The Great Yellowstone Area (Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks) has been getting warmer since 1948 according to a study by the US Geological Survey and National Park Service.
We all know that our planet is getting warmer each year, but hearing that the largest intact ecosystem on Earth is being affected by global warming is heartbreaking.
It has been shown that the Great Yellowstone Area has been experiencing increasing temperatures, which has resulted in reduced snowpack and accelerated glacial melt. This study investigated the seasonal temperature change from 1948–2012 in the Greater Yellowstone Area using the data from snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) and Cooperative Observer Network (COOP) weather stations in the Yellowstone area.
This investigation shows that the mean Winter minimum temperature and maximum temperature increased by 0.26 °C and 0.32 °C per a decade from 1948-2012. Interestingly, March experienced the biggest warming, which is concerning because March is the primary snow producing time for the Yellowstone area. The median temperature in March is now above 0 °C, meaning that the region isn’t getting as much snowfall as in the past! Because the majority of water in the lakes and streams originate from mountain snowpack, warmer temperatures and reduced snowfall will negatively affect many wild animals like bisons, elks, snow foxes, bears, and wolves.
Fortunately, there were little changes in the shape of the temperature distributions from 1948-2012, indicating that the Yellowstone area still maintains a diverse range of temperatures within a year.
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