Mission Areas

Land Resources

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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: May 2, 2016
Status: Active

Dendrochronology of Coastal Forests to Evaluate Impacts of Wind and Surge from Hurricane Sandy

The science of dating growth rings and history of live and fossil wood samples is called dendrochronology. This technique is valuable for conducting climate reconstructions where meteorological data is lacking and for detecting past disturbance events such as tropical storms and hurricanes.

Date published: May 2, 2016

Assessing Treefall Patterns and Causal Relations of Wind and Surge from Hurricane Sandy

As tropical storms and hurricanes move onshore and make landfall, wind and storm surge can be sufficiently high to damage built-infrastructure and natural systems, most notably coastal forests at the interface of land and sea.

Date published: May 2, 2016
Status: Active

Aerial Videography Overflights of Forest Cover and Impact from Hurricane Sandy along the Atlantic Coast, USA

High resolution imagery (aerial videography) was obtained of Hurricane Sandy to assess forest damage by documenting disturbed canopy and downed trees. 

Date published: April 18, 2016
Status: Active

Hurricane Sandy Surge and Marsh Dieback in the New Jersey Coastal Zone

Detection of storm surge impacts on coastal marshes requires regional or broader mapping of surge flooding above and below the wetland canopy and estimation of abnormal change in wetland condition.

Contacts: Amina Rangoonwala, Elijah Ramsey , III, Ph.D., Nicholas Enright
Date published: April 18, 2016

Joint Research on Water and Sedimentation Changes and Potential Impacts on Biodiversity along the Porsuk River, Turkey

The Porsuk River floodplain near Eskisehir, Turkey contains a large number of wetlands, which have been managed by humans for millennia.

Date published: April 18, 2016

Long-term Trends in Swamp Tree Growth across Drought and Salinity Gradients along the Northern Gulf Coast

This study will examine the potential effects of climate-change-induced sea level rise, drought and water extraction by examining tree growth patterns across the Gulf Coast, specifically targeting long-term research plots available in the North American Baldcypress Swamp Network (NABCSN) and the Suwannee River.

Date published: April 17, 2016

Climate Envelope Modeling for Evaluating Anticipated Effects of Climate Change on Threatened and Endangered Species

Modeling both potential changes in climate and responses of species and habitats can increase certainty in management decisions by helping managers to understand the range of possible species and habitat responses under different alternative futures. Climate envelope modeling is one type of modeling that can be useful in understanding species and habitat responses to climate change because it...

Date published: April 17, 2016

Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment

Peninsular Florida is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the United States. With complex socioeconomic and ecology dynamics and a large number of governing agencies involved in conservation planning, USGS worked to created an appropriate framework for landscape conservation cooperative-scale decision-making across current conservation planning agencies and jurisdictions...

Date published: April 17, 2016
Status: Active

Coral Bleaching and Disease: Effects on Threatened Corals and Reefs

Severe coral bleaching in 2005, followed by a disease outbreak, resulted in severe reef degradation in the US Virgin Islands; the amount of living coral cover at long-term monitoring sites decreased an average of 60%. With climate change, high seawater temperatures are expected to lead to more frequent bleaching episodes and possibly more disease outbreaks. 

Date published: April 17, 2016

Macroclimatic Controls of Coastal Wetland Ecosystem Structure and Function

At the global-scale, macroclimatic drivers govern ecosystem structure and function in tidal saline wetlands (e.g., salt marshes, mangrove forests, salt flats). However, global reviews and models for these ecosystems typically do not directly include climatic drivers. The objective of this research is to examine and forecast the effects of macroclimatic drivers on wetland ecosystem structure...

Date published: April 17, 2016

Geographical Trends in Ecosystem Function and Biodiversity of Wetlands as a Surrogate for Climate Change

Extreme drought and temperature in the southeastern United States may become more frequent in the future, and any  extreme shifts in climate condition are likely to have effects on wetland ecosystem function. USGS research predicts the effects of climate change by shifts in function and biodiversity across existing  climate gradients in baldcypress swamps. 

