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ST. GEORGE — National parks and other protected lands are being affected by climate change more than the rest of the U.S., a recent study reveals.
The study, performed by a team led by University of California, Berkeley climate change scientist and associate adjunct professor Patrick Gonzalez, used spatial analysis and GIS to analyze climate data and temperature for all 50 states – and every national park individually – from 1895 to 2010. According to the study, the data reveal that national parks have been more affected by rising temperatures than other geographical areas.
“Up until our research, the severity of climate change across all the U.S. National Parks was unknown,” Gonzalez said.
The research found that compared to the U.S. as a whole, which has warmed about 0.4 degrees Celsius, or 0.72 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, national parks have warmed about 1 C, or 1.8 F, on average.
The area that has been most affected is Denali National Park in Alaska, which has warmed by 1.6 C per century, while the least affected protected land area is the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama.
The Southeast has been the least affected by climate change in general, having warmed very little due to things like air pollution and increased rainfall which helps compensate for the warming, Gonzalez said.