Tech Innovations To Help Study Polar Bears
As climate change ravishes our planet scientists are adopting with new inventions to help protect and preserve polar bears.
Tracking devices are helping with monitoring the bears movements and behaviour. Usually male bears do not receive the traditional tracking collars due to the males having a smaller head and thicker necks than the females. Other traditional methods such as implants require surgery undertaking health risks to the bear and are often feel too invasive to the bear.
3m the sticky company you may be aware of (get some one of their damage free hanging strips with one of our wall arts!) were set up to the challenge, however sticking something to a polar bears fur is a lot different ot sticking something to a smooth non hairy wall.
Photo credit: 3m
In the end the solution was the "burr on fur" which drew inspiration from hair extensions. These brushes can be twisted and entangled in to the animals fur painlessly this is done in three places to create a triangular point where a protective cap is them put on to hold the tracker and reduce risk of it being damaged or knocked off.
It is essential when managing a human - polar bear relationship to be careful. often human to bear interactions can end badly. While this is rare it does happen and so it is important to be able to alert humans of bears in close range. AI models are used to locate an approaching bear to a settlement and instigate some kind of EAP (Emergency action plan). Radar allows for vision but with AI a warning system can be automated and could even target specific areas it is best to warn. This reduces the risk of human bear conflict and may help save a few human and bear lives.
Photo credit: Erinn Hermsen / Polar Bears International
Synthetic Aperture Radar
Polar bear dens are a place of interest to scientists, these hotspots allow researchers to have a look at population insights, as well as behavioural and seeing the condition of mothersr and cubs and monitor how long they reside in the dens.
Knowing the location of these dens can allow scientists to better warn and stop some companies from disturbing the dens as they look for natural gas and oil. Finding these bear nests is a challenge though often burrowed they have been found traditionally in an analogue manner with binoculars and skis.
Using aircraft SAR (synthetic aperture radar) which emits electromagnetic waves and then records the bounce back to plot an image of the landscape below allows for large range scanning hopeful to find the dens and compare to previous scans to locate newer dens for investigation.
We have already mentioned AI a few times but in this regard we are talking about new AI models to recognize polar bears and count population of bears. These aerial images can be scanned quickly and accurately by AI compared to an evening or entire day of a human using their brain bandwidth on counting bears. This is primarily a time saver but allows for valuable human brain power to be used else where!
Photo credit: Kieran McIver / Polar Bears International
Swimming and Running Chamber
Learning how Polar bears survive the harsh Arctic tundra is important, to know how they walk across a baron empty land or swim through a freezing ocean can help us to better understand how these creatures move. This allows us to see how polar bears are dealing with climate change as their environment changes. This allows for more informed decisions to be made to help protect polar bears as well as protect our planet.
Image Credit: Smithsonian Magazine
Article insppired by: Smithsonian Magazine