Study Melting Sea Ice Spells Death for Polar Bears

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Accelerated Arctic sea ice melting is posing severe challenges to polar bears, altering their habitat and profoundly affecting their behavior and health. A recent study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Wyoming, sheds light on the physiological consequences of ice loss for polar bears in the Arctic.

The study underscores the detrimental impact of a shortened spring hunting season and an extended summer period characterized by food scarcity. Polar bears, compelled to rely on stored energy reserves from spring, face heightened physiological stress. Contrary to previous hypotheses suggesting the bears could enter a form of walking hibernation to cope with summer food shortages, the study challenges this notion. It reveals that, akin to their brown bear relatives, polar bears cannot substantially reduce their metabolic rate as observed in winter hibernation, limiting their ability to conserve energy during summer food scarcity.

With an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears inhabiting the Arctic, the study issues a poignant call for urgent conservation measures. It emphasizes the critical role of mitigating sea ice loss by addressing the root cause—greenhouse gas emissions. The study serves as a compelling plea for global collaboration to safeguard polar bears from the looming threat of extinction.


1- What is the primary impact of accelerated Arctic sea ice melting on polar bears, according to the passage?

2- How does the study challenge previous hypotheses about polar bears' response to summer food scarcity?

3- What urgent conservation measures does the study emphasize to protect polar bears?


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Parts of this lesson are based on: An article  Voice of America..