Polar bears: Extreme shortages of sea ice in Hudson Bay put pressure on predators

Sea ice in Hudson Bay, Canada, is unusually delayed in formation, raising concerns about its impact on polar bears looking for seals on the ice.


December 6, 2021

Lonely polar bear along Hudson Bay

Cindy Hopkins / Alamy

According to conservationists, the extreme shortage of Canadian sea ice this winter should serve as a “call for awakening” to the risks that climate change poses to polar bears.

Ice usually begins to build up across Hudson Bay in November, but the region remains almost completely ice-free in the face of temperatures 6 ° C above average.In the northwestern part of the bay, the range of ice Record low, with only 13 percent of the area covered with ice..of Every year, 70-80% of this part of the bay is covered with ice at this stage of the year.

Therefore, polar bears are standing on the shore waiting for ice to form for seal hunting. The temperature has begun to drop recently, The bay will eventually freeze this winter, according to the U.S. Snow and Ice Data Center.. However, officials say the current lows are “extreme” and that the entire bay is second only to 2010 at this time of the year.

“It’s very rare. It’s very low,” he says. Brandon La Forest WWF in Canada. “This isn’t a panic and I don’t think everything is collapsing, but it shows a broader trend. [of sea ice loss].. ”

Climate change Reduced Arctic sea ice by about 13% every 10 years..

“It’s not good [for the bears]”Is called Peter Convey, An ecologist at the British Antarctic Survey. “The longer there is no sea ice, the more gradually the condition will be lost. Many will survive it. [this year].. However, it upsets the balance towards stress-related mortality. Fewer people will survive. “

research Climate change suggests that by the end of this century, almost all of the world’s remaining 26,000 polar bears will be pushed to the limits of their fasting limits. According to La Forest, the Arctic bears are now fine, but the subpopulation of the Hudson Bay region is the Canary Islands coal mine.

“they are We were the first to experience these widespread effects of climate change, “he says. “We need to receive these warning signals about what they are. It’s a wake-up call.

The remote nature of bear hunting areas and the cost of tracking bears mean that it is difficult to accurately measure how this year’s late freeze will affect animals. in the meantime, La Forest says there may be more human-wildlife conflicts as hungry bears are wandering into the Inuit community in search of food. Slow ice also affects people in the area because they do not have access to their regular hunting grounds, he points out.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States, the situation across the Arctic is mixed, with sea ice spread only the tenth lowest in November’s record. On the Russian side of the Arctic, sea ice growth in the Bering Sea is above average, trapping ships in ice and blocking supply to Siberian cities.

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