Date published: April 16, 2016

Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species (FISCHS)

USGS aims to integrate biological and hydrological models to help develop management tools to deal with the projected ecological consequences of rising sea level in coastal south Florida.

Filter Total Items: 140
Year Published: 2017

Vulnerabilities to climate change of Massachusetts animal species of greatest conservation need

Over the last decade, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has addressed the potential and actual impacts of climate change on state flora and fauna. The state’s involvement began in 2007 when, led by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and assisted by Manomet Center for Con-servation Research, it carried out one of the first habitat...

Galbraith, Hector; Morelli, Toni L.

Year Published: 2017

Grand challenges in the management and conservation of North American inland fishes and fisheries

Even with long-standing management and extensive science support, North American inland fish and fisheries still face many conservation and management challenges. We used a grand challenges approach to identify critical roadblocks that if removed would help solve important problems in the management and long-term conservation of North American...

Lynch, Abigail; Cooke, Steven J.; Beard, Douglas; Kao, Yu-Chun; Lorenzen, Kai; Song, Andrew M.; Allen, Micheal S.; Basher, Zeenatul; Bunnell, David B.; Camp, Edward V.; Cowx, Ian G.; Freedman, Jonathan A.; Nguyen, Vivian M.; Nohner, Joel K.; Rogers, Mark W.; Siders, Zachary A.; Taylor, William W.; Youn, So-Jung

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

Comparing stream-specific to generalized temperature models to guide salmonid management in a changing climate

Global climate change is predicted to increase air and stream temperatures and alter thermal habitat suitability for growth and survival of coldwater fishes, including brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis), brown trout (Salmo trutta), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). In a changing climate, accurate stream temperature modeling is increasingly...

Andrew K. Carlson; William W. Taylor; Hartikainen, Kelsey M. ; Dana M. Infante; Beard, Douglas; Lynch, Abigail
Carlson, A. K., W. W. Taylor, K. M. Schlee, D. M. Infante, T. D. Beard, Jr., A. J. Lynch. 2017. Comparing stream-specific to generalized temperature models to guide salmonid management in a changing climate. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. 27(2):443-462.

Year Published: 2017

Merging paleobiology with conservation biology to guide the future of terrestrial ecosystems

The current impacts of humanity on nature are rapid and destructive, but species turnover and change have occurred throughout the history of life. Although there is much debate about the best approaches to take in conservation, ultimately, we need to permit or enhance the resilience of natural systems so that they can continue to adapt and...

Barnosky, Anthony D.; Hadly, Elizabeth A.; Head, Jason; Gonzalez, Patrick; Polly, P. David; Lawing, A. Michelle; Eronen, Jussi T.; Ackerly, David D.; Alex, Ken; Biber, Eric; Blois, Jessica L.; Brashares, Justin; Ceballos, Gerardo; Davis, Edward; Dietl, Gregory P.; Dirzo, Rodolfo; Doremus, Holly; Fortelius, Mikael; Greene, Harry W.; Hellmann, Jessica; Hickler, Thomas; Jackson, Stephen T.; Kemp, Melissa; Koch, Paul L.; Kremen, Claire; Lindsey, Emily L.; Looy, Cindy; Marshall, Charles R.; Mendenhall, Chase; Mulch, Andreas; Mychajliw, Alexis M.; Nowak, Carsten; Ramakrishnan, Uma; Schnitzler, Jan; Das Shrestha, Kashish; Solari, Katherine; Stegner, Lynn; Stegner, M. Allison; Stenseth, Nils Chr.; Wake, Marvalee H.; Zhang, Zhibin
Barnosky A.D., Hadly E.A., Gonzalez P., Head J., Polly P.D., Lawing A.M., Eronen J.T., Ackerly D.D., Alex K., Biber E., Blois J., Brashares J., Ceballos G., Davis E., Dietl G.P., Dirzo R., Doremus H., Fortelius M., Greene H.W., Hellmann J., Hickler T., Jackson S.T., Kemp M., Koch P.L., Kremen C., Lindsey E.L., Looy C., Marshall C.R., Mendenhall C., Mulch A., Mychajliw A.M., Nowak C., Ramakrishnan U., Schnitzler J., Das Shrestha K., Solari K., Stegner L., Stegner M.A., Stenseth N.Chr., Wake M.H., Zhang Z. Conserving Terrestrial Ecosystems On A Rapidly Changing Planet Science 10 Feb 2017: Vol. 355, Issue 6325, eaah4787

