Global Warming May Deprive Polar Bears of Safe Places to Give Birth

Global Warming May Deprive Polar Bears of Safe Places to Give Birth

by Nala Rogers, Inside Science

Study suggests that if climate change continues unabated, there soon won’t be enough snow in northern Alaska for polar bears to dig birthing dens.

Polar bears are born into the Arctic winter blind, hairless, and no bigger than a guinea pig. For three months while storms rage and temperatures fall below -40 F, the cubs stay snug and warm in their mothers’ dens. But if current trends continue, newborn cubs along Alaska’s northern coast may instead perish out in the cold.

A new study suggests that before the end of the century, mother polar bears in this region may no longer be able to find the deep snowbanks they need to dig dens. Megan Liu, a high school student and research intern working with Glen Liston at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, presented the preliminary findings at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco this week.

“They need that habitat to give birth,” said Liu. Their analysis indicates that “if we don’t restrict our emissions, very soon, within the century, there’s going to be an extended amount of time when there’s no available denning habitat for the polar bears.”

Read the full article here…

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