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This year will likely end the warmest decade on record globally, while Canada is on track to be slightly warmer than normal in 2019. Robert Whitewood, a climate science advisor for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the federal weather agency recently contributed Canada’s temperature data to the World Meteorological Organization, for its provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate released on Tuesday. The dire report, Robert Whitewood, a climate science advisor for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the federal weather agency recently contributed Canada’s temperature data to the World Meteorological Organization, for its provisional statement on the
Hunters say grizzly bears are showing up in growing numbers on islands of the Beaufort Sea and experts say climate change is likely a driving factor. Wapusk is one of many areas where researcher Douglas Clark says the bears are expanding their range in Canada.HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS.
“The grizzly bears are moving into new areas,” said Vernon Amos, chairman of the Grizzly bears have lost significant habitat to human settlement across North America and The bears are not the only species expanding their range and the High Arctic isn’t the only place with a changing climate .
Some unlikely neighbours are moving in around the northernmost communities of the Northwest Territories, across the icy tundra of Canada's High Arctic.
Inuvialuit hunters and trappers say grizzly bears are showing up in increasing numbers on islands of the Beaufort Sea and experts say climate change is likely a driving factor.
"The grizzly bears are moving into new areas," said Vernon Amos, chairman of the Inuvialuit game council, in an interview from Inuvik, N.W.T.
At about 3,400 residents, Inuvik is the most populous community within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that stretches across about 100,000 square kilometres of land.
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"The grizzly bears are moving into new areas," said Vernon Amos The movement of the grizzlies in the North is significant because it's part of a wide scale expansion , he said. The bears are not the only species expanding their range and the High Arctic isn't the only place with a changing climate .
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Grizzlies have long roamed the four mainland Inuvialuit communities, including Inuvik, but there are more of them and they're appearing for the first time around the two more northerly communities of Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok, he said.
Amos, 42, grew up in Sachs Harbour and says the ecosystem has changed significantly over his lifetime. While the seasonal freeze used to begin in August, this year it occurred toward the end of September or early October — an increasingly common occurrence, he said.
"There is a much longer melting and growing season. Areas that were tundra or barren for the most part are now grasslands and have other types of vegetation. Willow, for instance, are starting to establish themselves and grow higher or taller," he said.
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Until two decades ago, grizzly sightings in the High Arctic were so rare that biologists considered any evidence of one a biological In 2003 Canadian glaciologist John England observed a grizzly bear along a river valley on Melville Island over 700 miles farther north than biologists would expect to find it.
Polar bears are marine mammals; grizzlies are terrestrial. But as the Arctic warms, sea ice is shrinking and the tundra is expanding . Female grizzlies tend not to stray far from their home ranges , and As climate change continues, terrestrial habitat is going to increase, and the likelihood is the habitat
Doug Clark, a University of Saskatchewan associate professor in the school of environment and sustainability, is working with members of the community to document the bears.
During a layover in Calgary on his way back from the territory, Clark said in a phone interview that he has installed four remote cameras in areas where locals say they've spotted the massive animals, and distributed eight more cameras to local hunters and trappers to install.
The movement of the grizzlies in the North is significant because it's part of a wide scale expansion, he said.
"That's not the only part of Canada where grizzlies are expanding their range," he said.
Grizzly bears have lost significant habitat to human settlement across North America and continue to struggle in some regions. But they have been expanding their range northward for several years, he said. One area seeing more grizzlies is the west coast of Hudson Bay, including Wapusk National Park near Churchill, Man., best known for its roaming polar bears.
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Scientists found a strong link between high temperatures near the pole and unusually heavy snowfall and frigid Extreme cold winter weather is up to four times more likely when temperatures in the Arctic are There is continuing conjecture over the impact climate change is having but some scientists
In a changing Arctic , grizzly bears are king. Though polar bear and grizzly bear habitat has long overlapped, the latter are moving farther north as temperatures warm, while the former are fast disappearing in parts of their historic range as the sea ice they use as hunting grounds disappears.
With no southerly source population, it shows that grizzlies aren't just moving north, they're moving east and south as well.
"Something pretty big is going on and we don't know why," Clark said.
The most obvious question — why now and why not earlier? — suggests climate change is playing a role alongside other changes like resource development.
"They're very much looking like one of the early winners in the climate change sweepstakes. But what that means in the long term, we don't really know," Clark said.
The bears are not the only species expanding their range and the High Arctic isn't the only place with a changing climate.
Some of the biggest changes are happening in ocean environments and coastal areas, said Brian Starzomski, director of environmental studies at the University of Victoria. Melting glaciers are cooling the climate in northeastern North America, while an unusual warming event known as "The Blob" has brought some tropical species like the pufferfish to British Columbia's waters.
Inland, wildfires are burning bigger, hotter and over wide areas. Mountains are also a hot spot for range changes, as species typically move both pole-ward and toward higher altitudes.
Opinion: This is what Canada needs in the Arctic
The Viking Sky lost power in gale-force winds off the Norwegian coast last March. As the cruise ship drifted toward the rocks, five search and rescue helicopters winched 479 passengers to safety. No rescue of that magnitude could be pulled off in the Canadian Arctic. The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cormorant maritime search and rescue helicopters are based in southern Canada and cannot reach the Northwest Passage without stopping to refuel. And like the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreakers, the Cormorants are growing old. Yet as the Arctic sea ice melts, commercial shipping, resource development and tourism are increasing.
Fatal bear attacks in North America have occurred in a variety of settings. There have been several in the bears ' wilderness habitats involving hikers, hunters, and campers.
“There is a high risk of extinction and the threat is serious,” said Dena Cator of the IUCN’s species survival commission. But changes to their sea ice habitat are already being seen as a result of climate change .” Latest projections indicate that swaths of the Arctic could be ice-free for five
Species that can move easily — birds and insects — are expected to fare better than those that are stagnant, Starzomski said.
Of particular concern are species like the subalpine larch, a tree that lives at or near the tops of mountains in B.C. and Alberta. It can live for 1,000 years but it also takes almost 100 to 200 years to reproduce.
"It probably can't reproduce fast enough or move its seeds long enough distances to respond quickly to climate change," he said.
But blaming it all on climate change is too simple, he said. Humans have done a "great job" of introducing invasive species to new ecosystems through global trade, polluting the atmosphere and making land use decisions that destroy habitats or sever migration routes, he said.
"There's a lot of pressure on nature at the moment. We talk a lot about climate change, but all of these things add up in the matter of human impact on the environment," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2019.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Canada's new Arctic patrol ships could be tasked with hurricane relief .
The Canadian navy will take possession of two Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships in the new year — and it looks like they'll be spending as much time in the sunny south as they do in the Far North. Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, the commander of the navy, told CBC News recently that military planners see the ships playing a role in delivering disaster relief in the Caribbean, where hurricanes have been increasing in size and destructive power."We can see a great opportunity to use this hurricane response as we go forward," McDonald said in a year-end interview.