American and Canadian scientists are using satellites to research polar bears in the Arctic. / AndreAnita Getty Images/iStockphoto
Polar bear sighting from space! And just in time for Bear Week!
Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, along with their Canadian collaborators, have begun testing high-resolution satellites to observe, track and count polar bears in the cold recesses of the Arctic.
Satellites are a high-tech solution to the practical problem - most polar bears live in areas that are barren and often impossible to travel to. The new project is an alternative to the aerial surveys already being conducted.
Watching polar bears from space is part of an ongoing effort to help researchers better understand the effects of global warming, specifically the loss of sea ice, according to a statement released Wednesday.
It's being tested at Rowley Island in Nunavut's Foxe Basin, Canada, during the summer, an ideal environment because of its flat terrain.
"We think satellite technology has the potential to open vast, remote regions of the Arctic to regular monitoring. It has tremendous potential to aid the circumpolar management of polar bears," Seth Stapleton, the leader of the study and a current University of Minnesota researcher, said in the statement.
The satellite study is part of the ongoing USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative.
Bear Week kicks off at the USA TODAY Network from July 14-18. Get ready for news, facts, graphics and live streams featuring all types of bears, from grizzly to sloth to Gummi.
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Read the original story: Scientists are watching polar bears from space