Polar Bears International

North Browning, MT, United States

Polar Bears International

North Browning, MT, United States

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News Article | August 22, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

This July 2016 photo provided by Explore.org shows the view of a beluga whale from a webcam gathered in the Churchill River in the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. Canadian researchers are turning to the internet to learn about the social behavior of thousands of beluga whales that migrate to Hudson Bay every year. (Explore.org via AP) HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The underwater webcam attached to Hayley Shephard's boat captures what at first appear to be green glowing orbs as she motors through an estuary in remote Canada. Then the orbs come into focus, revealing some of the more than 3,000 beluga whales that gather near that western part of Hudson Bay each summer. The white whales, which resemble oversized dolphins, nuzzle and clown for the camera. They feel the lens with their teeth and blow bubbles at it. Sometimes they swim upside down for a better view. That's what Stephen Petersen, head of conservation and research for Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo, and his wife, biologist Meg Hainstock, are looking for. Only when the whales turn upside down can the researchers determine their sex, which they need as they study the animals' social structure and behavior. The webcam's viewers across the globe are helping, too. Its creators — Bozeman, Montana-based Polar Bears International and Explore.org, a project of the Annenberg Foundation — included a "snapshot" feature that allows viewers to take still shots of the feed. Petersen and Hainstock hope the result will be a trove of photographs of individual whales that will help them catalog the population as they try to answer questions about the animals' behavior. For example, why do certain whales of a similar age and sex consistently gather at certain times or locations? What function do Hudson Bay's estuaries serve for these animals? Do beluga whales have a matriarchal social structure? Do certain whale groups' low numbers have a long-term effect on the rest of the population, such as the case with the population in Alaska's Cook Inlet, which is struggling as compared to the healthy Hudson Bay population? "As far as I know, there's no other investigation of beluga from under the water on this scale," Petersen said. "A lot of the stuff that's been done before is from observers on top of the water. It doesn't really give us a good sense — belugas don't spend a lot of time on top of the water." Explore.org and Polar Bears International have used similar crowdsourcing technology to monitor polar bears' annual migration in Hudson Bay. Researchers hope years of viewers taking snapshots will provide them with images that can help assess the bears' health and reproductive rates. Other scientists are increasingly using crowdsourcing to raise money for research or perform tasks that would be too costly or time-consuming to be performed by a team of researchers. One of the most well-known projects is by the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, whose software has been downloaded by millions of users and allows researchers to use the data-processing power of those computers in the institute's search for alien life in space. "In general, there is a growing interest in using citizen science projects to raise awareness and support scientific research," said Krista Wright, executive director of Polar Bears International. For the beluga whale project, Petersen said viewers are instructed on how to identify males from females, and are then asked to take snapshots when the whales flip over and their sex is in view of the camera. The photographs are tagged male or female and uploaded to a database that will help identify individual whales and their locations. Operators switched on the cameras July 15 and have since averaged about 2,500 viewers a day, according to Explore.org spokesman Mike Gasbara. The researchers hope that after this season ends in August, they will have a catalog of individual whales that can be tracked in subsequent years, along with the locations where different groups are gathering to find if any patterns emerge. Understanding the beluga whales is important because their ecosystem soon may be altered with the effects of climate change, Gasbara said. Less Arctic ice could bring threats to the beluga in the form of killer whales and increased boat traffic and pollution, he said. "I think because we're right at the beginning of this, any information that we get on social structure is going to be informative for other locations," Petersen said. Back on the surface in Canada's Hudson Bay, ghostlike humps emerge as more whales are drawn to Shepherd's 10-foot inflatable boat. She pilots the vessel slowly around the estuary for four hours a day over the short northern summer, sometimes narrating her observations to web viewers. "It's important to know that we ultimately are visitors and we are in their territory," Shepherd said. "Them approaching the boat, following the boat — it's all their doing. We don't need to run up to them and ride along." Occasionally, one of the whales will slap the water with its tail and soak her. "Sometimes I feel like they've adopted me into their pod," Shephard said.


