Projecting Climate Change Effects on Outdoor Recreation

Cool temperatures enjoyed by hikers might rise enough that people decide to stay inside instead. The culprit – climate change – will cause higher temperatures and uneven intensification of both drought and rainfall. As a result, outdoor recreation trends could change markedly.

A study by the University of Georgia and the U.S. Forest Service examined this relationship. The study looked at how climate change could impact outdoor recreation participation. Their findings were published in The Journal of Park and Recreation Administration.

First, the scientists created models of adult participation rates in 17 outdoor recreation activities, such as day hiking, fishing, horseback riding on trails, motorized water activities, birding, and swimming. They based the models on past national and regional data, with the expectation that they could simulate future rates.

They combined these recreation models with explanatory variable projections. Explanatory variables are the main factors that explain participation in outdoor recreation. These variables included income, temperature, and precipitation, among others.

The results project future changes in participation for those 17 outdoor activities, nationally and by region. Changes were measured as the difference between the projected 2060 rates with climate change and the 2060 rates without.

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