October 1, 2011
Yellowstone National Park Threatened By Climate Change
According to a new study, Yellowstone National Park's wildlife and landscape is suffering from climate change.
The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Greater Yellowstone Coalition released a report on Tuesday that shows temperatures in the past decade in the Yellowstone area have exceeded the rate of warming worldwide compared to the 20th Century average.
The report said that climate change is likely to transform the greater Yellowstone area, which includes parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
The study says that warming in the area could increase the frequency and severity of wildfires, strip forests of moisture-dependent tress like aspen, lower water in mountain streams that world-class trout fisheries and damage areas vital to threatened species like grizzly bears.
"Whitebark pines, the dominant, ecologically important trees of the region´s highest forests, are suffering widespread mortality from tree-killing mountain pine beetles, now able to spread in epidemic numbers into mountaintops that used to be too cold for them," the authors wrote in the report.
"As a result, grizzly bears, which depend on whitebark pine seeds as a key pre-hibernation food, now face a new threat. Wildfires are now more widespread and extreme."
According to top climate scientists, a worst-case projection shows summertime temperatures at Yellowstone National Park could be 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher by 2009.
Stephen Saunders, president of RMCO and the report's primary author, said in a press release: "A hotter climate is not just melting polar ice caps, it is harming the places that are nearest and dearest to American hearts."
On the Net: