Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Effect of Global Warming on Polar Bears

By Charles Cridland

The impact of global warming on polar bears is having far reaching effects. Polar bears are a part of a very delicately balanced ecosystem. As global temperatures rise the Arctic sea ice is melting and it is reported by the U.S. Geological Survey Office that there will be a reduction of as much as 2/3's in the polar bear population over the next 50 years.

As the ice melts these iconic animals are losing their habitat and hunting grounds. They mainly hunt seals, which live on arctic ice. The seals swim under the pack ice, surfacing through breathing holes for air and to rest upon the ice. The polar bears lay in wait at these breathing holes, to capture their prey.

Due to the significant loss of ice and the rapidly disappearing hunting grounds of these magnificent creatures, up to 70% of them do not survive beyond 3 years of age. Many are simply starving to death due to lack of a reliable food source. In 2007 a record low in the surface area of summer pack ice was recorded in the Arctic ocean, equivalent to an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined!

NASA scientists project that by 2012 all the pack ice may well be gone. Floating sea ice platforms is becoming less accessible to the bears as they are further out from shore. It is suspected that many bears are drowning due to rougher seas and retreating pack ice.

The impact of global warming is affecting their feeding grounds due to the fact that rougher seas and less pack ice means that seals can't as easily access the rich feeding grounds. This means that there are less seals able to access food, which means that their numbers are declining. Less seals means a decrease in the food source for polar bears.

Find out more about endangered animals at Animal Adoptions or purchase a polar bear adoption gift pack.

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