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Mapping Future Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks

Created: 12/31/2009 - Updated: 5/09/2019

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the National Park Service. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Summary

Alaska is experiencing warming temperatures and increases in fire frequency and intensity among other effects of global climate change. The Wilderness Society has created maps of Alaska highlighting expected changes in temperature, precipitation, and water availability to help inform land managers and to prioritize restoration and protection activities that enhance ecosystem resilience.

Background

Global warming, along with wilderness, energy, roadless forests, and stewardship, has been identified by The Wilderness Society as central to the protection of wilderness. Areas of Alaska are already experiencing varying impacts of a changing climate, including changes in temperature and precipitation patterns. In order to understand the potential magnitude of these changes in Alaska, project leads from The Wilderness Society estimated and mapped future changes in several prominent areas around the state.

Implementation

The Wilderness Society created maps displaying projected changes in temperature and precipitation for thirteen of Alaska’s national parks. The collaborative network, Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning (SNAP), ran moderate CO2 emissions scenarios (A1B, IPCC) on five global climate models to estimate temperature and precipitation values for each park.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Results for each national park were digested into two-page flyers:

  • Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve
  • Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
  • Cape Krusenstern National Monument
  • Denali National Park & Preserve
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve
  • Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
  • Katmai Natinoal Park & Preserve
  • Kenai Fjords National Park 
  • Kobuk Valley National Park
  • Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
  • Noatak National Preserve
  • Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park & Preserve
  • Yukon-Charley National Preserve

One limitation to this project was the lack of historical climate monitoring data for the state. Project leads recommend increased temperature, precipitation, and ecological monitoring programs that may enhance understanding of climatic changes and ecosystem responses.

Status

Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Last updated March 2010

Citation

Feifel, K. & Gregg, R.M. (2009). Mapping Future Climate Change in Alaska's National Parks [Case study on a project of The Wilderness Society]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated March 2010)

Project Contacts

The wilderness society was established in 1935 with a founding mission to “protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care about our wild places.” To date notable accomplishments include writing and passing the Wilderness Act and protecting 109 million acres of land as designated Wilderness, over half of which is in Alaska. Projects are completed using the best available science and in collaboration with communities and conservation groups. Their key issues include: wilderness, global warming, energy, roadless forests, and stewardship.

Keywords

Scale of Project: 
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Forestry
Tourism / Recreation
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Biodiversity
Fire
Habitat extent
Phenological shifts
Precipitation
Range shifts
Species of concern
Water supply
Climate Type: 
Temperate
Subpolar
Timeframe: 
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Capacity Building
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Taxonomic Focus: 
Mammals
Birds
Plants
Fishes
Other Invertebrates
Effort Stage: 
Completed

Related Resources

Photo attributed to Adamcain62. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study