Western Geographic Science Center

The Western Geographic Science Center  (WGSC) helps decision makers understand how people and the environment interact through geographic research on environmental and societal impacts from natural hazards and climate change. Our projects analyze human and environmental interactions over space and time. We work with many partners and link numerous natural and social science disciplines. WGSC staff are located across the USGS Pacific, Southwest, and Northwest regions, with our research topics ranging in scale from global food security to nationwide land cover change to community-level hazard analyses. Our research methods utilize the latest in remote sensing and GIS software to analyze a variety of spatial data such as Landsat satellite imagery, U.S. Census Bureau demographic data, LiDAR elevation data, and various data collected from local sensors built by our team.

WGSC students spend months in valley heat for the benefit of birds

NAGT student James Anderson (left) and student contractor Austen Lorenz (right) spent most of the summer mapping seasonal wetland vegetation throughout the California Central Valley in to help assess winter food for water fowl.

A new publication on Baseline and Projected Future Carbon Storage and Carbon Fluxes in Ecosystems of Hawai‘i

Hawaiʻi is unique among the United States because of its tropical climate, geographic isolation, high rates of species endemism, and discontinuous landmass. The year-round warm, wet climate on the windward sides of islands and the high fertility of relatively young volcanically derived soils are ideal conditions for carbon input, storage, and sequestration in ecosystems of the main Hawaiian Islands. The goal of this report is to provide robust baseline estimates of carbon storage and flux across the Hawaiian Islands based on the best available data and to then use this baseline data as input to predict how carbon cycling and storage may respond to projected future changes in climate, land use, land cover, and disturbance.

Read the full report https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/pp1834

Recent publication indicates Increases in Wildfire-Caused Erosion Could Impact Water in the West

Alameda Tsunami Evacuation Playbook Zones map

A growing number of wildfire-burned areas throughout the western United States are expected to increase soil erosion rates within watersheds, causing more sediment to be present in downstream rivers and reservoirs, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

As a number of previous peer-reviewed studies have shown, the area burned annually by wildfires has increased in recent decades and is expected to continue to increase this century. Many growing cities and towns rely on water from rivers and reservoirs that originates in watersheds where wildfire and sedimentation are projected to increase. Increased sedimentation could negatively impact water supply and quality for some communities.

Photo: Ash and sedimentation saturating a stream in Las Conchas, New Mexico. (Photo credit: USDA Forest Service)



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