Researchers found polar bears are becoming thinner and having fewer cubs, and their declining health was tied to melting sea ice.
“Climate-induced changes in the Arctic are clearly affecting polar bears,” study author Kristin Laidre, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington, said in a statement. “They are an icon of climate change, but they’re also an early indicator of climate change because they are so dependent on sea ice.”
And studying how the melting ice affects them could have broader implications for how it’ll eventually affect other species. “These bears inhabit a seasonal ice zone, meaning the sea ice clears out completely in summer and it’s open water,” she said. “Bears in this area give us a good basis for understanding the implications of sea ice loss.”
The bears are spending less time on land and losing weight
Laidre and her colleagues tracked the movements of adult female polar bears in Baffin Bay, a body of water off…