Climate change science will shape decisions at all of the national parks, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis told journalists in two different events at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Missoula, Mt, October 14 and 15.

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Park Service Director Jon Jarvis briefs reporters at Glacier as tour organizer and San Jose Mercury-News reporter Paul Rogers, right, listens in.

“The facts around climate change are indisputable,” Jarvis said while touring Glacier National Park. “We want to provide quality information based on science.”

During a panel at the University of Montana in Missoula, Jarvis emphasized, “We are moving more closely to a science-based organization that is filled with long-term datasets,” specifically including inventories of plants and animals.

A Glacier National Park Service official, Jack Potter, chief of the Division of Science and Resources Management, said in an interview at the park that during the Bush administration, the staff had been directed not to talk about climate change. “The northern Rockies are changing faster than any other place in North America,” he said. The bulk of the changes come from warmer winter temperatures that lead to a smaller accumulation of snow that in turn affects what melts into streams and rivers in the spring.

Among changes being observed at national parks around the country are increased incidences of rain falling onto new snow during the fall at Denali National Park in Alaska; a snowpack that holds less water at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon; and struggling animals that rely on larger snow accumulations and cooler temperatures at Glacier National Park.