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article imagePolar bear population being reduced by climate warming in Arctic

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 20, 2015 in Environment
A report released yesterday from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) paints a rather dismal picture for the future of polar bears. The report says their numbers may be dramatically reduced, thanks to global warming.
The IUCN released its report as an update to its Red List of Threatened Species list and it says in part that "a global re-assessment of polar bears highlights loss of sea ice habitat due to climate warming as the single most important threat to the long-term survival of the species."
The number of polar bears in the Arctic, the report found, will be reduced by up to 30 percent over the next 35 to 40 years. This is due to fewer and smaller Arctic sea-ice floes, in turn due to habitat degradation caused by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Polar bears use the ice as a platform for hunting prey.
"Based on the latest, most robust science, this assessment provides evidence that climate change will continue to seriously threaten polar bear survival in the future," Inger Andersen, the IUCN Director General said.
"Climate change impacts go far beyond this iconic species, and present a threat our planet has never faced before," Andersen added. "Governments meeting at the climate summit in Paris later this month will need to go all out to strike a deal strong enough to confront this unprecedented challenge."
Warmer climates are causing a longer ice-free period, which is often defined as when, during warmer months, the Arctic has "less than 1 million square kilometers of sea ice." If that period is extended too long, the IUCN notes, it "will cause extended fasting for the species, which is likely to lead to increased reproductive failure and starvation in some areas."
Many scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed because they say the warming is having a negative impact on many species and that the loss of sea-ice in the Arctic due to warming "has progressed faster than most climate models had predicted."
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