Polar bears and their need for ice

According to a study, Polar bears are losing life sustaining ice, crucial for hunting, resting and breeding. As climate change pushes up in Arctic temperature, ice is melting earlier in spring and re-freezing in autumn. Total number of ice covered days is declining.

The global population of polar bears with scientific name Ursus maritimus is estimated about 25, 000. Their status on the ICUN’S Red List of endangered species is currently listed as ‘vulnurable’.

How is melting of ice effecting polar bear? Polar bears spend most of their time on sheets of frozen ocean water, which melts and recede in warmer months, and then reform in winter. When the ice melts ,the animals come ashore and survive on stored fat until it refreezes, a period that has become longer and longer. With longer iceless periods, polar bear have to swim further and further to find solid ground. The bears need sea ice for hunting as they cannot outswim seals, their preferred prey. They get around their by waiting near holes in the ice and ambushing the seals as they come up for air. Male and female bears also meet on ice sheets to mate. Changes in the sea have shown to impact polar bear abundance, productivity, body condition and distribution.

What is the cause for ice sheets to melt? With more water to navigate, Arctic shipping activities have increased, as well as opportunities for oil and gas development, further threatening the animal’s habitat. Experts say Arctic sea ice melt will, in turn contribute to sea level rise, and feed back into global warming. Ice reflects warming sunlight away, while water absorbs the heat.

What should be done to avoid further melting? Well, my suggestion is first to spread awareness about this topic. We should avoid the use of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbon) which contribute in rising global temperature ( global warming). We should stop deforestation as the presence of abundant trees will cool down the global temperature, beside this we must prevent soil erosion. Scattering millions of tiny glass beads to reflect sunlight is also a good way. Melting glaciers add to rising sea levels, increases coastal erosion ,create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons.

Source: Wisdom magazine. National geographic.

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