11/12/2010 2:57:30 PM

Finally, Winter is Here!

Finally, we have a wintry day on the tundra! The temperature has dropped below freezing, the wind is blowing, and it's snowing instead of raining. Each day out here seems to be over right after it starts.

Polar bears sparring

Buggy One was a busy broadcast studio once again. We had a Skype videoconference with students in Bahrain. We conducted a webcast on the topic of sustainability, offering concrete actions people can take to reduce their carbon footprints as individuals, in their homes, in their schools or offices, in their communities, and globally. There are many ways that actions can be taken both as an individual or a society.

We challenged our viewers to take action to reduce their carbon footprints, knowing that if we all do something individually, then collectively we can truly make a difference. Then, in addition to our broadcasts, we had cinematographers on the tundra buggy, filming interviews with scientists and video of the polar bears. So, on such a busy day, time passed very quickly.

It's so nice to see the wintry weather on the tundra once again. We had snow and cold winds almost all day—but there's still no ice on the Hudson Bay here near Churchill. There isn't any ice on the waters north of here either. So, scientists remain very concerned regarding such a late freeze-up of the sea ice—the polar bears need to be able to feed soon.

Bear on shore

In spite of the late freeze, there were lots of very active polar bears in the area today. When we first left the Tundra Buggy Lodge to head out for the day in Buggy One, we came upon six polar bears in the willows near the shore of the bay. Some were resting and sleeping in snow banks part of the time and walking around part of the time. Others were sparring and play fighting. What fun they are to watch when they are tumbling along the ground like two toddlers or standing and wrestling with each other. It truly was a winter wonderland with snow blowing and polar bears playing.

Polar bears in willows

It's been a great season for the Tundra Connections program. We've had the most viewers in the history of the program during our webcasts. The questions and feedback we've been receiving from the viewers have been amazing. It's so exciting that there are so many people from around the world who truly are interested in saving polar bears and their habitat ... all while making our world a better place.

Next week we have another webcast series scheduled that already has around 700 classrooms (classrooms, not people) registered to participate as well as a large number of individuals, and the numbers are rapidly increasing. We're so very excited to be able to touch so many people around the world as we share our concerns and passion for the polar bears, encouraging people to take action to stop our warming climate.

Tundra Buggy with bear checking out people

Tomorrow is my last day out in Buggy One this year. I always have mixed emotions when the week of broadcasts has ended. There are feelings of accomplishment for a job well done. There are thoughts about how to make the program even better next year. There is some anticipation for returning back home. But, there is a sadness to be leaving the bears we all love so much.

It is such a magical place out here. Watching these giant creatures as they roam the earth, sparring and tumbling and caring for their young cubs, is such an amazing experience and gift of nature to all who are so lucky to witness it. I leave the tundra tomorrow, knowing that I have once again worked to help protect these magnificent bears so that they will still be around for generations to come. I leave with a sadness as it will be another year until I see them again, and I know their future is uncertain. But, I leave with hope for the future, knowing that we all truly can take action and make a difference as we work together to save the polar bears. And, I leave with the memory of a wintry day of snow in the far away land of the north.

Photo Credits: Top, ©Shari Burnett; Second, ©Mike Lockhart; Third, ©Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures; Fourth, ©Dick & Val Beck.

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