A Troubled Future for Golden Gate?

Redwoods at Muir Woods
If summer fog decreases, the majestic, centuries-old redwood trees at Muir Woods will be devastated.

NPS photo

The effects of global warming are more uncertain here in the coastal environment of California than in the continental interior or arctic regions. It is unknown if rainfall will increase or decrease, and if the coastal fog may be effected. However, if global warming progresses at predicted rates, sea level could rise three feet or more by the end of this century. Historic buildings, archaeological sites, and roads will be threatened.

In addition, as the Bay Area's microclimates and sensitive habitats experience new weather patterns, their plant and animal communities may be disrupted, leading to an influx of invasive species and diseases. Some native plants and animals--including rare species found no place else--may be unable to adapt and will disappear.

Here are the most likely changes that Golden Gate will experience in the coming decades:

  • Coastal erosion and flooding will become more prevalent as sea level rises and winter storm severity and wave height increase.
  • Coastal wind patterns will change, affecting upwelling and productivity as well as fog formation.
  • The wildland fire season will increase in duration, and there will be more and larger fires.
  • Plants will become more drought stressed as temperatures increase, even if rainfall also increases, leading to greater susceptibility to pathogens and invasive species.

Learn More

Ocean Beach
Low coastal areas like Ocean Beach will be threatened by flooding and erosion as sea level rises.

NPS photo


Last updated: August 2, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Building 201, Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123-0022


(415) 561-4700

Contact Us