USGS - science for a changing world

Eastern Geographic Science Center




Current Science

Eastern Geographic Science Center

EGSC scientists monitor and analyze changes on the land, study connections between people and the land, and provide relevant science information to inform decision making. Learn more about our research activities by selecting your topics of interest below. Additional topics are forthcoming.


Consequences of Land Use and Land Cover Change


Photo of drill rig.

Landscape Disturbance from Hydrocarbon Development


   Why?
Unconventional (hydraulic fracturing) and conventional oil and gas development in the Marcellus Shale region of the State of Pennsylvania causes significant disturbance on the landscape and affects forests and other natural resources.

   What?
We digitized the spatial footprint of hydrocarbon disturbance from high-resolution, ortho-rectified, digital aerial photography, from 2004 to 2010. These data were used to measure the spatial extent of oil and gas development and to assess the exposure of the extant natural resources across the landscape. More information....


Photo of Great Blue Heron.

Causes and Consequences of Land Use and Land Cover Changes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed


   Why?
Over the next 30-years, continued changes to the landscape due to human activities and climate pose great challenges to our ability to restore and maintain the ecosystem.

   What?
The goals of this project are to (1) inform local and state decision-makers of the causes and consequences of land change to water quality, habitat, and hazards in the Chesapeake Bay, (2) enhance monitoring of past and present land change patters, and to (3) evaluate the impacts of past, present, and future land changes to water quality and ecosystems. More information....



Decision Support


Flooding of the Black River in Sumpter County, SC. October 6, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response


   Why?
Coastal communities and ecosystems are uniquely vulnerable to sea-level rise and severe storms such as hurricanes. These events enhance the dispersion of chemicals and microorganisms in sediments that could adversely affect the health and resilience of coastal communities.

   What?
The Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) project was developed to conduct sediment-quality assessments of pre-storm (baseline) and post-storm conditions in both nearshore and aquatic environments. This strategy will be used to identify and map contaminant sources, and quantify changes in coastal resilience associated with sediment-bound contaminants. More information....


Photo taken using the hyperspectral microscope showing stressed algae.

Advanced and Applied Remote Sensing


   Why?
Remote sensing, in its various forms, is fundamental to geographic science. The Eastern Geographic Science Center research in this area focuses on the identification and exploration of new and existing remote sensing, geographic information system and geospatial methods and technologies to promote their application for geographic and ecologic applications of land change science for the Land Remote Sensing program.

   What?
Remote sensing techniques can be used across a range of spatial and temporal scales to address land change and ecosystem quality questions and provide mechanisms for vastly improving land-monitoring methods, which is a key to understanding landscape dynamics and providing essential landscape level information. More information....


Photo of a calm stream and trees overhanging it.

Chesapeake Bay Program Geospatial Support Vision


   Why?
The role of geography in assessing conditions of and stresses to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is fundamental to an understanding of the optimal approach for restoring and protecting the ecosystem.

   What?
Geospatial support is critical to achieving the goals and objectives of the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. Geospatial analysis has been and will continue to be used to establish nutrient and sediment reduction goals throughout the watershed and to assess the degree to which water quality standards are being met in the Bay. It is also being used to assess and track progress towards goals and outcomes associated with sustainable fisheries, healthy habitats and watersheds, and stewardship activities throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. More information....


Screen shot of the WNV web site.

Visualizing the Spread of West Nile Virus and Five Other Diseases across the United States


   Why?
Map out how the West Nile Virus has spread and is spreading across the United States.

   What?
Configure maps, charts, and tables that track the spread, number of people affected, and the peak season of the virus. More information....




Photo of sunset over the Potomac River.

ChesapeakeStat


   Why?
The new Chesapeake Watershed Agreement will contain a series of goals, outcomes, and management strategies that will guide watershed restoration and conservation over the next decade. Progress towards achieving these goals and outcomes needs to be communicated to multiple Chesapeake Bay Program audiences.

   What?
ChesapeakeStat supports improved communication, accountability, and decision-making through easier access to the information Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) partners, stakeholders, and oversight groups most often seek. Specifically, ChesapeakeStat serves as a vehicle for displaying and tracking progress toward the new Bay Watershed Agreement goals, outcomes, and, ultimately, management strategies. More information....

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Land Cover Dynamics and Environmental Processes


Photo of sand trap in bottom of hill with nearby houses.

Best Management Practices in Developing Landscapes


   Why?
Land use change and development alters surface water flow patterns and affects landscape water quality, quantity, and timing, impacting area streams and downstream estuaries and ecosystems.

   What?
Study specific structures and actions that are designed to mitigate the negative environmental effects of land use change. More information....










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