Polar bears and sea ice habitat change

Animal Welfare Series
By:  and 
Edited by: Andy Butterworth

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Abstract

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is an obligate apex predator of Arctic sea ice and as such can be affected by climate warming-induced changes in the extent and composition of pack ice and its impacts on their seal prey. Sea ice declines have negatively impacted some polar bear subpopulations through reduced energy input because of loss of hunting habitats, higher energy costs due to greater ice drift, ice fracturing and open water, and ultimately greater challenges to recruit young. Projections made from the output of global climate models suggest that polar bears in peripheral Arctic and sub-Arctic seas will be reduced in numbers or become extirpated by the end of the twenty-first century if the rate of climate warming continues on its present trajectory. The same projections also suggest that polar bears may persist in the high-latitude Arctic where heavy multiyear sea ice that has been typical in that region is being replaced by thinner annual ice. Underlying physical and biological oceanography provides clues as to why polar bear in some regions are negatively impacted, while bears in other regions have shown no apparent changes. However, continued declines in sea ice will eventually challenge the survival of polar bears and efforts to conserve them in all regions of the Arctic.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Polar bears and sea ice habitat change
Series title Animal Welfare Series
ISBN 978-3-319-46993-5
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46994-2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Springer International Publishing
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 25 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Marine mammal welfare: Human induced change in the marine environment and its impacts on marine mammal welfare
First page 419
Last page 443