According to the website of the Yellowstone National Park Lodges, which provides staying facilities at one of the most famous national parks in the US, “In Yellowstone — and in national parks across the country — the consequences of climate change have already begun to appear.” The website mentions the following impacts:
- Research indicates that the park’s temperature “will continue to rise over the next century”, and the average temperatures today are higher than what they were five decades ago.
- “In the last 50 years, the growing season has increased by roughly 30 days in some areas of the park.”
- At the Northeast entrance, there are now 80 more days per year above freezing than in the 1960s.
- Fire frequency and season length could increase.
- Altered amount and timing of spring snowmelt, which affects water levels, vegetation growth, and movement of wildlife — from migrating bison and spawning trout, to the arrival of the pollinators. As headwaters to significant water basins, any change in the rivers flowing out of Yellowstone affects downstream users like ranchers, farmers, towns, and cities.
- Whitebark Pine, one of the crucial tree species, is at risk with higher mortality rate. The tree’s lifespan can be up to 500 years — and sometime more than 1,000 years. The risks have emerged due to several non-native trees, some of which are dangerous, and insects. “The significant tree losses are estimated to be at over fifty percent in the foreseeable future.”
- The Grizzly Bear population too is at risk because the Whitebark Pine seeds are an important part of its diet. According to one wildlife advocate, “If these trees go, they could take Yellowstone’s grizzlies with them.”
- “At the current accelerated rate of melt, scientists predict glaciers will disappear from Glacier National Park by 2030. In the North Cascades, the park’s total glacial mass has shrunk 80% since 1956.”
- “Old Faithful”, a famous geyser in the park, “could become less faithful as a result of climate change”. Some studies indicate that “drought has lengthened Old Faithful’s eruption cycle”. Others predict, “Our grandchildren will have to wait longer for Old Faithful to erupt.”
Due to these and other reasons, the Yellowstone National Park has become one of the widely researched and monitored parks. According to its official website, “Snowfall in Yellowstone melts into rivers that span the continent from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists are documenting significant changes in the amount of snow that falls here as well as the intensity and timing of spring runoff. These trends could affect everything you see when you come to the park, as well as everyone and everything living downstream. Yellowstone’s climate is changing. Climate is one of the primary drivers of the processes that make an ecosystem look and function the way it does.”