Adapting to Climate Change

Monitoring vegetation changes
Park service resource specialists are monitoring changes in vegetation patterns to see how they may reflect climate change.

NPS photo

Global warming and associated climate and sea level changes are likely to have a profound effect on Golden Gate's natural systems, its cultural relics of the past (such the coastal defense system) and the park's infrastructure. In order to properly manage and care for these resources in the future, the park must monitor the changes as they emerge and develop new adaptive strategies to respond to these threats.

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

  • Air temperature, humidity, and wind speed
  • Water quantity, quality, temperature, salinity
  • Sea level
  • Fire frequency, timing and area
  • Phenology - timing of blooming, migrations, nesting
  • Vegetative and wetland cover
  • Habitat disruption - invasive species, pests and disease rates, population trends, endangered species
Cliff erosion at Fort Funston
Risk factors will be assessed for cultural resources, like these fallen coast defense installations at Fort Funston.

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 should 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 in order to mitigate the risk if possible, or 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.
  • Continuing to improve building heating, insulation and lighting efficiency during building repairs and retrofits.

Further Reading

Learn more about the ecological monitoring we do here at Golden Gate.
Visit the San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory & Monitoring site.
Visit the National Park Service Climate Change Adaption and Response site.
Take a Google Earth tour of climate change threats to Golden Gate.


Climate Change Articles

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    Last updated: April 12, 2018

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