A federal recovery plan for endangered polar bears won’t halt the threat of climate change, but it could help dwindling populations of the great Arctic predators persist in the small patches of habitat that will remain after global warming melts most of the polar sea ice.
The plan, released Jan. 9, calls for reducing human-bear conflicts, collaboratively managing subsistence harvest, protecting denning habitat, and minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills. Most of these actions are already underway, in partnership with Alaska Native communities, nonprofit groups, and industry representatives who participated in the plan’s creation. The plan also calls for increased monitoring and research. Continue reading “Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan”→
The relationship between Arctic whales and sea ice is still largely a mystery, but there is increasing concern over how these species will adapt to climate related changes in sea ice. In a new study, researchers found the drastic sea ice changes under way in the Arctic could lead to more predation of beluga whales — and that could have “implications for population viability, ecosystem structure and the subsistence cultures that rely on them,” said Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crowe, a scientist with Florida Atlantic University. Continue reading “How do Arctic sea ice changes affect whales?”→
Australian scientists document early start to melt season
Australian scientists say Antarctic sea ice started its annual spring retreat early this year and has set new daily record lows for extent during late September — during the Austral spring, when Antarctic sea ice is at a maximum.
In a press release, the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre said the sea ice extent started its annual retreat early, just two years after winter sea ice extent around Antarctica reached a new record high in September 2014, when it exceeded 20 million square kilometres for the first time since satellite measurements began in 1979.
This year, Antarctic sea ice began its annual spring retreat about four weeks earlier than average, after peaking at 18.5 million square kilometres on 28 August 2016, which was close to the lowest winter maximum on record.
Arctic warming twice as fast as rest of the planet
FRISCO — Parts of the Arctic Ocean are warming by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit every decade, and overall, Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast the global average, climate scientists said today as they released results of an annual Arctic Report Card.
The report documents increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, which reached a new record low last summer. And there is ongoing shrinkage of spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean.
Melting sea ice likely a factor in population decline
FRISCO — With a 2017 endangered species listing deadline looming, federal researchers are trying to pinpoint Pacific walrus population numbers. In the newest study, the U.S. Geological Survey said the population dropped by about half between 1981 and 1999, but scientists aren’t sure if the numbers have stabilized since then.
in 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that the species was under pressure from sea ice loss and over-harvesting, but didn’t formally add the Pacific walrus to the endangered species list. A federal court said the agency must make a final determination by 2017. Continue reading “Study tracks big drop in Pacific walrus numbers”→