Western Geographic Science Center


Global Food Security-Support Analysis Data at 30 m (GFSAD30)

Global Croplands The U. S. Geological Survey, in partnership with NASA ARC, NASA GSFC, University of New Hampshire, University of Wisconsin at Madison, California State University Monterey Bay, and Northern Arizona University, is conducting research and developing products to provide a comprehensive state-of the art distribution of global croplands using multi-sensor remote sensing. The key global cropland products derived from this project will include: (a) cropland extent/areas, (b) watering methods (e.g., irrigated, supplemental irrigated, rainfed), (c) crop types (8 major crops and others), (d) cropping intensities (e.g., single crop, double crop, continuous crop), and (e) cropland change over space and time over 4 decades. These products will support global food security analysis and make significant contributions to Earth System Data Records (ESDRs), Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Agriculture and Water Societal Beneficial Areas (GEO Ag. SBAs), GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEO GLAM), and the recent “Big Data” initiative by the White House. The project is funded by NASA MEaSUREs (Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments). 

Visit the GFSAD30 Website

Land-Use and Climate Change Team

Land-Use and Climate Change Team The Land-Use and Climate Change Team is a research group within the USGS Western Geographic Science Center.

We are a research team focusing on understanding the rates, causes, and consequences of land change across a range of geographic and temporal scales. Our emphasis is on developing alternative future projections and quantifying the impact on environmental systems, in particular, the role of land-use change on ecosystem carbon dynamics.

Visit the Land-Use and Climate Change Team Website

Driving Forces of Land Change

Land-Use and Climate Change Team For two decades, USGS scientists with the Land Cover Trends team have used satellite data to study landscape change across the United States. Increasingly, research is focused on understanding why change occurs. Insights into the underlying causes of shifts in land use and land cover (LULC) will allow managers and stakeholders to make more informed decisions about how to respond to future environmental and climatic conditions.

USGS investigations into the causes of land change are called ‘driving forces’ studies.  Driving forces are different processes--economic, demographic, technological, institutional, cultural, environmental, and climatic--that transform or maintain LULC.

The Land Cover Trends team is now undertaking research that quantifies the complex spatial and temporal relationships between land change and its driving forces in order to develop more accurate land-cover assessments and forecasts.

Visit the Driving Forces of Land Change Website

Future Scenarios of Impacts to Ecosystem Services on California Rangelands

Rangelands The 18 million acres of rangelands in the Central Valley of California provide multiple benefits or “ecosystem services” to people—including wildlife habitat, water supply, open space, recreation, and cultural resources. Most of this land is privately owned and managed for livestock production. These rangelands are vulnerable to land-use conversion and climate change. To help resource managers assess the impacts of land-use change and climate change, U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their cooperators developed scenarios to quantify and map changes to three main rangeland ecosystem services—wildlife habitat, water supply, and carbon sequestration. Project results will help prioritize strategies to conserve these rangelands and the ecosystem services that they provide.

Visit the Rangelands Website

Aridland Water Harvesting Study

Aridland Water Harvesting Study

Working with partners, water harvesting structures are being installed and monitored for progress and success rates over time. Terrestrial monitoring documents the hydrological impacts of water harvesting devices and helps identify sites for future installation. Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite imagery and the derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values are being used to monitor changes in vegetation greenness at a desert wetland. Hydrological geospatial models, including the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and the Kinematic Runoff and Erosion Model (KINEROS2) are being used (with Terrestrial LiDAR (T-LiDAR) datasets) to monitor changes in surface flow, infiltration, and sediment build-up at new check dams and detention features. T-LiDAR data are also being used to examine changes in vegetation structure and channel dimensions. Hydrographs are developed using Continuous Slope Area methods to be input to calibrate watershed models for long-term predictions.

Visit the Aridland Water Harvesting Study Website

Tribal Lands Vegetation

San Carlos tribal lands vegetation Built on over a decade of collaboration with the San Carlos Apache Reservation, research scientists at the USGS Western Geographic Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona use remote sensing data to understand short-term and long-term vegetation response to climate change on tribal lands, and how land management practices can mitigate the adverse impacts of future climate change on tribal land vegetation. We specifically investigate different vegetation types including forest, woodland, shrubland and grassland, in terms of how they change over time and their interaction with water availability and fire occurrences. We focus on land management practices such as thinning, prescribed burning, harvest, and resource benefit burns to evaluate the effectiveness of land management practices to maintain and restore tribal land vegetation. We aim to understand the past history of vegetation change to project future vegetation distribution and make recommendations for tribal land management decisions.

Visit the Tribal Lands Vegetation Website

Land Cover Trends

Land Cover Trends Project Land Cover Trends is a national project that describes for specific geographic areas within the conterminous United States the rates, causes, and consequences of land use and land cover change for the period 1972 to 2000. The project relies on sampling through both time and space (geographic area). The geographic areas being studied are the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Level III Ecoregions of the United States. Five time intervals-1973, 1980, 1986, 1992, and 2000-were selected for evaluation using manual interpretation of Landsat Multispectral Scanner, Thematic Mapper, and Thematic Mapper Plus imagery to map change. These time intervals were evaluated using a modified 11-class Anderson system for image interpretation. Once mapping is completed for an ecoregion, land cover change statistics are generated and a full descriptive change matrix is produced.

Visit the Land Cover Trends Website

Other Climate and Land Use Change Projects


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