Back in 2007, an International Polar Year (IPY) project to establish a network of continuous GPS stations (dubbed “GNET”) in Greenland was launched as part of the U.S. contribution to the international Polar Earth Observing Network (POLENET) consortium (Mike Bevis, Ohio State University, is the Lead PI). In addition to the GPS stations, the PIs of the project set out to collect seismic data. They plan to integrate it with GPS data and use the information to help scientists model Arctic ice loss over the past 10,000 years—since the last major ice age.
It is an ambitious project that enjoys wide support—with the exception of the local fauna. It appears that a resident polar bear at a GNET site established in 2007 called KAGZ didn’t want it in his “back yard.” Specifically, the bear preferred to munch on the highly technical equipment instead of let it do its job and indirectly work toward protecting the bear’s melting habitat.
And though it may not be apparent to the untrained eye, the bear also tinkered with the power cables from the auxiliary battery boxes. Said Danish colleague Finn Bo Madsen of Technical University of Denmark, who traveled to the site to install a gravity meter and subsequently was able to bring KAGZ back online: “My compliments to the cable design and make since they hold and were still working.”
Finally, we don’t really think the bear had a grudge against the site—or even the intellectual capacity to understand its function. Most likely, it had an itch and found a place to scratch it.