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TravelGuides – ‘Last refuge’ for polar bears is vulnerable to warming

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TravelGuides – ‘Last refuge’ for polar bears is vulnerable to warming

A brand new examine finds that an space of the Arctic Ocean vital for the survival of polar bears is quick turning into vulnerable to local weather change.

The area, dubbed the “last ice area” had been anticipated to keep frozen far longer than different components of the Arctic.

But this new analysis says that this space suffered report melting final summer time.

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The researchers say that prime winds allied to a altering local weather have been behind the surprising decline.

The Wandel Sea space, to the north of Greenland, is a part of what scientists name the “last ice area”.

Normally, this area retains thick, multi-yr ice all yr spherical.

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“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,” mentioned Axel Schweiger, from the University of Washington and lead writer of this newest examine.

“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.”

Scientists think about the realm to be an vital final refuge for Arctic marine mammals together with polar bears, ice-dependent seals and walruses.

Polar bears within the space use the ice to hunt for seals who construct dens to elevate their younger on the frozen water.

In August final yr, the German research vessel, the Polarstern sailed throughout the Wandel Sea, and unexpectedly encountered stretches of open water the place thick ice would usually be discovered.

Researchers have now used a mixture of satellite tv for pc imagery and sea ice fashions to perceive what occurred within the area.

A bearded seal on an ice floe within the Arctic

Adding to the puzzle have been satellite tv for pc measurements from spring final yr exhibiting that sea ice within the Wandel Sea was thicker than lately.

However, by August 2020, the photographs confirmed a report low of simply 50% ice focus.

According to the researchers, unusually robust winds moved a lot of the ocean ice out of the realm – however this was enhanced by a thinning development, associated to warming, that is been happening for years.

“During the winter and spring of 2020, you had patches of older, thicker ice that had drifted into there, but there was enough thinner, newer ice that melted to expose open ocean,” mentioned Axel Schweiger.

“That began a cycle of absorbing heat energy to melt more ice, in spite of the fact that there was some thick ice.”

The researchers say that the report soften was 80% due to climate associated elements such because the winds, and 20% from thinning associated to local weather change

Ironically, in 2019, Canada designated a part of the final ice space as a marine protected space – named Tuvaijuittuq, which within the language of the individuals who dwell within the space means “the place where the ice never melts”.

The authors say their new work means that local weather fashions would possibly want to be re-examined, as most didn’t predict the low sea ice focus seen within the area in 2020 for a number of a long time or extra into the long run.

The examine additionally raises questions concerning the impacts of extra open water on marine mammals within the space.

“We know very little about marine mammals in the last ice area,” mentioned co-writer Kristin Laidre, additionally from the University of Washington.

“We have almost no historical or present-day data, and the reality is that there are a lot more questions than answers about the future of these populations.”

The study has been published within the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

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TravelGuides – ‘Last refuge’ for polar bears is vulnerable to warming

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