The Arctic Ocean ecosystem is about to change for the worse. A new report issued by the US government has revealed that the polar bears may lose a third of their population by the year 2025 due to human caused threats such as greenhouse gases.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 1, 2015), that scientific projections how pollution will cause the polar bear population across the world to experience a great decline in their numbers as the current state of the planet is enabling rapid melting of sea ice, an element vital to the animals’ survival.
The danger is close to home as well since this includes the polar bears living in Alaska. The only members of the species that could end up having something of a safety net are the ones found in an area north of Canada, known for hosting summer ice that lasts longer.
Polar Bears are already an endangered species. Currently, there are only 20.000 to 25.000 specimens left in the world, and since 2008 they’ve been put under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. Ever since then scientists have know that the climate changes caused by global warning are threatening the lives of these white, furry creatures.
The main problem is that global warming is quickly melting floating sea ice, a platform that the polar bears use as a tool when hunting for fish or ringed seals. They also depend on sea ice for mating and traveling great distances without wasting much time or energy.
Probably the most alarming part of the report is that it informs the polar bear population will continue to be on decline all through the century. The experts looked at projections that went as far away from the present as 2100, and still could not see any kind of rebound in the polar bear population.
In order to come to these conclusions, the biologists from the US Geological Survey used updated scientific models that predicted how the levels of green house gasses will evolve in the next decade if the current situation is left unchanged.
They were interested in two (2) scenarios – how the polar bear population would fair if greenhouse gas emissions stayed as they are right now, without progressing any further, and how the polar bear population would fair if greenhouse gas emissions kept continuing to increase.
The conclusion was that even if the levels of greenhouse gas were to stabilize, the arctic animals would still be highly affected by the damage that’s already been done. Both of the above mentioned scenarios showed that the polar bears living in Norway, Russia and Alaska, would all begin to lose members somewhere between the years of 2025 and 2030
Todd Atwood, lead author and USGS research biologist from Alaska, gave a statement saying that the predicament is due to the large amounts of summer sea ice that this region has already lost.
He went on to add that “Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations”.
This does not mean anything good for the future of the species as a study conducted earlier this year has already shown that polar bears would not adapt to consuming land-based food if the sea ice were to disappear completely and force them to live on land.
The lead author did mention that the species would most likely not go extinct, but their numbers will decrease drastically.
Polar Bears can grow up to be 11 feet (3.35 meters) high and weight 1.400 pounds (635 kg).