Understanding Climate Science

Woman in kayak measuring the end point of a glacier
To track the rate at which glaciers are shrinking, scientists take GPS data points at the end, or terminus, of the glacier. Grinnell Glacier is one of 26 glaciers, out of a recorded 150, remaining at Glacier National Park, Montana.

USGS/Lisa McKeon

Scientists who study Earth's climate are looking at more than just weather statistics over time. Rather, climate science is a complex field spanning multiple disciplines like atmospheric science, physical geography, oceanography, and biogeochemistry. Climate scientists look at the sum of evidence across Earth to explain how and why the climate is changing and what broad-scale impacts are occurring. Often, this information is then modeled to inform projections for the future.

The National Park Service relies upon authoritative sources of climate science, including the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. These organizations provide robust projections which can be downscaled to better understand continental, regional, or local patterns and impacts. Downscaled data is then coupled with tools, expertise, and additional data from governmental and nongovernmental partners to help inform the management of the National Park System.
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    Last updated: November 10, 2020

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