Polar bears decline by 40% with hotter Arctic

2015-01-02 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Global warming is heating up the Arctic twice as fast as any other area on Earth.

This finding was announced in the annual Arctic report for 2014, which was compiled by 63 scientists from 13 countries, led by the ­National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States.

Eurasia reported the lowest snowfall since 1967 last April and it was extraordinarily warm in Alaska and the north of Europe — as much as 10° Celsius warmer than the average during last January. The air temperature in the Arctic drives world temperatures.

Dr Craig McLean, assistant director of ­NOAA, said in a statement the warmer Arctic regions impact the world’s climate, trade and security.

The climate has changed so much that snow melted three weeks early in the western parts of Russia, Scandinavia and the sub-Arctic parts of Canada. The tundra is also reporting longer times during which plants can grow.

Melting sea ice is one of the main problems noted in the report. The sea ice levels in 2014 is the lowest since monitoring started in 1979. Polar bear numbers are shrinking with the ice. In the Beaufort Sea, their numbers have dropped 40% since 2001. In Greenland, 40% of the ice cover melted last year.

With larger areas of sea water open to the sun, parts of the Barents and Bering seas are 4° Celsius warmer than the 30-year average for these waters.

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