Fionna M. D. Samuels: That is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Fionna Samuels.
The lifetime of a polar bear is tough. It’s made even more durable as temperatures climb. The bears of the north largely depend upon sea ice to outlive, searching seals that take a breath by means of gaps within the ice. For many bears, their feeding alternatives disappear as sheets of sea ice soften. Now researchers have recognized a brand new subpopulation of polar bears that might be able to survive longer due to their capability to make use of glacial ice as a sea ice different.
Kristin Laidre: I’ve been engaged on polar bears for about 15 years, and this specific research was simply actually an entirely sudden discovering that got here out of a a lot bigger survey of polar bears alongside the east coast of Greenland.
Samuels: That’s Kristin Laidre [lie-drah], a marine biologist on the College of Washington in Seattle who was a part of the workforce of scientists who spent years monitoring polar bears in Greenland. They not too long ago printed their shocking findings in a paper in Science.
Laidre: We lay out the proof for a beforehand undocumented and extremely remoted subpopulation of polar bears dwelling on the southeast coast of Greenland. We knew you might discover polar bears in that space, however we simply didn’t assume there have been that many, as a result of it’s not likely a spot, you’d anticipate quite a lot of bears or bears to have the ability to persist for very lengthy.
Samuels: Mainly—the realm wasn’t anticipated to be notably bear-friendly as a result of it goes lengthy durations of time with out sea ice. Typically, polar bears will starve if there are greater than 100 sea-ice-free days throughout the 12 months as a result of they primarily depend on sea ice to hunt for seals and different prey. However these bears can complement the sea-ice-free days with glacial ice.
Laidre: We realized that this glacial ice was primarily supporting an remoted inhabitants. So it wasn’t simply they have been utilizing it, , opportunistically; it was that the one method these bears would stay on this remoted place and be remoted for lots of of years with such a brief sea ice season is to reap the benefits of this glacial ice and actually depend on it for survival.
Samuels: This adaptation could assist these polar bears dangle on longer than their distant neighbors who depend on sea ice.
Laidre: It’s a hopeful story, within the sense of “We discovered this new group of bears.” We didn’t find out about them, ; they add this genetic variety. After which, , it has to even be offered within the context of the entire Arctic, and what we see we’re headed for, and , the truth that all polar bears don’t have this feature—and most don’t.
Samuels: As local weather change brings us nearer to an ice-free arctic, this group of polar bears could assist scientists perceive how the species could persist. Those who persist would possibly look so much like this subpopulation, dwelling in related environmental pockets.
Laidre: If we will monitor these bears for the subsequent 10, 20, 30 years, we’re going to be taught so much about how they do in an Arctic that continues to heat.
Samuels: However ultimately, saving polar bears actually comes down to 1 factor.
Laidre: if we care about polar bears, world local weather motion is crucial factor that we will do.
Samuels: For Scientific American’s 60-Second Science, I’m Fionna Samuels.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]