Wildlife Wednesdays: Polar Bears Demise by End of Century | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Polar Bears Demise by End of Century

A new study published this month in Nature Climate Change and shared by the New York Times mentions that, by the end of the century, all polar bears my go extinct as a result of global warming. Warming temperatures in the Arctic have led to shrinking sea ice already. If this trend continues, all sea ice will be melted, and therefore, the polar bears will be wiped out by the end of the century. 

Peter K. Molnar, lead author and a researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough, mentions that "nearly all 19 sub-populations of polar bears will be wiped out should the loss of sea ice force them onto land and away from their food supplies." With no food around, prolonged fasting would occur, causing reduced nursing of cubs by the mother. This would lead to rapid declines in polar bears' reproduction and survival. Molnar further mentions that "there is very little chance the polar bears would persist anywhere in the world, except in the very high Arctic in one small sub-population." Currently, there are only 25,000 polar bears left in the Arctic, who rely on sea ice as their main habitat. They hunt seals by waiting for them to rise out of the holes of the ice. 

In just the previous decade, the Arctic has warmed and the sea ice as declined by about 13% compared to the 1981-2010 average, the researchers found. The researchers also mention that with the warming of the planet continuing, greenhouses gas emissions will peak by 2040. If nothing is done to combat climate change, polar bears will not be the only species wiped out. Other climate sensitive wildlife will also have a hard time surviving, and therefore, could potentially die off.