Climate change is taking its toll on America’s national parks, new data reveal.
The recent study found that the country’s national parks are warming at twice the pace of the national average, with some expected to see the “worst effects” of climate change, the Guardian notes.
Temperatures could rise between 3 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2100 in a worst-case scenario prediction. Parks are often situated at higher elevations with thinner atmospheres making them more vulnerable to temperature changes, which is a driving force in the ecosystem shifts.
“With lower emissions, temperatures could still exceed 2C (3.6F) for 58% of park land, compared to 22% of the US as a whole,” the Guardian notes.
“Most of Joshua Tree national park could become uninhabitable for its eponymous trees, glaciers will continue to melt away at Glacier national park, and many other of America’s most treasured beauty spots could be rendered virtually unrecognizable by climate change,” Patrick Gonzalez, the lead author of the study and principal climate scientist for the US National Park Service, wrote in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
“We are preserving the most remarkable ecosystems, and they happen to be in extreme environments.”
According to the research, Alaska would see the biggest spikes in temperatures. The US Virgin Islands parks would see a nearly 30 percent decrease in rainfall by the end of the century.
The climate crises also make way for invasive species populations to proliferate. Bark beetles in Yellowstone National Park are contributing to tree loss. The quintessential American National Park is also expected to see a significant increase in wildfires.
While a growing concern over the planet’s climate is leading to some shifts like those introduced at the Paris Agreement, the livestock and transportation industries are still major concerns. Some estimates put livestock production at 51 percent of total emissions.
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