Mapping Future Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks

Created: 12/31/2009 - Updated: 11/16/2021

Summary

Alaska is experiencing warming temperatures and increases in fire frequency and intensity among other effects of global climate change. The Wilderness Society, National Park Service, and the Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning network assessed projected changes in temperature, precipitation, and water availability to 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 and partners 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, including the 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 National Park & Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kobuk Valley National Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Noatak National Preserve, Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park & Preserve, and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. The Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning (SNAP) collaborative network ran moderate CO2 emissions scenarios (A1B) on five global climate models to estimate temperature and precipitation values for each park.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The results describe future projections of temperature and precipitation compared with historical values. Results are presented in a series of five reports. One limitation to this project was the lack of historical climate monitoring data for the state. Investment in more temperature, precipitation, and ecological monitoring stations and programs may enhance understanding of climatic changes and ecosystem responses.

Status

Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Last updated 10/21.

Project File (s)

Climate change summary reports for National Parks, Preserves and Monuments SNAP

Citation

Feifel, K., Gregg, R.M. (2021). Mapping Future Climate Change in Alaska's National Parks [Case study on a project of The Wilderness Society]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/mapping-future-climate-change-alaska’s-national-parks (Last updated October 2021)

Project Contact(s)

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.

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