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.