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Protected Area Tourism in a Changing Climate: Will Visitation at US National Parks Warm Up or Overheat?

Fisichelli NA, Schuurman GW, Monahan WB, Ziesler PS - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Visitation generally increased with increasing average monthly temperature, but decreased strongly with temperatures > 25°C.A changing climate is likely to have cascading and complex effects on protected area visitation, management, and local economies.Results suggest that protected areas and neighboring communities that develop adaptation strategies for these changes may be able to both capitalize on opportunities and minimize detriment related to changing visitation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Natural Resource Science and Stewardship, US National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Climate change will affect not only natural and cultural resources within protected areas but also tourism and visitation patterns. The U.S. National Park Service systematically collects data regarding its 270+ million annual recreation visits, and therefore provides an opportunity to examine how human visitation may respond to climate change from the tropics to the polar regions. To assess the relationship between climate and park visitation, we evaluated historical monthly mean air temperature and visitation data (1979-2013) at 340 parks and projected potential future visitation (2041-2060) based on two warming-climate scenarios and two visitation-growth scenarios. For the entire park system a third-order polynomial temperature model explained 69% of the variation in historical visitation trends. Visitation generally increased with increasing average monthly temperature, but decreased strongly with temperatures > 25°C. Linear to polynomial monthly temperature models also explained historical visitation at individual parks (R2 0.12-0.99, mean = 0.79, median = 0.87). Future visitation at almost all parks (95%) may change based on historical temperature, historical visitation, and future temperature projections. Warming-mediated increases in potential visitation are projected for most months in most parks (67-77% of months; range across future scenarios), resulting in future increases in total annual visits across the park system (8-23%) and expansion of the visitation season at individual parks (13-31 days). Although very warm months at some parks may see decreases in future visitation, this potential change represents a relatively small proportion of visitation across the national park system. A changing climate is likely to have cascading and complex effects on protected area visitation, management, and local economies. Results suggest that protected areas and neighboring communities that develop adaptation strategies for these changes may be able to both capitalize on opportunities and minimize detriment related to changing visitation.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Potential future change in length (days) of the overall visitation season at parks (2041–2060 – 1979–2013).Overall visitation season length was defined as beginning on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation was achieved and ending on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation remained for the year. Projections did not vary between low- and high-maximum growth models for each RCP. Boxplots: thick vertical black line indicates median, the boxes are the interquartile range (IQR), and the whiskers extend 1.5 x IQR.
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pone.0128226.g005: Potential future change in length (days) of the overall visitation season at parks (2041–2060 – 1979–2013).Overall visitation season length was defined as beginning on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation was achieved and ending on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation remained for the year. Projections did not vary between low- and high-maximum growth models for each RCP. Boxplots: thick vertical black line indicates median, the boxes are the interquartile range (IQR), and the whiskers extend 1.5 x IQR.

Mentions: Future warming across temperature-sensitive parks is projected, on average, to increase potential total annual visits, visitation during all seasons, and the length of the visitation season (Figs 3,4 and 5, S2–S4 Figs). Future projections (2041–2060) of annual visitation at individual parks varied from < 80% to > 140% of historical values (Fig 3, S5 Fig). Most months in most parks (67–77%, RCP 4.5 low growth-RCP 8.5 high growth estimates) are projected to see warming-mediated increases in visitation, resulting in future increases (8–23%) in total annual visits across the national park system. By season, total park visits across the system are projected to increase 5–19% during the peak visitation season (three months), increase 9–24% during the shoulder seasons (two months prior to and after the peak season), and increase 13–31% during the low season (3 months). Visitation season length is projected to increase at most parks (mean increase 13–31 days). The timing of visitation (peak and low seasons) is not projected to shift temporally by more than one month at most (91–94%) temperature-sensitive parks.


Protected Area Tourism in a Changing Climate: Will Visitation at US National Parks Warm Up or Overheat?

Fisichelli NA, Schuurman GW, Monahan WB, Ziesler PS - PLoS ONE (2015)

Potential future change in length (days) of the overall visitation season at parks (2041–2060 – 1979–2013).Overall visitation season length was defined as beginning on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation was achieved and ending on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation remained for the year. Projections did not vary between low- and high-maximum growth models for each RCP. Boxplots: thick vertical black line indicates median, the boxes are the interquartile range (IQR), and the whiskers extend 1.5 x IQR.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4470629&req=5

pone.0128226.g005: Potential future change in length (days) of the overall visitation season at parks (2041–2060 – 1979–2013).Overall visitation season length was defined as beginning on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation was achieved and ending on the date when 10% of historical cumulative visitation remained for the year. Projections did not vary between low- and high-maximum growth models for each RCP. Boxplots: thick vertical black line indicates median, the boxes are the interquartile range (IQR), and the whiskers extend 1.5 x IQR.
Mentions: Future warming across temperature-sensitive parks is projected, on average, to increase potential total annual visits, visitation during all seasons, and the length of the visitation season (Figs 3,4 and 5, S2–S4 Figs). Future projections (2041–2060) of annual visitation at individual parks varied from < 80% to > 140% of historical values (Fig 3, S5 Fig). Most months in most parks (67–77%, RCP 4.5 low growth-RCP 8.5 high growth estimates) are projected to see warming-mediated increases in visitation, resulting in future increases (8–23%) in total annual visits across the national park system. By season, total park visits across the system are projected to increase 5–19% during the peak visitation season (three months), increase 9–24% during the shoulder seasons (two months prior to and after the peak season), and increase 13–31% during the low season (3 months). Visitation season length is projected to increase at most parks (mean increase 13–31 days). The timing of visitation (peak and low seasons) is not projected to shift temporally by more than one month at most (91–94%) temperature-sensitive parks.

Bottom Line: Visitation generally increased with increasing average monthly temperature, but decreased strongly with temperatures > 25°C.A changing climate is likely to have cascading and complex effects on protected area visitation, management, and local economies.Results suggest that protected areas and neighboring communities that develop adaptation strategies for these changes may be able to both capitalize on opportunities and minimize detriment related to changing visitation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Natural Resource Science and Stewardship, US National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Climate change will affect not only natural and cultural resources within protected areas but also tourism and visitation patterns. The U.S. National Park Service systematically collects data regarding its 270+ million annual recreation visits, and therefore provides an opportunity to examine how human visitation may respond to climate change from the tropics to the polar regions. To assess the relationship between climate and park visitation, we evaluated historical monthly mean air temperature and visitation data (1979-2013) at 340 parks and projected potential future visitation (2041-2060) based on two warming-climate scenarios and two visitation-growth scenarios. For the entire park system a third-order polynomial temperature model explained 69% of the variation in historical visitation trends. Visitation generally increased with increasing average monthly temperature, but decreased strongly with temperatures > 25°C. Linear to polynomial monthly temperature models also explained historical visitation at individual parks (R2 0.12-0.99, mean = 0.79, median = 0.87). Future visitation at almost all parks (95%) may change based on historical temperature, historical visitation, and future temperature projections. Warming-mediated increases in potential visitation are projected for most months in most parks (67-77% of months; range across future scenarios), resulting in future increases in total annual visits across the park system (8-23%) and expansion of the visitation season at individual parks (13-31 days). Although very warm months at some parks may see decreases in future visitation, this potential change represents a relatively small proportion of visitation across the national park system. A changing climate is likely to have cascading and complex effects on protected area visitation, management, and local economies. Results suggest that protected areas and neighboring communities that develop adaptation strategies for these changes may be able to both capitalize on opportunities and minimize detriment related to changing visitation.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus