Climate

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.

Basics

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

Earth
(2017-09-14)
August 3, 2017 Earlier this year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed an initiative to challenge mainstream climate science’s consensus on human contributions to climate change through a red team/blue team debate--modeled after a military exercise in which the...
Rep. Reichert joins Dr. Kaspari in her ice core freezer to learn about her work.
(2017-08-14)
In March 2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU) member and climate scientist, Dr. Susan Kaspari participated in Climate Science Day at the U.S. Capitol. The changing policies surrounding the 2016 Presidential Election motivated her to engage more in science policy. As part of that day she met with...
The White House
(2017-07-12)
June 1, 2017 President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord on Thursday, June 1. The Paris Accord is an internationally recognized agreement through which member countries try to limit global temperature rise and protect countries vulnerable to...
U.S. Capitol with flag
(2017-06-09)
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
(2017-04-10)
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
(2017-04-10)
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
(2017-03-24)
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
(2017-03-06)
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...
Earth
(2017-02-07)
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
(2017-02-06)
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....

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 Observ.

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 image of position statement; Image credit: GSA
2015, Geological Society of America (GSA)
This position statement (1) summarizes the scientific basis for the conclusion that human activities are the primary cause of recent global warming; (2) describes the significant effects on humans and ecosystems as greenhouse-gas concentrations and global climate reach projected levels; and (3)...
AIPG logo
2009, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Man-made emissions of carbon dioxide result primarily from fuel use.  The Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) 2008 International Energy Outlook estimates annual world carbon dioxide emissions were 28.1 billion metric tons in 2005 and are expected to grow to 42.3 billion metric tons by 2030....
Cover of ofr-14-03; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2014, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Northeastern Arizona encompasses the southwestern part of the Colorado Plateau, an area of gently dipping to slightly tilted Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata that include porous and permeable sandstone units. The Lower Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone was identified for study as a potential target for CO2...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3060 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Strategic Needs of Water on the Yukon (SNOWY) is an interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF; https://www.nsf.gov/). The SNOWY team is made up of a diverse group of researchers from different backgrounds and organizations. This partnership between scientists...
Cover image for USGS FS 2014-3098; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The BCM is a fine-scale hydrologic model that uses detailed maps of soils, geology, topography, and transient monthly or daily maps of potential evapotranspiration, air temperature, and precipitation to generate maps of recharge, runoff, snow pack, actual evapotranspiration, and climatic water...
Cover image of position paper; Image credit: NGWA
2017, National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
The administration and Congress have both indicated a desire to address global climate change, and encourage and actively support the growth of renewable energy sources. These initiatives both rely upon and impact sustainable water resource management planning. Additionally, water resource...
Geological Storage Assessment of CO2 in the Laramide Basins of Wyoming, Wyoming Geological Survey
2013, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
The primary purpose of this technical memorandum is to evaluate and summarize the geologic storage potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) within the Laramide basins of Wyoming. The Laramide basins were formed during a major geologic event known as the Laramide orogeny, approximately 80–55 million years...
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 fs2016-3008; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has many ongoing and recent water-related natural hazard activities in New England that can be used to help mitigate the effects of natural hazards in cooperation with other agencies. The themes related to potential hazards and the tools and science to better...
Cover of RI_26_12; Source: Kentucky Geological Survey
2014, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
The objectives of time-lapse 3D-VSP at the Marvin Blan No. 1 research well were to test the feasibility of using well-based 3D-VSP’s to verify the CO2 plume emplacement location (both vertically and horizontally) within the Gunter Sandstone reservoir, Cambrian-Ordovician Knox Group, as well as...