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Researchers find places in Yosemite National Park naturally protected from climate change

Posted at 10:07 AM, Mar 21, 2022

YOSEMITE, Cali. — As the impacts of climate change continue to worsen, new research by the National Park Service suggests that there are areas of land inside Yosemite National Park which may be naturally protected from warming temperatures, a finding that could be key in helping to protect endangered plants and animals.

Nicole Athearn is the Division Lead for Resources Management and Science at Yosemite National Park in California. She's spent years studying the impacts of climate change on the National Park.

"The more we can learn, the better job we can do at planning for the future," Athearn said.

What they are finding out here in Yosemite could provide a road map for protecting not just National Parks nationwide, but any kind of land being threatened by warming temperatures.

Research is showing that parts of Yosemite National Park are more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Some areas may be more drought-resistant or just be geographically situated in a way that keeps them from direct sunlight, meaning they're less impacted by rising temperatures.

"If we don’t manage these areas these animals and plants will have no place to go," Athearn said.

By being able to identify areas of land that are insulated from climate change, the Park Service can focus more attention on better protecting those insulated pieces of land. Relocating endangered animals like the Sierra Nevada Red Fox can be done more strategically if areas of land are identified as places of refuge from the impacts of global warming.

"If we’re going to protect these species long-term, we need to have a better understanding of how that action is happening and where it’s likely to happen faster or slower," explained Athearn.