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Technical Announcements
Updated: 52 min 45 sec ago

The National Map Data Download Enhancements

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 09:30
Summary: The USGS National Map program is transitioning all of its GIS data download capabilities to its new TNM Download client during the week of February 15, 2016. The new launch page will help users easily find the variety of resources available to get National Map data, download GIS data, visualize and analyze data on the web, or access developer tools such as APIs and map services.

Contact Information:

Rob Dollison ( Phone: 703-648-5724 ); Mark Newell ( Phone: 573-308-3850 );



The USGS National Map program is transitioning all of its GIS data download capabilities to its new TNM Download client during the week of February 15, 2016. The new launch page will help users easily find the variety of resources available to get National Map data, download GIS data, visualize and analyze data on the web, or access developer tools such as APIs and map services.

This is not a replacement for all the visualization capabilities in the current National Map Viewer, but rather an application and API to improve and simplify the data download experience. The National Map Viewer will remain available for web-based visualization and analysis of National Map data.

Usage of TNM Download Client combined with staged product files will provide faster, more reliable and larger quantities of data to the geospatial community. The Download Client has an associated API available to developers to take advantage in their own applications.

The National Map released several recent enhancements to the delivery of its data products and map services to include:

TNM Download Client
The new TNM Download Client  will replace the data download function in the older legacy TNM Viewer. It allows the user to easily filter by product, file format, and search for data over their area of interest. Product specific workflows have also been developed such as selecting a particular hydrologic unit and to give users more appropriate results. Several ‘How to Download Data’ tutorial videos (lessons 4a-4d) have been created to take advantage of the new capabilities.

Basic download steps

1) Zoom to your area of interest

2) Select the desired product and file formats

3) Click on the “Find Product’ button to get search results

4) You will then be presented with a .CSV file to directly download or add to a cart if you want additional products

5) You can order multiple National Map products from this client but it is easiest to go through the steps for each product line you want to order, one product at a time. 

Download Manager
Download Manager is a Java-based application that runs on your local computer and enables download of multiple products without requiring the user to click each individual download link.  If you require lots of data, export all the search results into a .CSV file and use the ‘Download Manager’ application for fast behind the scenes data retrieval while working on other activities.

Large Scale Contours are available
The contours created from The National Map US Topo program are now included in a dynamic contours map service. This new service has dynamic layers enabled to allow user-defined custom styling to be applied in Esri® clients.

Dynamic Style Control is enabled on vector map services
Users can take advantage of dynamic style control on The National Map vector web services. This feature enables users to change the color and line weight of our vectors to best meet their mapping and visualization needs, without having to download the actual dataset.

File GeoDatabase 9.3.1 format retired
In addition to these new enhancements, some of the existing file formats and capabilities will be retired over the next few months. File GeoDatabase 9.3.1 format will be retired in mid-February 2016 and the download function in The National Map (TNM) legacy viewer will be removed. Users will be directed to the new TNM Download Client.

To keep current with The National Map downloadable products and map services, visit The National Map Viewer launch page.

Questions or feedback regarding any of these changes can be submitted to tnm_help@usgs.gov.

Screen shot of download enhancements to lidar data availability visualization and file downloads.

 

Screen shot of lidar data downloads.

New Invasive Annual Grass Book Addresses Critical Questions for the Western U.S.

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 08:46
Summary: Cheatgrass in the Santa Rosa Range, Nevada. Photographer credit: Photo courtesy of Nolan Preece.  

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp, USGS ( Phone: 541-750-1047 ); Cass Cairns, USFS ( Phone: 970-498-1370 );



Cheatgrass in the Santa Rosa Range, Nevada. Photographer credit: Photo courtesy of Nolan Preece.

 

^_BOISE, Idaho — Bromus species – such as cheatgrass – are exotic annual grasses that have become the dominant annual grasses in the western hemisphere. Their spread and impacts across the western U.S. continue despite the many attempts by land managers to control these species. A new book edited by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State University was released today and answers critical research, planning and management questions about these species.

