Tuesday, October 20, 2009

National Parks in Peril from Climate Change

The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and NRDC identified the 25 national parks most at risk of global warming in the September 2009 report, National Parks in Peril*.

Below are some of the most popular, iconic national parks that are in trouble -- NOW. Following that is a complete listing of the parks in danger. If you love national parks and do not want to see them deteriorate into places that "once were great national treasures," read the report and then take action.

Rocky Mountain National Park and Climate ChangeRocky Mount National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park - In Rocky Mountain National Park, rising temperatures have triggered an outbreak of mountain pine beetles, which are killing most large lodge pole pine trees. Because of the hotter and drier conditions, the park is also subject to loss of wildlife and fish.

Photos of Grinnell Glacier in 1981, 1998 and 2005 (left to right above)

Glacier National Park - A loss of ice and snow is one of the most obvious impacts of a changing climate. A reduction in glacial runoff has already dried streams and waterfalls in Glacier. If we continue at our current rate of climate disruption, higher temperatures could melt all of the park's namesake glaciers by 2030.

Zion National Park -Zion National Park faces a number of threats from climate change including, but not limited to, loss of plant and animal life, intolerable heat, loss of water, air pollution, flooding and loss of cultural resources.

Yellowstone National Park - Warming temperatures are killing Yellowstone's white bark pine trees at an alarming rate. Their nuts are an important food source for the park's grizzly bear population - without these nuts, grizzly survival is also threatened.

Everglades National Park - Everglades National Park, known for its expansive wetlands and shallow waters, lies just above sea level. As temperatures and sea levels rise, the beauty of this park could be lost forever

Acadia National Park - If our climate disruption continues at its current rate, rising seas could swallow Acadia's network of small islands off the Maine coast. Warmer temperatures would also mean less snow and ice, resulting in loss of wildlife and plant communities.

Assateague National Park - This coastal park is currently experiencing the one of the fastest rates of sea-level rise in the nation. Climate change is also causing more extreme weather in the area, which has the potential to obliterate the fishing industry that sustains much of the area's population.

Bandelier National Park

Bandelier National Park - In Bandelier, flooding and erosion have affected 80 percent of the park's archaeological sites. Treasures like pueblos, cliff dwellings and forts could be lost forever.

Saguaro National
Park - As deserts become drier and hotter, invasive plants, erosion and fire will put areas like Saguaro National Park at risk. Some native species like the iconic saguaro cactus are particularly vulnerable to fire.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to expansive prairieland that is threatened by invasive plant species, a problem that could be worsened by an altered climate. The creatures, such as elk, that drew Teddy Roosevelt to the area will lose critical habitat and food sources if the climate continues to change at its current rate.

Virgin Islands National Park - Increased carbon dioxide is changing the chemistry of the earth's oceans in a process known as ocean acidification. As a result of acidification and unusually high water temperatures, corals are being bleached and dying in record numbers. Virgin Islands National Park surveys estimate 50 percent mortality from this process, but do not indicate any recovery.

National Parks Most At Peril

• Acadia National Park
• Assateague Island National Seashore
• Bandelier National Monument
• Biscayne National Park
• Cape Hatteras National Seashore
• Colonial National Historical Park
• Denali National Park and Preserve
• Dry Tortugas National Park
• Ellis Island National Monument
• Everglades National Park
• Glacier National Park
• Great Smoky Mountains National Park
• Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
• Joshua Tree National Park
• Lake Mead National Recreation Area
• Mesa Verde National Park
• Mount Rainier National Park
• Padre Island National Seashore
• Rocky Mountain National Park
• Saguaro National Park
• Theodore Roosevelt National Park
• Virgin Islands National Park/Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument
• Yellowstone National Park
• Yosemite National Park
• Zion National Park


*You may download the complete PDF report, National Parks in Peril : The Threates of Climate Disruption, by clicking this link, Right-click the link and save link as to save document to your computer.

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