Energy development in the western U.S. has increased substantially in recent decades, contributing to habitat fragmentation, dust emissions, and soil loss from erosion. Oil and gas well pads are often developed and then abandoned when they are no longer sufficiently productive. However, the rate and degree of recovery of these abandoned sites to a relatively natural state remains unclear.
Energy and Minerals
High-resolution imagery from the National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) was used to digitize the landscape disturbance related to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other forms of hydrocarbon extraction activity throughout the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2010. Specific topological features such as well pads, pipelines, and roads were extracted and developed into a temporal Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database to characterize the spatial footprint of unconventional (hydraulic fracturing) and conventional oil and gas development.
Hazards - Fires
LANDFIRE, the Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Program, is a vegetation, fire, and fuel characteristic mapping program managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The original LANDFIRE National product suite consisted of base layers mapped circa 2001.
Essential climate variables (ECVs) are used to track critical attributes of atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial systems over time scales appropriate for analyzing their relationships with climate change. As part of a larger Climate Data Record (CDR) and ECV Development project, scientists at the USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center in Denver, Colorado, have led the development and validation of the Burned Area ECV algorithm.
The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) project is a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service Geospatial Technology and Application Center and the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. MTBS is tasked with mapping perimeters and estimating the burn severity of fires greater than 200 hectares in the eastern U.S.
The Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) program team at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center released new provisional products for the Great Basin and Southwest regions of the United States that capture the seasonal nature of fuels in this region.
Since 2003, the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC) have jointly provided satellite-derived burn severity mapping products to meet the requirements of DOI and USFS Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams. BAER teams are mandated to quickly (within 2 weeks) evaluate the effects of wildland fires and develop mitigation plans to safeguard valuable natural resources, protect human life and property, and promote landscape recovery.
Hazards - Other
Susceptibility of slopes to landslides at high latitudes have increased due to degradation of permafrost in rock and soil, debuttressing of slopes resulting from glacial retreat, and changes in ocean ice cover. In the United States, the most severe impacts on slope stability are expected to occur in Alaska. Recently, several large rock avalanches in Glacier Bay National Park (GBNP) have drawn attention to the size and rate of these events. However, the lack of historical data makes it difficult to compare the magnitude and frequency of current events with past activity.
Multiple agencies in the San Diego area have the responsibility to effectively manage the water supply in this arid, urban, densely populated, coastal basin in southern California. Recently, five additional groundwater production wells were constructed to increase the water supply; the new wells are scheduled to begin pumping in 2017. California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) provides a framework to comprehensively measure and manage groundwater.
Nearly a quarter of California’s freshwater supply flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an area that comprises marshland and reclaimed land in the form of islands surrounded by levees. The Delta is of critical importance to the State’s water supply, contains prime agricultural resources, and functions as a vital estuarine ecosystem. Land-surface subsidence and levee instability within the Delta pose serious threats to meeting Federal, State, and local goals related to ecosystem restoration and land, water-resource, and flood-disaster management.