National Geographic today announced the winners of their 2016 Nature Photographer of the Year competition. Coming away with an honorable mention in the “Environmental Issues” category is a solemn photo of a polar bear resting on a rocky shore off the Barter Islands in Alaska. The photographer Patty Waymire noted “there is no snow when, at this time of year, there should be.”
“The locals in Kaktovik noted that it’s been an unseasonably warm winter, and that the ice will be late in forming this year” she said. “This will have an impact on the local polar bear population when it comes time to hunt seals for their food in the winter months.”
Sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica is at record lows. Recent findings by climate scientists found that a portion of sea ice roughly the size of India has melted as worldwide temperatures rise.
Several of this year’s winning photos, such as glimpses of wildfires in Europe and pollution in Greenland, show our planet’s precarious situation. But many entries also showed the magic of the natural world we haven’t yet lost.