USGS News

Advances in Dating Groundwater

Summary: Groundwater chemists and hydrologists are keenly interested in expanding the knowledge of environmental tracers that can be used to determine groundwater age. The age of groundwater is a valuable parameter that serves to inform many types of groundwater availability studies.

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Karl Haase ( Phone: 703-648-5818 );



Groundwater chemists and hydrologists are keenly interested in expanding the knowledge of environmental tracers that can be used to determine groundwater age. The age of groundwater is a valuable parameter that serves to inform many types of groundwater availability studies.

Many environmental tracers — such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), SF6, and tritium — are of atmospheric origin. However, there are several classes of atmospheric trace gases whose application as groundwater age tracers have not been fully explored. Hydrofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs and HCFCs) are among them.

USGS scientists have recently developed a high-sensitivity technique to measure two of these compounds (HCFC-22 and HFC-134a) in groundwater and the unsaturated zone.

The investigators found that, contrary to many simpler laboratory studies, these compounds can be degraded by bacteria in the environment. Consequently, both classes of compound (HFCs and HCFCs) are not likely to be useful for dating groundwater. Since they are depleted in the unsaturated zone, this reduction implies a weak environmental sink (a few percent or less) that has not been previously discussed.

The study by USGS hydrologists Haase, Busenberg, Plummer, Casile, and Sanford has been published in the journal Chemical Geology.

Learn more

Professional paper

USGS Groundwater Dating Lab

USGS Groundwater Information

Interior Department Announces Funding for Climate Change Studies

Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that the Department of the Interior’s regional Climate Science Centers and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center are awarding nearly $6 million to universities and other partners for 50 new research projects to better prepare communities for impacts of climate change. As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, research funding will provide land and wildlife managers with tools to adapt to climate change

Contact Information:

Oc Web ( Phone: (303)236-0843 );



WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that the Department of the Interior’s regional Climate Science Centers and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center are awarding nearly $6 million to universities and other partners for 50 new research projects to better prepare communities for impacts of climate change.

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the South Central Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s South Central Climate Science Center is awarding nearly $550,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science." 

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural and cultural resources as well as identifying management actions that can be taken to help offset such changes. They include:

Studies focusing on drought and fire, specifically:

  • Providing information to resource managers about how future precipitation will affect fire frequency and how that may impact species distribution in the South Central United States.
  • Assessing drought resilience in communities by analyzing drought exposure, impacts and adaptation.
  • Creating a better understanding of drought dynamics and fire weather forecasting by linking precipitation variability, soil and air temperatures, and daily temperature changes. 

Efforts to foster better ways to communicate climate science, including:

  • Developing effective tools for communicating drought information.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities by initiating studies to assess tribal climate change and extreme event response.  

“The continuing drought in the South Central U.S. is a strong reminder of the impact changing climate can have on our lives,” said Kim Winton, South Central Climate Science Center director. “Thus we have focused our projects on understanding the implications of long-term drought and how to best communicate our findings to natural and cultural resource managers and to the public.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities, tribes, USGS, as well as other partners such as NOAA’s Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, the USDA’s Southern Plains Regional Climate Hub, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in the South Central region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The South Central Climate Science Center is hosted by University of Oklahoma. The South Central CSC consortium is comprised of Texas Tech University; Louisiana State University; The Chickasaw Nation; The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Oklahoma State University; NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.  It conducts climate science for the states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and the fringes of the surrounding states.

Useful links:

South Central CSC Projects
South Central CSC Homepage
University Consortium webpage
University Consortium Facebook page
Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Alaska Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Steve  Gray ( Phone: 650-329-5136 ); Ryan McClymont ( Phone: 503-251-3237 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Alaska Climate Science Center is awarding more than $500,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The three funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change.

  • The first project will look at the effects of climate-mediated forest change on the habitats of caribou and moose, both important to the subsistence and sport hunting economies throughout Alaska. Scientists will estimate the effects of climate change on the quantity of plant food for caribou (lichens) and moose (shrubs) available to these two species throughout most of Alaska and parts of Canada. The model integrates the expected effects of climate on lichen and shrub production, wildfire and resulting plant community change, and the restrictions to food availability caused by deep snow and ground icing as a result of rain-on-snow. Maps of the expected changes in winter food for moose and caribou will be tailored to and directly useable by natural resource managers as they devise strategies for adapting to a changing climate.
  • The second project will benefit land management planning and assessments by creating a groundwater prediction model that addresses reduced snowfall and snowpack, earlier spring runoff, increased winter streamflow and flooding, and decreased summer streamflow brought about by climate change. The index will be used to identify zones of soil moisture accumulation and flow routing to stream networks and provide critical input for other models and studies. The improved measurement and modeling of water is required to develop predictive estimates for plant distributions, soil moisture and snowpack, which all play important roles in ecosystem planning in the face of climate change.
  • The last project will establish several high and very high scenarios of changes in permafrost characteristics in the Alaskan Arctic in response to projected climate change and northern infrastructure development.

