Polar BearLatin name: Ursus Maritimus,
Conservsation status: vulnerable (population is unknown)
Although it looks white, Polar Bear fur is actually transparent and hollow and traps heat from the sun. The skin under their fur is black and absorbs the sun's heat. They also have a thick layer of fat so overheating can be a bigger problem than staying warm. Polar Bears can swim 6 mph—up to 100 miles at a time—and run as fast as 25 mph.
Polar Bears live only in the Arctic. Loss of sea ice has a critically adverse effect on Polar Bears. They hunt from the edge and build snow dens on the ice for resting and raising their cubs. Sea ice decline could open the Arctic to shipping and tourism, further disturbing Arctic habitats. Other threats are oil development and industrial pollution that reaches the Arctic through air and ocean currents.
Other animals at risk
The Shenandoah Salamander lives in an isolated, high altitude region of Shenandoah National Park, USA. Like all amphibians who have thin, permeable skin, salamanders are very sensitive to environmental changes. If average temperatures or moisture increase, this salamander, restricted to its cool micro-climate, will be at risk—having no place to go but to lower, even warmer, altitudes. If warming causes other species of lower altitude salamanders to migrate higher, they will compete for the Shenandoah's cool, moist habitats.
Belugas live in Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters. Impacts from climate change include: an increase in ship traffic as sea ice declines, oil exploration and extraction, fisheries by-catch, and disruption of the food web. As Arctic waters warm and currents change, the Humpback (a competitor) and the Orca (a predator) may move north and stay longer. Some Beluga populations are also threatened by hunting, pollution and habitat loss.
Climate change impacts the Leatherback in two main ways: an increase in the temperature of nesting sands causes a greater proportion of females to hatch, destabilizing future populations; and sea level rise and stronger, more frequent storms erode nesting beaches and wash away eggs and hatchlings. The Leatherback is also threatened from fisheries by-catch, egg collection, coastal development, pollution and ingestion of floating plastics.
In 50 years, the mean temperature of western Antarctica has risen nearly 3 °C—more than any other region—reducing the extent and thickness of winter ice. The Emperor Penguin is dependent on the ice for breeding, raising chicks and moulting. Less sea ice decreases zooplankton (krill) which feed on algae that grow on the underside of the ice. Krill are an important part of the food web for the Emperor and other Antarctic marine species.