Climate has an enormous impact on society, with wide-ranging effects on public safety and health, the economy, transportation, infrastructure, and agriculture. Geoscientists investigate our climate's past and present to better understand how it may change in the future.


A satellite image of the Earth. Image Credit: NASA

Climate is the average of weather conditions over decades to centuries in a particular location.[1] Climate is influenced by many factors, including solar activity, ocean circulation, land cover, and greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere.[2,3,4,5]   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Latest News

U.S. Capitol with flag
May 3, 2017 Representative John Delaney (D-MD-6) introduced the Climate Solutions Commission Act (H.R.2326), which aims to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, on May 3. Representative Delaney introduced the same bill (H.R.6240) during the previous session of Congress, but it was...
The White House
March 28, 2017 President Donald Trump issued an executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” on March 28. The order rescinds several environmental regulations instituted under the Obama Administration. It contains provisions that target various energy sectors, including coal...
Hawaiian flower
March 13, 2017 House Republicans introduced a resolution on March 13 that emphasizes the importance of conservative environmental stewardship for future generations and recognizes the extreme impacts of increased heat waves, precipitation, wildfires, and droughts, as well as rising sea levels. H....
Natural gas pump
February 28, 2017 How should the federal government price carbon in its assessments? This was the topic of debate at a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on February 28. Witnesses from the Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and the University of Chicago...
IES Water Glyph
February 3, 2017 Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) introduced the Ocean Acidification Research Partnerships Act (H.R.845) to investigate ocean acidification on February 3. Ocean acidification has a negative impact upon marine foodstocks, such as crustaceans and mollusks, whose shells dissolve and have...
January 1, 2017 The National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021: A Triennial Update was released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program on January 1. This report updates the current national global change research plan. For the first time, federal researchers recommend investment in...
Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
January 30, 2017 On January 30, the House passed Joint Resolutions H.J.Res.38 and H.J.Res.36, expressing disapproval of the Stream Protection Rule and a rule regulating natural gas leaks. These Department of Interior (DOI) regulations are subject to termination under the Congressional Review Act....
December 12, 2016 The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on outcomes from the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco, which took place November 7-18, 2016. Christo Artusio, Director...
Natural gas pump
November 15, 2016 The Department of the Interior (DOI) released a final rule to cut methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands. According to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the goal of the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule is to reduce “harmful methane...
Drilling rig
November 16, 2016 The White House released its Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, which identifies key actions the United States must take to reduce its carbon footprint by 2050. The impetus for the report came last March when the White House released at joint press release detailing...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Tornado funnel. Image Credit: NOAA

Defining the Problem Following a tornado, first responders need maps of the width and location (swath) of the damage area. The biggest challenge when integrating remote sensing into disaster response is timeliness. To be most useful, remote sensing imagery maps must reach emergency management...

Pre-Ike (left) and post-Ike (right) ASTER imagery of Galveston Island, the Bolívar Peninsula, and the mainland in August 2006. Healthy (red) and dead (brown) vegetation shows storm surge inundation effects. Image Credit: Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Obsevatory

Defining the Problem Hurricanes bring not only intense rainfall, but also high winds and flooding. This flooding is powered by the hurricane storm surge: a rise in coastal sea level caused by lowered barometric pressure and by wind blowing the ocean onto the land. The result is that waves and...

Research Database Publications

Cover of fs2016-3013 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey are improving and developing new ground-based remote-sensing instruments and techniques to study how Earth’s vegetation responds to changing climates. Do seasonal grasslands and forests “green up” early (or late) and grow...
Cover of CNR_63_12; Source: Kentucky Geological Survey
2015, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
The purpose of this report is to present a geologic evaluation of the Marvin Blan No. 1 well. Stratigraphy and formation ages in this paper are after Swezey (2009). Appendices 1–61 contain basic well data, seismic data, and core analysis; written reports by others, including the U.S. Environmental...
Cover of USGS FS2010-3091; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2010, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are developing comprehensive records of historical and modern coral reef growth and calcification rates relative to changing seawater chemistry resulting from increasing atmospheric CO2 from the pre-industrial period to the present. These records will...
Cover of U.S. Geological Survey_2015-1079; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
"Unconventional reservoirs" for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage—that is, geologic reservoirs in which changes to the rock trap CO2 and therefore contribute to CO2 storage—including coal, shale, basalt, and ultramafic rocks, were the focus of a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) workshop held March 28 and...
Cover of USGS fs2010-3016; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2010, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Resource managers are at the forefront of a new era of management. They must consider the potential impacts of climate change on the Nation's resources and proactively develop strategies for dealing with those impacts on plants, animals, and ecosystems. This requires rigorous, scientific...
Understanding EPA's Carbon Sequestration Regulations, Technical Memorandum 4; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2013, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
In recent years, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been advocated as a means to continue using fossil fuels until carbon-free energy systems are developed while at the same time reducing anthropogenic carbon emissions (IPCC, 2005). CCS entails capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel...
Cover of OFR-576; Source: New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources
2015, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR)
In New Mexico, under the pressures of climate change and population growth, demand for water is increasing, and there is mounting evidence that the available water supply may actually be decreasing. While water use conservation efforts are necessary, there is great interest in finding ways to...
Cover of Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Capture report: Source: Soil Science Society of America
2010, Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
Approximately 6% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originating in the United States (U.S.) come from agricultural activities.1 These gases are in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4). However, by employing proper management techniques, agricultural lands can...
Cover of sir20165057; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Many national parks in the American Midwest are surrounded by agricultural or urban areas or are in highly fragmented or rapidly changing landscapes. An environmental stressor is a physical, chemical, or biological condition that affects the functioning or productivity of species or ecosystems....
Cover of Monitoring and Verification Issues for Carbon Storage; Source: Bureau of Economic Geology
2006, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG)
MM&V is defined as the capability to: measure the amount of CO2 stored at a specific sequestration site, monitor the site for leaks or other deterioration of storage integrity over time, and verify that the CO2 is stored and unharmful to the host ecosystem.