Skip to content
Green
Weather & Science

Can Polar Bears Adapt to Climate Change? Here Is One Hopeful Sign

 

Melting Arctic sea ice is threatening polar bears. Scientists say the hunting practices of a group of the bears in Greenland could help the species survive. 

A polar bear on glacier, or freshwater, ice in southeast Greenland in September 2016.

A polar bear on glacier, or freshwater, ice in southeast Greenland in September 2016.

Thomas W. Johansen/NASA Oceans Melting Greenland

For no animal is the threat of extinction more publicly tied to the perils of climate change than for the polar bear. But according to a report that appeared Thursday in the journal Science, a group of these bears in southeast Greenland may have adapted their hunting practices — a pattern that gives hope for the extended survival of the species, or at least some pockets of it.

“Polar bears are threatened by sea-ice loss due to climate change. This new population gives us some insight into how the species might persist into the future,” said Kristin Laidre, a polar scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory and lead author of the report. “But we need to be careful about extrapolating our findings, because the glacier ice that makes it possible for southeast Greenland bears to survive is not available in most of the Arctic.”