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Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

Arctic Sea Ice Day is on 15th July....

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This morning I was on the website of Polar Bears International.   They are the only organization dedicated to wild polar bears and they know a great deal about them – they are the true experts when it comes to these magnificent animals.

The non-profit organisation exists to help secure a future for polar bears across the Arctic and they are based in the US and Canada.

A news item on their website caught my attention about Arctic Sea Ice Day which takes place on 15th July.   Written by BJ Kirschhoffer, Director of Field Operations, it talks about sea ice.

Kirschhoffer says sea ice is an essential habitat for polar bears – he describes it as "a frozen platform that allows an entire ecosystem to function".

He goes on to explain that sea ice can take the form of large expanses of flat ice, with snow on top.  Or, it can be small pieces which float like ice pieces in a glass of water. 

Scientists have been mapping the sea ice extent with satellites since 1979 and they’ve produced charts with its reach and coverage. 

And this summer, Kirschhoffer was asked to join a Quark Expedition ship as a representative of Polar Bears International, to talk about polar bears and why sea ice is so important to them.

Kirschhoffer says the trip was amazing and he saw a great deal of wildlife - the polar bear, the bowhead whale, ivory gull, walrus, ringed and bearded seal, reindeer, arctic fox, puffin, king eider, common eider, guillemot, auk, and geese.

But he realized the trip was in early June.  The boat shouldn’t have been able to travel in and around Spitsbergen and the islands without having trouble with ice.   In the past, straits and fjords were packed with ice or totally frozen.  Travel would have been impossible. 

This year however, the ship had near total freedom to sail.   The Svalbard Ice area was well below the 1981 to 2010 average for sea ice extent.  It was also well below the minimum sea ice ever recorded for 1981-2010, at just below 200,000 square kilometers.

Almost all the wildlife Kirschhoffer saw on the trip requires sea ice for survival.  

So Polar Bears International are asking us all to share their 10 facts about Arctic sea ice as widely as we can so that people understand why it matters and to get involved in their efforts and help reverse the trend.

The most important fact for me is the one which says we can do something about the loss of sea ice.  Everyone can help.

Polar Bears International says: "The key to getting the climate system back to functioning the way it should, and to preserving a future for polar bears across the Arctic, is to move away from using fossil fuels for energy altogether. "

We need to use far less of the kind of energy that adds heat-trapping gases to our atmosphere and move towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

This will help reduce the carbon emissions that are causing the planet to warm and the sea ice to melt.

Help save ice by:

1. Find out about your local and regional renewable energy options and programs.  What can you tap into?

2. Supporting a state/province/country-wide renewable energy program.
Let local leaders know that you want efficiency standards and renewable energy sources for constructing, heating, cooling, and lighting the places where we all work and live.

3. Sharing their new Arctic Sea Ice Day video filmed in Svalbard, and encourage others to join your efforts!  Share, share and share to show how we can all make a difference at home and influence decisions on where our energy comes from. 

Please share Polar Bears International's information about the Arctic sea ice and how we can reverse the trend.

It will help polar bears and an entire ecosystem and benefit all our wellbeing. 

 

 

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