Related topics: climate change · sea ice

Russians drive from Russia to Canada over North Pole

Russian explorers headed home Thursday after proving it is possible to drive from Russia to Canada across the North Pole, in buses with bloated tires over drifting ice, using a pickaxe to clear the way.

Arctic scientist under investigation

(AP) -- A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated ...

Fur and feathers keep animals warm by scattering light

In work that has major implications for improving the performance of building insulation, scientists at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco have calculated that hairs that reflect ...

Arctic sea ice reaches lowest extent ever recorded (Update 2)

(Phys.org)—The blanket of sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean melted to its lowest extent ever recorded since satellites began measuring it in 1979, according to the University of Colorado Boulder's National Snow and Ice ...

Putin receives 'prehistoric' water from Antarctic lake

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was given a water sample Friday taken from a pristine lake hidden under Antarctic ice for over a million years, after Russian scientists drilled down to its surface.

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Polar bear

Ursus eogroenlandicus Ursus groenlandicus Ursus jenaensis Ursus labradorensis Ursus marinus Ursus polaris Ursus spitzbergensis Ursus ungavensis Thalarctos maritimus

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. It is the world's largest carnivore species found on land. It's also the largest bear, together with the omnivore Kodiak bear which is approximately the same size. An adult male weighs around 400–680 kg (880–1,500 lb), while an adult female is about half that size. Although it is closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrow ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, it spends most of its time at sea, hence its name meaning "maritime bear", and can hunt consistently only from sea ice, spending much of the year on the frozen sea.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 5 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, unrestricted hunting raised international concern for the future of the species; populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures.

The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. The IUCN states, "If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years." On May 14, 2008, the United States Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

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