Arctic Mother

Warming event in the Pacific affects walrus populations

Warming event in the Pacific affects walrus populations: The islands of Svalbard, to the north of the Norwegian mainland, are popular with ufabet marine life in summer.

Arctic Mother

Arctic Mother

Drawn by the superabundance of food at this time of year, the humpback and fin whales are joined by gigantic blue whales, along with belugas and several species of seals. Millions of seabirds – guillemots, little auks, puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars – fill the cliff sides with seasonal colonies.

But some Arctic animals are at a seasonal disadvantage, with much less ice ufabet than in winter on which to hunt or rest.

Walruses must haul their bulk onto beaches. Hundreds gather at the water’s edge but, like any large gathering, their odour attracts unwelcome attention. Polar bears, like walruses, depend on the ice. It is where they hunt seals during the winter, so with little ice in summer, they head for Svalbard’s beaches too.

Downwind from the gathering, the bears quickly detect the presence of walruses, and from a considerable distance away, for they have an extraordinary sense of smell. When they plod onto the beach, they cause quite a stir.

Bears have the advantage on land, so walruses will try to get back into the water to escape from them. Adult walruses can handle the situation. They can shake themselves free from a polar bear attack, their thick blubber protecting them from teeth and claws, but they still lose their nerve, especially females, for their youngsters are vulnerable, both from the bears and from being crushed by the panicking adults.

A mother in the midst of the fray tries to guide her pup towards the sea. They can both outswim a polar bear, and they put a good few metres between themselves and the beach. But once they are in the water, they cannot return to the ufabet beach whilst bears are present. They need to haul out onto an ice floe, but these are becoming fewer and farther between, due mainly to the warming climate.

The problem is that Svalbard has experienced the fastest and most profound loss of regional sea ice in recent years. In the Arctic during 2016, the summer was the warmest since records began. A combination of events caused the temperature to soar. A general warming of the Arctic, southerly winds pushing warm air from mid-latitudes, and an extreme El Niño.

Warming event in the Pacific (one of the worst for decades) conspired to heat up the Arctic Ocean so the summer sea temperatures off the east and west coasts of Greenland were 5°C above the average for 1982-2010. In fact, in recent years, the Arctic is warming up at about twice the rate as the rest of the planet.

This has caused what sea ice survives to thin. Until 1985, 45 per cent of the region had multiyear sea ice. Almost half the sea ice did not melt in summer ufabet, so in subsequent years the ice layers built up. Now only 22 per cent is thick multiyear ice, the rest being thin first-year ice, and a walrus mother with pup needs the thick stuff.