Yellowstone National Park is Warming at Most Intense Rates in Thousand Years

The world is warming up at a worrying pace, threatening the existence of various ecosystems and their inhabitants. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone is warming at the most intense rates in at least 1,250 years, as a study has discovered.

The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed that summers in the nation’s first and oldest national park are rapidly heating up. 2016 was the warmest year the region had seen since 770!

The study used data from tree rings to reconstruct over a millennium of summer temperatures in the Yellowstone region. Tree rings can help provide an array of information about the climate and weather conditions a tree has experienced over the course of its lifetime.

Led by Karen Heeter at the University of Idaho in Moscow, the researchers gathered samples from both living and fossilized Engelmann spruce trees in northwest Wyoming, including trees within Yellowstone National Park and in the neighboring Shoshone National Forest.

The world’s first national park, Yellowstone is warming at the most intense rates in at least 1,250 years, a study has discovered | Image: Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service

The samples helped scientists create a timeline of the Yellowstone climate, emphasizing August temperatures – the hottest time of the year.

Researchers used a special kind of analysis known as “blue intensity,” a fairly new method that measures the amount of blue light reflected from tree rings. It helps determine the density of the tree rings, a characteristic that is closely associated with the summer temperatures the tree experienced while it was alive.

According to scientists, it is one of the few tree-ring records in North America dating back so far. Yellowstone has had its ups and downs over the past millennium, including warming and cooling periods. However recent human-induced climate change has taken an unprecedented toll. The region’s most intense warming has occurred since 2000.

Scientists have warned that continued climate change in the Yellowstone region and across the western United States could amplify the likelihood of severe droughts and the risk of large wildfires.

The current rate of warming raises concerns that the park might already be on track for drastic changes in the coming decades. It has become imperative to take urgent actions to halt global warming to protect this precious ecosystem and all the others from impending doom.

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