Polar Bears Face an Uncertain Future With Climate Change

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Researchers at the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington have recently a population of polar bears in Southeast Greenland that appear to be adapting their hunting habits to climate change induced impacts on their environment. Polar bears typically hunt seals from the edge of sea ice, however due to climate change the sea ice is breaking up earlier and earlier in the spring, shortening the hunting season for polar bears. According to the new research paper titled "Glacial ice supports a distinct and undocumented polar bear subpopulation persisting in late 21st-century sea-ice conditions" published in Science, a particular population of polar bears in Southeast Greenland has begun supplementing their hunting from the sea ice environment to freshwater ice melt environments, from calving glaciers.

We speak with Kristin Laidre, principal researcher for the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington, to hear what this finding means for polar bears' ability to survive through the climate crisis.

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