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Federal parks and other public lands have unique mandates and rules regulating their use and conservation. Because of variation in their response to local, regional, and global-scale disturbance, development of mitigation strategies requires substantial research in the context of long-term inventory and monitoring. In 1982, the National Park Service began long-term, watershed-level studies in a series of national parks. The objective was to provide a more comprehensive database against which the effects of global change and other issues could be quantified. A subset of five sites in North Carolina, Texas, Washington, Michigan, and Alaska, is examined here. During the last 50 years, temperatures have declined at the southern sites and increased at the northern sites with the greatest increase in Alaska. Only the most southern site has shown an increase in precipitation amount. The net effect of these trends, especially for the most northern and southern sites, would likely be an increase in the growing season and especially the time soil processes could continue without moisture or temperature limitations. During the last 18 years, there were few trends in atmospheric ion inputs. The most evident was the decline in SO42- deposition. There were no significant relationships between ion input and stream water output. This finding suggests other factors as modification of precipitation or canopy throughfall by soil processes, hydrologic flow path, and snowmelt rates are major processes regulating stream water chemical outputs.
Additional Publication Details
Biogeochemical effects of global change on U.S. National Parks
Journal of the American Water Resources Association