A three-year study has finally concluded that polar bears have little means of protecting themselves from climate change. In the following years it is very possible that the polar bear may be endangered by starvation.
Older research has suggested that the bears have a special method of reducing energy loss during periods when food is most scarce. However, the recent study carried out by both authorities and independent researchers in the southern Beaufort Sea contradicts this.
It is widely known that the polar bear is not faring well due the countless problems presented by global warming but it may seem things are worse than we feared. It was thought the animals could enter some state of sleep-walking when they keep moving but reduce their energy consumption to a minimum.
This new study was carried out on about 25 bears during the warmer seasons. Researches tracked and monitored the body temperature of the animals. After seeing that it remained relatively constant when the bear was moving over long distances, they concluded that the bears have no special means of conserving energy.
In the summer, when the surface of the sea that is covered by ice reaches its lowest, polar bears are struggling. They have to walk increasingly longer distances each year to find food. Since they cannot preserve their energy the way some thought they did, these migrations are likely to exact a heavy toll on their population.
Polar bears depend on hunting seals as their main source of nutrition. During the warmer periods seals spend most of their time in waters where bears have difficulties reaching them. As global warming is increasing the length of these periods, polar bears have to resist longer without food.
With the ice levels constantly shrinking it is probable that polar bears will very soon face serious starvation problems. In fact, scientists estimate that they may be entirely extinct from their natural habitat in approximately 80 years.
Even though the animals have received plenty of attention from scientists and regional authorities alike there is not much that can be done at a local level. A member of the study, Steve Armstrup, states that the issue is quite clear.
He says that little can be done for the polar bears until the issue of global warming is dealt with. The ice cap is melting faster than the animals can adapt, and stopping that is probably the only way to save them.
Image Source: www.polarbearsinternational.org