Sagebrush habitat is essential for the survival of the greater sage-grouse and other wildlife species as well as for economic activities, such as ranching and recreation.  The Department of Interior Secretarial Order 3336 on Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management and Restoration directly addresses the need for additional science and research to unlock the key to controlling invasive exotic Bromus grasses and developing tools to protect and support resistant and resilient sagebrush landscapes in the United States.

“There are nearly 150 species of Bromus globally,” said Matthew Germino, USGS ecologist and lead editor of the new book. “Despite extensive research on the grass species that have invaded the western U.S., land managers still face challenges in controlling the spread and impact of these grasses across the landscape.”

The book titled “Exotic Brome-Grasses in Arid and Semiarid Ecosystems of the Western U.S.: Causes, Consequences, and Management Implications,” synthesizes available literature on the biology, ecology, sociology and economics of Bromus grasses to develop a more complete picture of the factors that influence their invasiveness, impacts and management in the western U.S.

The synthesis helps to answer questions on:

  • The effects of environmental factors on Bromus species distributions
  • Arid and semiarid ecosystem attributes and processes that influence resistance to invasion by Bromus
  • Traits of Bromus species that contribute to their invasiveness
  • Impacts of Bromus invasions on ecosystems
  • Effects of pathogens on Bromus invasions and their potential for biocontrol
  • Effects of land uses on Bromus invasions
  • Management options for exotic annual Bromus and their application
  • Socioeconomic drivers and patterns of human response to Bromus invasion

“The risks and problems associated with Bromus have been known in the U.S. for decades, but much of the past research was done to answer questions at local scales and focused on only a few causal factors,” said Jeanne Chambers, USFS research ecologist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and co-editor. “Today, Bromus grass impacts are large scale and influenced by many interacting factors requiring a more holistic approach.”

The book is the result of funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Education Network – or REEnet – which brought together a diverse range of public agency and university specialists from around the United States to generate and refine ideas on Bromus grasses. Lessons learned from this synthesis can be used to address impacts of species like cheatgrass on the sagebrush-steppe, a habitat that supports over 350 wildlife species, including greater sage-grouse.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  Implementation of effective management actions for the benefit of sage-grouse continues to be a focus of Department of the Interior agencies following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station is one of five regional units that make up the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development organization – the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. The Station maintains 12 field laboratories throughout a 12-state territory encompassing the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Plains, and administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds, while maintaining long-term databases for these areas. RMRS research is broken into eight science program areas that serve the Forest Service as well as other federal and state agencies, international organizations, private groups and individuals. To find out more about the RMRS go to www.fs.fed.us/rmrs. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfs_rmrs

Asian Carp Eggs Remain in Suspension at Lower Velocities than Previously Thought

Thu, 01/14/2016 - 14:23
Summary: Laboratory experiments in flowing water using synthetic surrogate Silver Carp eggs demonstrate egg suspension at lower velocities than previously thought, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The drift of synthetic eggs at a range of flows was evaluated to provide insight into both suspension of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs and the potential interaction of eggs with the bottom of a river. New information on the suspension of Asian carp eggs using synthetic surrogate eggs

Contact Information:

Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 ); Tatiana Garcia ( Phone: 217-328-9753 );



Laboratory experiments in flowing water using synthetic surrogate Silver Carp eggs demonstrate egg suspension at lower velocities than previously thought, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The drift of synthetic eggs at a range of flows was evaluated to provide insight into both suspension of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs and the potential interaction of eggs with the bottom of a river.

Since Asian carp eggs must stay suspended in rivers to survive to hatching, it is important to understand what flows cause them to settle to the bottom. These critical flow conditions help scientists to determine which rivers may be suitable for Asian carp reproduction. Results are published in the journal PLOS ONE. 

