5 Ways Climate Change Will Affect Exploring The Outdoors

It's a harsh reality to face.

By: Lorelei Riseman
May 12, 2016

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Most anyone with a love for the outdoors probably has some idea of the environmental problems going on in our world. Phrases like global warming and greenhouse gas are most likely somewhere in the back of your mind as you hike your favorite mountain or kayak down the river. While it is difficult to picture your most beloved landscapes being altered by climate change and other environmental issues, it is the shape of things to come without further action to stop these problems from worsening.

1. Temperature Rise

One of the most widely understood parts of climate change is global temperature rise. Although it is hard to understand how seemingly small changes in temperature on a global-scale can have much affect at all, “small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment.” That means higher temperatures on your summer hikes will be the least of your problems and fragile ecosystems will continue to be under threat of wildfires as a result of higher temperatures, drier forests, and earlier snow melts.

2. Receding Glaciers

Glaciers are a beautiful and interesting part of our natural world and according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, they are also incredibly sensitive to temperature fluctuations accompanying climate change. As climate change continues, glaciers in places popular for outdoor exploration such as Greenland, Peru, Alaska and The Himalayas will be affected.

Photo: Christin Healey

3. Sea Level Rise

Rising sea levels are a threat to many global landscapes both currently and in the future. Low lying islands, like in the Pacific Ocean, are especially at risk and are already seeing the negative consequences of sea level rise. The Marshall Islands are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise and already seeing the destruction.

4. Species Loss

Wildlife sightings are one of the best parts of outdoor exploration. Environmental problems, such as climate change and habitat loss, are responsible for some species heading toward endangered or extinct status. Species such as the Adélie penguin, Polar bear, North Atlantic cod and many more are currently under extreme threat due to climate change.

Photo: Conor Barry

5. Coral Reef Bleaching

Rise in ocean temperature caused by climate change can lead to “coral bleaching,” explained here by The National Wildlife Federation. This not only leads to the coral reef landscape in popular travel destinations such as Fiji, Australia, and the Florida Keys appearing different to outdoor adventurers, but the fragile ocean ecosystem will also be altered due to the loss of these reefs.

While these harsh realities of climate change aren’t a fun aspect of outdoor exploration (nor are they the only negative side affects of climate change on the outdoors), they are an incredibly important priority for those who love the outdoors to keep in mind. It is possible to reverse or stop some of these effects, but action must be taken quickly in order to preserve our beautiful planet.

Cover photo: Christin Healey

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.