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: www.rdmag.com

The size of a large caribou herd in Alaska's Arctic region has dropped by more than 50 percent over the last three years, and researchers who have tentatively ruled out hunting and predation as significant factors for the decline are trying to determine why. The state's Central Arctic herd, which roams an area of north-central Alaska about the size of Ohio, hit a peak of about 70,000 caribou in 2010. It fell to 50,000 in 2013. That year, spring arrived late, meaning caribou had to trudge through snow later than usual at a time when their bodies are already stressed and not getting the grasses they need for nutrition. Surveys by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggest the herd dwindled to about 22,000 caribou this year. There has been a higher than normal rate of death among adult female caribou tracked with radio collars but the reason for that is unclear, said state wildlife biologist Beth Lenart. The department does not believe hunting is a factor in the decline, saying caribou killed by hunters account for a small portion of overall deaths. The department doesn't think predation by wolves and bears plays a large role in regulating Arctic caribou herds, and biologists so far have not detected diseases affecting the herd, Lenart said. Pregnancy rates for female caribou are down slightly since 2013, but not alarmingly so, she said. Fewer adult males are tracked by tracking collars, making it more difficult to spot trends in their numbers. Researchers conclude that caribou have likely died when the sensors on their collars indicate the animals have not moved for at least 12 hours. Lenart plans to review more closely weather data to see if there might have been changes that biologists hadn't picked up on, like impacts to vegetation that could affect caribou nutrition. "But other than that, it's pretty challenging" pinpointing a cause, she said. The caribou's diet includes mushrooms, lichen, willow leaves, small shrubs and grass-like plants called sedges. Some of the Central Arctic herd caribou may have joined other herds, though the extent to which that may have happened is unclear, Lenart said. The herd's territory covers 44,400 square miles from the Arctic coast to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the southern side of the Brooks Range of mountains. It's not unusual for there to be rises and falls in the numbers of caribou in herds, but Lenart described the change for the Central Arctic herd as "definitely a steep decline." While there's no evidence that climate change is affecting the herd yet, the Arctic is seeing the effects of a warming climate, with polar bears serving as a poster child of sorts for the change. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates the worldwide polar bear population at about 26,000 animals, but there are no comparable historical numbers. Polar Bears International, an advocacy group, says the bears are traditionally difficult to count because it's expensive to survey the remote locations where they live. The U.S. government has protected polar bears and some seals, citing long-term threats posed to them by declining sea ice. The U.S. Geological Survey is trying to understand how future environmental change might affect caribou habitat, food and reproduction. Longer periods of abundant food could help animals put on more weight for the winter but if summers are very buggy, with insects harassing caribou so much that they can't eat or must travel long distances to get away, that could have an impact, said Layne Adams, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Work last summer evaluating caribou range quality compared to the 1970s found no clear changes, Adams said. Some Alaska hunters are critical of current hunting rules that allow non-residents to kill up to five caribou during the hunting season and allow the killing of females that might have calves depending on them. "Obviously hunting contributes to decline. Whether it's a significant factor, we don't know," said Mark Richards, executive director of the Resident Hunters of Alaska group. "But you can't deny that hunting has an effect. Otherwise, they wouldn't restrict hunting." The fish and game department said it plans to recommend an overall reduction in the number of caribou that can be killed from the Central Artic herd because it now has fewer than the 28,000 to 32,000 animals considered its optimal management size. Adams said the Central Arctic and other herds in the region that have experienced recent declines all reached historic highs prior to their drops. Two other northern Alaska herds, the Western Arctic and Teshekpuk, have seen declines in recent years, though the Teshekpuk appears to have stabilized, said Lincoln Parrett, a research coordinator with the state Department of Fish and Game. Content Item Type: NewsSummary: The size of a large caribou herd in Alaska's Arctic region has dropped by more than 50 percent over the last three years ...Featured Image: Contributed Author: Becky Bohrer, Associated PressTopics: BiologyMeta Keywords: Central Arctic herd, caribou, large caribou herd, Arctic caribou herds, Arctic herd caribou, female caribou, adult female caribou, caribou range quality, caribou nutrition, U.S. Geological Survey, caribou habitat, biologist Beth Lenart, polar bears, Central Artic herd, northern Alaska herds, wildlife biologist, Polar Bears International, Fewer adult males, worldwide polar bear, Prudhoe Bay oil, current hunting rules, comparable historical numbers, Arctic region, future environmental change, research wildlife biologist, optimal management size, Arctic coast, Western Arctic, north-central Alaska, Alaska Department, radio collars, steep decline, hunting season, Pregnancy rates, large role, significant factors, Alaska hunters, game department, recent declines, small portion, grass-like plants, state Department, Alaska group, Lincoln Parrett, overall deaths, small shrubs, U.S. government, normal rate, International Union, remote locationsExclusive: 


