By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Reuters, Via Scotman.com News:
OSLO (Reuters) – Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming.
Signs of wrenching changes are apparent around the Arctic region due to unusual warmth — the summer minimum for ice is usually reached between mid-September and early October before the Arctic freeze extends its grip.
“We know about three new islands this year that have been uncovered because the glaciers have retreated,” said Rune Bergstrom, environmental adviser to the governor of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole.
The largest is about 300 by 100 metres, he told Reuters.
On a trip this summer “We saw a couple of polar bears in the sea east of Svalbard — one of them looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted,” said Julian Dowdeswell, head of the Scott Polar Research Institute in England.
He said that the bears had apparently been stranded at sea by melting ice. The bears generally live around the fringes of the ice where they find it easiest to hunt seals.