Recent comments

  • National Geographic Magazine Revisits Yellowstone National Park's Supervolcano   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's a restless world we live on. Whether it be Yellowstone or some other volcanic behemoth somewhere down the line another super volcano will make humans realize just how fragile we really are.

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous, you summed it up nicely. The park staff obviously did a good job of responding to the challenging weather common to the Alaska Peninsula. It brings back memories of "weather days" in the area. Visitors must be prepared for rapidly changing and occasionally violent weather. Sounds like the NPS will have to send some folks down into the Aniakchak Caldera to clean up the debris of shredded camping gear.

  • Second Drowning In Two Days at Sequoia National Park Claims 14-Year-Old   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I hate to hear about, this kind of tragady. If that spot of the streem is that dangerus, why in the name of god, whould park afficals, not warn familys. The second girl, ashley, is the niece of my bestfriend, their whole family is hurting,disbalief,torn up. What? Did the park do for her and the other girls family??????

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Frank, not sure where you're getting your data, but here's some news from NOAA:

    The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880.

    * The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the second warmest on record, behind 2005, 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C) above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees F (15.5 degrees C).
    * Separately, the global ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C).
    * Each hemisphere broke its June record for warmest ocean surface temperature. In the Northern Hemisphere, the warm anomaly of 1.17 degrees F (0.65 degree C) surpassed the previous record of 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C), set in 2005. The Southern Hemisphere’s increase of 0.99 degree F (0.55 degree C) exceeded the old record of 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C), set in 1998.
    * The global land surface temperature for June 2009 was 1.26 degrees F (0.70 degree C) above the 20th century average of 55.9 degrees F (13.3 degrees C), and ranked as the sixth-warmest June on record.
    * El Niño is back after six straight months of increased sea-surface temperature anomalies. June sea surface temperatures in the region were more than 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) above average.
    * Terrestrial warmth was most notable in Africa. Considerable warmth also occurred in Siberia and in the lands around the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Cooler-than-average land locations included the U.S. Northern Plains, the Canadian Prairie Provinces, and central Asia.
    * Arctic sea ice covered an average of 4.4 million square miles (11.5 million square kilometers) during June, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This is 5.6 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent. By contrast, the 2007 record for the least Arctic sea ice extent was 5.5 percent below average. Antarctic sea ice extent in June was 3.9 percent above the 1979-2000 average.
    * Heavy rain fell over central Europe, triggering mudslides and floods. Thirteen fatalities were reported. According to reports, this was central Europe's worst natural disaster since the 2002 floods that claimed 17 lives and caused nearly $3 billion in damages.

    As for your contention that "2008 was wetter and cooler than many previous years," that doesn't appear to be the case if you look at NOAA's 2008 precipitation data, although temperature-wise some areas of the country certainly were colder than usual. But 2007 was drier than normal in many, if not most, parts of the country. Unfortunately, annual temperature data for the country are not available for 2007.

    As for snowpack, here's what the National Climatic Data Center had to say in looking back at the winter of 2008-2009:

    By the end of April the snowpack levels were at or slightly above normal for the Pacific Northwest. Some areas along the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range of Washington received more than 200 percent of 1971-2000 snowfall normal. In contrast, the Sierra Nevada snowpack levels were as much as 50 percent below normal resulting in the third consecutive year of below average runoff. The Front Range of Colorado and much of the Rocky Mountains received some much needed late season snowfall that placed them around near normal levels for the season. The southern Rockies were not as fortunate, as some of those areas received less than 25 percent of normal snowfall this season. The runoff from the snowfall is a main component of annual water supply levels.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for your response, Kurt. I do take pride in looking at topics critically; we need more contrarians questioning dominant paradigms to check fundamentalism.

    It will be interesting to see if the warmer, dryer summers continue. Right now, the temperature anomaly is zero, many regions have reported the the winter's snowpack as average, and 2008 was wetter and cooler than many previous years.

    The future's a tricky thing.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    While getting to the top of Half Dome is quite an accomplishment, I didn't think the view itself was that great. My recommendation for a better view from a peak in Yosemite would be from Clouds Rest.

    http://img161.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img4745.jpg

    Other vehicle accessible overlooks in Yosemite are Tunnel View as well as Washburn Point and Glacier Point.

  • As Yellowstone National Park is to Wolves, Is Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Elk?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I was privilege to see one of the elks this past month on my visit to the Smokies!! I was a wonderful experience.....she was just standing by the road!!!

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Frank, I think you enjoy being a contrarian.