News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: www.rdmag.com

The size of a large caribou herd in Alaska's Arctic region has dropped by more than 50 percent over the last three years, and researchers who have tentatively ruled out hunting and predation as significant factors for the decline are trying to determine why. The state's Central Arctic herd, which roams an area of north-central Alaska about the size of Ohio, hit a peak of about 70,000 caribou in 2010. It fell to 50,000 in 2013. That year, spring arrived late, meaning caribou had to trudge through snow later than usual at a time when their bodies are already stressed and not getting the grasses they need for nutrition. Surveys by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggest the herd dwindled to about 22,000 caribou this year. There has been a higher than normal rate of death among adult female caribou tracked with radio collars but the reason for that is unclear, said state wildlife biologist Beth Lenart. The department does not believe hunting is a factor in the decline, saying caribou killed by hunters account for a small portion of overall deaths. The department doesn't think predation by wolves and bears plays a large role in regulating Arctic caribou herds, and biologists so far have not detected diseases affecting the herd, Lenart said. Pregnancy rates for female caribou are down slightly since 2013, but not alarmingly so, she said. Fewer adult males are tracked by tracking collars, making it more difficult to spot trends in their numbers. Researchers conclude that caribou have likely died when the sensors on their collars indicate the animals have not moved for at least 12 hours. Lenart plans to review more closely weather data to see if there might have been changes that biologists hadn't picked up on, like impacts to vegetation that could affect caribou nutrition. "But other than that, it's pretty challenging" pinpointing a cause, she said. The caribou's diet includes mushrooms, lichen, willow leaves, small shrubs and grass-like plants called sedges. Some of the Central Arctic herd caribou may have joined other herds, though the extent to which that may have happened is unclear, Lenart said. The herd's territory covers 44,400 square miles from the Arctic coast to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the southern side of the Brooks Range of mountains. It's not unusual for there to be rises and falls in the numbers of caribou in herds, but Lenart described the change for the Central Arctic herd as "definitely a steep decline." While there's no evidence that climate change is affecting the herd yet, the Arctic is seeing the effects of a warming climate, with polar bears serving as a poster child of sorts for the change. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates the worldwide polar bear population at about 26,000 animals, but there are no comparable historical numbers. Polar Bears International, an advocacy group, says the bears are traditionally difficult to count because it's expensive to survey the remote locations where they live. The U.S. government has protected polar bears and some seals, citing long-term threats posed to them by declining sea ice. The U.S. Geological Survey is trying to understand how future environmental change might affect caribou habitat, food and reproduction. Longer periods of abundant food could help animals put on more weight for the winter but if summers are very buggy, with insects harassing caribou so much that they can't eat or must travel long distances to get away, that could have an impact, said Layne Adams, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Work last summer evaluating caribou range quality compared to the 1970s found no clear changes, Adams said. Some Alaska hunters are critical of current hunting rules that allow non-residents to kill up to five caribou during the hunting season and allow the killing of females that might have calves depending on them. "Obviously hunting contributes to decline. Whether it's a significant factor, we don't know," said Mark Richards, executive director of the Resident Hunters of Alaska group. "But you can't deny that hunting has an effect. Otherwise, they wouldn't restrict hunting." The fish and game department said it plans to recommend an overall reduction in the number of caribou that can be killed from the Central Artic herd because it now has fewer than the 28,000 to 32,000 animals considered its optimal management size. Adams said the Central Arctic and other herds in the region that have experienced recent declines all reached historic highs prior to their drops. Two other northern Alaska herds, the Western Arctic and Teshekpuk, have seen declines in recent years, though the Teshekpuk appears to have stabilized, said Lincoln Parrett, a research coordinator with the state Department of Fish and Game.


