Artic Sea Ice Disappearing, Polar Bears Face Extinction

Cheryl Phillips's picture

Researchers predict that within 20 years ice cover will be completely gone during the warmer months. A report was complied by the UK-based Catlin Arctic Survey and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)that indicates the Arctic Ocean will be "largely ice free" during summer within a decade. As the Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears face extinction.

The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest, and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions. Some oceanographers call it the Arctic Mediterranean Sea or simply the Arctic Sea, classifying it as one of the mediterranean seas of the Atlantic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean can be seen as the northernmost lobe of the all-encompassing World Ocean.

Martin Sommerkorn from the WWF International Arctic Program believes that the changes in sea-ice cover in the region are likely to increase global temperatures further.

"Such a loss of Arctic sea ice has recently been assessed to set in motion powerful climate feedbacks which will have an impact far beyond the Arctic itself. The Arctic sea ice holds a central position in our Earth's climate system. Take it out of the equation and we are left with a dramatically warmer world," Sommerkorn said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. The IUCN states, "If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years."

On May 14, 2008, the United States Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

As the Arctic sea ice melts, the polar bear may be headed for extinction even faster. Measurements taken by the research team report that the ice was on average 1.8 meters thick -- which, according to scientists, is too thin to survive next summer's ice melt. The Artic sea will experience a decreasing amount of ice in the summer within a decade and an even bigger loss within 20 years.

Cheryl Phillips
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sources: IUCN,World Wildlife Federation,Wikipedia, CNN

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