Climate

PDF versionPDF version

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

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....
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...

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 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...
Fig. 1 Image map (top) from Landsat TM/ETM+ imagery before and after an F3 tornado hit Siren, Wisconsin, on June 18, 2001. The damage swath is plotted on a cartographic map (bottom) that was used by disaster response personnel
2013, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Remote sensing imagery is used by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison to support recovery efforts after a tornado.
Cover image of position statement; Image credit: The Geological Society of London
2015, The Geological Society of London (GSL)
In the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21 scheduled for December 2015, 24 of the UK's foremost academic institutions, including the Geological Society have published a joint Climate Communiqué calling on national governments to take immediate action if they want to avert...
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 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 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 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 USGS fs2014-3046, Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Karst aquifers—formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone—are critical groundwater resources in North America, and karst springs, caves, and streams provide habitat for unique flora and fauna. Springflow and groundwater levels in karst terrane can change greatly over short time...
Cover of fs2016-3052; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Two recent investigations of climate-change vulnerability for 19 terrestrial, aquatic, riparian, and coastal ecosystems of the southeastern United States have identified a number of important considerations, including potential for changes in hydrology, disturbance regimes, and interspecies...
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....