News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: phys.org

The state's Central Arctic herd, which roams an area of north-central Alaska about the size of Ohio, hit a peak of about 70,000 caribou in 2010. It fell to 50,000 in 2013. That year, spring arrived late, meaning caribou had to trudge through snow later than usual at a time when their bodies are already stressed and not getting the grasses they need for nutrition. Surveys by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggest the herd dwindled to about 22,000 caribou this year. There has been a higher than normal rate of death among adult female caribou tracked with radio collars but the reason for that is unclear, said state wildlife biologist Beth Lenart. The department does not believe hunting is a factor in the decline, saying caribou killed by hunters account for a small portion of overall deaths. The department doesn't think predation by wolves and bears plays a large role in regulating Arctic caribou herds, and biologists so far have not detected diseases affecting the herd, Lenart said. Pregnancy rates for female caribou are down slightly since 2013, but not alarmingly so, she said. Fewer adult males are tracked by tracking collars, making it more difficult to spot trends in their numbers. Researchers conclude that caribou have likely died when the sensors on their collars indicate the animals have not moved for at least 12 hours. Lenart plans to review more closely weather data to see if there might have been changes that biologists hadn't picked up on, like impacts to vegetation that could affect caribou nutrition. "But other than that, it's pretty challenging" pinpointing a cause, she said. The caribou's diet includes mushrooms, lichen, willow leaves, small shrubs and grass-like plants called sedges. Some of the Central Arctic herd caribou may have joined other herds, though the extent to which that may have happened is unclear, Lenart said. The herd's territory covers 44,400 square miles from the Arctic coast to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the southern side of the Brooks Range of mountains. It's not unusual for there to be rises and falls in the numbers of caribou in herds, but Lenart described the change for the Central Arctic herd as "definitely a steep decline." While there's no evidence that climate change is affecting the herd yet, the Arctic is seeing the effects of a warming climate, with polar bears serving as a poster child of sorts for the change. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates the worldwide polar bear population at about 26,000 animals, but there are no comparable historical numbers. Polar Bears International, an advocacy group, says the bears are traditionally difficult to count because it's expensive to survey the remote locations where they live. The U.S. government has protected polar bears and some seals, citing long-term threats posed to them by declining sea ice. The U.S. Geological Survey is trying to understand how future environmental change might affect caribou habitat, food and reproduction. Longer periods of abundant food could help animals put on more weight for the winter but if summers are very buggy, with insects harassing caribou so much that they can't eat or must travel long distances to get away, that could have an impact, said Layne Adams, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Work last summer evaluating caribou range quality compared to the 1970s found no clear changes, Adams said. Some Alaska hunters are critical of current hunting rules that allow non-residents to kill up to five caribou during the hunting season and allow the killing of females that might have calves depending on them. "Obviously hunting contributes to decline. Whether it's a significant factor, we don't know," said Mark Richards, executive director of the Resident Hunters of Alaska group. "But you can't deny that hunting has an effect. Otherwise, they wouldn't restrict hunting." The fish and game department said it plans to recommend an overall reduction in the number of caribou that can be killed from the Central Artic herd because it now has fewer than the 28,000 to 32,000 animals considered its optimal management size. Adams said the Central Arctic and other herds in the region that have experienced recent declines all reached historic highs prior to their drops. Two other northern Alaska herds, the Western Arctic and Teshekpuk, have seen declines in recent years, though the Teshekpuk appears to have stabilized, said Lincoln Parrett, a research coordinator with the state Department of Fish and Game. Explore further: Caribou the missing piece of arctic warming puzzle


