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Photo of the Week (6/28/10)

 

Tipping Point
Polar bear on sea ice
Thomas Hallermann/Marine Photobank
Polar bears need sea ice on which to find shelter, hunt and track mates. So current reductions in Arctic ice extent and thickness are a cause for concern for the continued viability of the species in some regions. Polar bears in western Hudson Bay, for example, are declining and scientists have documented a strong correlation between their physical condition and sea ice conditions: the bears tended to be skinnier if the ice broke up earlier or froze later. Now a new study published in the science journal Biological Conservation suggests that changing ice conditions from a warming climate may not immediately affect polar bear reproduction and survival—that is until some threshold is passed, "at which point reproduction and survival will decline dramatically and very rapidly."

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