• View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking towards San Francisco at sunrise.

    Golden Gate

    National Recreation Area California

Climate Change and National Parks

Giant sequoia

Giant sequoia habitat is moving to higher elevations. Can the trees make the move?

NPS photo

Some national parks are already experiencing significant impacts from global warming. Glaciers are melting, alpine habitats are being replaced by warmer climate zones, wildfires are larger and more frequent, and floods and diseases are more commonplace in many parks.

Some of our national parks could lose their signature treasures. Glacier National Park could be without glaciers by the mid part of this century. Some scientists believe that Joshua trees could disappear from Joshua Tree National Park, and saguaro and giant sequoia are threatened in their namesake parks.

Here are some predicted effects on western national parks:

• Alpine meadows replaced by fir and sagebrush

• Aquatic life stressed by early runoff, warmer water, and evaporative stress

• Vegetation drought stressed by increased summer temperatures and late season drying

• Recreational opportunities impacted by environmental changes, such as loss of snowpack, and by limiting of access to protect disrupted habitats

Learn more about climate change in national parks and the National Park Service response, or use the links at the right to find out more about climate change and national parks.

 
West Glacier 1913 and 2005
West Glacier (on left in 1913) in Glacier National Park has melted away (on right in 2005). The other glaciers in the park are facing the same threat and may disappear within the next 30 years.
NPS (left), USGS (right)

Did You Know?

Fort Baker barrack building

Golden Gate National Recreation Area administers over 730 historic structures, including over 35 historic batteries. These historic buildings date from as early as pre-Civil War all the way through to the Cold War era.