News Article | December 20, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Churchill, on the banks of the Hudson Bay in Canada, is known as the polar bear capital of the world. Hundreds of bears gather there each year before the sea freezes over in October and November so they can hunt seals again from the ice for the first time since the summer. I first went there 12 years ago at this time of year. The place was white, the temperature was -20C, and the bears were out feeding. This year I came back to make a film for Danish TV and set up live feeds of the bears. It was so different. In mid-November there was no snow or sea ice or ice; the land was green or brown and the temperature was 2C. The bears were walking around on the land waiting for the ice to form. It was like summer. October had seen unprecedented temperatures all around the Arctic leading to a record-breaking slowdown of sea ice formation. Local people told me they had never seen it like this before. With Geoff York, director of conservation at Polar Bears International, we pored over satellite maps every day. It was shocking. The whole 470,000 sq mile bay was completely ice-free. This is the southernmost colony of polar bears in the world and in the past about 1,000 bears would be there. But studies have shown that in the last 20 years the surface temperature of Hudson Bay has warmed by about 3C. This has had a massive effect on the bear. The western Hudson Bay population has declined by more than 20% in 30 years. It’s the same elsewhere. New analysis of data from the southern Beaufort Sea in north-west Canada and Alaska suggest even greater population declines there. We saw about 20 bears around Churchill in the 10 days I was there. That’s actually a few more than I saw last time, when I was there 12 years ago, but that was because most of the bears were out on the ice then. The ones we did see this year appeared thin, restless and hungry, and were starting to be more aggressive. There was a mum and a cub and it was very emotional because it looked pretty certain that the cub would not survive much longer. The days of bears in this region having triplets seem to be over. The declining sea ice has decreased hunting opportunities, so the bears are smaller and fewer cubs are being born in this area. Every year, York told us, the bears spend one day more on land and one day less on the ice. That does not sound much, but it’s one day less hunting, and over 30 years they are getting one months’ less food. The ice is getting thinner; it’s melting earlier and it’s coming later. New studies suggest that polar bears can only survive for about 180 days on shore. York was clear: “If sea ice loss continues at the same pace or faster than we have seen here over the last 30 years, this is definitely not sustainable and researchers predict polar bears could become regionally extinct by mid- to end of this century.” The polar bear is an icon of climate change. What is happening near Churchill is a clear sign that change is taking place now. When I returned to Europe, the frost finally came. It should have been one month earlier. This is about much more than polar bears. If an animal that is designed to survive here can’t make it, we are in trouble. It’s really about us.


News Article | August 6, 2013
Site: www.theguardian.com

A starved polar bear found found dead in Svalbard as "little more than skin and bones" perished due to a lack of sea ice on which to hunt seals, according to a renowned polar bear expert. Climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic to record lows in the last year and Dr Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years and examined the animal, said the lack of ice forced the bear into ranging far and wide in an ultimately unsuccessful search for food. "From his lying position in death the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped," Stirling said. "He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone." The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance. Polar bears feed almost exclusively on seals and need sea ice to capture their prey. But 2012 saw the lowest level of sea ice in the Arctic on record. Prond Robertson, at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, said: "The sea ice break up around Svalbard in 2013 was both fast and very early." He said recent years had been poor for ice around the islands: "Warm water entered the western fjords in 2005-06 and since then has not shifted." Stirling, now at Polar Bears International and previously at the University of Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service, said: "Most of the fjords and inter-island channels in Svalbard did not freeze normally last winter and so many potential areas known to that bear for hunting seals in spring do not appear to have been as productive as in a normal winter. As a result the bear likely went looking for food in another area but appears to have been unsuccessful." Research published in May showed that loss of sea ice was harming the health, breeding success and population size of the polar bears of Hudson Bay, Canada, as they spent longer on land waiting for the sea to refreeze. Other work has shown polar bear weights are declining. In February a panel of polar bear experts published a paper stating that rapid ice loss meant options such the feeding of starving bears by humans needed to be considered to protect the 20,000-25,000 animals thought to remain. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world's largest professional conservation network, states that of the 19 populations of polar bear around the Arctic, data is available for 12. Of those, eight are declining, three are stable and one is increasing. The IUCN predicts that increasing ice loss will mean between one-third and a half of polar bears will be lost in the next three generations, about 45 years. But the US and Russian governments said in March that faster-than-expected ice losses could mean two-thirds are lost. Attributing a single incident to climate change can be controversial, but Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie, said: "It's not just one bear though. There are an increasing number of bears in this condition: they are just not putting down enough fat to survive their summer fast. This particular polar bear is the latest bit of evidence of the impact of climate change." Ice loss due to climate change is "absolutely, categorically and without question" the cause of falling polar bear populations, said Richardson, who cares for the UK's only publicly kept polar bears. He said 16 years was not particularly old for a wild male polar bear, which usually live into their early 20s. "There may have been some underlying disease, but I would be surprised if this was anything other than starvation," he said. "Once polar bears reach adulthood they are normally nigh on indestructible, they are hard as nails." Jeff Flocken, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "While it is difficult to ascribe a single death or act to climate change it couldn't be clearer that drastic and long-term changes in their Arctic habitat threaten the survival of the polar bear. The threat of habitat loss from climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable killing for commercial trade in Canada, could lead to the demise of one of the world's most iconic animals, and this would be a true tragedy."


