Ice cover in the Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard is decreasing for all months, with the largest ice reduction during winter, according to researchers.
Svalbard is an island group - an archipelago - in the Arctic Ocean.
Ingrid Onarheim, of the University of Bergen in Norway, was the lead author of this report.
There is a 0.3°C per decade warming of the Atlantic Water entering the Arctic Ocean in this region.
Warm and salty water from the Atlantic carries heat towards the Arctic Ocean.
The trend in loss of winter ice area is close to 10% per decade.
The lines show the border of the 40 % sea ice concentration.
Dark blue is the 1980s, light blue is the 1990s and green is the 2000s.
The dashed lines show individual years: yellow - 2010, purple - 2011, red - 2012.
The black rectangle marks the study area. (Illustration: The authors).
There may be a link with changing behaviour of polar bears, according to another research project.
As Arctic sea ice melts earlier each year, some polar bears are abandoning ice floes for dry land and their favorite meal—seals—for seabird eggs.
The shift in diet could sound a death knell for popular nesting grounds of barnacle geese, eider ducks, and glaucous gulls, researchers warn this month in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
Young polar bears raid the nesting grounds of barnacle geese, searching for eggs and newly hatched goslings in the Nordenskiöldkysten region of Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago.
Dozens of Svalbard’s polar bears have learned when and where to return each year for the best meals.
Although they are only a few of the total bear population, their impact is catastrophic.
A hungry bear can raid 50 nests in just an hour and a half, eating enough for a 20-kilogram omelet.
Polar bear cubs roll eggs on the ground like balls before eating them.
Jouke Prop, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, led observations at Nordenskiöldkysten, one of the sites.
He has observed polar bears eating more than 200 eggs in 2 hours, and last year no chicks or eggs of any species—barnacle geese, eiders, and glaucous gulls—survived.
Polar bears have also been observed eating dolphins.