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Climate change hitting US national parks hard: Study

Several national parks in the U.S. are experiencing extreme climate change over the last few decades, and this is likely to speed up unless some concrete steps are taken, says a new study.

Climate change will threaten natural and cultural resources along with visitor experience as well.

According to the research, which has been published in the journal PLOS One, National Park Service scientists examined weather records from 289 U.S. parks for the years 1901 to 2012. The scientists evaluated the historical trends for that period with the trends over the last few decades.

It was found that several parks in the U.S. have actually been changing in extreme ways over the last 10-30 years, Bill Monahan, the study's lead author stated.

According to the study authors, parks are at the extreme warm end of historical temperature distributions for numerous key variables, including mean temperature of the warmest quarter, minimum temperature of the coldest month and annual mean temperature.

81 percent of the parks examined have experienced extreme heat over the last few decades and the prominent examples are Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California and Grand Canyon in Arizona.

It was also found that precipitation has been more uneven in the parks over the last 112 years and 27 percent of the parks have witnessed extreme famine in recent decades.

On the other hand, Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada, and Mojave National Preserve in California have been bizarrely dry, whereas Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Pennsylvania Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina has been very wet.

The study has warned that future visitors might have to contend with drier, hotter climate, disruptions to wildlife and vegetation, rising sea level and loss of scenic glaciers.