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National Parks Could Suffer Due to Climate Change, Study Finds

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
August 15, 2014; 9:52 AM ET

A July 2014 study by the National Park Service reported that climate change has made a significant impact on the condition and care required for national parks across the United States.

Completed by two NPS researchers out of Colorado, the study logs various data spread across 1901 to 2012. Factors such as rising temperatures, widespread drought concerns and sea levels were all cited as reasons to spark better treatment of national parks.

"This report shows that climate change continues to be the most far-reaching and consequential challenge ever faced by our national parks," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a press release. "Our national parks can serve as places where we can monitor and document ecosystem change without many of the stressors that are found on other public lands."

Popular parks like the Grand Canyon could be threatened by heightened extreme weather as a result of climate change, a new study reported. (Flickr/Moyan Brenn)

The study claimed that a large majority of parks experienced extremely high temperatures while a minority of parks experienced extremely low temperatures.

The temperature increases most widely occurred during night. The study reported a greater warming of nighttime low temperatures than of daytime highs.

A major concern for parks across the South and Northwest were high drought levels. The study said that one of the most famous national parks, the Grand Canyon, suffered greatly as drought gripped the area and prohibited vegetation. Limited water supply could pose a threat to local wildlife as well as drinking water availability.

"This goes in line with current research which shows that climate change is causing an increase in extremes such as drought, heat waves and heavy precipitation events," AccuWeather Climate Expert Brett Anderson said.

The study claims that the changing climate variables have been and will continue to spark changes in growing seasons.

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"The increased extremes in our national parks is also causing more stress on animals and plants making them more susceptible to things like starvation, disease and large wildfires," Anderson said.

The goal of the study was to increase awareness for park managers as well as visitors of the natural threats being brought to the historic sites. As more information comes to light, park managers were urged to evaluate current structures as well as upkeep procedures in order to keep the parks in the condition tourists have come to expect even as evolving climate factors could challenge the current settings.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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