“This research will be critical for linking knowledge of climate variability and change to impacts on natural resources in Alaska,” said Stephen T. Gray, Interior’s Alaska Climate Science Center director. “In particular this suite of projects will help us understand how climate affects infrastructure and access to subsistence resources across the region.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists, including individuals from the university that host the Alaska CSC, from USGS science centers, and from other partners such as states, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, tribal groups and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Alaska Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Useful links:

Alaska CSC Projects

Alaska CSC Homepage

Alaska CSC Consortium Homepage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Northwest Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.   Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Lisa  Hayward ( Phone: 206-616-5347 ); Ryan McClymont ( Phone: 503-251-3237 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.  

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center is awarding more than one million dollars to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The 13 funded studies will focus on determining how climate change will affect natural resources and on developing management actions to help offset impacts. They include:

  • A watershed vulnerability project that uses existing scientific models to understand how wildfires and land-use change will affect watersheds and water supply, under current and future climates in the western U.S. Knowing which watersheds are currently ranked as highly vulnerable or which will be highly vulnerable in the future, should enable proactive management of water and wildfire fuels to most effectively reduce the potential impacts of wildfire.
  • The expansion of an existing web-based tool to help land managers and planners view and download projected changes in bird habitat and distributions across the northwestern U.S. This interactive map will allow land managers to examine the Northwest at multiple scales, from specific sites to landscapes. 
  • An ecological connectivity project that teams scientists with land managers to plan the conservation and enhancement of landscape connectivity, a feature that will be increasingly critical as climate change forces species to undergo range shifts. Results of these partnerships will help guide management of connectivity throughout the transboundary region of British Columbia and Washington State, an important area for wildlife that faces numerous technical and political challenges to connectivity management.
  • A forest management project that will help land managers strategically maximize snow retention by protecting forests in some areas while opening gaps in others. Scientists will map climate-forest-snow interactions across the Pacific Northwest, predicting how forest change is likely to affect the timing of snow melt in different locations, and testing those predictions against field and citizen-science observations. These findings will allow decision makers to link climate-forest-snow interactions to ecohydrologic conditions important to management and, ultimately, to provide more water later in the season for hydropower, agriculture and fish flows.
  • A project to support climate resilience planning for the 15 Columbia River Basin Tribes and the three Inter-Tribal Organizations. This project will help tribes assess their needs and policy and technical capacity to address climate change. The abundance of culturally significant foods, such as salmon, deer, root plants and berries are guaranteed by treaty with the federal government, and are vital to the cultural existence and economic vitality of these communities. This assessment will allow federal agencies, such as the Northwest Climate Science Center, to support climate resilience planning and the development of implementation priorities in tribal communities. 

“Our Center is privileged to draw on the remarkable federal, tribal and academic expertise in our region to tackle some of the most pressing climate change issues facing the Northwest region,” said Gustavo Bisbal, Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center director. “We have listened to our partners’ requests for science syntheses, climate adaptation strategies, research on changing fire regimes, and climate change-related needs of our tribal partners. Our FY14 portfolio features projects that will deliver actionable science to the natural and cultural resource managers who need it the most.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise the Northwest CSC, from USGS science centers and from other partners such as federal, state, and tribal entities, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Northwest Climate Science Center is hosted by Oregon State University with University of Washington and University of Idaho. The NW CSC conducts climate science for Idaho, Oregon, western Montana, and Washington.

Useful links:

Northwest CSC FY14 Projects

Northwest CSC Homepage

Northwest CSC Consortium Homepage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

David  Helweg ( Phone: 808-342-7606 (C) ); Ryan McClymont ( Phone: 503-583-7944 (C) );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Pacific Islands Climate Science Center is awarding over $600,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help communities, species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change and variability will affect natural resources, human communities and management options to help offset such change. They include:

  • Understanding how to predict very low flow rates in natural streams to help manage Hawai`i’s limited freshwater resources.
  • Developing methods to plan for changes in distribution of rare and endangered plants and their associated habitats.
  • Preparing for changes in freshwater resources and associated agro-forestry to improve food security and overall community resilience to the impacts of climate change.
  • Understanding how to model coastal erosion for beaches statewide to help prioritize beach conservation efforts and identify potential future impacts.
  • Understanding how human perceptions of coastal habitat quality compare to actual measured conditions and using that information to inform future coastal usage and community planning.
  • Measuring and modeling watershed characteristics under climate-induced moisture stress.