Year Published: 2017

Tambora and the mackerel year: phenology and fisheries during an extreme climate event

Global warming has increased the frequency of extreme climate events, yet responses of biological and human communities are poorly understood, particularly for aquatic ecosystems and fisheries. Retrospective analysis of known outcomes may provide insights into the nature of adaptations and trajectory of subsequent conditions. We consider the 1815...

Alexander, Karen E.; Leavenworth, William B.; Hall, Carolyn; Mattocks, Steven; Bittner, Steven M.; Klein, Emily; Staudinger, Michelle D.; Bryan, Alexander; Rosset, Julianne; Willis, Theodore V.; Carr, Benjamin H.; Jordaan, Adrian

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: 2017

The role of fish in a globally changing food system

Though humans have been fishing for food since they first created tools to hunt, modern food systems are predominately terrestrial focused and fish are frequently overlooked. Yet, within the global food system, fish play an important role in meeting current and future food needs. Capture fisheries are the last large-scale “wild” food, and...

Lynch, Abigail J.; MacMillan, J. Randy

Year Published: 2016

Northeast and Midwest regional species and habitats at greatest risk and most vulnerable to climate impacts

The objectives of this Chapter are to describe climate change vulnerability, it’s components, the range of assessment methods being implemented regionally, and examples of training resources and tools. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments (CCVAs) have already been conducted for numerous Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need and their...

Staudinger, Michelle D.; Hilberg, Laura; Janowiak, Maria; Swanton, C.O.

Year Published: 2016

Twitter predicts citation rates of ecological research

The relationship between traditional metrics of research impact (e.g., number of citations) and alternative metrics (altmetrics) such as Twitter activity are of great interest, but remain imprecisely quantified. We used generalized linear mixed modeling to estimate the relative effects of Twitter activity, journal impact factor, and time since...

Peoples, Brandon K.; Midway, Stephen R.; Sackett, Dana K.; Lynch, Abigail; Cooney, Patrick B.

Year Published: 2016

Managing climate change refugia for climate adaptation

Refugia have long been studied from paleontological and biogeographical perspectives to understand how populations persisted during past periods of unfavorable climate. Recently, researchers have applied the idea to contemporary landscapes to identify climate change refugia, here defined as areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate...

Morelli, Toni L.; Jackson, Stephen T.

Filter Total Items: 239
South African reservoirs, Western Cape Region, Landsat 2014
January 28, 2018

This Landsat 2014 image shows reservoirs in South Africa.

Water levels in large reservoirs in South Africa’s Western Cape province have been impacted by persistent drought in recent years. This Landsat 2014 image shows the Theewaterskloof reservoir, the largest in the province’s water supply system. In subsequent years, water levels have dropped significantly as seasonal rains have repeatedly failed.

January 19, 2018

Landsat in Action - Free & Open Landsat Archive with Barbara Ryan

Barbara Ryan, Director of GEO talks about the distribution of Landsat data, starting in 1972, and ultimately transitioning to the free and open policy of today.

January 17, 2018

Image of the Week - Update on Pine Island Glacier

Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier has calved another iceberg. These Landsat images show the progression since just before the break in September until now.

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 (

January 16, 2018

Landsat in Action - Monitoring Canada's Forest with Mike Wulder

Mike Wulder with Canada's Forest Service talks about the value Landsat images have for mapping and monitoring Canada's forested areas.

Volcanic plume, Kamchatka Peninsula, Landat 8, 2018
January 10, 2018

Plume on Kamchatka peak belies volcanic activity, Landsat 2018

At least 300 active volcanoes dot the Kamchatka Peninsula, which lies along the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire. Landsat 8 caught this plume of ash and smoke streaming from one of these volcanooes--Klyuchevskaya--on January 10, 2018.

