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Climate change means smaller animals

Oct. 17, 2011 at 7:39 AM   |   Comments

SINGAPORE, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The size of polar bears is diminishing because of the myriad effects brought on by global climate change, researchers from Singapore determined.

A report published by the journal Natural Climate Change finds that lower levels of sea ice have led to smaller sized polar bears.

"The consequences of shrinkage are not yet fully understood but could be far-reaching for biodiversity and humans alike," the authors, David Bickford and Jennifer Sheridan of the National University of Singapore, were quoted by The Telegraph newspaper in London as saying.

The researchers added that different animal and plant species would be affected differently by climate change, meaning ecosystem balance would be upset.

The researchers noted that cold-blooded animals are at a higher risk because warmer temperatures decrease their moisture levels.

The Telegraph notes that global temperatures, on average, have increased by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. By 2100, the climate could warm substantially more.

During a warming period 55 million years ago, fossil evidence indicated that invertebrate species diminished in size by more than half, the British newspaper said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon observed the decreasing volume of the country's glaciers during a visit to Switzerland during the weekend. His trip comes as world delegates prepare for a U.N. conference on climate change in Durbin, South Africa, later this year.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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