“With signs of changing climate and seasonality evident across the subtropical and tropical Pacific, we are very happy to have this opportunity to support six excellent multi-agency projects,” said David Helweg, director of Interior’s Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.  “These projects are designed to provide timely and useable information to communities and resource managers in Hawai`i and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists and students from the universities that comprise the Pacific Islands CSC, from USGS science centers, and from other partners such as the State and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Pacific RISA Program, US Department of Agriculture and the Landscape Conservation Cooperative in the region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Pacific Islands Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Hawai`i, Manoa, along with the University of Hawai`i, Hilo, and the University of Guam. 

Useful links:

Pacific Islands CSC Projects

Pacific Islands CSC Homepage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Southwest Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Steve T. Jackson ( Phone: 307-760-0750 (C) ); Ryan McClymont ( Phone: 503-583-7944 (C) );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center is awarding nearly a million dollars to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include:

  • Studying the link between drought and tree death following fires in the Southwest to better estimate the effect of fires on Southwestern forests in the future.
  • Understanding the joint impacts of cool-season precipitation and increasing spring temperatures on snowpack declines and runoff to help address future water management challenges. 
  • Examining the impact of increased storms and sea-level rise on connected coastal habitats to support future planning and conservation of nearshore natural resources.
  • Identifying a chronology of extreme storms, especially atmospheric rivers, over the past 30 years and their effect on the Sierra Nevada and western Great Basin ecosystems.
  • Providing customized climate data from across the Southwest region to inform decision-making by private landowners, public agencies and natural resources managers.
  • Assessing climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Great Basin.

“These projects will address some of the most formidable climate challenges in the region, including drought, wildfire, sea-level rise and weather extremes,” said Stephen T. Jackson, Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center director.  “Partnerships between researchers and resource managers will ensure rapid and effective application of new scientific results and insights.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise the Southwest CSC, from USGS science centers and from other partners such as the states, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, tribal groups, regional and municipal water-management agencies, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Southwest Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Arizona, Tucson, with the University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles; Desert Research Institute; Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego); and University of Colorado, Boulder. The CSC conducts climate change science for Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and the Colorado River Headwaters in parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Useful links:

Southwest CSC Projects

Southwest CSC Homepage

Southwest CSC Consortium/University webpage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Northeast Climate Science Center

Summary: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) is awarding nearly $700,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Mary Ratnaswamy ( Phone: 413-545-3424 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) is awarding nearly $700,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include:

 

  • Projected changes in winter severity, snowpack and lake ice in the Great Lakes Basin over the coming 21st century and anticipated consequences for wildlife populations;
  • Increased understanding of information needs for management of floodplain conservation lands, so the right information is available at the right time for the Mississippi and Missouri rivers;
  • Development of a spatial decision support system to assist Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and partner resource management agencies across the Mississippi River Basin in addressing conservation challenges related to nutrient runoff, a major contributor to Gulf hypoxia and declines in wildlife populations;
  • Development of distribution models for North American breeding birds that show dynamic responses to climate change, and that will help resource managers identify species or regions most vulnerable to climate change;
  • Evaluation of how U.S. Atlantic coastal fish and wildlife populations are responding to climate change through shifts in phenology, or the timing of recurring life events such as migration and breeding; and
  • Development of a communication, collaboration and networking platform to link early career scientists interested in the climate sciences and climate adaptation across the Climate Science Centers.

 

“Natural resource managers in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States are faced with enormously complex challenges in dealing with the effects of climate change on habitats, species and ecosystems,” said Mary Ratnaswamy, Director of Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center.  “These and other ongoing studies are designed for managers and policy makers working to sustain communities and landscapes while adapting to climate change.  Our collaborative work with partners is developing and sharing information, giving context to uncertainty, evaluating impacts of climate change across multiple scales, and building capacity including support for early career scientists.”

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers (CSCs) worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities, colleges and research labs that comprise the Northeast CSC, from USGS science centers and Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, and from other partners such as the states, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, Indian tribes, state fish and wildlife agencies, other DOI Bureaus, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Northeast Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The NE CSC consortium is comprised of the College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri – Columbia, and University of Wisconsin – Madison. The NE CSC conducts climate change science for Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.  

