Adapting to Climate Change

A person stands at the beach and assesses erosion in the cliffside.
Risk factors will be assessed for cultural resources, like these fallen coast defense installations at Fort Funston.
Climate change is no longer a future threat and we are currently experiencing the consequences. Taking action now will improve our daily lives as well as increase the longevity of many species, including humans, on this planet.

We have already indebted ourselves to some degree of climate change. Focusing on adaptation will help us adjust to a changing planet. Focusing on emission mitigation will prevent future climate change scenarios from worsening. If we act now, we can see improvement within our lifetimes.
 
Monitoring vegetation changes
Park service resource specialists are monitoring changes in vegetation patterns to see how they may reflect climate change.

NPS photo

The National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program is dedicated to tracking long-term ecological changes in the national parks. This will inform adaptation strategies. Scientists from the Inventory and Monitoring Program and park staff are monitoring a variety of indicators of climate change including:

  • Sea level rise
  • Fire frequency, timing, and area
  • Water quantity, quality, temperature, and salinity
  • Air temperature, humidity, and wind speed
  • Phenology (the timing of seasonal events)
  • Vegetative and wetland cover
  • Habitat disruption
 
One hand holds a petri dish of seeds, and another displays some seeds on its finger.
Our four native plant nurseries research and collect local seeds to grow plants that will be better-adapted to future climate conditions.

NPS Photo

These data will help park managers understand what is happening and inform their responses to ecosystem disruptions. In addition, the park will respond to the threats to both our natural and cultural resources by taking the following steps:

  • Conducting an inventory of existing park resources (both natural and cultural) and rating them for climate change risk. For buildings and facilities, the inventory will assign a climate risk index to assist in the evaluation and prioritization of maintenance projects.

  • Assessing climate risk factors prior to new construction, maintenance, or repair projects to mitigate risks, if possible, or to reconsider the project.

  • Creating a science advisory group made up of internal staff and external experts to develop a monitoring plan for natural resources and shoreline erosion. So far, we have paired a vulnerability assessment with community outreach to conduct adaptation planning at Crissy Field and Stinson Beach. We are able to distill the recommendations from various inputs to help us relocate infrastructure, and to expand riparian and marsh areas to serve as a buffer for sea level rise.

  • Continuing to improve building heating, insulation, and lighting efficiency during building repairs and retrofits. Not only does this curtail our production of heat-trapping gasses, but it contributes to our preservation of the historic structures that enrich our parks with cultural relevancy.

 

Further Reading

Learn more about the ecological monitoring we do here at Golden Gate.
Visit the San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory & Monitoring site.

Last updated: October 16, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Building 201, Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123-0022

Phone:

(415) 561-4700

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