The disappearance of Arctic sea ice makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE for polar bears to survive
The iconic polar bear faces extreme difficulties as the disappearance of sea ice makes it almost impossible for them to eat enough food to raise healthy puppies, according to a study.
Polar bears depend on sea ice to hunt seals, mate and give birth to their cubs.
But this crucial sea ice is fading at an alarming rate due to climate change and has been shown to be causing major problems for animals.
They are forced to spend more time fasting on land, as sea ice disappears earlier and reappears later in the year, which affects their weight.
Lowering fat levels makes it harder for females to raise their young and now they are producing smaller litters.
Experts predict that litters will continue to decline over the next three generations if sea ice continues to disappear at its current rate.
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In a new study, scientists monitored 43 adult women from 1991-1997 and 38 adult women from 2009-2015. revealed that animals do not move as much as they used to because of the disappearance of sea ice
Polar bears rely on the use of sea ice to hunt seals in search of food and then mate, have puppies and raise them. But this crucial sea ice is fading at an alarming rate due to climate change and it has been shown to be causing important problems for animals (stocks)
WHAT DO POLAR BEARS USE ICE?
The Arctic sea ice sheet is a large area of frozen seawater that floats over the Arctic Ocean.
It is surrounded by seas and straits.
For polar bears, sea ice is a crucial platform for life.
They use ice to travel long distances to new areas.
They hunt seals looking for their dens or sitting next to the holes in the ice, waiting for the unsuspecting prey to appear.
Sometimes, pregnant females dig in sea ice to create maternity dens, where they give birth and care for their puppies.
Kristin Laidre, an Arctic ecologist at the University of Washington who studied polar bears for 20 years, says: "We know that sea ice, which is where bears should be, is declining very rapidly."
& # 39; When there is no sea ice shelf, bears end up moving to the ground without access or with minimal access to food.
"Our research analyzed how these changes affect your body condition and reproduction."
As the main predator at the top of the food chain, the impact of climate change is amplified and acts as a prophecy for all other species, indicating that many more species will suffer similar fates.
"Polar bears are an omen for the future," said Kristin Laidre, an Arctic ecologist at the University of Washington.
"The changes we document here are going to affect everyone around the world."
They have a long life, long gestation periods and need to eat large amounts of food to survive. As a result, they are less flexible to change from generation to generation.
And the rapid alterations of the environment are causing chaos in the carnivores.
In a new study published in Ecological applicationsDr. Laidre monitored 43 adult women from 1991-1997 and 38 adult women from 2009-2015.
The bears were evaluated from the air or reassured and evaluated to determine their fat levels and overall health.
"Climate-induced changes in the Arctic are affecting polar bears," said Dr. Laidre, who was the lead author of the study.
"They are an icon of climate change, but they are also an early indicator of climate change because they rely heavily on sea ice."
In the picture, the concentration of sea ice on July 15, 20 years apart. It shows a clear decrease in the amount of sea ice in Baffin Bay. This decreasing level of ice is causing polar bears great difficulty in hunting seals.
The investigation revealed that bears spend 30 more days on land now than in the 1990s as sea ice disappears.
Satellite data compiled by NASA shows that a population of polar bears is arriving and leaving their home on Baffin Island at different times than they have historically done.
Sea ice has been breaking in early spring and is forming later in the fall.
"That's important because when bears are on land, they don't hunt seals," said Dr. Laidre.
& # 39; They have the ability to fast, but if they don't eat for longer periods, they lose weight. This can affect your overall health and reproductive success.
The team quantified the condition of the bears by assessing their level of fatness on a scale of 1 to 5.
He proved that his state of health was directly related to the amount of sea ice available in the current and previous year.
As a result of this diminished state, mothers have smaller litters.
Larger litter sizes were found when the mothers were in good body condition and when the spring break occurred later in the year, which means that bears had more time on sea ice in spring to find food.
The scientists used mathematical computer models to predict the impact on future generations.
He discovered that the normal size of the litter of two puppies is unlikely to be maintained in the next three generations of polar bears (37 years old).
The main reason why is the loss of sea ice.
Why do polar bears need ice to survive?
The loss of ice due to climate change has a direct impact on the ability of polar bears to feed and survive.
Bears need ice shelves to reach their prey of ringed and bearded seals. Some sea ice is on more productive hunting areas than others.
Like other predators in the upper part of the food chain, polar bears have a low reproduction rate. One or two puppies are born in the middle of winter and stay with their mother for two years.
Consequently, females reproduce only every three years. Bears do not reproduce until they are five or six years old.
From late autumn to spring, mothers with new puppies take refuge in snowdrifts on land or on ice. They emerge from their dens, with the new puppies, in the spring to hunt seals of floating sea ice.
Simply put, if there is not enough sea ice, the seals can't crawl on the ice and polar bears can't keep hunting.
Measurements at the end of summer of sea ice in the Arctic in September revealed that the region has reached the eighth lowest point in maintaining modern records.
Satellite data showed that the Arctic reached its lowest annual extension on September 13, with 1.79 million square miles (4.64 million square kilometers).
While the Arctic reaches its summer low at this time every year, experts say the range has rapidly declined as a result of climate change, and has seen a dramatic decline since the late 1970s.
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