‘Polar bears face climate change — they have less food as Arctic sea ice declines’

What is the News?

This article talks about the impact of the loss of sea ice on the Arctic ecosystem.

What is the impact of sea ice loss on the Arctic region?

The loss of sea ice due to Climate Change has profound impacts on the Arctic ecosystem:

Impact on Polar Bears: Polar Bears are facing many different impacts. One of these is reduced body condition — the bears are thinner now because they are having to fast on land for longer periods. Further, it is also witnessed a reduced number of cubs being born. 

However, some polar bears are surviving in a special way in fjords that are sea ice-free for more than eight months of the year because they have access to glacier or freshwater ice on which they can hunt. But this will help only a small number of polar bears to survive for longer periods.

New Species into the Arctic: The loss of sea ice is bringing new species into the Arctic. Further, temperate or sub-Arctic species move in from farther south, including large killer whales. They prey on smaller Arctic whales like narwhals. Due to this, there is increased competition and overlap across species which is changing the ecosystem. 

Impact on Food Chain: The Arctic has two main bases for the food chain — these are copepods or plankton and the Arctic cod. They are both extremely important for many animals including seals which are the polar bears’ primary prey. The loss of sea ice is affecting copepods and their vertical migration cycle.

Source: The post is based on the article “Polar bears face climate change — they have less food as Arctic sea ice declines” published in TOI on 2nd July 2022.

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