    Google the study in question, under the "news" category, and see what you come up with. In other stories the scientists spoke specifically of climate change as a driver in what's going on. Do they say that it's solely responsible? No. It's one element, but a "likely" contributor nonetheless. And if you've spent any time reading these studies, you know that the scientists always couch their conclusions with qualifiers.

    "Although this study did not investigate the causes of decline, climate change is a likely contributor to these events and should be taken into consideration," said USGS scientist emeritus Jan van Wagtendonk, lead author of a paper describing the results in the latest issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management. "Warmer conditions increase the length of the summer dry season and decrease the snowpack that provides much of the water for the growing season. A longer summer dry season can also reduce tree growth and vigor, and can reduce trees' ability to resist insects and pathogens.

    I've looked at more than a few peer-reviewed studies on climate change over the past year or so and have talked to more than a few experts in the field. That said, what's going on around the West are lower snowpacks due to more warming and more frequent rain-on-snow events. You shrink the snowpacks, you shrink the amount of water available for trees throughout the summer, when they most need it, as Dr. van Wagtendonk notes above.

  • Wolf Trap, A Decidedly Different National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The Barns is a wonderful venue which has a down-home feel. It really is in a converted barn structure. It's not the only venue at Wolf Trap, though. The Filene Center stages world-class entertainment nearly every evening; bringing your picnic is allowed on the lawn. Many entertainers love the cedar-paneled Filene for its intimate setting and awesome acoustics. Backstage tours are given off-season, and are a great chance to see just how complex this beautiful stage really is. Children's programs are shown at the Theater-in-the-Woods, set behind the complex near a small stream. Parking is free, and the staff is cheerful and friendly.

    It's been my privilege to volunteer at Wolf Trap for the past two seasons, and if my schedule allows will do it again next year. If you are near the Washington area, you should come join us and see a show! You'll be glad you did.

    Bat Peterson

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The point here is the sky above Crater Lake NP is a natural resource needing vigorous protection from development and should not simply be treated as a medium ("airspace") for traveling from point A to point B. The enjoyment of a few people should not be allowed to impact the enjoyment of thousands of other people. Yes, Crater Lake NP has been developed (as I'm glad Frank pointed out above), but, that shouldn't stop us from trying to minimize continued impacts to the park's natural resources. For historical background on NPS management of the parks, I would suggest people read Richard Sellar's book, Preserving Nature in the National Parks.

    These proposed helicopter tours should not be allowed in Crater Lake National Park. Thanks for the posting Kurt.

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If I recall correctly, there's a sign at the trailhead for Harper's Corner in Dinosaur National Monument, that proclaims it to be the best overlook in the National Park system. Some boast. It sure is a fine view, but it's hard to pick which one is the 'best'.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Graph: Natural Climate Cycle for the Last 2000 Years

    The above graph shows an average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007, and later revised in 2008, clearly showing that natural climate variability happens with features that coincide with known events in human history.

    As Australian geologist Bob Carter has been emphasizing, we shouldn’t be worrying about manmade climate change. We should instead fear that which we know occurs: natural climate change. Unfortunately, it is the natural climate cycle deniers who are now in control of the money, the advertising, the news reporting, and the politicians. (Source)

    The phrase "climate change" occurs twice in the study linked above (and interestingly enough, those are the instances quoted by NPT), but the study's focus is not climate change.

    I think Kurt has read too much into the study, and his title, "Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park", is too strong and not supported by the study. No where in the study, including the abstract or conclusion, do its authors attribute the lass of large-diameter trees solely to climate change. The authors state in the conclusion:

    This decrease in large diameter tree density throughout much of Yosemite can be interpreted as a long-term change in forest structure during the 20th century.

    Nothing about climate change here. The sentence Kurt cherry picked from the study reads:

    The decrease in densities of large-diameter trees could, therefore, be an indicator of climate change that is beyond the recent natural range of variation in these forests. (Emphasis added.)

    That's not a very strong statement.

    The study focuses mainly on the change in forest structure, largely a result of a century of fire suppression.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Knowing that Climate Change affects each region differently, I wonder how tree diameters are being affected at our National Parks in the Cascade and Rocky Mtns? The Whitebark pines (a high-altitude tree species) and other five-needle pines within the parks of these mountain ranges are already being devastated by blister rust. Thanks Kurt.

    rob mutch
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Yes, the weather on the Alaska Peninsula is powerful and not always expected. People, especially pilots, should expect it, and be prepared. National Park Service teams have been stranded in the Aniakchak Caldera for periods longer than a week, due to weather. When you go there you better be self-sufficient.

