Science

Number Of Polar Bears To Drop By A Third Due To Sea Ice Melts

By Monica U Santos , Dec 09, 2016 05:08 AM EST
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According to the first systematic assessment, released on Wednesday, Polar bear numbers could drop a third by mid-century. This is due of how dwindling Arctic sea ice affects the world’s largest bear.

Number Of Polar Bears To Drop By A Third Due To Sea Ice Melts

According to reports, there is a 70 percent chance that the global polar bear population — estimated at 26,000 — will decline by more than 30 percent over the next 35 years. This is a long period that corresponds to three generations, the study found led by Eric Regehr of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska. As climate change causes global temperature to increase and the polar ice caps to melt, it will affect the population numbers of the bears.

Climate change and its effect on the Arctic sea could cause polar bear numbers to fall by a third by 2050. According to Wired, polar ears depend on sea ice to live, using it as a floating platform to hunt seals. The study combined 35 years of satellite data on Arctic sea ice with all known shifts in 19 distinct polar bear groupings across four large ‘eco-zones’, scattered across the Arctic. This allowed the scientists to project three population scenarios for polar bears up to the mid-21st century.

Global Warming:The Culprit

The culprit is global warming, which has raised the region’s surface temperatures by more than two degrees Celsius, which is equal to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the pre-industrial era level, twice the global average. On current trends, the Arctic could see its first ice-free summers sometime in the 2030s, according to climate scientists.

It was announced this week bye the US National Snow and Ice Data Center that sea ice off Antarctica and in the Arctic is at record lows for this time of year. Arctic sea ice, which usually expands in winter, is at a record low of 10.25 million square kilometres (3.96m square miles). Anders Levermann, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters that the low sea ice is a result of global warming and "an extraordinary departure from the norm".

 

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