In 2005, the record low amount of polar ice (which is essential to the survival of polar bears) was recorded. Then, in 2007, 23 percent less than the 2005 amount was recorded. In 2007, the ice that melted was equivalent to the size of Alaska and Texas combined. By 2012, it is estimated that polar ice many be nearly gone in the summer. All of this leads to a projection by the U.S. Geological Survey that approximately 2/3 of all polar bears will be gone by 2050.
The arctic sea ice that polar bears habitate is rapidly declining in size. Satellite observations over the past two decades illustrate an average of 21.9 billion tons of ice lost each year from Greenland’s ice sheet.
In 2009, the U.S. DOI designated over 200,000 square miles of key areas of Alaska as “critical habitat” for polar bears. The protection of this land is intended to help stabilize and preserve areas crucial to the bears’ habitat, and ultimately, their survival. In spite of these protective efforts, however, the Polar Bear Specialist Group – a team of top specialist scientists – estimates that the bears’ population will decline by 30% in the next 35 – 50 years.
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