Polar Bears Can Now Be Seen From Space

Scientists have shown that polar bears are well discernible in satellite images. This means to monitor their population ecologists do not need to go to long and expensive expedition which mean wasting the time.

The research, conducted by U.S. experts from the University of Minnesota, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Site of research article:


In recent years, the fate of polar bears are increasingly worried experts – is that global warming and the melting of the Arctic ice threatens this species? Therefore, ecologists need to constantly monitor the number of polar bears, but to get close to the areas they live, is not always possible.

The authors found that for monitoring populations of these animals, you can use high-resolution satellite images. They proved it by the example of polar bears living on the island Rowley, which is located off the coast of Canada. Counting of polar bears was decided to hold in September, when in this area there is no snow, which makes polar bears especially noticeable against the dark rocks.

The researchers showed two independent observers photos of the island made ​​3 September 2012 WorldView-2 satellite. Studying them, observers counted 94 bears, which looked at the pictures as bright white dots. In five cases, they even managed to see bears with cubs. To distinguish from the white bears boulders and clouds of mist, fieldworkers reconciled with pictures from two years ago – if the white dot was present in both pictures it was regarded as part of the landscape.

These results were compared with scientists data obtained from helicopter, which was performed at the end of August 201 a few days before the area was photographed from space. They counted 102 individuals, which is consistent with the figures obtained in the analysis of satellite imagery.

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Natalja Smirnova


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