Warming climate pushes polar bears to extinction

Polar bears may become nearly extinct by the end of the century as a result of global warming causing sea ice to shrink in the Arctic. Researchers found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue in a business-as-usual scenario, there’s a small chance that polar bears (Ursus maritimus) will remain anywhere in the world, except for maybe a small subpopulation in the very high Arctic. The team found that even if emissions were reduced to more moderate levels, many polar bears will still be lost, especially in some of the southernmost populations. There are 19 subpopulations of polar bears from the Beaufort Sea to the Siberian Arctic. A loss of sea ice could cause most of these polar bears to have to go onto land, away from their food supplies, for longer periods, resulting in quick declines in reproduction and survival.

Read more in the New York Times or check out the study in Nature Climate Change.

Header Image: According to a recent study, polar bears could become extinct by the end of the century.
Credit: Christopher Michel