• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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  • 2014 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Closures

    From March 1 through June 30, the park implements closures of certain Tomales Bay beaches and Drakes Estero to water-based recreation to protect harbor seals during the pupping season. Please avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. More »

  • 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus Operations Have Ended

    March 30, 2014, was the last day for the 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus System. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. is open daily from now through late December 2014. More »

  • Operational Changes Took Effect on May 1, 2013

    The Lighthouse Visitor Center is now only open Fridays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is open on weekends and holidays when shuttles are operating. More »

Climate Change is Happening

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Fourth Assessment Report, which stated that the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere in the year 2005 far exceeded the normall range over the last 650,000 years and concluded that global warming is unequivocally happening. Glaciers and snow packs are melting, stream temperatures are going up, coastal erosion is increasing, and changes in weather patterns are leading to drought and heat waves both locally and regionally. The Fourth Assessment Report not only stated unambiguously that global warming is happening, but it also declared that it is very likely that most of the warming observed since the mid-20th century is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gasses.

The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has declared 2006 to be the warmest year in the continental United States since the government started collecting national temperature data in 1895. The NCDC also reported that 2006 also capped a nine-year warming streak that they described as "unprecedented in the historical record." According to the NCDC, the record-breaking temperatures were the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The NCDC also reported that there are indications of acceleration in the rate at which global temperatures are rising.

Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 1.2°C (2.2°F) higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century. The NCDC found that seven months in 2006 were much warmer than average, and that December 2006 was the fourth-warmest December on record. Average temperatures for all 48 contiguous states were above or well above average, and some states logged their hottest temperatures ever.

Climate experts generally do not worry much about temperature fluctuations over one or two years, but scientists are concerned that the record 2006 temperatures were part of a long and troubling trend. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the continental United States. Other NOAA research has found that the rate of temperature increase has been significantly greater in the past 30 years than at any time since the government started collecting national temperature data in 1895.

Scientists predict that the changes from global warming will accelerate in the future and say that we can expect more extreme weather, more public health risks, less snow and drinking water shortages. Many of these changes have consequences that will affect ecosystems, habitat, wildlife, cultural structures and artifacts, and influence the experiences for which the national parks were established. Regardless of their causes, we must do what we can to reduce and manage these impacts and adapt to the new circumstances they bring. Perhaps the same wisdom that has preserved our heritage in the past can guide us in making choices for the future.

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Did You Know?

Compact Fluorescent Light bulb

Replacing an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent or LED bulb saves 100 pounds of carbon and $20 a year. More...