At the Eagle’s Peak, the most elevated peak in Yellowstone National Park, you will be towering over the rest of the surroundings at a height of 11,372 feet (3.466 kilometers). Longs Peak, situated at the Rocky Mountain National Park, on the other hand, reaches the clouds at an even higher elevation of 14,259 feet or 4.346 kilometers. But whether it is Arctic tundra, alpine slopes or even delicate dessert gems, the 417 national parks in the United States of America are places that are generally considered as dangerous or inhabitable to man.
Scientists reveal, however, that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming has caused the temperatures of these famed places to rise double the rate compared to the rest of the other places in the United States of America.
80 That is according to the findings of a research published in the Environmental Research Letters, which indicated that from 1895 towards 2010, the temperature levels in the American national parks grew slightly more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), which is equivalent to double the rate of temperature growth in the rest of the US. During the same time, rainfall plunged nearly 12%, as opposed to roughly 3% across the other regions of America.
The research was published on the 24th of September in 2018. So what does this mean anyway? “National parks aren’t a random sample — they are remarkable places and many happen to be in extreme environments,” said Patrick Gonzalez, associate adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and a lead author for the study, in a press statement. “Many are in places that are inherently more exposed to human-caused climate change.”
Simply put, increased temperature levels equate to drier forests all over the West, together with an upsurge in the extent and intensity of wildfires during its peak season. The warming of Yellowstone already equates to an additional month of terrain without snow annually, together with greater average temperatures all over the park. Glaciers and snowpack are dissolving at a quicker rate.
Droughts occurring in the Southwest areas are severe – and becoming more severe – because of the rapid rate of climate change, which is having a dramatic effect not just on parks but on the health of people as well. Based on scientific findings, national parks in Alaska are displaying the most dramatic rise in temperature levels. However, this pattern is apparent all over the whole park system as well. While temperatures rise, whole ecosystems sway.
On top of the tree line, various plant and animal species accustomed to lower temperatures are suffering, and at the same time, life forms that have evolved to survive the warmer temperatures struggle to crawl their way up to higher grounds. There are even plant and animal life forms – those which are incapable of adapting to the rapid climate changes – that face the prospect of extinction.
Such types of changes in temperatures have occurred in the Earth before, although it usually covers numerous millennia. Due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions generated from automobiles, manufacturing plants, farms and the like, however, such climate changes have occurred in mere decades. For a long time now, scientists have worked on dispersing the message involving accumulating amounts of proof about climate change, and the national parks similar to canaries in the coal mine.
In the event that we keep on discharging our greenhouse gas emissions to our planet, temperature levels at national parks could shoot up by higher than 16 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius in the advent of 2100. Regardless if more stringent laws are sanctioned, scientists believe that no less than 50% of the entire park system will experience a rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius prior to the conclusion of the century.