Questions for ‘Can scientists develop an icy sanctuary for Arctic life?

A landscape shot of the Last Ice Area, with the sun setting or rising over ice

Scientists are pinning their hopes on building a sanctuary for Arctic species in the Last Ice Area (seen here), the region of the Arctic where summer sea ice will last longest.

Robert Newton/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

To accompany Can scientists develop an icy sanctuary for Arctic life?’  


Before Reading:

  1. Saber-toothed cats are an extinct predator known for pointy, fang-like teeth. What does being “extinct” mean for this species? List other extinct animals. If given a chance to bring one back, which would you choose? Why?

During Reading:

  1. What type of change nearly caused polar bears to become extinct 130,000 years ago?
  2. What do scientists propose to create within the area called the Last Ice Area?
  3. Based on current government pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, how much is Earth’s climate set to warm by 2100?  What effect would this warming have on summer sea ice in the Arctic?
  4. What natural barrier prevents the Last Ice Area from floating into warmer waters and melting?
  5. According to Robert Newton, what’s so important about the plankton and single-celled algae growing on the “muddy underbelly” of the Last Ice Area?
  6. According to Brandon Laforest, sea ice helps regulate Earth’s climate. What effect can sea ice have on sunlight, which regulates climate?
  7. In May 2020, a large rift appeared in the sea ice of the Last Ice Area. According to Kent Moore, why might these unusual events happen more often?
  8. To save sea ice, what does Stephanie Pfirman say must be removed from the atmosphere?

After Reading:

  1. In late 2021, alarms rang out across a tiny, subarctic island called Little Diomede. A polar bear clambered up the steps of a little blue schoolhouse — her cub pattering behind her. These bears swam more than 25 miles through choppy, frigid seawater to get here. To people living on this island, these bears are a warning. The bears couldn’t find any food, so they came here looking for it. Why might these bears be struggling to find food? Refer to findings from this study to support your answer. How might the Last Ice Area one day help polar bears such as these two?
  2. Can you think of any movies about animals adapted to live in cold, icy climates? How might the film change if all the ice in that movie suddenly vanished? If that cold-climate species became extinct, how would that movie change?