Useful links:

Northeast CSC projects

Northeast CSC Homepage

NE CSC's Consortium Website

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the North Central Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Jennifer Dimas ( Phone: 970-491-1543 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

 

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s North Central Climate Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, is awarding nearly $400,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resource managers in planning how to help species, ecosystems and human communities adapt to climate change.

 

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

 

The three funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include research on:

 

  • Evaporation, drought and the water cycle in the northern Rockies and Northern Great Plains;
  • Impacts and vulnerability of plants, animals and habitats related to climate change; and
  • The human-dimension of adaptation planning for these anticipated changes.

 

The new projects will build on the collective scientific expertise of the CSC’s University Consortium in ways that are most beneficial in helping natural resource, tribal and water managers in the North Central U.S. and the Missouri River Basin effectively plan for climate change, said Jeffrey Morisette, director of the North Central CSC. 

 

“These partnerships between researchers and resource managers will ensure rapid and effective application of new scientific results and insights,” Morisette added.  “Whether is it beetle kill and fires in forested areas, bird habitat in the prairie pothole region or stream temperatures and flows throughout the region, the natural resources in our area are closely coupled to climate drivers and the water cycle.  These three closely coordinated projects will provide useful insight into DOI and tribal vulnerability assessment, adaptation and mitigation initiatives.” 

 

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise the North Central CSC, from USGS science centers and from other partners such as Colorado State University, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The North Central CSC is hosted by a consortium of nine institutions: Colorado State University - Fort Collins, University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Montana State University, University of Wyoming, University of Montana, Kansas State University, and Iowa State University. The CSC conducts climate change science for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Iowa. 

Useful links:

NC CSC Projects

NC CSC Homepage

NC CSC Consortium/University webpage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Southeast Climate Science Center

Summary: Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here. Research Will Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

Contact Information:

Gerard  McMahon ( Phone: 919-515-2229 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );



Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center is awarding nearly $150,000 to its host university and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The two funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include: 

  • Actionable Science: Decision Analysis and Science Communication: The purpose of this grant is to provide research opportunities to students and staff working with the Southeast Climate Science Center with a focus on decision analysis and science communication training. Research activities will occur primarily within the framework of existing Southeast CSC funded projects.  Student research will support project activities associated with the development and use of science-based information to make climate adaptation management decisions.
  • Global Change Monitoring Portal: The objective of this project is to provide scientists and the general public with access to information in a centralized location, about the existence and operation of programs that monitor the effects of global change processes, such as climate and land use change, on important air, land and water resources.

 

"This year the Southeast Climate Science Center is supporting a suite of tools and communication- oriented projects that will help resource managers make climate-smart conservation decisions," said Gerard McMahon, Interior's Southeast CSC director. "We must make intentional decisions about the best possible conservation strategies under climate change. Our two newest projects will help create the backdrop through which we build frameworks that will help make more informed choices and to communicate them effectively to a wide range of audiences."

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The projects will be undertaken by scientists, staff, and graduate students from North Carolina State University that hosts the Southeast CSC, from USGS science centers and from other partners such as the National Conservation Training Center, and the six Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in the southeastern region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Southeast Climate Science Center is hosted by the North Carolina State University; it conducts climate science for Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, of Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas.  

Useful links:

CSC Projects

Southeast CSC Home Page 

CSC Consortium/University Web Page 

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers 

Highly Pathogenic H5 Avian Influenza Confirmed in Wild Birds in Washington State H5N2 Found in Northern Pintail Ducks & H5N8 Found in Captive Gyrfalcons

Summary: WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 — The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom County, Washington. Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds. Neither virus has been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States and no human cases with these viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada or internationally. There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses. Neither virus found in commercial poultry in U.S.; no public health concern at this time

Contact Information:

Marisa Lubeck, USGS ( Phone: 303-526-6694 ); Joelle Hayden, APHIS ( Phone: 301-851-4040 ); CDC Press ( Phone: 404-639-3286 );



WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 — The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom County, Washington. Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds. Neither virus has been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States and no human cases with these viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada or internationally. There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses.