Scientists with University of Illinois and the USGS recently studied the suspension, transport and settling of Silver Carp eggs using synthetic surrogates at the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The researchers found that 65 percent of the eggs were in suspension at mean velocities as low as 0.07 meters per second, considerably lower than previously thought (0.15 to 0.9 meters per second). If eggs are staying in suspension at these small velocities, then survival rates would be higher than previously expected in low flow systems. In addition, dimensionless ratios between turbulence and egg sinking rate were calculated for different flow conditions. These ratios can be used for first order assessment of egg suspension together with observed egg suspension mode from laboratory experiments. Results provide more information on egg suspension (i.e., 50 percent of eggs in suspension) than a mean velocity threshold.  

Tatiana Garcia, USGS research hydrologist and lead author of the paper, performed experiments in moving water in a temperature-controlled re-circulatory flume with a sediment bed. Styrene beads were used as synthetic surrogate eggs to mimic the physical properties of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs. Egg suspension and drifting behavior of synthetic eggs was evaluated under different flow conditions and bed configurations.

Synthetic surrogate water-hardened Silver Carp Eggs settled on top of a sediment bed. Laboratory experiments in flowing water demonstrate egg suspension at lower velocities than previously thought. The drift of synthetic eggs at a range of flows was evaluated to provide insight into both suspension of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs and the potential interaction of eggs with the bottom of a river. Photo credit: Tatiana Garcia, USGS.



Mosaic of pictures of synthetic Silver Carp eggs taken at different flow conditions for two cases: bed with bedforms (left) and relatively flat bed (right). Laboratory experiments in flowing water demonstrate egg suspension at lower velocities than previously thought. The drift of synthetic eggs at a range of flows was evaluated to provide insight into both suspension of water-hardened Silver Carp eggs and the potential interaction of eggs with the bottom of a river. Credit: Tatiana Garcia, USGS.

Rapid Algal Bloom Predictions are Possible for Ohio Lakes

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 12:30
Summary: Rapid predictions of harmful algal blooms, or large growths of toxin-producing bacteria in water, can help prevent recreationalists from getting sick at Ohio lakes, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report

Contact Information:

Donna Francy ( Phone: 614-430-7769 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-202-4765 );



Rapid predictions of harmful algal blooms, or large growths of toxin-producing bacteria in water, can help prevent recreationalists from getting sick at Ohio lakes, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

Scientists with the USGS and partners made real-time water-quality and environmental measurements at seven recreational areas in Ohio during 2013‒2014. Their goal was to identify factors that could be used in models to quickly predict microcystin levels and provide advisories to swimmers and boaters. Microcystin is the most commonly detected toxin found in freshwater algal blooms. Models are used successfully at Lake Erie beaches as part of the Ohio Nowcast for predicting E. coli concentrations, but have not been tested for algal bloom predictions.

“Algal bloom toxins in water are currently measured in the laboratory, and results take time,” said Donna Francy, the lead USGS scientist for the study. “Utilizing nowcasts to determine when and where a bloom may occur in real-time can better protect people like swimmers and boaters that use and consume water resources.”

These toxic blooms, which sometimes turn water a green or a blue-green color, can be irritating to skin and may affect the human liver and nervous system if consumed. The bacteria that cause algal blooms are cyanobacteria. A cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom, or cyanoHAB, occurs when water conditions like excess nutrients, sunlight, warm temperatures and water levels favor growth of toxin-producing cyanobacteria over other aquatic organisms.  

The scientists collected data and analyzed the results to determine that cyanoHAB nowcasts are feasible in Ohio. Study sites included Ohio State Park beaches at Buckeye Lake, Buck Creek, Deer Creek, East Fork Lake and Maumee Bay State Park; a boater/swim area at Buckeye Lake; and two locally operated beaches in Port Clinton and Bay View. 

“The Ohio Nowcast system for E. coli, operating since 2006, is similar to a weather forecast except that current water-quality conditions instead of future conditions are estimated,” said Francy. “Since a nowcast has worked for E. coli, we decided to try to develop one for cyanoHABs and their associated toxins.”   

The scientists collected weekly to monthly data for two recreational seasons and identified factors that could be used to predict microcystin concentrations at a variety of freshwater sites. Measurements of a pigment called phycocyanin, water clarity, water pH, streamflow from a nearby river and lake level changes over 24 hours were among the best factors to estimate microcystin levels in real-time. Future studies will focus on collecting more frequent data to develop site-specific models to use in cyanoHAB nowcasts. 

