Monday, September 26, 2016

Arctic Melt Shrinks Polar Bears’ Chances

A polar bear and cub traverse floating Arctic sea ice in search of prey. (Image Credit: NOAA Photo Library) Click to Enlarge.
The world of the polar bear is shrinking – everywhere. New research by scientists in the US confirms that each of the 19 known populations of Ursus maritimus is increasingly affected by the earlier sea ice melt in the Arctic spring, and the later arrival of ice every autumn.

The finding is hardly a shock, as there have been warnings from conservationists about such things for years, with the polar bear becoming an icon of climate change concerns.  And in most cases of species threat there are winners as well as losers.

But the latest study − published in the The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union − confirms that there are no winners.  The ice is in retreat for all polar bear populations.

The 25,000 or so surviving Arctic bears rely on the ice for their feeding and breeding success. A few stay on the ice all year round, but southerly populations survive ashore in the summer, and it is the seasonal winter feast upon seals and other sea mammals that gives them the nourishment to make it to the next breeding season.

Read more at Arctic Melt Shrinks Polar Bears’ Chances

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