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5 images reveal how the climate crisis will forever change our national parks

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The climate crisis is here.

We’re only at the tip of the (melting) iceberg when it comes to experiencing the full effects of what anthropogenic warming will do to the planet.

The next century will be full of unprecedented environmental change.

We don’t totally know exactly how that will look. But that’s why it helps to create visualizations to imagine where we’re headed.

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A report from Netherlands-based outdoor education website Outforia offers a window into the future of what 5 U.S. National Parks might look like if climate change continues to alter their landscape.

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Their visualizations are based on recent news reports and scientific studies that document the already-changing landscape of the U.S.’s most beloved natural areas.

Here are 5 images that show how national parks could change drastically due to climate change:

5. Glacier National Park


With rising temperatures in the western U.S., the park’s snow- and ice-capped mountains are melting. The future means less snow and ice at Glacier, as well as shrinking mountaintops.

4. Great Salt Lake, Utah


Utah’s biggest lake is drying up. If trends continue, the Great Salt Lake could one day run dry — this picture imagines the lake in 2187.

3. Saguaro National Park


Drier conditions and invasive plants are causing the iconic saguaro cactus to disappear. The cacti don’t recover quickly from wildfires, so when blazes sweep the southwest, they’re at higher risk of disappearing from those areas forever.

2. The Everglades


Rising sea levels are threatening the freshwater everglades and its native species. Since sea levels in Florida are expected to rise over 2.5 feet by the end of the century, the Everglades might only be a memory by 2100.

1. Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua trees are a vital part of the Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems because they provide food and shelter for a variety of animals. But the species could be pushed to extinction by 2070 leaving a lot less greenery in its namesake national park.

Of course, these visualizations are just predictions. Only time will tell how drastically the landscape will change in response to the climate crisis — but so far, the future does not look bright for our favorite natural areas.

Read more stories about science here.

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