Target: United States Geological Survey scientists Benjamin Jones and George Durner
Goal: Thank scientists for ground-breaking research that will help protect threatened polar bears
Polar bears have become symbolic of animals threatened by climate change. As oceans warm, and ice sheets melt, their habitat shrinks. Oil and gas companies’ increased exploration and drilling in the Arctic has also jeopardized polar bears. A new study offers a new technique for protecting and studying these creatures: using an advanced laser technology known as LiDAR, short for “light detecting and ranging.”
The study, presented by researchers working with the United States Geological Survey in partnership with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, discusses the use of LiDAR to identify polar bear dens. Locating the dens where the bears rear their young can help protect them from potential oil and gas drilling operations, and the same LiDAR technology can also improve our understanding of how habitat is affected by climate change.
The technology is able to more accurately detect and map polar bear dens than techniques currently in use. Because of these scientists’ dedication, polar bear conservation efforts have gained a valuable new tool. Thank Benjamin Jones and George Durner, co-authors of the study, for their incredible work.
Dear United States Geological Survey scientists Benjamin Jones & George Durner,
The presentation of your study at the recent American Geophysical Union conference comes as welcome news to all those working to protect polar bears. As you helped demonstrate with your research, the use of advanced LiDAR technology to map polar bear dens can be a valuable tool for conservationists.
At a time when more and more science seems focused on improving corporate profits, rather than species diversity or habitat preservation, your work means a great deal. Because much oil and gas exploration takes place in the winter time, right when mother bears are rearing their young, understanding where dens are located is crucial to ensuring the survival of the next generation of polar bears. The better we can identify the location of dens, the better they can be protected from potential fossil fuel drilling and exploration.
It’s impossible for regulators and developers to make sound decisions without all the facts. For this reason, utilizing modern technologies like LiDAR to more accurately asses the environmental impacts of development is so critical. Thank you for your dedication to improving our understanding of the natural world, and for your work mapping polar bear habitat, in particular.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alastair Rae via Flickr