Both H5N2 and H5N8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not caused any human infection to date. While neither virus has been found in commercial poultry, federal authorities with the U.S. Department of Agriculture also emphasize that poultry, poultry products and wild birds are safe to eat even if they carry the disease if they are properly handled and cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The finding in Whatcom County was reported and identified quickly due to increased surveillance for avian influenza in light of HPAI H5N2 avian influenza outbreaks in poultry affecting commercial poultry farms in British Columbia, Canada. The northern pintail duck samples were collected by officials from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife following a waterfowl die-off at Wiser Lake, Washington, and were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center for diagnostic evaluation and initial avian influenza testing. The U.S. Department of the Interior's USGS, which also conducts ongoing avian influenza testing of wild bird mortality events, identified the samples as presumptive positive for H5 avian influenza and sent them to USDA for confirmation. The gyrfalcon samples were collected after the falconer reported signs of illness in his birds.

Following existing avian influenza response plans, USDA is working with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as state partners on additional surveillance and testing of both commercial and wild birds in the nearby area.

Wild birds can be carriers of HPAI viruses without the birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

HPAI would have significant economic impacts if detected in U.S. domestic poultry. Commercial poultry producers follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in very controlled environments. Federal officials emphasize that all bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue practicing good biosecurity. This includes preventing contact between your birds and wild birds, and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds to be low because (like H5N1) these viruses do not now infect humans easily, and even if a person is infected, the viruses do not spread easily to other people.

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by influenza type A viruses which are endemic in some wild birds (such as wild ducks and swans) which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl). AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or "H" proteins, of which there are 17 (H1–H17), and neuraminidase or "N" proteins, of which there are 10 (N1–N10). Many different combinations of "H" and "N" proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and can be further broken down into different strains. AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity—the ability of a particular virus to produce disease in domestic chickens.

For more information on avian influenza and wild birds, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. For other information visit the USDA avian influenza page and the USDA APHIS avian influenza page

USGS Amps up Environmental DNA Research With New DNA Machine

Summary: GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The U.S. Geological Survey Southeast Ecological Science Center has acquired a state-of-the-art genetic analysis machine that will help advance environmental DNA research efforts. The use of environmental DNA, or eDNA, could assist resource managers nationwide conserve imperiled species and improve control efforts of invasive species.

Contact Information:

Margaret Hunter ( Phone: 352-264-3484 ); Kaitlin  Kovacs ( Phone: 352-264-3578 );



GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The U.S. Geological Survey Southeast Ecological Science Center has acquired a state-of-the-art genetic analysis machine that will help advance environmental DNA research efforts. The use of environmental DNA, or eDNA, could assist resource managers nationwide conserve imperiled species and improve control efforts of invasive species.

The new technology, a droplet digital PCR machine, is the first of its kind to be acquired by a USGS facility. The machine can detect a single molecule of DNA from an environmental sample and enhances output compared to traditional methods. From water samples, it is possible to detect rare species or those that are difficult to observe due to secretive behavior, camouflaged coloration, or a resemblance to other species. Species identification via the detection of eDNA can make the physical capture or sighting of the target species unnecessary.

“This new platform allows us to process samples efficiently and with greater precision. With just a few copies of genetic material from the aquatic environment, we can detect the presence of an animal that may not otherwise be seen,” commented USGS research geneticist Margaret Hunter, who leads the SESC Conservation Genetics Laboratory.

Environmental DNA comes from organisms shedding biological material into the aquatic environment via feces, mucus, saliva, or skin cells.  This material can be used to determine the presence of species, establish range limits, and estimate occupancy and detection probabilities to inform management actions. The environmental DNA exists for approximately 20 days before it degrades, allowing researchers to detect animals, such as pythons, manatees, or Grass Carp, as they move throughout the environment.  As compared to traditional laboratory techniques, ddPCR reduces time and laboratory costs, and uses more rigorous statistical analyses to determine the number of DNA copies in a sample. While both techniques can detect and count molecules of DNA, ddPCR has been shown to enhance accuracy and precision. 

To detect individual species, genetic researchers first design a species-specific genetic marker. Then filtered surface water samples are split into 20,000 PCR droplets, each containing the marker and, if present, a copy of the target species’ DNA. The droplets illuminate fluorescently if DNA of the targeted species is detected, with the number of illuminated droplets corresponding to the number of DNA molecules in the sample.  Assessing the 20,000 droplets for positive detection of the species takes approximately two minutes.

“This technology can provide resource managers invaluable assistance in detecting and defining the habitat of imperiled and invasive species,” Hunter said. “For example, using eDNA and ddPCR can help to better delineate the spread of Burmese pythons in south Florida. Or, the habitat used by imperiled or rare species, such as elusive West Indian manatees, could be defined for research and conservation efforts.”

