Search Results for Tag: polar bears
Polar Bears in the Limelight
For the first time since 1981, the contracting parties to the agreement for the conservation of polar bears are holding an official meeting in Tromsö in the Norwegian Arctic.
The agreement was signed in 1973, when over-hunting was the biggest threat to polar bear survival. These days, the survival of the polar bear species is endangered by the far more complex phenomenon of climate change.
Today, there are between 20- and 25,000 polar bears living around the north pole, in territory belonging to the USA, Russia, Norway, the autonomous Danish island of Greenland, and Canada. These numbers could be reduced by as many as two thirds in the foreseeable future unless the Arctic sea ice can be preserved.
WWF has great polar bear photos and info on their site, including this link, where you can follow the polar bears they are tracking:
Following polar bears with WWF
The IUCN polar bear group has been the main body involved in publicising and protecting polar bears.
IUCN dossier on polar bear as Red List endangered species
Geoff York is WWF’s polar bear coordinator. I called him up to find out how he and WWF view the current status of polar bears and what they expect from this conference. Listen to his views for yourself:
DateMarch 16, 2009 | 12:37 pm
Climate Update – and Pics from History
Apologies for a longish blog break, I have been busy on other matters.
Amongst other things, I’m working on what the media have to do to get the climate change message across.
On a recent trip to the German North Sea island of Norderney, I was pleasantly surprised to hear two couples, evidently 2 generations, discussing what would happen to those islands when sea levels rise. So the media they use have obviously been successful in getting that part of the message across.
On a subsequent visit to Scotland, I was horrified to hear people still doubting that our emissions are driving climate change.
So there’s still plenty work for us journalists to do.
Meanwhile, I’ve found a website that will fascinate Ice-Blog visitors.
Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute has a great collection of polar images, including Scott and Schackleton, but also images from more modern expeditions.
Now they have digitised negatives, daguerreotypes and lantern slides, and made them available online. You can find them here:
The “Freeze Frame” archive
Thanks to Anne. S. in Scotland for drawing my attention to this wonderful online archive.
And I’ll get back to my polar bear research, ahead of a historic meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which will take place in Tromsø, Norway, March 17-19, 2009. WWF says the meeting may be decisive for the fate of the world’s polar bears.
DateMarch 11, 2009 | 12:43 pm
From Barrow to Barcelona
The Ice Blog hasn’t been updated for a few days, but only because of technical problems, not a lack of stories, I could have been writing non-stop.
It will take a while to catch up, but I have to start with sharing my “small world” story with you.
I was on the plane (sorry, yes, but for a greater cause…) to Barcelona for the IUCN World Conservation Congress.
(I know this is a boat, not a plane, but it is all related. Bear with me – and see below):
(This is the TARA, a famous Arctic research vessel, far from the Arctic, but still in the service of publicising global warming, open to the public at the IUCN congress in Barcelona).
Meanwhile, back on that plane: I got talking to my neighbour from the USA, who was also heading for the event. He turned out to be Gary Braasch, a nature photographer who is now dedicating almost his entire work to photographically documenting and publishing climate change.
The climate photographer’s global warming website
He told me how he became so concerned about global warming back in the 1990s that he decided to start working on that theme – and has never stopped since.
He got his latest book out of his bag to let me have a look.
Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World (University of California Press).
I am trying to acquire a copy. The photos are great – and the information, as far as I can judge from a skim on the way to Barcelona – is thorough but readable.
“Oh, the inevitable polar bear”, I said.
“I’ve got much more beautiful pics of polar bears” – says Gary.
“But they’ll be on ice, this one’s on land, because his seea ice is melting away” – says IQ.
“Exactly”, says Gary, evidently pleased to be sitting beside a kindred spirit.
His picture reminded me of a segment from an interview I had just been editing, with the ornithologist and indirect climate change monitor George Divoky.
George Divoky and Friends of Cooper Island
George told me in the interview that the sea ice was on the retreat, the permafrost of his island was melting and his campsite was being visited too frequently by polar bears who wouldn’t have touched it with a bear-claw before.
I told Gary the story.
“That’s George’s camp” – he said. “That’s where I took that picture – and we had to call search and rescue because of the bear”.
A small planet indeed.
This is some of the flotilla of sailing boats that brought committed conservationists to Barcelona in Spain for the IUCN congress. Not a bad idea. It drew loads of spectators down to the port for the “Sailing to Barcelona” parade and boat village, where they could visit the research boats and find out about scientific research.
