Climate change is real, and it’s having a significant impact on some of the world’s most stunning, unique, and precious landscapes. Rising global temperatures, along with industrialization, are causing many of these landscapes to disappear right before our very eyes. Check out our list below for four landscapes that are being directly affected by climate change and how best to visit them before it’s too late!
When activists speak about disappearing landscapes, Greenland is almost always used as a prime example. This massive island of ice is located in the middle of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and has been a test bed for climate theory for years. Recently, NASA has been tracking the movement of water underneath the ice sheet that covers 80% of the island. What they’ve found is nothing short of terrifying–the moving water is causing large chunks of the ice sheet to melt into the ocean. This means that not only will Greenland’s iconic icy landscape all but disappear within the century, but that the water from this melting will cause sea level rise across the globe, resulting in devastating flooding for coastal communities. Travelers can visit this beautiful icy paradise by traveling first to Reykjavik, and then doing a day trip to Greenland.
2.) The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the Southeastern United States will be familiar with the longleaf pine tree, a stately tree common to the South. In the late 18th century, forests of longleaf pines dominated the southern landscape, filling an estimated area of 90 million acres that stretched from Virginia to Texas. Flash forward to the modern day and you’ll find that these 90 million acres have been reduced to a mere 2 million, a 97% decline. Logging and hyper land development have left the longleaf pine ecosystem utterly ravaged. And it’s not just the trees that have suffered—this ecosystem is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals, all of which are now endangered. To catch a glimpse of these regal trees, pay a visit to Houston, Suffolk, or Tallahassee.
3.) The Himalayas
For centuries, this chain of mountains has mystified and compelled adventurers, scientists, artists and the common layperson. We are all familiar with the mythos of Mt. Everest and even those of us who have never traveled to this part of the world know what it looks like. Climate Change, though, is quickly working to warp and alter this fabled landscape. Not only have rising global temperatures caused many Himalayan glaciers to melt, but they have also caused bizarre, unseasonal shifts in weather, which have resulted in flooding and human fatality. Not unlike the Greenland ice sheet, the melting of the ice caps in the Himalayas are predicted to increase in speed over the course of the 21st century. To visit the Himalayas, first book travel to Kathmandu and then book a local sherpa guide to help you navigate your journey.
4.) The Amazon
Arguably one of the most well-known and easily recognizable ecosystems in the world, the Amazon, is rapidly disappearing. Climate scientists often describe the Amazon as the world’s most important hydrological engine because the waters released by Amazonian plants into the atmosphere, as well as by its rivers into the Atlantic Ocean, help to sustain a livable world climate. However, this engine is beginning to fail as a direct result of logging and deforestation. As the vibrant and diverse Amazon ecosystem disappears, so too does one of the world’s most important resources for combatting climate change. Predicted increases in temperatures, and decreases in rainfall, will continue to affect flora growth into the 21st century and will morph this once lush and beautiful forest into a dry savannah. To pay homage to this sweeping landscape before it totally disappears, first book a flight to Rio de Janeiro and then either travel by bus or air to Manaus, a popular entry point to the Amazon.