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

Illustration of the Frio Pilot carbon sequestration test; carbon dioxide compressed to a liquid will be pumped into a brine-saturated aquifer in the Frio Formation, a mile beneath the surface. Image Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
2013, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
As part of a larger carbon-capture feasibility study, the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky evaluated five Kentucky coal-burning power-generation stations owned and operated by Louisville Gas and Electric–Kentucky Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corp. This work was undertaken...
Cover of USGS FS2012-3058; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2012, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Ice Breaker Healey and its United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) cruises has produced new synoptic data from samples collected in the Arctic Ocean and insights into the patterns and extent of ocean acidification....
Cover of factsheet; Image credit: IAH
2016, International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)
Groundwater (contained in sediments and rocks) constitutes the planet’s predominant reserve of fresh water, commonly with storage times from decades to centuries and millennia. Groundwater resources thus provide an excellent ‘buffer’ against the effects of climate variability on surface-water...
A honeybee feeds on purple aster flowers.
2013, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Famed naturalist Aldo Leopold and co-author Sara Jones included this simple reflection in a 1947 scientific monograph in which they sought to condense a decade’s worth of ecological field observations from southern Wisconsin between 1935 and 1945. Along with meteorological conditions, these...
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 SIR2013-5114; Source: USGS
2013, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Many wetland impoundments managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge System throughout the northern Great Plains rely on rivers as a primary water source. A large number of these impoundments currently are being stressed from changes in water supplies and quality...
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 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 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.
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...