A full list of cooperators on the Ohio cyanoHAB nowcast project is available in the USGS report

For more information on water-quality research in Ohio, visit the USGS Ohio Water Science Center website.

Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems, Part 2

Mon, 12/07/2015 - 12:00
Summary: Ecosystem restoration is complex and requires an understanding of how the land, plants, and animals all interact with each other over large areas and over time Landscape Level Restoration Decisions

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp ( Phone: 541-750-1047 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-328-4046 );



CORVALLIS, Ore. — Ecosystem restoration is complex and requires an understanding of how the land, plants, and animals all interact with each other over large areas and over time. Today, the U.S. Geological Survey published part two of a three-part handbook addressing restoration of sagebrush ecosystems from the landscape to the site level.

“Land managers do not have resources to restore all locations because of the extent of the restoration needed and are challenged to meet multiple management objectives, including restoring habitat for wildlife,” said David Pyke, USGS ecologist and lead author of the new USGS Circular. “Focusing restoration efforts on enhancing goals of a functioning landscape is necessary to gain the greatest benefit for sagebrush-steppe ecosystems.”

Part two of the handbook introduces habitat managers and restoration practitioners to a landscape restoration decision tool to assist them in determining landscape objectives, identifying and prioritizing landscape areas where sites for restoration projects might be located, and ultimately selecting restoration sites guided by criteria used to define the landscape objectives.

The tool is structured in five sections, addressed sequentially. Each section has related questions or statements to assist the user in addressing the primary question or statement:

  • Am I dealing with landscape-related restoration issues?
  • What are regional or landscape objectives for restoration?
  • Where are priority landscapes and sites within landscapes for restoration?
  • Prioritize landscapes using a resilience and resistance matrix
  • Monitor and report information on your measurable landscape objectives

“Most restoration projects are conducted at the site or local level,” said Pyke. “But where restoration projects occur influences whether benefits from those projects can be seen at a landscape level. This is especially important for species, such as the greater sage-grouse, whose home range can extend beyond the boundaries of an individual restoration site.”

Pyke noted that greater sage-grouse and sagebrush-steppe habitat is used in the handbook only as an example of landscape restoration. The process presented by this series can be modified and used for other landscape-related restoration issues as well.

Part one of the handbook introduced basic concepts about sagebrush ecosystems, landscape ecology and restoration ecology. Part two helps guide selection of potential sites for restoration from a landscape perspective. Part three will help guide restoration decisions at a selected site.

The handbook was funded by the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program and National Interagency Fire Center, Bureau of Land Management, Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, USGS and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, with authors from the USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Brigham Young University.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  Implementation of effective management actions for the benefit of sage-grouse continues to be a focus of Department of the Interior agencies following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act. 

New Remote Sensing Handbook Published

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 12:20
Summary: A newly published, three-volume “Remote Sensing Handbook” is a comprehensive coverage of all remote sensing topics written by over 300 leading global experts.

Contact Information:

Prasad Thenkabail ( Phone: 928-556-7221 ); Leslie  Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );



A newly published, three-volume “Remote Sensing Handbook” is a comprehensive coverage of all remote sensing topics written by over 300 leading global experts. With 82 chapters, and more than 2000 pages, the handbook is a reference for every remote sensing student, professor, scientist, professional practitioner and expert. The technical handbook includes up-to-date examples of successful projects and case studies, and explains in detail, state-of-the-art space-borne, air-borne and ground-based remote-sensing systems.

The “Remote Sensing Handbook” was edited by Dr. Prasad S. Thenkabail of the U.S. Geological Survey. Thenkabail, an international expert in remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems, described the handbook as, “a complete knowledge base about the evolution and history of remote-sensing science over last 50 years, the current state-of-the-art of its science and technology, and a future vision for the field.”

