Conditions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park could become unsuitable for red squirrels, Southern red-back voles and Northern flying squirrels by the middle of this century if carbon-dioxide levels continue accumulating at the current rate, according to a study highlighted in “Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks,” a report released today by the National Parks Conservation Association. Thirty-seven percent of native trout, meanwhile, could be eliminated from Appalachian streams with a temperature increase of just 3.6 degrees.
The report also notes that climate change could make it harder for trees in the highlands to cope with the stresses of acid rain or invasive pests like the woolly adelgid. “If steps are not taken to slow or halt climate change, Yosemite and other western parks will see more wildfires, the Blue Ridge Parkway will see more ‘code red’ days, and Cape Hatteras’ famous lighthouse will have to be moved again before it washes away,” the report notes.
View the report here, and click on “Appalachian Case Study” to download the portion that pertains to our region.
— Rebecca Bowe, editorial assistant