6/17/2011 4:11:52 PM
National Geographic: On Thin Ice
With predictions of a largely ice-free Arctic by 2050, how will polar bears survive?
For an ice-dependent species like the polar bear, sea ice losses in the Arctic threaten their very survival. Polar Bears International's chief scientist, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, talks about the threats to polar bears in the July issue of the National Geographic magazine—but emphasizes that time remains to save them if humans take action to reduce CO2. The article also features Dr. Ian Stirling, scientific advisor to PBI.
In August 1881 the naturalist John Muir was sailing off Alaska aboard the steamerThomas Corwin, searching for three vessels that had gone missing in the Arctic. Off Point Barrow he spotted three polar bears, "magnificent fellows, fat and hearty, rejoicing in their strength out here in the bosom of the icy wilderness."
Were Muir to sail off Point Barrow in August today, any polar bears he'd see would not be living in a wilderness of ice but swimming through open water, burning precious fat reserves. That's because the bears' sea-ice habitat is disappearing. And it's going fast.