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

Earth
(2018-06-08)
May 17, 2018 In early-May, reports emerged that NASA canceled the Climate Monitoring Program (CMP). The $10 million program compiles climate data and observations of carbon sources and sinks to expand our knowledge of climate change in the short and long term. Through competitive research grants,...
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...

Case Studies & Factsheets

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...

Cover of Mitigating and Regulating Methane Emissions

Introduction Methane is the main component of almost all natural gas, and gas delivered to end-users is purified to 95-98% methane.1 There are three main sources of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry: When a well is being drilled, cleaned out, or hydraulically fractured. As the...

Cover of Abandoned Wells

Introduction In 2017, there were one million active oil and gas wells in the United States.1 When a well reaches the end of its productive life, or if it fails to find economic quantities of oil or gas, the well operator is required by regulators to remove all equipment and plug the well to...

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...

Cover of Petroleum and the Environment - an Introduction

Introduction When oil and gas were first extracted and used on an industrial scale in the 19th century, they provided significant advantages over existing fuels: they were cleaner, easier to transport, and more versatile than coal and biomass (wood, waste, and whale oil). Diesel and gasoline...

Cover of Geoscientists in Petroleum and the Environment

Introduction Geoscience – the study of the Earth – underpins our understanding of the many intersections between petroleum and the environment, from the search for resources to the study of air pollutants. Without the work of geoscientists, we would have neither the energy system nor the...

Cover of Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Industry

Introduction Methane is the main component of natural gas, a cheap, abundant, and versatile source of energy that produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels when burned. However, methane itself is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane leaks from wells, pipelines, or...

Cover of Oil Refining and Gas Processing

Introduction Crude oil and natural gas are complex chemical mixtures that are generally unsuitable for direct use. Oil refining and gas processing turn these mixtures into a wide range of fuels and other products while removing low-value and polluting components. Refining and processing have...

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...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

2011, United States Geological Survey
Permafrost is a predominant physical feature of the Earth's Arctic and Subarctic clines and a major consideration encompassing ecosystem structure to infrastructure engineering and placement. Perennially frozen ground is estimated to cover about 85 percent of the state of Alaska where northern...
2013, Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys

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2003, Utah Geological Survey

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2015, Bureau of Economic Geology
A thick (>6,000-ft [>1,830-m]) succession of Desmoinesian to Virgilian (Pennsylvanian) strata in the northwest part of the Anadarko Basin contains a variety of tide-modified deposits. This succession, which encompasses the Marmaton Group (Upper Desmoinesian), Cleveland Formation (Missourian)...
1984, North Dakota Geological Survey
A non-technical report on the history of production, economic impacts, and regulatory trends, emphasizing activity during 1982 and 1983.
1997, Maryland Geological Survey
The entire water supply for the City of Salisbury, Maryland, located in the drainage basin of the Upper Wicomico River on the lower Delmarva Peninsula, is provided by two well fields that tap a shallow, unconfined Coastal Plain aquifer (Salisbury aquifer) . In 1993, average daily pumpage was 3.5...
1991, Delaware Geological Survey
This report documents the development of a methodology for mapping ground-water recharge areas in Delaware's Coastal Plain. It is anticipated that the methodology presented herein will evolve as it is applied to other areas in the State and as computerized geographic information systems become...
1991, Delaware Geological Survey
The results of this investigation of the Columbia aquifer in coastal Sussex County, Delaware, provide some of the data necessary to evaluate the condition of the area's primary source of fresh water. Chemical analyses of water samples from domestic, agricultural, public, and monitoring wells...
2000, Delaware Geological Survey
The Cypress Swamp of Sussex County, Delaware, is underlain by a body of late Pleistocene-to Holocene-age unconsolidated sediments. They form a mappable geologic unit herein named the Cypress Swamp Formation. Deposits of the formation can be found outside the current boundaries of the Cypress Swamp...