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National parks in the US are typically more exposed to changes in climate than other parts of the country, according to a study of all 417 sites. Between 1895 and 2010, historical mean annual temperature of the national park area increased at double the average US rate.

“The disproportionate exposure of national parks derives from the location of extensive park areas in extreme environments,” says Patrick Gonzalez of the University of California Berkeley, US. “A higher fraction of the national park area is in the Arctic, at high elevations, and in the arid southwestern US.”

By the end of the century, rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions could push up average temperatures in US national parks — which cover 4% of the country — by as much as 9°C, according to estimates by the researchers.

“Changes could occur faster than the abilities of many plant and animal species to migrate to stay in suitable climate spaces,” says Gonzalez, who carried out the research with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US.

I smell a rat. Will this be used as an excuse to limit or curtail humans from visiting National Parks? To read more, click here.