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John WhitemanJohn Whiteman says that most of his fun comes from thinking about how events outside an animal affect events inside an animal. For his PhD research, he’s studying how warm weather during summer can make hunting difficult for polar bears, forcing them to make seasonal adjustments such as living off of their own body fat. He’s also investigating how these adjustments may be affected by longer Arctic summers caused by climate change.

Project Page: The Bears of Summer

All Posts By John Whiteman

Organization, Organization, Organization

BARROW, ALASKA-- It is 1am mountain time, which my body still seems to be on, but about 11pm here in Barrow. I arrived... {Read More »}

Summer Days Are Over

LARAMIE, WYOMING-- Shortly after my last posting, I received a phone call on a Tuesday evening from my collaborators who are based in Anchorage, Alaska. One of the bears which we sampled last May had been active near the town of Kaktovik, on the Arctic coast... {Read More »}

Luck – and Snow – in the Air

LARAMIE, WYOMING-- After several days of poor weather made flying impossible, we finally had a morning with fair visibility and light winds, allowing us to fly for polar bear captures... {Read More »}

Hot Days in the Arctic

OLIKTOK POINT, ALASKA-- Last week I made the trip back up to the Arctic coast. Along with two other students from the University of Wyoming who are helping with captures and sample processing, I flew from Denver to Anchorage on Thursday night, then onto Deadhorse... {Read More »}

The Melting Arctic Ice

LARAMIE, WYOMING-- While I am spending the summer back at the University of Wyoming, the Arctic summer is in full swing. Sea ice breakup has accelerated, and Arctic ice extent declined rapidly throughout June... {Read More »}

Returning Home

LARAMIE, WYOMING-- During last week, the weather steadily turned from cold and overcast to warm and sunny. On the first day of good conditions we launched in the morning and captured a bear shortly thereafter... {Read More »}

How Fat Is a Polar Bear?

DEADHORSE, ALASKA-- In the last dispatch, I wrote of polar bears getting by without food. In that situation – no food – the bears must be using body stores of fat for energy. Some bears can carry almost 50% of their body mass as fat... {Read More »}

Getting By Without Food

DEADHORSE, ALASKA-- Polar bears specialize in hunting seals and seals provide most, if not all, of the polar bear diet. During summer, some bears... {Read More »}

Springtime in the Arctic

DEADHORSE, ALASKA-- Spring has arrived in this part of the Arctic. In the last ten days, temperatures have risen from -20 to +45 Fahrenheit –… {Read More »}

To Capture a Polar Bear

DEADHORSE, ALASKA-- Currently, the best scientific estimate of the worldwide population of polar bears is about 20,000 to 25,000 animals. This population – which is “circumpolar” and stretches all the way around the Arctic – is... {Read More »}