According to recent study, summers in the country’s first and oldest national park are progressively heating up. Yellowstone National Park has been warming at its fastest rate in at least 1,250 years over the previous two decades.
The year 2016 was the hottest in the region since 770.
The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, utilized data from tree rings to recreate July temperatures in the Yellowstone region over almost a millennium. Tree rings may reveal a lot about the temperature and weather conditions that a tree has lived through throughout its existence.
The researchers in northwest Wyoming, led by Karen Heeter of the University of Idaho in Moscow, gathered samples from both live and fossilized Engelmann spruce trees, including those in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding Shoshone National Forest. Some of the examples dated back over a thousand years.
The samples were used to assist scientists in creating a climate chronology for Yellowstone, focusing on August temperatures, which are the warmest of the year.
They utilized a technique known as “blue intensity,” which measures the blue light reflected from tree rings and is a relatively new technology. This approach aids scientists in determining the density of tree rings, which is strongly linked to the summer temperatures the tree experienced over its lifetime.
According to the researchers, it’s one of the few tree-ring records in North America that goes back that long. The majority of the others are barely a couple of hundred years old.
They discovered that Yellowstone had experienced ups and downs during the millennium, including warming and cooling periods. However, recent human-caused climate change has wreaked havoc. Since 2000, the area has seen the most extreme warming.
Even yet, there are specific lessons to be gained from history. According to the researchers, other critical warm times in Yellowstone’s history have coincided with catastrophic climate-related calamities.
For example, 1988 was the fourth-warmest year on record. In addition, it was scorched. A series of devastating wildfires ripped across the park that year, destroying approximately 800,000 acres of land.
The fifth-warmest period on record, which runs from 1931 to 1940, corresponds with the Dust Bowl’s catastrophic dryness.
Scientists have cautioned that prolonged climate change in the Yellowstone region and the rest of the western United States might increase the possibility of catastrophic droughts and enormous wildfires. According to the experts, the present rate of warming raises fears that the park may already be on pace for significant changes in the coming decades.
In a statement, Heeter added, “The pace of warming over a concise period is frightening and has serious consequences for ecosystem health and function.”