Climate

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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

Icebergs in Greeland
(2018-05-04)
April 12, 2018 Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), testified at two House committee hearings about NOAA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request. On...
The White House
(2018-04-03)
March 30, 2018 The White House tapped Wells Griffith this month to join the National Economic Council as the leader of its international energy efforts, including the Administration’s climate positions. Mr. Griffith currently serves as the principal deputy assistant secretary at the Department of...
House chamber
(2018-03-08)
February 15, 2018 The bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus introduced their first piece of legislation, the Challenges & Prizes for Climate Act (H.R.5031), on February 15. Sponsored by Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL-3) with five other caucus members signed on as original cosponsors, the...
The White House
(2018-01-04)
December 29, 2017 Following several executive orders issued by President Donald Trump earlier this year to suspend, revise, or rescind regulations or actions that unnecessarily burden the development of domestic energy resources, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection...
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....

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...

GOLI Online Courses

GOLI Course: Planning for Coastal Storm and Erosion Hazards; Image credit: USGS/USFWS - photo by Greg Thompson
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Coastal hazards are a widespread challenge that cost millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars in the U.S. every year due to property loss and spending on mitigation measures. Based on the most recent U.S. Census, over 39% of the U.S. population lives in areas that may undergo significant...

GOLI Course: Ocean Acidification Impacts on Fisheries; Image credit: NOAA
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

As the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased over recent history, so has the acidity of oceans worldwide. The changing acidity of the ocean has many ecological and economic impacts, one of the most serious being its effects on marine life and fisheries. The impact of ocean...

GOLI Course: Assessing, Mitigating, and Communicating Flood Risk. Image courtesy of Maria Coxx Lamm
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Flooding is a perennial hazard for rivers and coasts alike. Every year, flooding results in billions of dollars of damage and the loss of dozens to hundreds of lives across the United States. Efforts to mitigate this hazard rely on the work of geoscientists, planners, and communicators to assess...

Research Database Publications

Cover of pp1826; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to contribute to knowledge of the storage, fluxes, and balance of carbon and methane gas in ecosystems of Alaska. The carbon and methane variables were examined for major...
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 of OFR-577; Source: New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources
2015, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR)
This Working Group was funded by the State Legislature in 2014 to: (1) assess the current status of water supply and demand after years of severe drought in New Mexico; (2) put the current drought into long-term context with reduced surface water, groundwater depletions, and economic activity; and...
Cover of CNR_85_12; Source: Kentucky Geological Survey
2015, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
Understanding potential long-term impacts of CO2 impurities, such as sulfur and nitrogen compounds, on deep carbon-storage reservoirs is of considerable interest because co-injection of the impurities with CO2 can bring significant economic and environmental benefits. The Cambrian-Ordovician Knox...
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...
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 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 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 of ofr-15-09; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
The Department of Energy (DOE), including its National Energy Technology Laboratory and West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB), have established national programs to evaluate the technical feasibility of long-term subsurface geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced...