The polar bear may be the animal most often identified with climate change, but it is far from the only creature at risk from rising temperatures. The northernmost part of Earth is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the planet. This means the melting sea ice is opening new routes for shipping.
The melting ice has cleared space through the historically dangerous Northwest Passage, and the Northern Sea Route, along Russia's northern coast. This has sharply increased shipping in what was once a largely untouched ocean. Donna Hauser is a marine biologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Hauser says she and other people expect more ships to sail in Arctic waters.
“Part of what motivated the study is to understand where we're at and where we need to go."
Hauser says she was interested in studying the possible threat to Arctic marine mammals from shipping. Hauser says her hope was to protect both these animals and the people who depend on them.
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