The park straddles the Alaska Range, a tremendous spine of snowcapped mountains that significantly influences the park’s climate. The high mountains of the Alaska Range shelter the Interior from the moist maritime air from the Gulf of Alaska, creating two distinct climatic regimes within the park. South of the Alaska Range is a warm, moist transitional maritime zone. North of the range, the continental zone is drier; winters are cold and long, and summers are warm and short.
The high latitude, varying elevations and the presence or absence of permafrost strongly influence plant growth, including the presence and composition of forests. Plant growth, in turn, influences the presence and distribution of animals. Warming temperatures due to climate change could have a significant impact on Denali’s landscape and wildlife.
Protection Through Understanding
To adequately protect a place, one must seek to know it. Research on subarctic ecosystems and the study of culture, history and place are essential to the long-term protection of Denali’s natural and cultural resources. More...