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
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
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.
Mangrove forests have migrated inland over the past few decades at many locations along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. This expansion has been attributed to factors associated with climate change, such as increased salinity resulting from sea-level rise and longer intervals between winter freezes, which can kill cold-intolerant mangrove species.
The USGS National UAS Project Office supports the safe, efficient, and cost-effective adoption of UAS technology into the research and operational activities of the DOI.
Science projects are the backbone of the NCCWSC and CSCs. Our projects are based on the needs of our partners, including land managers, natural/cultural resource managers, tribal and indigenous communities. Our research is complemented by our other efforts that include training the next generation of scientists and conducting national synthesis projects that cross CSC boundaries.
Risk and vulnerability studies that seek to improve the scientific basis for assessments and develop quantitative, qualitative, geospatial decision support tools that characterize and communicate the vulnerability of both human communities and natural ecosystems.
Researchers develop spatially-explicit models of ecosystem extent and functioning, and methodologies for the assessment of ecosystem goods and services, with an emphasis on understanding how they respond to changing landscape and climatic conditions.
Scientific study of land use and land cover change at multiple scales, documenting geographic variability of change and defining the environmental, social, technological, and political drivers of change, as well as assessing the impacts of these changes.
Hydrologic restoration is one of several approaches to rehabilitate mangroves on a large-scale. USGS evaluates how solely restoring tidal hydrologic flows affect the recovery of mangroves in Florida.
Wetlands have the potential to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, and flooded soils have low oxygen levels which decrease rates of decomposition to promote the retention of soil carbon. However, the type of greenhouse gases emitted from wetlands varies by wetland type and soil condition. A suite of approaches are being used to assess fluxes of greenhouses gases, like...
USGS investigates the eco-physiological responses of coastal forested wetland vegetation to envrionmental stressors, and what role vegetation may have in affecting local hydrological cycling as a result of these stressors.
As tidal freshwater forested wetlands - TFFWs - are influenced by salinty due to salt water intrusion, they may experience changes in plant community composition, growth, and productivity. Models are needed to predict vegetation community change or dieback, as well as changes in carbon sequestration and storage due to changing climate, drought, changes in freshwater discharge, elevated carbon...
A similar view of Grinnell Glacier from the glacier's eastern terminus shows extensive melting and subsequent result, Upper Grinnell Lake.
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...
The precision problem in conservation and restoration
Within the varied contexts of environmental policy, conservation of imperilled species populations, and restoration of damaged habitats, an emphasis on idealized optimal conditions has led to increasingly specific targets for management. Overly-precise conservation targets can reduce habitat variability at multiple scales, with unintended...Hiers, J. Kevin; Jackson, Stephen T.; Hobbs, Richard J.; Bernhardt, Emily S.; Valentine, Leonie E.
The Department of the Interior Southeast Climate Science Center synthesis report 2011–15—Projects, products, and science priorities
IntroductionIn 2009, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar established a network of eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs) that, along with the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), would help define and implement the Department's climate adaptation response. The Southeast Climate Science Center (SE CSC) was...Varela Minder, Elda; Lascurain, Aranzazu R.; McMahon, Gerard
The effects of anthropogenic land cover change on pollen-vegetation relationships in the American Midwest
Fossil pollen assemblages provide information about vegetation dynamics at time scales ranging from centuries to millennia. Pollen-vegetation models and process-based models of dispersal typically assume stable relationships between source vegetation and corresponding pollen in surface sediments, as well as stable parameterizations of dispersal...Kujawa, Ellen Ruth; Goring, Simon; Dawson, Andria; Calcote, Randy; Grimm, Eric; Hotchkiss, Sara C.; Jackson, Stephen T.; Lynch, Elizabeth A.; McLachlan, Jason S.; St-Jacques, Jeannine-Marie; Umbanhowar, Charles; Williams, John W.
The sensitivity of WRF downscaled precipitation in Puerto Rico to cumulus parameterization and interior grid nudging
The sensitivity of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) simulated precipitation over Puerto Rico is evaluated using multiple combinations of cumulus parameterization (CP) schemes and interior grid nudging. NCEP-DOE AMIP-II reanalysis (R-2) is downscaled to 2- km horizontal grid spacing with both convective permitting simulations (CP...Wootten, A.; Bowden, J.H.; Boyles, R.; Terando, Adam J.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 MODIS Thermal Anomalies and Fire quality information, including how to decode quality bits, tools for...
Multicores collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico. These cores contain roughly 1 meter of sediment from the seafloor, and represent the past ~2000 years of deposition. USGS scientists slice these cores in 5 mm increments, and analyze the chemical composition of microfossils (e.g., foraminifera) and molecular fossils (e.g., alkenones, GDGTs, leaf waxes, etc.), to generate paleoclimate...
This image shows the perimeter of Rainbow Glacier in Glacier National Park: 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015.
When parking lots go up, when rooftops multiply, land cover and land uses change. Professor Andrew Elmore with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science understands that very well, and explains how he uses Landsat to study and quantify that change in USGS EROS’ latest “Landsat in Action” video conversation. Elmore delves into the changing phenology of forests and how that...
This video is of is a three-dimensional (3D) view of the Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands topobathymetric model which consists of topography (land elevation) and bathymetry (water depth). This video shows the importance of high-resolution, detailed topobathymetric models because the highest natural elevation for the Majuro Atoll is only three meters. This video shows how the...
The imagery featured in this video was created using data distributed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). These satellite-derived data are from NASA’s Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) Global Food Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD) Cropland Extent data product (...
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.
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 Level-1 scenes are the...
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 Area Sampler enables...
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 surface.
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 and shrubs. It is...
Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C. This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, bringing relatively early ‘signs of spring’ to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.
Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C. This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, already bringing surprising signs of spring to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.
Landsat gives us a view of one of the worst wildfires in Chile's history.
“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.”
See a decade of California drought ease in this EarthView from Landsat.
This EarthView from Landsat shows how flooding in Argentina can affect global soybean prices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week's EarthView shows the effects of 2 dozen wildfires in Argentina.
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.