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Climate Rangers update: Heading for Rocky Mountain National Park

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Heading north …

Global monitoring for Alpine climate impacts

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Rocky Mountain National Park has graciously invited our crowdfunded Beacon-based reporting projectto visit a high alpine basin where scientists can see how alpine areas respond to climate change.

The long-term observation site is part of a global network of mountain stations recording detailed temperature readings of air and soil, and carefully watching plant and animal communities.

Some stations have just been established in the past decade, so the record isn’t all that long. But several other sites do have observations dating back to the 1970s. Some of the studies done at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colorado show changes in the timing of wildflower growth, affecting both insects and birds.

We’re grateful for the invitation from the National Park Service, which has dedicated resources to climate monitoring programs. As undisturbed areas, national parks are great for monitoring natural processes.

National Parks will probably also become climate refuges for some species. Many conservation biologists say pr0-active conservation focused on controllable impacts may help buffer some ecosystems from global warming impacts. A big part of that is avoiding disturbance known to degrade ecosystems.

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