My colleague Nina Haase and I were guests on board the “Garlaban”, which is chartered for marine research by the “Institut Océanographique Paul Ricard”. Thanks again to the Institute’s President Patricia Ricard our skipper “Jacqui” for letting us be on the boat and record interviews with the scientists and crew for our report on “Sailing to Barcelona” for the environment.
All about the marine research of the institute
DateOctober 13, 2008 | 2:46 pm
Anyone Spotted those Polar Bears?
This polar bear (Ursus maritimus), is pictured on the pack ice in the Arctic circle. The photo is from WWF.
(c) WWF / www.JSGrove.com
I read a story about a whole group of polar bears, said to be swimming for their lives off the coast of Alaska. I asked my colleague Emily Schwing in Alaska if she had any more background. She agreed to send us her own guest blog entry. Here it comes:
On August 16th, nine polar bears were sighted swimming in the open waters of the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. Federal observers were conducting aerial surveys when they spotted the bears swimming more than 15 miles off shore. One bear was sighted nearly 65 miles off the coast and some of the animals were reported swimming north.
Environmentalists argue the recent sighting could indicate that polar bears are opting to take longer, more dangerous, energy demanding swims in search of land or stable sea ice. Sea ice coverage in the Artic was reported at a record low in 2007 raising serious questions about the extent of polar bear habitat available to the marine mammal. Polar bears depend on sea ice as a way to hunt ringed seals and other prey.
Between 1987 and 2003, only 12 bears were observed swimming in open water. But in 2004, 51 bears were found swimming in the open ocean. That same year, four polar bears were found drowned in the Beaufort Sea following a storm. The fate of the nine bears sighted last week is unknown.
According to biologists with the US Geological Survey, polar bears are very strong swimmers, but distances of 50 to 100 miles could be exhausting for the animal. Scientists and environmentalists alike speculate that as sea ice continues to decline, events like this could happen more often
Federal marine contractor, Science Applications International Corp was conducting the aerial surveys for the Minerals Management Service, which leased 2.76 million acres offshore for future oil and gas development in February. The surveyors were looking for whales and other marine mammals when they spotted the polar bears.
The US department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May of this year, after a large body of scientific information indicated that arctic sea ice will continue to decline.
The state of Alaska, under Governor Sarah Palin is currently suing the US Federal Government over the listing of the bear citing a lack of strong scientific data and information that relies on too broad a timescale.
And if anyone hears any more about those bears, please let us know. You can put the comment on the blog or send a mail to email@example.com
Emily found this interesting bear story on the reuters website and promises more on US and Canadian attitudes towards polar bears in the near future.
DateAugust 28, 2008 | 3:01 pm
Catching up with the Comments
I’ve just finished putting together a little audio-collage about climate-saving projects being run by young people. It makes me optimistic.
Listen to the young climate activisits
Now I still have two “blog jobs” on my conscience for today.
Beth Lunsford from the USA says she likes the blog,and that the whole world has to work together on climate change. Thanks for that Beth, I think you’re absolutely right.Beth’s comment was prompted by the pictures of the “polar bears” at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin. But she’s sceptical about the aims of Barack Obama’s world travels and thinks they were only just for photo opportunities. It’s good to hear what people in the USA think about all this. I really enjoyed being in the USA for 4 weeks this summer.
(This has got to be one of favourite radio station buildings, discovered while travelling on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State. If anybody from the station reads this, please drop me a mail, I’d have loved to meet you and have a look round!)
Apart from seeing some beautiful landscapes, as a British-born European based in Germany, it was great to get a feel for the US lifestyle and follow some of the election campaigning. A lot of us here in Europe feel that there could be a positive development in the climate policy of the USA after the election. But I share the view of those experts who think our expectations might be so high, we’re bound to be disappointed. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has an opinion on this issue.
And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to thank Andreas Eister, who actually took the pictures at the Brandenburg Gate for WWF. And let me tell you here, Andreas, that the close-up of the “bear” is one of my all-time favourites.
Marie Laure, who runs a project called “Cool Mountain”, aimed at getting people to use less water and power in ski resorts, has asked whether she can post something on the blog. Sure Marie Laure, I’d be delighted to pass on some info about your project. I’d put up a web link, but I haven’t actually found this particular project on the internet. Look forward to hearing from you!
DateAugust 13, 2008 | 2:39 pm