Huge Crack In Sea Ice Is Terrible News For Polar Bears
They won't have any way to get food.
For the first time on record, Arctic ice considered the oldest and strongest is starting to break apart — and this could make life much harder for the polar bears who live in the region.
“They dig holes in the snow and come out in the spring and go hunting," Peter Wadhams, an expert in sea ice who leads Cambridge University's Polar Ocean Physics Group, told The Independent. "But if the pack ice has moved offshore they come out [of] hibernation and are left without an area to hunt."
People are shocked that the ice in northern Greenland is breaking apart — it was long considered the thickest area of sea ice, staying frozen all through summers. But two spikes in temperature in February made the ice vulnerable to winds that pushed it offshore, which then makes the ice more prone to breaking apart. The unusual weather patterns are directly linked to human-caused climate change.
Since polar bears live on the ice, breaking sea ice literally shatters many of their opportunities to go the distances they need to go to hunt for food.
“We expect to see higher than normal mortality and reduced survival of older and younger bears in areas where sea ice loss is crossing energetic thresholds and altering the movements, distribution and hunting success of polar bears," Geoff York, senior director of conservation for Polar Bears International, told The Dodo last year.
“They can’t swim very far," Wadhams said. "If this becomes a permanent feature with ice away from the coast, polar bears won’t have any ice to hunt on. You would lose the polar bear habitat.”