Warming of the environment has a significant impact on precipitation

Warming of the environment has a significant impact on precipitation. The amount of precipitation falling is not the only concern but seasonal differences and the form it presents in are factors that are also affecting water environments. This is a public health concern and global concern for all life that requires water (“Addressing Climate,” n.d.).
Located in the northwest part of Montana and running along the Canadian border, Glacier National Park was established in 1910 by President William H. Taft. In 1932 as a peace initiative, the United States and Canadian governments collaborated on the land crossing their border and established Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. By 1974, the land was recognized as an International Biosphere Reserve and in 1995 Waterton-Glacier Peace Park was honored as a World Heritage Site (“Facts,” 2017).
The park houses a variety of ecosystems. A majority of the park consists of forests. It is mostly moist coniferous but also dry coniferous and deciduous. In denser areas, sunlight is limited, and most plants are not photosynthetic. The forest environment is a varying space for plant life. Natural occurrences like wind, elevation, wildfires, and plant disease are factors that determine growth in specific areas and what grows after such incidences (“Forests,” 2016).
The mountains formed from volcanic lava that lined the base of the Pacific Ocean millions of years ago. The mountains that exist today are smaller in size because of washing away of land and glacial ice (“Mountains,” 2016). The varying soil composition erupted from volcanoes, glacier runoff and floods. It differs across the park and the plant life that sprouts reveals the soils makeup and chemistry (“Soils,” n.d.).
The water that fill the lakes and ponds is considered clean but because of disease from parasites it should not be ingested. The clear, clean water rarely warms above 50 degrees Fahrenheit allowing for little plankton growth. When disturbed by pollutants, the water alerts for contaminates as it flows away from its origin (“Lakes and Ponds,” 2016).
In 1850, approximately 150 glaciers were documented and most existed when the park opened in 1910 (Fagre & McKeon, n.d.). The glaciers seen today are approximately 7,000 years old, but considerably more ice covered this area millions of years ago during glacial ice periods (“Glaciers,” n.d.). According to the National Park Service, only 26 glaciers remain and the largest is Harrison Glacier measuring more than 1.6 million square meters (“Facts,” 2017)
“A glacier is a body of snow and ice of sufficient size and mass to move under its own weight” (Fagre & McKeon, n.d.). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) states that a glacier must be at least 25 acres, anything smaller and the mass does not create movement. Glaciers are continuously changing and unfortunately with changes in warmer temperatures and less precipitation, they are melting faster than forming. This causes a disruption during warm, dry summer months when waterways are bare and runoff from the frozen glacier reservoirs occurs too early in Spring (Fagre & McKeon, n.d.).
The grandeur of seeing a glacier is not the only wonder of the park. Within the park lays a portion of the Continental Divide. This separation provides the true value of the glaciers as the Continental Divide gives way to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Glacier, water resources are more extensive with the possibility of running through local lakes and streams and feeding into the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico, flowing to the East and into the Hudson Bay or going West into the Pacific Ocean (“Continental Divide,” n.d.).
The length that glacier water may extend to and the environments and life that depend on it prove its importance and need for existence. As more glaciers disappear so do great amounts of water that the United States and others depend on. Degradation of glaciers reveal the impact of climate change linked to global warming. The glaciers are not able to form, from accumulation and mounting of snow packs, as fast as they are melting. Temperatures are warmer, and snowfall is decreasing (Fagre & McKeon, n.d.).
Glacier National Park includes more than 1 million acres of land (1,583 square miles.) It includes 175 mountains with the highest elevation being Mt. Cleveland at 10,448 feet high. There are131named lakes, 631 more lakes that are not named, and 563 streams. Plants and wildlife are extensive in the park with 71 types of mammals, 276 bird varieties, 24 fish types and more than 1,100 vascular and 850 non-vascular plants. The National Park Service reports that more than 2 million people visit the park annually (“Facts,” 2017).
Traveling more than 1,900 miles southeast from Glacier is San Antonio, Texas (“Mapquest,” n.d.). San Antonio is in south central Texas, is the seventh most populated city in the United States and had a population in 2016 exceeding 1.4 million (“US & World”, n.d.).
Within the city of San Antonio, there are varying ecosystems. Fifty one percent of the ecological system is considered Urban Low Intensity. This is a general description of land in large, populated cities and the ground cover that encloses it. Twenty percent of the ecological system is Urban High Intensity, also common in large cities, where areas are constructed around high transportation zones. More than nine percent of the area is Blackland Prairie, where grasses like bermuda and king ranch bluestem are most common and some cedar elm, huisance and mesquite trees can be found. There are approximately 14 other types of ecological systems within San Antonio that make up less than 19% of the environment that each range below 5% individually (“TEAM Study,” n.d).
A soil survey completed by the United States Department of Agriculture states that it consists mostly of clay loam soils. The soils are considered to have appropriate drainage that are porous and gradual that is consistent with mostly flat land. The soil ranges in color from dark browns, to reddish browns and light-yellow brown (“San Antonio,” 1997).
The health of the land that San Antonio sits on and 160 miles that arch around it from the northeast and out to the west are crucial to the existence of the environment and about two million people. The Edwards Aquifer, a natural underground water system, is the water source for the city and surrounding counties. Accessing water from the aquifer is a reason that Spaniards were able to settle the land in the 18th century leading to the establishment of the city (Eckhardt, n.d.).
Mostly constructed of limestones 300-700 feet deep, the Edwards Aquifer is separated into four zones. The Contributing Zone, falling mostly north and running west of San Antonio, is about 5,400 square miles. It is the area for drainage where rain water from the land and streams cross mostly impermeable limestone that leads to the Recharge Zone. The Recharge Zone falls south of the Contributing Zone, runs the length of it, but is only 1,250 square miles. This area is at the earth’s surface covered by cracked limestone that water flows through and into the Aquifer. Small areas of the Recharge Zone are within San Antonio. The smallest zone, the Transition Zone, runs along the most northern part of the city and feeds into the Artesian Zone that is the largest zone in San Antonio. The Artesian Zone is the point where “good” water is extracted from wells and surfaces at springs. The springs within the city are mostly dry because of human consumption but will flow if the Aquifer levels are high enough. The first well in San Antonio was built in 1891 and by 1896 there were almost 40 (Eckhardt, n.d.).
The demand for water as population in San Antonio and surrounding areas grows is of great concern for the people and wildlife that depend on it. There are more than 40 species that live within Edwards Aquifer that are aquatic and subterranean. There are currently seven species that are considered endangered that live amongst the Aquifer. It includes two types of fish, two types of beetles, Peck’s Cave Amphipod (an aquatic crustacean), the Texas Blind salamander and Texas Wild Rice (an aquatic grass). The San Marcos Salamander is already considered a threatened species. There are also nine invertebrates that mostly live in the caves created by the Aquifer that are listed as endangered. They include five spider species, one daddy long-legs and three types of beetles (Eckhardt, n.d.).
In two very different parts of the country water reveals its importance. Although frozen water reservoirs exist, they will not last forever and are decreasing at much faster rates. Weather patterns are changing, and not enough rain or snow is being produced to recoup loss. As populations grow the demand for water will only increase and eventually the environment and animals that also rely on it will probably suffer before humans do. Eventually existence will cease unless measures are taken to preserve what exists and the land is properly cared for so the water resources we have are not further contaminated or destroyed.