Home for polar bears is vulnerable to warming, says study

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jul 02, 2021, 10:41 AM(IST)

File photo of polar bears Photograph:( Reuters )

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Deemed as the "last ice area", the area has suffered record melting last summer, says the new study. As per the researchers, high winds allied to a changing climate were behind the unexpected decline.

A new study has revealed that an area of the Arctic Ocean, which is critical for the survival of polar bears is becoming vulnerable to climate change.

Deemed as the "last ice area", the area has suffered record melting last summer, says the new study. As per the researchers, high winds allied to a changing climate were behind the unexpected decline.

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Axel Schweiger, from the University of Washington and lead author of this latest study, was quoted by BBC saying, "Sea ice circulates through the Arctic, it has a particular pattern, and it naturally ends up piling up against Greenland and the northern Canadian coast". He added, "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 longes".

The area is considered to be an important last refuge for Arctic marine mammals. This includes polar bears, ice-dependent seals and walruses.

The team of researchers have been using a combination of satellite imagery and sea ice models to understand what happened in the region.

By August 2020, the images showed a record low of just 50 per cent ice concentration. The researchers have concluded that 'unusually strong winds' moved much of the sea ice out of the area. However, this was enhanced by a thinning trend, related to warming. 

As per the researchers, the record melt was 80 per cent due to weather-related factors such as the winds. Around 20 per cent was from thinning related to climate change.

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