Camouflage is failing due to global warming

A common trait of many of the animals of the Arctic is the color white. Rabbits and baby seals are white so that predators cannot see them hiding in the snow. Polar bears and foxes are white so that the rabbits and baby seals can’t see them coming toward them in the snow.

However according to a documentary I saw a couple of days ago, that is changing. The documentary specifically mentioned the Arctic Rabbit which scientists are discovering is still changing its color around the time it has always done, but the ground is not yet covered with snow. This is making them easy prey as they stand out clearly against the green and brown tundra.

The fact that the snow is not returning at the usual time is going to affect all the animals who live in the Arctic and other northern regions, whether predator or prey. Global warming is coming too fast for them to adapt.

A rare few may even leave the Arctic to search for prey elsewhere. A polar bear has been documented as leaving its home near the Arctic Sea and has been seen hiking south. I wonder if she could be called a Snow Bird, as many Canadians are labeled who go south for the winter. I can’t say that blame her, can you?

Wandering Polar Bear heads south again

Dragonflies, open water reveal rapid Arctic change

Pierre Tautu doesn’t know whether it’s global warming or something else, but over the summer he noticed strange things happening around his Nunavut home in Chesterfield Inlet, at the top of Hudson Bay.

“We still have ice year-round, but there’s been a little bit of changes,” he said.

“Different kinds of insects and different kind of birds that come around our area now.”

His hamlet (population 330) is a prime nesting ground for a variety of birds, but last summer the 44-year-old hunter and guide spotted a type of owl he had never seen that far north. For the first time, he also saw a dragonfly in his Inuit community.

“We don’t have dragonflies around, but I’ve seen one,” Mr. Tautu said. “This was just out in our backyard and I was pretty surprised to see one.”

Changes to the environment and climate are usually imperceptible and are visible only when the increments build up over time and result in a trend. But in the summer of 2007, both anecdotal and quantifiable evidence emerged that showed dramatic changes are taking place in the Far North at a faster pace than anyone imagined.

The fabled Northwest Passage is normally still choked with ice during the summer. At its usual low point, 14 per cent of the shipping route remains covered with ice, which prevents ships from passing unless escorted by icebreakers. This year, just 2 per cent was covered with ice, resulting in the second consecutive summer during which an unaided sailboat could pass through.

Back in Chesterfield Inlet yesterday, the snow was flying and the freeze was setting in. “It still looks normal,” Mr. Tautu said. He’s not worried about a big melt, figuring the polar bears, other animals and people will adapt. Snow and ice, he said, will always be there. Still, he added, times have changed since his elders could read the weather better than any scientist.

“I was taught about the weather when I was a little boy,” he said. “Nowadays we can’t predict it any more.”

Dragonflies, open water reveal rapid Arctic change
DAWN WALTON From Thursday’s Globe and Mail
October 4, 2007 at 12:03 AM EDT

Wandering Polar Bear heads south again

There’s one polar bear that just can’t seem to get enough of the summer heat. For the second time in a month, the large female bear has frustrated wildlife officials by wandering south of her usual habitat on the Arctic Ocean.

People living along the Mackenzie River thought they had seen the last of the lost polar bear that had wandered near their communities early last month.

But after being trapped and flown more than 300 kilometres from Fort McPherson to the coast, it seems the bear simply turned around and started walking south again.

Now it has been spotted near Aklavik, about 100 kilometres north of Fort McPherson.

James Pokiak, who has been hunting polar bears around Tuktoyaktuk for more than 30 years, told CBC News on Friday the animal probably got used to its southern surroundings.

“Probably the main reason why it’s doing that is it’s kind of habituated now and it must have found some really good food sources. Once an animal gets used to an area, definitely they’re going to get back there.”

Pokiak said wildlife officials should have transported the bear farther north to its normal home on the sea ice.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials said they have no plans to interfere with the bear’s southern journey this time. It’s a decision that has some residents concerned the bear could pose a danger.

“I think it’s considered a dangerous animal to be on the Delta,” said Donald Aviugana, an elder who lives in Aklavik. “You know, there are caribou hunters and people berry picking … you never know what could happen.”

The bear, which is fitted with a satellite collar, will continue to be tracked by wildlife officials.

CBC News