Volume one of the Remote Sensing Handbook, “Remotely Sensed Data Characterization, Classification, and Accuracies” describes the utility, methods and models used in analyzing a wide array of remotely-sensed data from a wide array of space-borne to ground-based platforms, and discusses various applications in depth. Leading experts on global geographic coverage, study areas, and various satellites and sensors contributed to this handbook.

Volume two of the Handbook, “Land Resources Monitoring, Modeling, and Mapping with Remote Sensing” provides a comprehensive theoretical and practical coverage of remote sensing applied to land resources, including vegetation and biomass, croplands, rangelands, phenology and food security, forests, biodiversity, ecology, habitats, land use/land cover, carbon, and soils.

Volume three, “Remote Sensing of Water Resources, Disasters, and Urban Studies” is an extensive and comprehensive coverage of myriad topics pertaining to water resources, disasters, and urban areas such as hydrology, water resources, water use, water productivity, floods, wetlands, snow and ice, nightlights, geomorphology, droughts and drylands, disasters, volcanoes, fire, and smart cities.

The three-volume Remote Sensing Handbook is available from the publisher or your local bookseller.

USGS Seeks National Ground-Water Monitoring Network Proposals

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 10:34
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $2 million in cooperative agreements to support participation in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) in 2016.&nbsp

Contact Information:

Daryll Pope ( Phone: 609-771-3933 ); Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );



The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $2 million in cooperative agreements to support participation in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) in 2016. 

The USGS is working with the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information’s (ACWI) Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW) to develop and administer the NGWMN.  The NGWMN is designed as a cooperative groundwater data collection, management, and reporting system that will be based on data from selected wells in existing federal, state, tribal, and local groundwater monitoring networks. The network is envisioned as a long-term collaborative partnership among federal and non-federal data providers that will help address present and future groundwater management questions facing the nation.

Cooperative agreements will provide support for both new and existing data providers in the NGWMN. The USGS will fund new data providers to select and classify sites within existing monitoring programs, to set up web services that will link the data to the NGWMN Portal, and to produce a report describing this process. Existing data providers will receive funds to maintain web services and keep site information current. Information about the cooperative agreements is available on the NGWMN Cooperative Agreements page.

Interested agencies may apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G16AS00008. Applications will be accepted from November 16, 2015 through January 19, 2016. 

Two webinars are scheduled to review the application package and answer any question about the opportunity. These are scheduled for December 1st at 2 pm EST and December 8th at 1 pm EST. Registration for the webinars is required. After your registration is accepted, you will receive meeting information. You may register for the webinars at:

December 1st
https://usgs.webex.com/usgs/j.php?RGID=r3e8551da16b8fd2f966ca1fab6e577bb

December 8th
https://usgs.webex.com/usgs/j.php?RGID=re7d637eb23fa127b87846fcc85ccca9d

 

Understanding how Pharmaceuticals in the Environment Affect Fish

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 12:29
Summary: Fish health may be affected by pharmaceuticals in treated wastewater released into streams and other water bodies, according to a recent laboratory and field study by the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory at St. Cloud State University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Results Show Impacts to both Juveniles and Adults

Contact Information:

Heiko  Schoenfuss, SCSU ( Phone: 320-308-3130 ); Dana  Kolpin, USGS ( Phone: 319-358-3614 );



Fish health may be affected by pharmaceuticals in treated wastewater released into streams and other water bodies, according to a recent laboratory and field study by the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory at St. Cloud State University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This research is published in a special edition of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry related to pharmaceuticals in the environment.

This study looked for effects from nine individual pharmaceuticals, as well as varying mixtures of these chemicals, on both juvenile and adult fathead minnows. The selected pharmaceuticals and corresponding exposure levels for the laboratory experiments were guided by previous USGS research.

”Exploring the effects of multiple pharmaceuticals in mixtures at concentrations previous measured in the environment provided for immediate relevance of the study,” said St. Cloud State University scientist Heiko Schoenfuss, the lead author of the study. “The pharmaceuticals studied are highly prescribed and have been found in the environment in previous studies, including by our USGS co-authors.”

