Scientist suspension is about project’s management

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Michael Bromwich, director of the ocean energy management bureau, told agency staff in Alaska via email Friday that it instead was the result of new information on a separate subject that was recently brought to officials’ attention.

Documents provided by the watchdog group showed questioning by investigators earlier this year focused on the polar bear observations that Monnett and researcher Jeffrey Gleason made in 2004.

Monnett and Gleason were conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales in 2004 when they saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. They detailed their observations in an article published two years later in the journal Polar Biology.

In the peer-reviewed article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of the bears floating dead and presumed drowned while apparently swimming long distances.

They said their observations suggested the bears drowned in rough seas and high winds. They also added that the findings “suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues.”

The article and presentations helped to galvanize the global warming movement.

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