For more information:

http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/genetics/index.html (SESC Genetics Website)

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3017/ (Fact Sheet: Using Genetic Research to Inform Imperiled and Invasive Species Management)

High Plains Aquifer Groundwater Levels Continue to Decline

Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains Aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2013, and 2011 to 2013.

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Virginia McGuire ( Phone: 402-328-4126 );



The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains Aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2013, and 2011 to 2013.

“The measurements made from 2011 to 2013 represent a large decline,” said Virginia McGuire, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. “This amount of aquifer depletion over a 2-year period is substantial and likely related to increased groundwater pumping.”

In 2011, the total water stored in the aquifer was about 2.92 billion acre-feet, an overall decline of about 267 million acre-feet (or 8 percent) since pre-development. Change in water stored from 2011 to 2013 was an overall decline of 36.0 million acre-feet. The overall average water-level decline in the aquifer was 15.4 feet from pre-development to 2013, and 2.1 feet from 2011 to 2013.

The USGS study used water-level measurements from 3,349 wells for pre-development to 2013 and 7,460 wells for the 2011 to 2013 study period.

 

The High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala Aquifer, underlies about 112 million acres (175,000 square miles) in parts of eight states, including: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The USGS, at the request of the U.S. Congress, has published reports on water-level changes in the High Plains Aquifer since 1988. Congress requested these reports in response to substantial water-level declines in large areas of the aquifer.

“This multi-state, groundwater-level monitoring activity tracks water-level changes in all eight states through time and has provided data critical to evaluating different options for groundwater management,” said McGuire. “This level of coordinated groundwater-level monitoring is unique among major, multi-state regional aquifers in the country.” 

Urban Stream Contamination Increasing Rapidly Due to Road Salt

Summary: Average chloride concentrations often exceed toxic levels in many northern United States streams due to the use of salt to deice winter pavement, and the frequency of these occurrences nearly doubled in two decades.

Contact Information:

Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-526-6694 ); Steve Corsi ( Phone: 608-821-3835 );



Average chloride concentrations often exceed toxic levels in many northern United States streams due to the use of salt to deice winter pavement, and the frequency of these occurrences nearly doubled in two decades.

Chloride levels increased substantially in 84 percent of urban streams analyzed, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that began as early as 1960 at some sites and ended as late as 2011. Levels were highest during the winter, but increased during all seasons over time at the northern sites, including near Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and other metropolitan areas. The report was published today in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

"Some freshwater organisms are sensitive to chloride, and the high concentrations that we found could negatively affect a significant number of species," said Steve Corsi, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. “If urban development and road salt use continue to increase, chloride concentrations and associated toxicity are also likely to increase.”

The scientists analyzed water-quality data from 30 monitoring sites on 19 streams near cities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas and the District of Columbia. Key findings include:

  • Twenty-nine percent of the sites exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chronic water-quality criteria (230 milligrams per liter) by an average of more than 100 days per year from 2006 through 2011, which was almost double the amount of days from 1990 through 1994. This increase occurred at sites such as the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers near Milwaukee and Poplar Creek near Chicago.
  • The lowest chloride concentrations were in watersheds that had little urban land use or cities without much snowfall, such as Dallas, Texas.
  • In 16 of the streams, winter chloride concentrations increased over the study period.
  • In 13 of the streams, chloride concentrations increased over the study period during non-deicing periods such as summer. This finding suggests that chloride infiltrates the groundwater system during the winter and is slowly released to the streams throughout the year.
  • Chloride levels increased more rapidly than development of urban land near the study sites.
  • The rapid chloride increases were likely caused by increased salt application rates, increased baseline conditions (the concentrations during summer low-flow periods) and greater snowfall in the Midwest during the latter part of the study.

"Deicing operations help to provide safe winter transportation conditions, which is very important,” Corsi said. “Findings from this study emphasize the need to consider deicer management options that minimize the use of road salt while still maintaining safe conditions."

Road deicing by cities, counties and state agencies accounts for a significant portion of salt applications, but salt is also used by many public and private organizations and individuals to deice parking lots, walkways and driveways. All of these sources are likely to contribute to these increasing chloride trends.

Other major sources of salt to U.S. waters include wastewater treatment, septic systems, farming operations and natural geologic deposits. However, the new study found deicing activity to be the dominant source in urban areas of the northern U.S. 

The USGS conducted this study in cooperation with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. For more information about winter runoff and water-quality, please visit the USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center website.

[Access images for this release at: <a href="http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2010_09_02" _mce_href="http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2010_09_02">http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2010_09_02</a>]