January 9, 2018

Landsat in Action - Tracking Water Changes with John Schott

John Schott with the Rochester Institute of Technology discusses using Landsat Data over the years, and how its Thermal data tracks temperature changes in water bodies.

The Salar de Atacama salt flat in Chile
January 4, 2018

From Chile to Your Smartphone

If you like being connected to the world everywhere you go with a smartphone or other device, then you have a desolate salt flat in northern Chile to thank.

January 4, 2018

Image of the Week - Southern California Wildfires Update

After a month, the wildfires of Southern California are nearly contained. Landsat 8 imagery shows the dramatic burn scars left behind.

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 (

color photo
January 1, 2018

Ross Archipelago

This image of the Ross Archipelago near the McMurdo Station in Antarctica was acquired January 1, 2018, by Landsat 8, almost exactly a decade after USGS and NASA officials signed off on a Landsat Data Distribution Policy that made Landsat images free to the public.

sediment trap mooring deployed in the Gulf of Mexico
December 31, 2017

sediment trap mooring deployed in the Gulf of Mexico

The sediment trap mooring deployed in the Gulf of Mexico (27.5 ºN, 90.3 ºW) at 700 meters water depth from 2008-2018. It is programmed to rotate every 7-14 days throughout the year, resulting in a weekly to bi-weekly resolution time series of sinking particle flux. 

color photo
December 31, 2017

Understory - EROS LiDAR

Example of lidar-derived metric products of canopy structure. A) Image showing an area characterized by varied forest strands.  (Red box shows from where profile data in E area taken.) B) Lidar-derived maximum canopy height.  C) Lidar-derived height of low- to medium-height vegetation beneath the overstory canopy. D) Density of vegetation at 2-4 m within the canopy.  Note

Glacier off Sargent Icefield
December 31, 2017

Glacier off Sargent Icefield

Landscape view of an un-named glacier off the Sargent Icefield, directly across from Wolverine Glacier, above the Nellie Juan River, in Alaska. Taken during a visit to a wolverine glacier field site as part of a study to examine how alpine areas are changing as temperatures rise in Alaska. 

Filter Total Items: 195
Date published: September 20, 2017

Remote Sensing Phenology Metrics Released

Scientists with the Remote Sensing Phenology program at the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center release data on seasonal life cycles on an annual basis.

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.

Date published: August 10, 2017

Study Links Major Floods in North America and Europe to Multi-Decade Ocean Patterns

The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased overall during the past 80 years, a recent study has concluded. Instead researchers found that the occurrence of major flooding in North America and Europe often varies with North Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns.

Date published: July 20, 2017

USGS Now Archiving, Redistributing Indian Resourcesat Data

Resourcesat data that are important for understanding changes associated with agriculture, forestry, phenology, and other applications are now available in the USGS archive.

Date published: July 12, 2017

Flexibility in Behavior of Some Animals Helps Them Accommodate a Changing Climate

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners has identified situations and conditions where some animals display behavioral flexibility – the ability to rapidly change behavior in response to short – or long-term environmental changes such as climate variability. 

Date published: June 26, 2017

Peering into the Future of Agricultural Change

What would it take to produce a billion tons of biomass for fuel production? 

Date published: June 12, 2017

Water is Life for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

For the Swinomish people of northwestern Washington, water is life. But this symbiotic relationship between man and nature has been disrupted, and increasingly threatened, by sea-level rise and changes in Northwestern storm and rainfall patterns.

Date published: June 5, 2017

New USGS Science Plan Designed to Help Plan for Drought Effects on People, Communities, and Ecosystems

The U. S. Geological Survey is poised to bring a dynamic array of science and tools to help decision-makers manage and offset effects of increased drought across the United States, according to a drought plan report released today.

Date published: June 1, 2017

As Hurricane Season Opens, USGS Is Ready

Scientists work in the field before, during and after landfall to improve forecasting and recovery.



Date published: May 25, 2017

Mapping Chesapeake's Future From Today's Land Use

USGS’ pixel-by-pixel land use forecasts offer essential road maps for restoration.