October 19th, 2012 by Guest Contributor
People are accustomed to equalize terms of “global warming” and “climate change,” but in fact they are pretty much distinctive. Global warming is one of the reflections of climate change, which might be compared to glaciers’ meltdown, natural disasters, and overwhelming precipitations. Certainly, they follow the global process of climate change, which results in major influence on various fields of human everyday life, as well as on animal habitat.
One of the recent “trends” of the process is associated with the Arctic meltdown. The areas covered with ice decrease rapidly, which cannot but affect the normal way of polar animals’ livelihood. Scientists observe how floating icebergs melt and disappear due to unusual-for-this-region warmth, causing significant level shifts of the Arctic Ocean. The complex effects related to climate change may comprise a huge list, including both positive and negative. However, animals are likely to face negative issues solely, in contrast to humans, who can use the Arctic meltdown for development of industrial and economic affairs.
During last 15 years the Arctic area has decreased on 40%, but this is not the worst scientific estimation enclosed for now. According to zoologists, polar bear species, the brightest image of Arctic animals, can become extinct by 2030. To date, 8 out of 19 populations have declined, because the territory of their habitat melts easy in full view. If a polar bear is lucky, it can swim to other iceberg, but unfortunately most such polar bears drown in the cold waters of Arctic Ocean. Indeed, indigenous residents of northern areas experience significant problems even nowadays, when climate change is in the earliest stages. Forced living on floating ice isles and obstructed food search directly threatens populations of polar bears, seals, and walruses.
The other negative influence is associated with food chains breakdown. Arctic foxes and snowy owls are likely to be the first ones to experience the problem. The thing is that neighboring zone of cold deserts (tundras) is currently marked with frequent change of cold and warm weather conditions that cannot be normal for local animals and vegetation. Consequently, many rodent species might become rare and extinct. In their turn, these small mammals appear to be a prime meal of polar residents. Sea birds can find themselves on the line too, as they are inextricably connected to the Arctic and its ices.
Linkage of all polar species with mutual food chains is also threatened due to decline of whale populations. Release of Arctic waters from ice encouraged human activity, which features navigation and trade affairs, as well as oil drilling. Grey whales, Greenlandic whales, belugas, and narwhals cannot contradict oil search that pollutes the local environment. The Center for Biological Diversity in the United States pointed out that 17 Arctic species are on the verge of extinction. The possibility of such a massive animal species’ disappearance can be recognized as one the biggest losses in the animal world.
Maria Kruk, an author for Species.com
Image: polar bear on melting Arctic ice via Shutterstock
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