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All but a few populations of polar bears found in the high Arctic could be extinct by 2100 due to the drastic loss of sea ice across their range, according to a study in the Journal Nature Climate Change published Monday. There are 19 distinct subpopulations of polar bears across the Arctic from Alaska to Siberia and all but one face being wiped out due to the loss of sea ice. Without ice, polar bears must survive on land, long distances from their food supplies, causing them to go hungry. Ironically, the Interior Department in its study of the environmental impacts of drilling in the U.S. Arctic found that it would not harm polar bears, which are already forced to build their winter dens and birth their cubs on land instead of ice.
The New York Times reported that the lead author of the study, Peter K. Molnar, a researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough, painted a grim picture, saying: “There is very little chance that polar bears would persist anywhere in the world, except perhaps in the very high Arctic in one small subpopulation” if globally we remain on the current trajectory for greenhouse-gas emissions. The best estimate is that there are only about 25,000 remaining polar bears in the Arctic. Their main habitat is sea ice, but because of the rapidly increasing warming in the region, the amount of summer ice has declined by roughly 13 percent per decade compared to the 1981-2010 average. The researchers looked at climate models and ice-free days projections and assumed that the warming would continue in the business as usual path. They found that for most polar bear subgroups, because of the loss of sea ice the bears would not be able to find enough food and thus starve.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer In the first two months of 2021, more manatees have died than in the first two months of 2020 and 2019 combined, totaling an estimated 350 animals. Despite recently passed protections for Florida’s seagrasses, a crucial part of the ecosystem that supports manatees, the sea cows are starving at higher rates and experts worry this […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction. The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]
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