Energy & Environment

National parks are heating up, drying out due to climate change: study


National parks in the U.S. are warming and drying out faster than other parts of the country, according to a new climate change study published in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters. 

The Miami Herald, which first reported the findings, notes that the study based its findings on evaluating rainfall and temperatures in all 417 national park sites. 

{mosads}The study was the first time researchers have examined how the national park system is impacted specifically by climate change, the Herald reported. 

The study’s authors found that parks could become hotter and drought-stricken by the end of the 21st century, but it also said that those conditions could be mitigated by efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions. 

“U.S. national parks protect some of the most irreplaceable ecosystems in the world,” the study reads. “[Reductions in industrial emissions could] substantially reduce the magnitude” of potential impacts.

Patrick Gonzalez, a forest ecologist at University of California, Berkeley, who co-authored the study, told the Herald that “a higher fraction of national parks are in extreme environments” and that they are also generally in areas where warming occurs more rapidly. 

In addition to predicting the outlook for the next century, the study found that national parks warmed by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit from 1885 to 2010. The Herald noted that the figure is twice the U.S. average. 

Annual precipitation also dropped by 12 percent in U.S. national parks during that time period, compared to just a 3 percent decline throughout the rest of America. 

Widely-renowned parks such as Yellowstone National Park and Joshua Tree National Park are among those that could be impacted. 

The study about national parks comes at a time in which various studies continue to show a warming climate.

A study released in August found that deaths from heat waves could increase by up to 2,000 percent in certain parts of the world by 2080 because of climate change.

Tags Climate change Environment national parks

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