News Article | December 2, 2015
Site: www.treehugger.com

In honor of this week's COP21 climate conference in Paris, Google has unveiled Street View images of the places and living things that are depending on action from world leaders. A variety of conservation organizations took Google's Street View Trekker camera technology and captured images that tell the story of what's at stake. You can virtually visit polar bears thanks to Polar Bears International who mapped the bears and their fragile sea ice habitat near Churchill, Manitoba for all to view and created lesson plans and activities for educators to bring this information into classrooms. The Nature Conservancy - California took the cameras to capture the plants in California that are vulnerable to climate change. The group has been using the technology to monitor the health of the state's blue oaks, which are predicted to decline by 41% by 2100. They'll check in again in the future to keep monitoring these trees to document them and hopefully come up with strategies for protecting them. The Amazonas Sustainable Foundation used the Trekker to allow people to view the Brazilian Amazon from the forest floor, capturing images of hundreds of kilometers walking through the forest and floating on the river and its tributaries. The group also mapped the local isolated communities whose livelihoods are being impacted by the loss of forest. The group hopes that the images will inspire people to protect the forest that not only supports a wide ecosystem but also is essential to the health of our environment as it acts like a giant carbon sink and protects our atmosphere. If you've ever wanted to see what it would be like to be dropped into the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, you can explore below. This isn't the first time Google has drawn attention to environmental issues with it's mapping technology. During previous COP climate conferences, the company has released images like these that show the consequences of damming rivers around the world and Google Earth layers that model how the world will look with rising seas and a warming climate.


News Article | December 1, 2015
Site: phys.org

A "Street View" feature at the free online map service has grown from simply showing scenes outside of business or residential addresses to allowing arm chair adventurers to virtually explore mountains, rain forests, ocean depths and more. Some settings find creatures in dire straits, such as polar bear in the Canadian Arctic appearing to desperately wait for bay ice that doesn't form because temperatures are too warm. "From polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, to communities in the Brazilian Amazon, to blue oak trees in Central California, the impacts of climate change are being felt by plants, animals and people across the planet," said Google Earth outreach program manager Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "With Street View, you can get a window into some of our world's changing ecosystems, and learn how nonprofit and other organizations are working to keep our planet healthy." Polar Bears International (PBI) borrowed Street View Trekker 360-degree camera and location-pinpointing gear to enhance maps with scenes of polar bears in Manitoba as the sea ice on which they depend vanishes. PBI incorporated the Street View scenes into its website and a lesson plan for schools to help children learn about the habitat. Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) used Trekker Gear to capture scenes in the Amazon forest and put isolated local communities on the map. FAS captured imagery from three reserves in the Amazon and uses it for education about rain forest protection and sustainable ecosystem management, according to Google. The initiatives aims to make climate change more real for people and inspire them to act by allowing them to virtually explore remote areas, and see beauty lost or under threat due to climate change. Street View imagery also allows for comparisons over time to show how environments are changing along with the climate. "Street View is great for visualizing the impacts of climate change, but we're also using our Street View platform to measure climate data, which can be used by scientists, policymakers, businesses and citizens to drive better decisions," Tuxen-Bettman said. Google Earth has worked for several years with the Environmental Defense Fund to map methane leaks from natural gas lines under an array of US cities by equipping Street View cars with special gear, according to Tuxen-Bettman. Street View cars will begin measuring more pollutants, such as climate change culprit carbon dioxide, in an alliance with environmental sensor network specialty firm Aclima, according to California-based Google. "Essentially, we're turning Street View cars into environmental sensing platforms," Tuxen-Bettman said, noting that they will first be put to work in California communities.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.treehugger.com

