Polar bears depend on ice.
(Mirror Daily, United States) As global warming persists and temperatures continue to grow, it follows naturally that the Arctic regions are affected. Snow and ice are melting, the seas are increasing their levels, the water temperature is constantly rising too. These changes in the natural environment affect the animals living on icy lands, including polar bears.
Researchers observed that the ice is melting in spring earlier than usual. Autumn is also supposed to bring low temperatures that should allow ice to built on, but the process has been delayed more and more lately. Polar bears depend on the cold environment and on the ice to live, travel, find food, and simply put, they need it to survive.
Specialists report that there are nineteen polar bear subpopulations and all of them are vulnerable because of habitat loss. They explain that the animals need the floating ice to stay on while they hunt for seals, which stand as their main dish. Polar bears are the largest carnivores on Earth, and if they are secluded on the land, they don’t have much chance of survival. According to the official statistics, three of the subpopulations have lost a significant number of individuals, and they are currently in decline.
Researchers state that there is a strong connection between seasons, temperature and the polar bears’ habits. Their breeding season is in spring, and the cubs are expected in the cold season (fall and winter). Polar bear females eat very much during their gestation period, and sometimes the process leads to their body weight being doubled. This means that they gain at least two hundred kilograms. So healthy moms and cubs depend on the thickness and existence of the ice so that they can be able to hunt and get the food they need so much.
On the other hand, if ice doesn’t freeze during fall and winter, cubs are in dangers. Both them and their mothers are hungry, and they must learn how to hunt and protect themselves as soon as possible.
The new study led by researchers points out that there is a three-week delay in the natural melting and freezing periods in summer and winter, respectively. Specialists will keep monitoring the phenomenon.
The new study on the situation of polar bears was published in Cryosphere, on September 14. It is called “Sea-ice indicators of polar bear habitat.”
Image courtesy of: Flickr