Polar bears will all but disappear by the end of the century unless we address the climate crisis and keep temperature rise to less than 2 C. That’s the conclusion of a study published in Nature Climate Change last week.
Timelines of Risk for Polar Bears
Polar bears will all but disappear by the end of the century unless we address the climate crisis and keep temperature rise to less than 2 C—a goal that is still possible. That’s the conclusion of a study published in Nature Climate Change last week.
Led by Dr. Peter Molnar of the University of Toronto, with our chief scientist, Dr. Steven Amstrup a coauthor, the study is the first to determine when individual polar bear populations across the Arctic will cross survival thresholds and begin to disappear.
Polar bears live in 19 populations across the Arctic, in four different sea ice ecoregions—each facing different timelines of risk. The new report charts those estimates, providing governments with valuable data while also underscoring the urgent need to meet the goals set in the Paris Agreement.
As part of our ongoing research on polar bear denning behavior, our senior director of conservation, Geoff York, recently coauthored a paper on den disturbances in Alaska as part of a study led by Wesley Larson of Brigham Young University.
Their findings show that polar bear moms with cubs are highly reluctant to abandon their dens, even when disturbed. This could make families in dens hidden under the snow and undetected vulnerable to harm from heavy equipment or high intensity disturbances.
Join us this summer for live chats about polar bears and beluga whales with Beluga Boat Captain Kieran McIver, live from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. You can also immerse yourself in the Beluga Cam and take part in a community science Beluga Bits project.
Each Thursday through August, Captain McIver will host guests on the boat to share their expertise and knowledge about the whales and their Arctic ecosystem. At other times you can expect light, casual commentary and enjoy the serenity of the beluga vocalizations while watching the cam.
The recent paper in Nature Climate Change on polar bear populations attracted press coverage around the world.
"The trajectory we're on now is not a good one, but if society gets its act together, we have time to save polar bears. And if we do, we will benefit the rest of life on Earth, including ourselves." - Dr. Steven Amstrup, Polar Bears International