From the the ‘white sea deer’ and ‘God’s dog’ to the 'rider of icebergs,’ the polar bear’s venerable place in northern culture is reflected in the names it’s been given. Ursus maritimus – the polar bear. There’s a reason that these animals have become the poster children for climate change. For those of us who live outside of the Arctic Circle, these majestic creatures take on mythic proportions – and they are seriously threatened by diminishing sea ice. Without action on the environment, two-thirds of these gorgeous giants could be lost by 2050; by 2100 polar bears could become extinct. Thankfully, there are a lot of people working on behalf of the beautiful bears. At Polar Bears International, for example, scientists and conservationists are working hard to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on. The organization’s site is a treasure trove of trivia and facts, from which the following names were collected. Call me a word nerd, but we can learn a lot about animals from the language used by other cultures, especially cultures that share the same landscape with said animals. Ursus maritimus is the polar bear’s scientific name, it means sea bear; it was coined by Commander C.J. Phipps in 1774, who was the first to describe the polar bear as a distinct species. Polar bears are so reliant on the ocean for food and habitat that they are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals, so the name makes perfect sense. Later, when it was thought that the polar bear was actually its own genus, it was renamed Thalarctos from the Greek, thalasso, meaning sea, and arctos, meaning bear. In 1971, scientists went back with the bear's original scientific name, Ursus maritimus. The Norse poets from medieval Scandinavia said polar bears had the strength of 12 men and the wit of 11. They referred to them with the following names White Sea Deer; The Seal's Dread; The Rider of Icebergs; The Whale's Bane; The Sailor of the Floe. The Sami and Lapp refuse to call them “polar bear” in order to avoid offending them. Instead, they call them God's Dog or The Old Man in the Fur Cloak Nanuk is used by the the Inuit, meaning Animal Worthy of Great Respect. Pihoqahiak is also used by the Inuit; it means The Ever-Wandering One. Gyp or Orqoi – Grandfather or Stepfather – are used by the Ket of Siberia as a sign of respect. The Russians go a bit more literal with beliy medved, meaning The White Bear. Isbjorn, The Ice Bear, is what they say in Norway and Denmark. In Eastern Greenland, The Master of Helping Spirits in known as tornassuk. So many poetic names! But regardless of what we call them, we owe it to the The Sailors of the Floe to make sure they have a place to live. For more information, visit Polar Bears International.


News Article | November 30, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

Google is shedding some light on the effects climate change is having on the environment by allowing the public to see the impact for themselves using Street View. The company is highlighting three changing ecosystems to explore as world leaders gather as the COP21 conference in Paris to discuss climate change kicks off this week. Polar Bears International, the world's leading polar bear conservation organization, used the Street View Trekker camera (which is used to map areas that are inaccessible by car) to map the animals in their natural habitat around Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The organization has also developed a lesson plan for schools so that students can learn more about the changing area that is home to the polar bear, while we all can see how much global warming is affecting the area as a polar bear can be seen waiting for ice to freeze. We can also see how plants are affected by climate change by using Street View to explore the threatened blue oak trees in Central California. The trees have been in decline because of changing temperatures, so scientists at the Nature Conservancy-California used Google Street View to capture the blue oaks to keep a digital record to continue to log their changes and come up with conservation strategies. Google's Trekker camera was also used by the Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation to educate the public about rain forest protection. The nonprofit mapped isolated parts of the Amazon forest and river tributaries to show the public what this area looks like now so they can visually see how important it is to protect the ecosystem. Google said in a blog post that it is using its Street View platform to measure climate date so that policymakers will be able to make better decisions. As part of Google Earth Outreach project, Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers have mapped methane leaks from natural gas lines in U.S. cities. PSE&G announced it will use Street View mapping data to upgrade leaky gas lines as part of its new multimillion-dollar pipeline replacement program. Google plans to use Street View cars to create an environmental sensing platform in 2016 by measuring pollutants like carbon dioxide in California communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley and Los Angeles. The 2015 Paris Climate Conference in Paris, the biggest U.N. climate conference of the decade, kicked off on Monday and will conclude on Dec. 11.

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