Monday is International Polar Bear Day, a worldwide event that “draws attention to the challenges polar bears face in a warming Arctic.”
NASA has predicted that the decline in Arctic sea ice, due to global climate change, will lead to a long-term drop in polar bear populations worldwide, as the animals lose crucial hunting habitats.
So, in honor of the majestic polar bear, we’re bringing you 15 adorable photos (and gifs) of polar bears, along with 15 alarming facts about the melting of the polar ice caps.
These polar bears cubs are too cute to be real.
Also, did you know that 2016 was the warmest year on record for the Arctic?
Are we in polar bear heaven?
We will be soon, if humans don’t take into account the fact that September sea-ice extent in the Arctic has been decreasing by more than 10% each decade since the 1980s.
Stop it. There’s no way that polar bear cub is using its mother as a stepladder in order to receive a maternal nuzzle.
There’s also no way the Arctic can withstand temperatures that reached 36 degrees fahrenheit above average last November.
Hi there, Mr. Polar Bear.
There are just 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, according to Polar Bears International.
We’ve all been there.
Somewhere we haven’t been yet? An arctic that could be completely ice free in summer by 2050.
This polar bear cub has no fear.
This guy has had enough warm weather.
So has the Arctic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that rising temperatures change could cause global sea levels to rise three feet by 2100.
This is how we feel about the fact that Antarctic sea ice was at its smallest extent ever on Feb. 13, 2017.
This polar bear’s got his game face on.
He’ll need to up his game, since rising global temperatures are forcing brown bear populations northward, which means polar bears must compete with them for a limited food supply.
Here’s a healthy, happy polar bear family.
Scientists began noticing physical changes in polar bear populations in the late 1990s. Ian Stirling, formerly of the Canadian Wildlife Service, authored a 1999 study that reported a correlation between the “steady decline in most measures of polar bear health with a decline in sea ice.”
Talk about love that will melt your heart.
Also let’s talk about sunlight that will melt humanity through to the earth’s core, if we’re not careful. The bright surface of sea ice reflects 80% of the sunlight that hits it back into space, providing an important buffer against ocean warming. But in the summer when the ice melts, the dark ocean surface absorbs 90% of the sunlight, causing the oceans to warm dramatically.
This polar bear loves the water.
Polar ice melting affects not only northern climates but low-lying island countries like the Maldives, which could be 77% underwater by 2100.
It is thought that despite drastic polar melting in the Arctic, ice sheets will persist in the Canadian Archipelago, offering a potential refuge for bear populations.
We’re tickled too.
More good news. US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on offshore drilling in 98% of federally-owned Arctic ocean waters, which will protected critical habitat for polar bears and other arctic creatures.
This polar bear is running into the warm embrace of our favorite Canadian.
Here’s how you can help:
You can adopt a polar bear through the World Wildlife Foundation.
Turn down your thermostat down in winter and up in summer to slow CO2 emissions.
Take action and lobby governments to support the Paris Agreement.