Environment

Climate change will see nearly all polar bears gone by 2100

Climate change will see nearly...
A new study examining the relationship between sea ice loss in the Arctic and polar bear survival offers a dire outlook for the species
A new study examining the relationship between sea ice loss in the Arctic and polar bear survival offers a dire outlook for the species
View 1 Image
A new study examining the relationship between sea ice loss in the Arctic and polar bear survival offers a dire outlook for the species
1/1
A new study examining the relationship between sea ice loss in the Arctic and polar bear survival offers a dire outlook for the species

The dramatic changes taking place in the Arctic as a result of climate change have long been known to spell trouble for polar bears, but a new study mapping out their future has provided a particularly grim outlook. By looking at the decline in Arctic sea ice and what that means for their hunting habits, scientists have created a timeline for polar bear survival that has nearly all populations collapsing by century’s end, assuming climate change continues at its current pace.

Because polar bears spend most of their time on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, the alarming decline in coverage poses a serious threat to their livelihoods. It is only from these chunks of ice that they can catch seals to eat, which provide them with the high-fat content they need for sustenance. But with their habitats shrinking, they face a fight for survival.

So much so, the World Wildlife Fund already lists them as vulnerable. The new study carried out by scientists at the University of Toronto paints a perhaps even more alarming picture, by examining in unprecedented detail the relationship between sea ice decline and their ability to survive.

This involved first modeling how long polar bears can survive and nurture their cubs for without eating, depending on their condition, after the ice disappears. This was combined with climate modeling that projects sea ice loss to determine how long future fasting seasons may be for different polar bear populations.

“We addressed the basic physiology of how many days a polar bear can survive without food if it had a certain amount of energy stored in its body at the beginning of each fast,” says lead author Péter Molnár.

Together, this provided the researchers with a model that projected what sea ice loss would mean for reproduction and survival across around 80 percent of all polar bear populations. While there wasn’t enough data available to study the risk to the remaining 20 percent living in some inter-island channels, the researchers expect them to follow a similar path.

Which is that if climate change continues unabated, the resulting sea ice decline will lead to a sharp reduction in survival for nearly all polar bear populations by 2100, save for a few residing in the high Arctic.

“The challenge is that Arctic sea ice will keep disappearing as the world continues to warm,” says Molnár. “This means polar bears everywhere will face longer periods without food, and this will affect their ability to reproduce, survive and persist as healthy populations.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Source: University of Toronto

10 comments
Bruce H. Anderson
Given the track record of past climate predictions, there may not be too much cause to worry.
Loc
The climate has changed much over and over in the past. The bears are still here and most likely will find a way to survive as they have in the past.
Signguy
I'll never forget when an expert on polar bears contradicted Al Gore who said they were "almost gone" and the expert reported there were more than ever and continuing to grow...
bwana4swahili
Yet another bogus climate prediction! When will so called scientists give up on the "End-of-Times" nonsense. Probably when their funding runs out!?
Username
Contrary to Mr. Anderson, my estimate is that they will be gone much sooner than 2100.
RangerJones
Perhaps they can get some polar bear cells and make some of the same nuggets as the chicken. Polar bear nuggets forever. That way they will always be around,,,,,,,in a way.
Derek Howe
Their numbers have been increasing over the past few decades...
equator180
Don't buy it, sorry. Too much flake info on this most by woke authors, much of which has been proven wrong or inaccurate.
niio
Liberal eggheads making models based on their own assumptions without actually looking at bears. What could go wrong?

Despite large changes in sea ice the polar bear population has been steadily increasing, and is now three to four times (22-31k animals) what it was in the 1970s (8-10k animals) when the bears became an internationally protected species. It is up 5k from 2008 when Polar Bears were added to the US list of endangers species.
michael39
Oh yes, and the bears were supposed to be "gone" in 2000, 2004, 2010 . . . . . The "Church of Climate Change" keeps all their predictions on rolling platforms, for easy revision. Gore said polar ice should all be gone by 2010. Calm down people.