The Cause and Effects of Global Warming on the Polar Bear
Most experts agree that global warming does exist and it is having a devastating effect on the Earth’s climate. A major concern of global warming is the melting of the polar ice caps. Research suggests that global warming is going to greatly impact the survival of the polar bear.
In southern portions of their range, like Hudson Bay, Canada, there is no sea ice during the summer, and the polar bears must live on land until the Bay freezes in the fall, when they can once again hunt on the ice. While they are on land during the summer, the polar bears eat very little or sometimes nothing. In just 20 years the ice-free period in Hudson ...view middle of the document...
Individual bears can travel thousands of miles per year following the seasonal advance and retreat of sea ice.
The Arctic seals depend on Arctic sea ice for survival. During the late winter through early summer, ribbon seals rely on the edge of the sea ice in the Bering and Okhotsk seas off Alaska and Russia as safe habitat for giving birth and as a nursery for their pups. But this winter sea-ice habitat is rapidly disappearing. If current ice-loss trends from global warming continue, the seals are likely facing extinction by the end of the century. The seal’s winter sea-ice habitat is projected to decline by 40 percent by mid-century. Any remaining sea ice will be much thinner and unlikely to last long enough for the seals to finish rearing their pups, leading to a major decline in the seal population. Disturbingly, warming in the Arctic is occurring at a rapid pace that is exceeding the predictions of the most advanced climate models. Summer sea-ice extent in 2007 plummeted to a record minimum, which most climate models forecast would not be reached until 2050.
“With the rapid ice loss in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, many subspecies of seals are currently racing against the ticking clock of climate change. The worldwide status of seal population is alarming. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “almost no seal pups, dependent on sea ice, survived in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence during the ice-free years of 1967, 1981, 2000, 2001, and 2002.” The southern hemisphere seal population has been likewise affected by ice loss. Environmental scientists, Dr. Clive McMahon and Dr. Harry Burton of the Australian Antarctic Division, have concluded that warming climate is changing the ocean’s ecology to such a degree that the survival of seals and their young has increasingly become a concern for marine biologists.”
If we don’t make changes to save the polar ice caps, the polar bear will be completely extinct in less than 100 years. Experts believe that they will be completely gone if the temperatures continue to rise due to global warming. It is believed that approximately 30% of the population will be gone within the next 45 years. This means there will be less Polar Bears out there...