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Scientists Say Climate Change Damaging National Parks

Photo caption: President Barack Obama speaks by the Sentinel Bridge in the Yosemite Valley, ...

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin AP

President Barack Obama speaks by the Sentinel Bridge in the Yosemite Valley, in front of Yosemite Falls which is the highest waterfall in the park at Yosemite National Park, Calif., on June 18, 2016. The Obama family traveled to Yosemite to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of America's national park system.

Scientists Say Climate Change Damaging National Parks


Rebecca Beavers, coastal geology and adaptation coordinator, National Park Service


July Fourth is one of the busiest weekends for national parks across the country. But visitors to parks this summer, especially in coastal areas, may be seeing the effects of climate change. As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, officials are warning that these impacts are threatening the future of parks across the country.

President Obama visited Yosemite National Park last month and noted that climate change has shrunk the park's largest glacier and caused bird ranges to move north.

"The biggest challenge we're going to face in protecting this place and places like it is climate change," Obama said. "Make no mistake, climate change is no longer just a threat, it's already reality."

The Park Service says climate change is especially affecting coastal parks, such as San Diego's Cabrillo National Monument, due to changes in sea level. Rebecca Beavers, the agency's coastal geology and adaptation coordinator, said the rising sea level impacts Cabrillo's tide pools, and if high tides grow higher, the pools could be less accessible to visitors. Rising sea levels have also caused beach erosion in other parks, which can force the Park Service to cut back parking areas as the land becomes less stable, Beavers said.

Beavers joins KPBS Midday Edition Monday to share how the Park Service is trying to combat climate change's effects and how it's changing visitor behavior.


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