Global warming will alter the flow of Appalachian streams, causing lower average flows and greater floods, both of which threaten native fish. Longer and hotter summers will increase drought and wildfires in Great Smokey National Park, increase stresses on trees, and cause plant and animal species to shift to higher latitudes or altitudes.
More climate impacts:
• The forests in the park are already threatened by acid rain and by ground-level ozone pollution. In addition, highly invasive non-native insects called Adelgids have devastated hemlock and fir trees. Warmer and drier conditions caused by climate change could add to these stresses and threaten the future of these species in the park.
• A warmer and drier climate would reduce water flow in rivers and waterfalls during summer months when tourists visit the park. Some waterfalls could disappear late in the summer.
• More droughts, floods, and warmer rivers could devastate trout populations and the recreational fishing industry. A temperature increase of just a few degrees could reduce trout populations by 30 to 90 percent in the Appalachian region.
• Warmer summers would also cause more ozone pollution, increasing haze in the park and health risks for visitors.