Polar bears face extreme survival challenges due to global warming

S.O.S for the polar bears of Hudson Bay: the disappearance of the ice due to global warming risks inflicting the final blow for the Arctic giants, increasingly without energy and without prey

Survival has become increasingly difficult for polar bears due to global warming. The bears inhabiting Hudson Bay, a large inlet of the Arctic Ocean near the northeastern coast of Canada, are losing their “home.” Typically, this area—home to about 1,700 polar bears—remains ice-covered in May. However, this year an alarming record was set.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) of NASA, last month recorded the lowest extent of sea ice for the period since 1979, when satellite monitoring began.

Unprecedented warming trends

“The Hudson Bay has warmed by over 1.8°F in the last 30 years. Alongside this warming, seasonal patterns have shifted, with spring sea ice melting earlier and autumn freeze-up occurring later, resulting in an additional month of ice-free conditions. This extended ice-free period poses a significant challenge for polar bears, as it limits their opportunities to hunt seals and their ability to accumulate the body weight necessary for successful reproduction,” researchers from the University of Manitoba (Canada) emphasized in their recent study published in Communications Earth & Environment.

hudson bay polar bears in jeopardy

@University of Manitoba

The future of polar bears

Since 1987, half of the polar bear population in the western part of Hudson Bay has disappeared. According to scientists, these iconic animals can survive an ice-free period lasting between 183 and 218 days. However, this period could extend beyond the 183-day limit in the western and southern areas of Hudson Bay if global warming exceeds 3.8°F and 4.7°F, respectively.

Moreover, researchers estimate that seasonal ice melt could occur as early as spring, dealing a critical blow to these endangered creatures and their reproductive cycle.

“The disappearance of polar bears in southern Hudson Bay is imminent,” emphasized Dr. Julienne Stroeve, the study’s lead author and researcher at the University of Manitoba. “If we exceed 3.6°F of warming, we cannot realistically hope for those bears to remain there.”

Source: Communication Earth & Environment

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