Climate change; Last refuge of polar bears in vulnerability

The extinction of many animals and other living beings is one of the major problems in the world.

A new study finds that an area of the Arctic Ocean critical for the survival of polar bears is fast becoming vulnerable to climate change.

Polar bears which live in the arctic circle are found to be vulnerable to warming.

The region, dubbed the “last ice area” had been expected to stay frozen far longer than other parts of the Arctic. New analysis says that the area is suffered record melting last year summer.

The researchers say that high winds allied to a changing climate were behind the unexpected decline.

The north part of Greenland is one of the places found by scientists and marked as a vulnerable place.

Normally, this region retains thick, multi-year ice all year round but scientists call it as ‘last ice area’.

Scientists consider the area to be an important last refuge for Arctic marine mammals including polar bears, ice-dependent seals, and walruses.

“Sea ice circulates through the Arctic, it has a particular pattern. It naturally ends up piling up against Greenland and the northern Canadian coast,” said Axel Schweiger, from the University of Washington and lead author of this latest study.

“In climate models, when you spin them forward over the coming century, that area has the tendency to have ice survive in the summer the longest.”

Polar bears in the area use the ice to hunt for seals who build dens to raise their young on the frozen water.

In August last year, the German research vessel, the Polarstern sailed across the Wandel Sea. Unexpectedly encountered stretches of open water where thick ice would normally be found.

Researchers have now used a combination of satellite imagery and sea ice models to understand what happened in the region.

According to the researchers, unusually strong winds moved much of the sea ice out of the area. But this was enhanced by a thinning trend, related to warming, that’s been going on for years.

The researchers say that the record melt was 80% due to weather-related factors. These include the winds and 20% from thinning related to climate change.

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