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.
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.
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.
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.
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: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/mapping-future-climate-change-alaska’s-national-parks (Last updated March 2010)