential wildfire fuel, such as small trees

October 18, 2017

Landsat In Action - Monitoring Polar Ice Caps with Ted Scambos

Ted Scambos, Lead Scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, talks about the roll of Landsat in his research studying polar regions.

October 18, 2017

Landsat In Action - Assessing Global Impact with Alan Belward

Alan Belward from the European Union's Joint Research Center discusses how Landsat helps his team promote sustainable development.

A boreal bog surrounded by grasses and plants with the sun setting in the background
October 17, 2017

Boreal bog in the Adirondack Park, New York

Boreal bog in the Adirondack Park, New York

October 16, 2017

Image of the Week - Wildfires Devastate California Wine Country

Strong winds are quickly spreading wildfire across California's wine country, as seen in these two Landsat 8 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 (

October 10, 2017

Global Mountain Explorer Video Tutorial

This video contains a narrated introduction to the Global Mountain Explorer, or GME. The GME is a web-based tool for visualizing and exploring three well known global mountain datalayers. The video tutorial provides background information on the three global mountain characterizations, and provides users with a walk through of all the functionality of the map exploration

October 9, 2017

There’s a Hurricane A-comin’: A View from Space

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen several hurricanes in a row during the months of August, September, and October. Follow along with this video to see satellite imagery of hurricanes and tropical storms during this time period. 

The satellite imagery featured in this video was created using data distributed by the National Aeronautics and Space

October 5, 2017

Image of the Week - Pine Island Glacier’s Newest Iceberg

These Landsat 8 images show the latest iceberg to break free in Antarctica's Pine Island. Warmer ocean waters are melting the ice from beneath, causing increasing instability.

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.


Filter Total Items: 195
Date published: February 21, 2017

EarthView–Wildfires Ravage Central, South-Central Chile

Landsat gives us a view of one of the worst wildfires in Chile's history.

Date published: February 13, 2017

Landsat Eyes Help Guard the World’s Forests

“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.”

Date published: February 10, 2017

EarthView–January Rain, Snow Refills California Reservoirs

See a decade of California drought ease in this EarthView from Landsat.

Date published: February 9, 2017

EarthView–Argentina Flooding Has Major Impact on Soybean Production

This EarthView from Landsat shows how flooding in Argentina can affect global soybean prices.

Date published: February 7, 2017

New Scientific Approach Assesses Land Recovery Following Oil and Gas Drilling

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.

Date published: February 1, 2017

Christian Zimmerman to Lead Studies as New Director of the Alaska Science Center

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.

Date published: January 26, 2017

EarthView–West Africa Atlas Details Efforts to Manage, Preserve Okomu Forest

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.

Date published: January 25, 2017

Changes in Rainfall, Temperature Expected to Transform Coastal Wetlands This Century

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.

Date published: January 19, 2017

EarthView–Wildfires Scorch Pampas Region of Argentina

This week's EarthView shows the effects of 2 dozen wildfires in Argentina.

Date published: January 18, 2017

New England’s 1816 “Mackerel Year,” Volcanoes and Climate Change Today

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.

Date published: January 17, 2017

Turning the Tide on the Chesapeake Bay

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.

Date published: January 12, 2017

New Tool Shows Historic and Simulated Future Water Conditions in the U.S.

Water users around the country can now view the past and simulated future of hydrologic processes.