Study: National Parks Bearing The Brunt Of Climate Change Impacts

Yellowstone National Park escaped the summer without any large conflagrations in its forests, but that could be an anomaly under the current pace of climate change. Pikas could vanish from parks such as Lassen Volcanic and Great Basin. Glaciers and Joshua trees could be seen only in photographs and paintings in their namesake parks, and Virgin Islands and Hawai’i Volcanoes national parks could see diminished rainfall.

Southwestern parks such as Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, and Arches, already hot and arid, stand to become more so as droughts such as the current one become more commonplace.

Those are just some of the changes coming to the National Park System in the coming decades if anthropogenic climate change isn’t reversed, according to new research from scientists at the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin.

Simply put, the scientists say, the landscapes preserved by the National Park System are bearing a disportionately greater impact of climate change than the rest of the United States. The reason, they say, is that a greater percentage of the National Park System is located at higher elevations than most U.S. landscapes. Also, because Alaska has more national park acreage than the rest of the country.

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