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Science, Conservation, and National Parks$
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Steven R. Beissinger, David D. Ackerly, Holly Doremus, and Gary E. Machlis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226422954

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226423142.001.0001

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Climate Change Trends, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities in US National Parks

Climate Change Trends, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities in US National Parks

(p.102) Six Climate Change Trends, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities in US National Parks
Science, Conservation, and National Parks

Patrick Gonzalez

University of Chicago Press

From glaciers melting in Glacier National Park to corals bleaching in Virgin Islands National Park, field research in US National Parks has detected statistically significant changes that analyses of possible causes have attributed to human-induced climate change. Research that has used data from US National Parks shows that climate change has also raised sea level, shifted vegetation and animal ranges, increased tree mortality, and caused other impacts. Average annual temperature of the US National Park System increased at a statistically significant rate of 0.9 ± 0.2ºC per century (mean ± SE) from 1895 to 2010. If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, cars, and deforestation, temperature in the 21st century could increase at two to six times the rate of 20th century warming, and temporal and spatial patterns of precipitation could change substantially. Analyses of vulnerabilities of resources in US National Parks indicate that continued climate change could fundamentally alter many of the globally unique ecosystems, endangered plant and animal species, and physical and cultural resources that national parks protect.

Keywords:   climate change, climate change impacts, climate change trends, climate change vulnerabilities, national parks, range shifts

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