Why it’s endangered: Visitors may lose access to some of these recreational boating facilities as most climate models show that warming will cause water levels in Lake Superior to decrease over time. Docks and boat ramps, for example, may be too high because of lower lake levels, and some areas of the lakes may become inaccessible to many types of watercraft. In the summer of 2007, a drought caused record low water levels in the park (similar to what scientists predict for the region), and some docks were so high out of the water that it was unsafe to access them from small boats. For more information on visiting the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, see:
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
This park northwest of Denver hosts the largest expanse of tundra in the U.S., south of Alaska. The area’s windswept ecosystem begins above the tree line and supports elk, mule deer, and many other species. The park’s Trail Ridge Road winds through the open tundra, offering visitors spectacular views of wildflowers and wildlife, and reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet.
Why it’s endangered: The ecosystem is at risk as a warming climate may cause trees to grow at higher elevations and encroach on the tundra. Populations of white-tailed ptarmigan and pika, species that are adapted to the tundra, may decline as their habitat and food supply changes. For more information on visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, see: http://www.nps.gov/romo/.
Ellis Island National Monument, New York and New Jersey
Located on a small island in New York Harbor, this federal immigration station processed more than 12 million steamship passengers between 1892 and 1954. More than 40 percent of Americans can trace their ancestry through this site, which was restored and became a museum in 1990.
Why it’s endangered: The collection of immigrant arrival records may not be safe in the future because of rising seas caused by climate change. And it’s not just Ellis Island. “Records may be too vulnerable if they’re left on-site at coastal, historical parks. But it diminishes the visitor experience if the artifacts and documents aren’t there,” said Wenzler. For more information on visiting Ellis Island, see: http://www.nps.gov/elis/.
Everglades National Park, Florida
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Everglades National Park is a 1.5 million acre subtropical wetland with many distinct habitats, such as cypress swamps and mangrove forests. The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including manatees, Florida panthers, egrets, and alligators.
Why it’s endangered: More intense hurricanes are expected with warming temperatures, and these could destroy buildings in the park. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma severely damaged the “Flamingo” area, causing the closure of the park’s only overnight lodging and a restaurant (that have yet to be reopened). In addition, sea-level rise is expected to increase with global warming, and coastal freshwater habitats in the Everglades and elsewhere may be infiltrated by seawater. For more information on visiting the Everglades, see: http://www.nps.gov/ever/.
Glacier National Park, Montana
The mountains of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana were formed by the action of advancing and retreating glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years. In 1850, the park had an estimated 150 glaciers, but now only 26 remain, and many of those are smaller than they were in the past. Grinnell Glacier, for example, covered 500 acres a century ago and today covers less than 200 acres.
Why it’s endangered: Melting glaciers are one of the most visible signs of a changing climate. If current warming trends continue, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey estimate that all of the glaciers in the park may melt by 2030.For more information on visiting Glacier National Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/.