Happy International Polar Bear Day!
This February 27 marks the 10th annual observance of the holiday. Popularized by conservation group Polar Bears International, the day is an opportunity to raise awareness for these iconic animals and the threats they face.
Arctic warming, made worse by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, is one of the biggest threats to polar bears. A warmer Arctic means less sea ice for the bears to hunt seals on, reducing their access to food. More open water also means more drownings and reduced cub survival.
Scientists estimate there are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild, mostly in Canada.
"While we have much we can do in the present to increase the resilience of polar bears in our lifetimes, their long term survival in anything like the abundance and distribution we know today requires global actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Geoff York, senior director of conservation at Polar Bears International, said in a statement to The Huffington Post.
"We are driving this threat, we can also drive the solutions needed to fix it," he said. "That will require all of us working together -- northerners and southerners, east and west, rural communities and urban centers. We all have a role to play, we can all be part of the solution."
Protecting polar bear populations and their habitats carries the added benefit of protecting human habitats as well. The Arctic plays a part in regulating the Earth's climate, according to NASA, and climate change in the Arctic is likely to have consequences elsewhere.
Below, check out 10 stunning polar bear photographs from National Geographic's Your Shot community, and remember that any day is a good day to care about polar bears. Learn more about what you can do for polar bears here.