    Just a technical point about the first report from the park: the Aniakchack Caldera is no where near Katmai, certainly not "in" it. The Aniakchak Caldera is way down the Peninsula from Katmai. The Caldera is inside its own unit of the National Park System, wholly distinct from Katmai National Park or Katmai National Preserve. NPS people sometimes allow their own administrative systems -- the park superintendent of Katmai National Park, Katmai National Preserve and the Alagnak Wild River also manages the two park units at Aniakchak, and entirely different kind of place. Similarly, NPS people refer to the battlefields of Fredericksburg and of Spottsylvania as "Fred-Spot" even though these two battles happened at entirely different points in the Civil War, and the Home of Franklin Roosevelt, and the Vanderbilt mansion, together with another NPS unit, are routinely referred to as "Ro-Va," homogenizing the places, although hopefully not also the distinctive significance of the areas.

    The extreme of this homogenizing the meaning of national parks is Speaker Pelosi's proposal to bundle up all the distinctive park units around Golden Gate into one "national park(s)" [sic] designation.

    Let us hope the park staff at Katmai realize Aniakchak National Monument, Aniakchak National Preserve and Aniakchak National Wild River were each established for their own, entirely distinct, purposes. Nothing to do with the units at Katmai, other than the managers.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Good additions, Kirby. I thought about Hurricane Ridge. Definitely a great place to get the lay of the land.

  • National Geographic Magazine Revisits Yellowstone National Park's Supervolcano   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Aren't you glad I pointed it out to you?

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Brian, I'm not sure what you mean by town practices. Could you expand on that a little?

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If he keeps treating them "like a big dog", sooner or later one of them is going to treat him like a disposable chew toy.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I'll take this as an invitation to add to the list:

    Wind Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Standing at the rim near the mouth of this deep and narrow canyon, you look out over the wilderness of the northwest corner of the park's southern unit. The Little Missouri River meanders through scrublands filled with bison and pronghorn. Come here at dawn for a surreal experience.

    Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After a steep climb through birch-maple forest on the back of a perched dune, you emerge on a flat summit with the vast blue of Lake Michigan suddenly filling your vision. 500 feet below and about 10 miles out is the park's wilderness area, North Manitou Island.

    Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. 360 degree views. Glacier filled valleys, elk-filled fields, snow-capped mountains, the town of Port Angeles, the Straight of Juan de Fuca....you can see everything from up there.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Anyone who advocates "wacking" a bear is wacko. I do not think of brown bears as "savage, man-eating carnivores" but I have a great deal of respect for their potential to do some serious harm when they feel threatened. Your guide is an example of the arrogance and ignorance that can lead to tragic results to both bears and humans.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Maybe so, Fred, but I'm not sure I'd want to get close enough to a bear -- black, brown, grizzly, or polar -- to smack it on the nose!

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 31 weeks ago

    When I was in Alaska last year, we saw several grizzlies (called "brown bears" up there). Our guide said that he often had to "holler at them" and "whack them over the head" to get them to leave the fishermen alone. He said, "you just need to treat them like a big dog." I thought that sounded like a foolish way to handle savage, man-eating carnivores, but he said it worked. Maybe the punch to the nose isn't all that bad an idea.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The other shoe is a pair of papers by van Mantgem et al. (Ecology Letters10:909-916 (2007); Science 323:521-524 (2009)) showing that from Sequoia NP to Yosemite NP, over the past 20-30 years, per tree per year mortality rates have roughly doubled (that's what's referenced in the first paragraph of your excerpt).

    Part of increased mortality is _because_ there are more small trees (small trees die at much higher rates than big trees, and fire suppression lets many more saplings become small trees rather than being killed as seedlings & saplings), but part is less soil moisture to go around even if the densities stayed the same.

    One sobering implication is that even with increased controlled burns (to thin the medium trees and thus reduce the competition for water), it will take centuries to get back to the numbers of large trees found even 100 years ago. And, even with shifts in species ranges (e.g., those central Sierra species growing by Lassen or into Oregon), there won't be really big trees. Locations with favorable climate when the tree is an establishing sedling & sapling won't still be favorable by the time the tree might get large.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Thanks for the correction, Heather. So noted.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    As the curator of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, I need to inform you that there is a MAJOR error in this report. DNM collections has NOT been moved to a facility in Vernal, UT. The joint state-federal facility you speak of has not even been built yet! This project has been postponed several times because the federal funding for it has not come through yet.

    Heather Finlayson
    Curator of Collections
    Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
    Vernal, UT 84078