Nature reserves and parks lured in over a quarter million Israelis that flocked to Ein Gedi, Ein Afek and Gan Hashlosha, among many others. Israelis are also opting to sleep in camping areas, with 12,000 Israelis spending the night at camping areas operated by the Nature and National Parks Authority.
Last year’s Shavuot was a peak time for national parks and beaches, as many flocked to these areas to find relief from the heatwave.
The Sea of Galilee and other areas with large bodies of water saw nearly 50,000 Israelis visiting national parks and beaches.
Banias Nature Reserve, the Snir Stream Nature Reserve and others were overflowing with people. Visitors were also turned away from some beaches because they were over capacity.
But there’s a concern that these spots may be visited more often in the future. An interesting study out of the United States shows that climate change will impact national parks in the United States the hardest and fastest.
These areas may see temperatures rise by as much as 16 degrees Fahrenheit by 2020.
Plants and animal species will suffer the most in these areas. Extinction of many species is expected, as heat levels become too much to adapt to quickly. National parks in the United States have unique landscapes with many in high mountains and deserts, which will have a major climate change due to global warming.
Extreme environments are at risk, and places such as Zion National Park may suffer temperatures that are too high for visitors to handle.
Even with extreme greenhouse gas mitigation efforts, national parks would experience a 2-degree change.
Israel’s national parks will also face severe changes. A study found that mean temperatures in Israel will rise 1.6C – 1.8C by 2100. Precipitation will fall between 4% and 8%, but rain intensity may also pick up, causing more flash floods which often threaten our national parks.
Escapes to the national park may be less frequent, as seasonal temperature changes will be more variable.
Severe droughts and floods are also expected in Israel, and places such as the Jordan River Basin may have a 50% reduction in mean precipitation. Severe water shortages may also occur, leading to the time of flocking to the national parks for Shavuot less common.
Water tensions will increase for many countries sharing water resources. Other countries will request water sharing, and some may even threaten trade wars or war if water is scarce.
Rainfall, which is characteristic of autumn in Israel, will also be heavier at certain times of year. Rain in many regions, especially between Jordan Valley and Arava, my increase as it normally does in the Fall. Streams are characteristically closed during this time by the Nature and Parks Authority, so Israelis may not be able to visit these areas for even a longer period of time.
Flash flooding, especially in southern rivers, will continue to be an issue.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as the temperatures continue to rise. Heatwaves, droughts and severe weather may cause many Israelis to be displaced in the process.