Climate Impacts

Climate change has a range of impacts on our national parks and resources. Higher temperatures caused by the greenhouse effect start a domino effect of other changes that make it hard to preserve the park structures, ecosystems, and activities as they are now. Climate impacts overlap and amplify each other, affecting multiple features of our parks at once. In the articles below, you can explore what some of those impacts are in the National Capital Area parks.

View from the Maryland Heights Overlook. You can see the Potomac River, the town of Harpers Ferry.
Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise is occurring on a global scale as the result of many climate change-induced factors, impacting 111 parks already.

High Water Pole near Overlook 3 in 1996.
Flooding and Extreme Weather

Climate change has had a profound effect on the weather. Flooding and other extreme weather harms park resources.

A pink lotus flower in bloom

The changing climate increases stressors that weaken plant resilience, disrupting forest structure and ecosystem services.

A monarch butterfly sits on top of a cluster of yellow flowers feeding.

Pollinators play a vital role in plant reproduction, making them fundamental to supporting healthy ecosystems.

Wood thrush on tree branch

Rising temperatures lower many wildlife species' survival rates due to changes in food, reproduction, and migration.

Bicyclist crossing a wooden bridge over a river channel
Park Recreation

The many activities visitors currently enjoy are facing new challenges from rising temperatures and the resulting impacts.

An aerial view of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial with several visitors walking up the steps
Cultural Resources

Cultural resources play an important role in the protection and interpretation of the nation's heritage, including in the National Capital.

National Park Service. Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance. Your Parks Have Climate Stories.

NPS Photo / Graphic by 4C

Last updated: December 22, 2021