Paleoclimate science - its principles and importance to society
Biological proxies such as diatoms, foraminifers, ostracodes, and pollen allow scientists to make inferences about climate conditions in the past.Learn More
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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
Climate change is widely acknowledged to be having a profound effect on the biosphere with many and diverse impacts on global resources. Mountain ecosystems in the western U.S. and the Northern Rockies in particular are highly sensitive to climate change. In fact, the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies have experienced three times the global average temperature increase over the past...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toward a national, sustained U.S. ecosystem assessment
The massive investment of resources devoted to monitoring and assessment of economic and societal indicators in the United States is neither matched by nor linked to efforts to monitor and assess the ecosystem services and biodiversity that support economic and social well-being. Although national-scale assessments of biodiversity (1) and...Jackson, Stephen T.; Duke, Clifford S.; Hampton, Stephanie E.; Jacobs, Katharine L.; Joppa, Lucas N.; Kassam, Karim-Aly S. K.; Mooney, Harold A.; Ogden, Laura A.; Ruckelshaus, Mary; Shogren, Jason F.
Uncertainty quantification and propagation for projections of extremes in monthly area burned under climate change: A case study in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA: Chapter 16
No abstract available.Riley, Karin L.; Webley, Peter; Thompson, Matthew; Terando, Adam J.; Reich, Brian J.; Pacifici, Krishna; Costanza, Jennifer; McKerrow, Alexa; Collazo, Jaime A.
Climate change impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem services in the United States: Process and prospects for sustained assessment
The third United States National Climate Assessment emphasized an evaluation of not just the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, but also the impacts of climate change on the benefits that people derive from nature, known as ecosystem services. The ecosystems, biodiversity, and ecosystem services component of the assessment...Grimm, Nancy B.; Groffman, Peter M; Staudinger, Michelle D.; Tallis, Heather
Stakeholder views of management and decision support tools to integrate climate change into Great Lakes Lake Whitefish management
Decision support tools can aid decision making by systematically incorporating information, accounting for uncertainties, and facilitating evaluation between alternatives. Without user buy-in, however, decision support tools can fail to influence decision-making processes. We surveyed fishery researchers, managers, and fishers affiliated with the...Lynch, Abigail J.; Taylor, William W.; McCright, Aaron M.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 how spatial patterns...
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.
Landsat Collections: Providing a Stable Environmental Record for Time Series Analysis
This video introduces 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...
A profile view from the normalized point cloud in Superior National Forest, notice the flattened ground surface. Points are colored by elevation.
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data products, changes between the Version 5 and Version...
The 3DR Solo with GoPro Hero4 camera and gimbal. Coming to a survey area near you soon. Photo credit: Shawn Harrison, USGS. This photo was taken during USGS unmanned aerial systems (drone) pilot training. Two training sessions were held - one in February-March 2017 in Santa Cruz, California and the second in April 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. This photo originally was...
This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data products, the thematic fire mask classes, and using...
The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.
Migrating mule deer track “green waves” of spring forage: study highlights importance of habitat corridors for migrating game and other species
Migratory mule deer in Wyoming closely time their movements to track the spring green-up, providing evidence of an underappreciated foraging benefit of migration, according to a study by University of Wyoming and U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
The world’s oceans are vital to life on Earth. They provide food, moderate the climate, water the land, and drive the local and global economy. But the living conditions and resources in the enormous water masses of the open ocean have been mostly unknown and unmapped.
While freshwater ecosystems cover only a small amount of the land surface in Alaska, they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. An invited feature article for Ecological Applications provides the first-ever major aquatic carbon flux assessment for the entire state. Carbon flux refers to the rate of carbon transfer between pools.
Today, Landsat shows us the evolution of the coal industry near North America & North Dakota’s Center...
In this week's Landsat view, Landsat 5 and Landsat 8 show how significant Cambodia's deforestation has been in the last few decades.
Access to consistent high-quality images to study changes on Earth’s surface is getting easier. The USGS Landsat standard (Level-1) product inventory is now structured by data quality and offers improved calibration. Data designated as Tier 1 provide the highest accuracy and can be reliably used to analyze changes to Earth’s surface over time.
Our image of the week is of Ethiopia’s erupting Gateway to Hell.
On Tuesday, February 7, Landsat 7’s Flight Operations Team fired the spacecraft’s 1-pound thrusters for about 13 minutes. After a pause of about 7½ hours, the thrusters fired a second time for about 13 minutes.This was the last such maneuver for Landsat 7 and the beginning of the end for the satellite, which has provided images of the earth’s changing resources for more than 17 years.