How Might Global Climate Change Affect Life on Earth?
ESU501  Species and Natural Area Impacts

Climate is the most important factor controlling the distribution of vegetation and animal species. Anticipated increases in mean global temperatures will cause significant changes in species distribution.

USGS, John Fagre
Shrinkage of Grinnell Glacier 1910-1997, Glacier National Park, US

Example

In 1850, estimates put the number of glaciers within what is now Glacier National Park at more than 150. Today there are only 50 that have not melted away. Tree ring studies indicate that glacial retreat began around 1850.

Because these glaciers are found at relatively low elevations, and because they are located in the middle of the North American continent, they are considered to be highly sensitive to global climate change.

Glacier Monitoring in Glacier National Park

Glacial Melting Animation: Glacier National Park

Species and Natural Area Links

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Biological Diversity & Ecosystems

Impacts to National Parks and Public Lands (EPA)