How Polar Bears At Oregon Zoo Help Us Understand Climate Change

Jul 31, 2013

A polar bear at the Oregon Zoo are helping researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey study how climate change is affecting wild Arctic polar bears. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.


Tasul is one of two polar bears at the Oregon Zoo that researchers are tapping for help studying the effects of climate change on wild polar bears.
Credit Oregon Zoo

  A polar bear named Tasul is wearing a tracking collar that measures her movement while she's walking, eating sleeping and swimming.

Researcher Anthony Pagano videotapes her activity simultaneously. Later, he'll match the data from her collar with the movements on video. Using that pairing, Pagano says, he can monitor wild polar bears wearing similar collars without traveling to their habitat in the Arctic.

Pagano: "Polar bears are widely distributed. They're not close to human establishments. With climate change they're now moving expansive distances far from the coast to follow the receding pack ice where nobody is able to observe them."

Ultimately, Pagano wants to know if climate change is affecting how polar bears forage for food as Arctic sea ice melts.

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