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U of S marks international polar bear day

Watch the video above: International polar bear day at U of S

SASKATOON – Thursday marks International Polar Bear Day, drawing attention to the animal and what’s happening to their habitats. The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) celebrated the day by making changes at its facilities.

Douglas Clark spends several weeks of the year up north in Churchill, Manitoba conducting research on polar bears.

Clark says one thing he has learned in his time around polar bears is that climate change is affecting their habitats and food source.

“There have been a lot of surprises, as people have looked at the Arctic the surprises are accelerating, they’re getting worse so there could very easily become a year where one or more populations of polar bears simply lose access to ice, that’s the nightmare scenario,” said Douglas Clark, U of S school of environment and sustainability centennial chair/assistant professor.

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On International Polar Bear Day the university is making a commitment. In it’s facilities the temperature will be raised two degrees in the spring and summer and lowered one degree in the fall and winter.

“That’s going to prevent 2,000 tons of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere that otherwise would have,” said Clark.

While Douglas Clark will be returning to Churchill in late spring early summer to continue his research, Google mapping experts have made it possible for people in the comfort of their own home to check out what it’s like in the Canadian tundra.

Susan Blum was there in the fall when Google street view captured the polar bear spectacle.

“If you can’t go up there, that’s what gives you that experience but there are options, I think everyone should go up there to see. Churchill is the best place you can access and see bears in their natural environment,” said Susan Blum, U of S research services director.

The U of S announcement Thursday will save the university about $200,000 in utility costs annually.

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