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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I love snow and ice!!!

Climate change is on my mind as I alternate between morning infotainment of the sports and news varieties.

I was cleaning the kitchen and I listened to a relay of Science Friday thru my Roku* and the Tune In streaming channel.  It was a great show, as usual.

It reminded me of part of the curriculum of my graduate program at the Dub.  At that time it was in the School of Marine Affairs.  Don't get me started on all the goofy questions you get when you tell someone that you got a masters degree in Marine Affairs.  They need to change that at some point....

My advisor was one of the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
He always had interesting stories about some of the debates that went on during those meetings.  Would have been fun to be a fly on the wall for some of those...

Years later I was working in Alaska in fisheries management.  I lived in Juneau, where the land was rebounding based on the retreat of the glaciers.  Good for the people who owned home, bad for the boaters who were navigating by landmarks or GPS only, when it came to depth soundings.  I love tides, it makes the boaters more educated about mother nature.

In some northern parts of the state, some of which I had visited as part of my job, you find the zones where  polar bears and walrus were quite common.

Since I spent some time holding the rifle for 'polar bear watch' while up in Barrow taking a sea ice research class, I will just tell you a little about their conditions based on the recent decreases in the amount of sea ice in the arctic.

I have toured the holes that the seals make in the ice so that they can come up to breathe.  The polar bears depend on the existence of these holes to hunt during the coldest part of the year.  I was in Barrow for a few weeks in May, so the ice was still fairly thick.  A few months later would be entirely different.  The whalers could still use their subsistence whale allowances (bowhead, primarily) to hunt in the summer, but the polar bears are not so lucky.



That is why you see a lot of pictures like the one above.  This bear is either incredibly dirty, or it could be a hybrid between a grizzly and a polar bear.  The point is that both humans and other animal will be affected by climate variability, and we need to be aware of its consequences.

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