Related topics: climate change · sea ice

The narwhal's tusk reveals its past living conditions

Every year, a new growth layer is added to the narwhal's spiraled tusk. The individual layers act as an archive of data that reveals what and where the animal has eaten, providing a glimpse of how the ice and environmental ...

Can polar bears and narwhals cling on as the ice shrinks?

As part of the Journal of Experimental Biology's Special Issue dedicated to climate change, Anthony Pagano (San Diego Zoo Global, USA) and Terrie Williams (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA), discuss the impact of ...

Biggest North Pole mission back from 'dying Arctic'

Researchers on the world's biggest mission to the North Pole returned to Germany on Monday, bringing home devastating proof of a dying Arctic Ocean and warnings of ice-free summers in just decades.

page 1 from 27

Polar bear

Ursus eogroenlandicus Ursus groenlandicus Ursus jenaensis Ursus labradorensis Ursus marinus Ursus polaris Ursus spitzbergensis Ursus ungavensis Thalarctos maritimus

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. It is the world's largest carnivore species found on land. It's also the largest bear, together with the omnivore Kodiak bear which is approximately the same size. An adult male weighs around 400–680 kg (880–1,500 lb), while an adult female is about half that size. Although it is closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrow ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, it spends most of its time at sea, hence its name meaning "maritime bear", and can hunt consistently only from sea ice, spending much of the year on the frozen sea.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 5 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, unrestricted hunting raised international concern for the future of the species; populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures.

The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. The IUCN states, "If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years." On May 14, 2008, the United States Department of the Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA