Two New Threats to Polar Bears & How You Can Help

from Wildlife Promise

PolarBears

We’re learning some alarming new data about just how fast polar bear habitat is melting away in the Arctic Circle. According to National Snow and Ice Data Center data, Artic sea ice extent has slipped below 2007′s historic lows for about a week now.

Take a look at the latest satellite imagery, noting the huge gap of open blue sea just off Alaska’s coast where ice should be. The 1979-2000 median ice level is outlined in red (click to enlarge):

N_daily_extent_hires

Keep in mind that the 1979-2000 median line already reflects a steady decline in Arctic sea ice. What’s worse, reduced sea ice cover has an amplifying effect on global warming. While ice reflects most of the sun’s rays, dark sea water absorbs the heat.

But even considering the long, steady decline, the recent drops are absolutely stunning. Take a look at the annual trendline, with sharp declines in 2007 & 2009:

N_plot_hires

“The loss of Arctic sea ice has huge implications for polar bears,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, our senior scientist here at the National Wildlife Federation. “U.S. Geological Survey studies and models indicate that two thirds of polar bears will disappear by 2050, due to ice loss.”

The alarming Arctic Sea ice loss comes at a crucial moment for America’s polar bears. The federal government has just proposed designating more than 200,000 square miles of sea, ice and land as critical polar bear habitat. The designation won’t save polar bears by itself, but it could give them a fighting chance. And with global warming slowly eating away at their hunting grounds, polar bears need all the help they can get.

But there’s a catch — the U.S. Interior Department may allow Big Oil to drill more in the same area. Drilling would not only disturb habitats polar bears need to raise their young, it would increase the risks of devastating oil spills.

Please take a moment to email the Interior Department right now. We need to keep our commitment to protecting polar bears.