Alaska Polar Bears Now Live on ‘Treadmill’

An acceleration in the movement of the Arctic’s sea ice is presenting yet another climate change challenge to polar bears, making them work harder and travel farther just to stay in the same place, according to new research.

The animals have historically just rested beside holes in the ice as they waited for seals to emerge and become their next meal.

But the thinning Arctic sea ice is now drifting more quickly to the west, forcing the bears to become more active to compensate for the movement of the ice.

“In order for an Alaskan polar bear to remain an Alaskan polar bear, it must walk farther or faster to the east on the ‘treadmill,’ or it will end up in Russia,” explained U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist David Douglas.

Polar bear waiting for a seal to emerge from a hole in the Arctic sea ice pack.


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