Prior USGS research has also documented the release of pharmaceuticals is greater in areas where local sources of pharmaceuticals, such as medicinal manufacturers, may contribute a disproportionately larger amount of pharmaceuticals to wastewater treatment plants. In addition, one of the wastewater treatment plants receiving waste from pharmaceutical manufacturing was also used for the field component of this research.

Fathead minnows were used as they are a common laboratory model for studies of this kind and are also an ecologically important species that can be found throughout North America. The minnows were exposed to both individual pharmaceuticals and mixtures of these chemicals in a laboratory setting as well as to treated wastewater at a wastewater treatment plant to represent a real world setting.

“Including the field exposures was an important part of this study,” said USGS scientist Dana Kolpin, one of the study’s co-authors. “Our research documented that effects observed in the field are not always easily reconciled by laboratory studies because of the full complexity of real-world conditions. Because of this, it’s crucial to include a wide variety of conditions and organism life stages when assessing the effects of pharmaceuticals on aquatic ecosystem health.”

A comprehensive suite of symptoms of adverse health effects across minnow life stages were assessed for this study. Juvenile fathead minnows exposed to the pharmaceuticals suffered from reduced growth and altered escape behavior. This means that, when faced with a threat, the minnows did not escape as efficiently as they normally would, potentially increasing the chances they would be eaten and that could ultimately translate to population level effects.

Interestingly, adult females and males were found to react differently to pharmaceutical exposures. Adult females generally experienced an increase in relative liver size compared to control females, suggesting that the liver is reacting to the influx of pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, adult males exposed to the pharmaceuticals had a variety of reactions. Most did not defend their nests as rigorously as those that were not exposed to the pharmaceuticals. The males exposed to wastewater treatment plant effluent in the field component of this research ended up producing a chemical known as plasma vitellogenin, a protein associated with egg production in females and is an indicator of feminization of male fish.

The following pharmaceutical chemicals were studied:

  1. Hydrocodone: an opioid pain reliever
  2. Methadone: an opioid pain reliever
  3. Oxycodone: an opioid pain reliever
  4. Tramadol: an opioid agonist pain reliever
  5. Methocarbamol: a muscle relaxant
  6. Fluoxetine: an antidepressant
  7. Paroxetine: an antidepressant
  8. Venlafaxine: an antidepressant
  9. Temazepam: a sleep aid

The paper describing the results of this study in detail can be found in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and is part of a long-term effort to understand the fate and effects of contaminants of emerging concern and to provide water-resource managers with objective information that assists in the development of effective water management practices.

To learn more about the study, please see our science feature. To learn more about USGS environmental health science, please visit the USGS Environmental Health website and sign up for our GeoHealth Newsletter.

Storage and Treatment of Liquid Waste from Landfills DoesnÂ’t Remove All Contaminants, Including Pharmaceuticals

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 18:17
Summary: New research from the U.S. Geological Survey details that even after the storage and/or treatment of leachate – liquid waste that moves through or drains from a landfill − it can still contain a multitude of chemicals and reflects the diverse nature of residential, industrial, and commercial waste discarded into landfills in the United States

Contact Information:

Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Dana Kolpin ( Phone: 319-358-3614 );



Examples of treated and stored liquid waste samples collected for this study. An onsite landfill leachate storage lagoon. (high resolution image)

Manhole access as leachate leaves a landfill and enters a sewer that pipes leachate to a wastewater treatment plant. (high resolution image)

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey details that even after the storage and/or treatment of leachate – liquid waste that moves through or drains from a landfill − it can still contain a multitude of chemicals and reflects the diverse nature of residential, industrial, and commercial waste discarded into landfills in the United States.

The paper, authored by USGS scientist Jason Masoner and colleagues, appears in the latest edition of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and confirms what goes into landfills via human disposal isn’t necessarily trash’s final resting place.

This national-scale study collected and analyzed treated and stored liquid waste samples from 22 landfills across the United States looking for 190 contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) including pharmaceuticals, hormones, household products, and industrial chemicals and follows a previously published USGS landfill study that assessed leachate prior to any storage and/or treatment (i.e. untreated liquid waste).

