Ice loss could wipe out polar bears

Toronto, Feb 5 (IANS) An unexpected increase in Arctic sea ice break-up and warming trends could wipe out half the polar bear numbers in a single year, warn researchers.

Studies by Andrew Derocher, professor and polar bear researcher, University of Alberta, and colleagues show that one very bad ice year could leave hundreds of Hudson Bay polar bears stranded on land for an extended period.

"Such an event could erase half of a population in a single year. It's a fact that early sea ice break-up and late ice freeze-up and the overall reduction in ice pack are taking their toll," Derocher was quoted as saying in the journal Conservation Letters.

Derocher and 11 other international scientists, who have co-authored the policy perspective study, urged governments to start planning for rapid Arctic ecosystem change to deal with a climate change catastrophe for the animal, according to an Alberta statement.

"We want governments to be ready with conservation and management plans for polar bears when a worst case climate change scenario happens," added Derocher.


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