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Old 11-25-2018, 11:09 PM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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Nov 26th, 2018: Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island is Russian and looks like they’re a little unfriendly towards the neighbors.



But these are the neighbors.



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Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, is one of the most remote islands in Russia. Straddling the International Date Line—the boundary where the eastern and the western hemisphere meet—this rugged volcanic island, where summer temperatures barely climb above freezing, is believed to have been the last place on earth where the wooly mammoth survived, six thousand years after their cousins on the mainland disappeared. This harsh landscape supports a surprisingly diverse ecosystem, including Arctic foxes, seals, walrus, musk oxen, lemmings, and many types of birds. But the most abundant species here is the polar bear.


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Wrangel Island has the highest density of polar bear dens in the entire Arctic region. The bears come here every summer when the ice melts, and stay on the island until winter and the start of the next freezing cycle. The bears also come here to give birth and raise cubs and prepare them for the next winter.
But in the past few decades, change in the climate has forced the bears to spend more and more time on land because the ice now melts earlier and freezes later, elongating the ice-free period. Compared to 20 years ago, polar bears now spend, on average, a month longer on Wrangel Island. The number of bears that arrive on Wrangel Island each year is also increasing. In 2017, researchers counted 589 bears on the island, which was “abnormally higher” than the previous average of 200-300 individuals.



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Old 11-26-2018, 11:04 AM   #2
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Climate change advocates have said polar bear numbers would decline... they haven't, yet. Stories like this that say they can adapt to conditions, and possibly increase in numbers, are considered unhelpful to the cause.

Don't look now but Arctic ice conditions are stable for the last ten years. The 2018 graph of extent is about the same as the 2007 graph of extent.

This doesn't mean there is no AGW. AGW is a proven phenomenon. The ice extent, and volume, are still maybe a tenth off what they were 25 years ago. The quicker melting caused a lot of scientists about a decade ago to claim the Arctic might be ice-free during summer by 2014. Not even close. That prediction was unhelpful. Predicting the future is very, very hard.

Maybe this reflects "the pause", maybe always-changing ocean circulation, or maybe the question of what exactly melts the ice is more complex than just the global temperature anomaly. (Some people believe that Chinese soot is involved.) Also, more of the warming has been at the Arctic than anywhere else, but that may change as well.

There wil be winners and losers out of global warming; and the polar bears are not yet found on one side or the other of that equation. They adapted to the last 25,000 years of (slower) warming so they may wind up just fine. Revisit this thread in 2040 for the update.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:25 AM   #3
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Wrangal is a wildlife sanctuary where civilian natives have been moved off the island, and only a few Russian scientists/technicians are allowed to visit. Even they aren't allowed weapons other than pepper spray and tasers. So the huge increase in bears on Wrangel shouldn't be construed as representative of the Arctic bear health.

Another startling prediction I read in the last year is the change in sea ice and reduction in arctic ocean outflow of cold water will kill the Gulf stream, causing the British Isles and parts of western Europe to become a lot colder.

I always suspect this sort of thing is hyperbole by the reporter to pump a headline from a scientific report. But it certainly sticks in my subconscious even though it won't affect me.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:35 AM   #4
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The entire world is kind of a polar bear sanctuary: it's currently illegal for anyone but indigenous peoples to hunt polar bears, anywhere on the planet.

Local changes don't tell us much about global changes. I believe that the 1930s, dust bowl years, remains the warmest decade for the contiguous US.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:44 AM   #5
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This harsh landscape supports a surprisingly diverse ecosystem, including Arctic foxes, seals, walrus, musk oxen, lemmings, and many types of birds. But the most abundant species here is the polar bear.
By what measure? Surely not raw numbers? That's a lot of polar bears in the picture, but are there really more of them than any of the other species listed?
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Old 11-26-2018, 03:11 PM   #6
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I suspect the lemmings outnumber the bears. In lemming years, anyway.
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Old 11-26-2018, 03:56 PM   #7
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I suspect several bird species do too. Plus, musk oxen are herd animals; if there are more apex predators than musk oxen, it seems to me that something's seriously broken in the ecosystem.
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Old 11-26-2018, 04:13 PM   #8
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Isn't polar bears adapting to global warming just putting electrical tape over the check engine light?
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Old 11-26-2018, 05:03 PM   #9
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True in some senses. The polar bears don't give a shit. It's like, some species will actually benefit, just like some areas may wind up colder due to changes in ocean currents and whatnot. These variations will drive people nuts as they try to work out what is actually going on. I'm trusting the satellites.
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Old 11-26-2018, 05:12 PM   #10
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It might drive people nuts, but it'll keep the headline writers in business.
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Happy Monkey View Post
I suspect several bird species do too. Plus, musk oxen are herd animals; if there are more apex predators than musk oxen, it seems to me that something's seriously broken in the ecosystem.
The bears are tourists, not residents. They're like human tourists who outnumber natives (in season) at a shitload of touristy destinations. But it's not that big an island so less than 700 Musk Oxen is quite probable.
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Old 11-27-2018, 07:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
The bears are tourists, not residents.
I guess a t-shirt would be asking for too much...
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Old 11-30-2018, 05:27 PM   #13
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Climate change advocates have said polar bear numbers would decline... they haven't, yet. Stories like this that say they can adapt to conditions, and possibly increase in numbers, are considered unhelpful to the cause.
I hope that no one would try to extrapolate an overall increase just by the picture above.

If there are fewer places for bears to go because there is less ice, some locations will have an increase in the number of bears per square kilometre while others will have a decrease. Overall the numbers could decrease and still get local increases.
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Old 12-03-2018, 04:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by observer View Post
I hope that no one would try to extrapolate an overall increase just by the picture above.
The scientists of the world all get all of their information from the Cellar.

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Old 12-03-2018, 05:14 PM   #15
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Same windows?
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