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Current Affairs

Arctic melt and polar bears

Date: 20 October 2021 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

Creatures such as seals and polar bears will get extinct if summer ice disappears by 2100 owing to global warming.

 

Background

Survival of large number of species is dependent on existence of polar ice. The current rate of shrinkage is a serious concern.

 

Details

  • The winter season usually results in complete freezing of Arctic Ocean. This trend is expected to continue for a longer duration.

  • During summers, ice starts melting and some of it is taken away towards coasts of Greenland and Canada by action of winds and currents.

  • The algal bloom on Arctic ice feeds small fishes, which are source of food for large fishes.

  • Larger fishes are consumed by Seals, which are hunted by polar bears. This constitutes a food chain.

  • Other than food source, Arctic ice creates irregular topography which acts as lairs for seals and also polar bears.

 

The new study

  • The study found out that sea ice remains thick for most part of the year in the area surrounding Greenland and Canadian archipelago.

  • There were two scenarios studied: in the first case carbon emissions reduce and in other the emission rates continue.

  • The first condition will allow some ice to be existent indefinitely but in the second condition, summer ice will completely disappear by the end of century.

 

Effects

  • Under the first condition, some species such as seals and polar bears may survive. They may have to endure higher temperatures.

  • By 2100, the locally formed ice will disappear in summer under high emission conditions. With no summer ice, ecosystems dependent on ice will completely disappear.

 

Way ahead

  • As previous ecosystem collapses, new lives may come into existence. It will take some time before new species of fishes and organisms will migrate from North Atlantic Sea.

  • The increase in temperature may help new species to adapt but the planetary rotation will not change. New species have to adjust to six months of sunless Arctic winter.