"The importance of moving our landfill research from examining untreated liquid waste to treated and stored liquid waste is that the treated product provides a much better understanding of chemical concentrations that are actually being put into the environment by landfills," said Masoner. "Such input pathways include discharge to streams, seepage into groundwater, diversion to wastewater treatment plants, and even onsite spraying or irrigation."

Treated and stored liquid waste samples contained 101 of the 190 CECs analyzed for this study, with such CECs being found in every leachate sample collected with as many as 58 chemicals detected in a single sample. Observed concentrations ranged from as low as 2 parts per trillion (ng/L) for estrone (natural hormone) to as high as 17,200,000 ng/L for bisphenol A (chemical with a wide variety of uses such as in plastics and thermal paper).

A detailed comparison of CEC concentrations between landfills that were included in both USGS studies (i.e. untreated liquid waste versus treated and stored liquid waste) found that levels of CECs were significantly less in treated and stored liquid waste compared to untreated liquid waste samples. Nevertheless, treated and stored liquid waste still contained a complex mixture of CECs with the largest levels exceeding 1,000,000 ng/L.

"This research is the first step in understanding environmental exposures to contaminants originating from liquid wastes in landfills," said Mike Focazio, coordinator for the USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology Program.

Map showing states where final leachate was sampled from 22 landfills in 2011 and 2012.  (high resolution image)

Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems, Part 1 - Understanding and Applying Restoration

Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:30
Summary: Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp ( Phone: 541-750-1047 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



Mountain big sagebrush - or Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana - is a sub-species of big sagebrush that is found in primarily at higher elevation and colder, drier sites between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. (High resolution image)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.  Today, the U.S. Geological Survey published part one of a three-part handbook addressing restoration of sagebrush ecosystems from the landscape to the site level.                                                                                         

"Land managers face many challenges in restoring sagebrush-steppe landscapes to meet multiple management objectives," said David Pyke, USGS ecologist and lead author of the new USGS Circular. "Many wildlife species require multiple types of habitat spread over many scales – landscape to local site level. Managers are challenged to know where, when and how to implement restoration projects so they are effective across all these scales."

The new handbook describes a sagebrush-steppe habitat restoration framework that incorporates landscape ecology principles and information on resistance of sagebrush-steppe to invasive plants and resilience to disturbance. This section of the handbook introduces habitat managers and restoration practitioners to basic concepts about sagebrush ecosystems, landscape ecology and restoration ecology, with emphasis on greater sage-grouse habitats.

Six specific concepts covered are:

  • similarities and differences among sagebrush plant communities,
  • plant community resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive plants based on soil temperature and moisture regimes,
  • soils and the ecology critical for plant species used for restoration,
  • changes that can be made to current management practices or re-vegetation efforts in support of general restoration actions,
  • landscape restoration with an emphasis on restoration to benefit sage-grouse and
  • monitoring effectiveness of restoration actions in support of adaptive management.

"Restoration of an ecosystem is a daunting task that appears insurmountable at first," said Pyke. "But as with any large undertaking, the key is breaking down the process into the essential components to successfully meet objectives. Within the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, restoration is likely to be most successful with a better understanding of how to prioritize landscapes for effective restoration and to apply principles of ecosystem resilience and resistance in restoration decisions."

Pyke noted that the blending of ecosystem realities – such as soil, temperature and moisture – with species-specific needs provides an ecologically based framework for strategically focusing restoration measures to support species of conservation concern over the short and long term.

Part one of the handbook sets the stage for two decision support tools. Part two of the handbook will provide restoration guidance at a landscape level, and part three, restoration guidance at the site level.

The handbook was funded by the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program and National Interagency Fire Center, Bureau of Land Management, Great Northern Landscape Conservation, USGS, and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with authors from the USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Brigham Young University.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  Implementation of effective management actions for the benefit of sage-grouse continues to be a focus of Department of the Interior agencies following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.