Skip to main content

Polar bears could disappear from most of the planet by 2100

The majority of polar bears could disappear by the year 2100 if the world continues emitting greenhouse gases at the current rate, according to an alarming study released Monday.

The new study in Nature Climate Change projects that polar bear populations will suffer declines in reproduction by 2040 if emissions continue unabated. With some mitigation in greenhouse gas release, that date could be pushed back to 2080.

There are 19 subpopulations of polar bears, with fewer than 26,000 of the animals left. While they’re currently found in Canada, Greenland, the U.S., Russia, and Norway, the study’s authors say by 2100, they may only survive on Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Islands.

Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt for their prey, including seals. When the bears can’t eat enough during the winter and their summer fasts stretch longer and longer, their reproductive rates suffer. In Canada, Hudson Bay’s polar bear population has dropped by about 30% since 1987.

“With something like polar bears, where you’re not going to get their habitat back, it’s not clear we’re going to try to hold on to these populations everywhere,” Andrew Derocher, a biology professor at the University of Alberta, told The Guardian.

Researchers used information about how long the bears can fast before reproduction and cubs’ survival is threatened and combined it with projections about future sea-ice disappearance to reach the predictions.

As polar bears struggle to find food in their current environments, we could see more instances of the animals scavenging for scraps in towns.

That includes areas around Hudson Bay, where the polar bear populations are likely to have reproductive troubles by 2040, according to the study. That’s a danger to both humans and bears.

Editors' Recommendations

Jenny McGrath
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jenny McGrath is a senior writer at Digital Trends covering the intersection of tech and the arts and the environment. Before…
The average life span of your hard drive will shock you
A hard drive (HDD).

If you've ever had a hard disk drive (HDD) fail on you, you're certainly not alone. It turns out that this is actually a lot more common than most people think.

According to research carried out across a sample of over failed 17,000 hard drives, the failure occurred after only two years and 6 months. Does that make the HDD one of the weakest components inside your PC?

Read more
The upcoming midrange Nvidia and AMD GPUs may be lacking in one key area
Nvidia's RTX 4070 graphics cards over a pink background.

Nvidia's and AMD's midrange cards are almost here: the RTX 4060 Ti and the Radeon RX 7600 are both expected to launch within a month.

Many people are hoping for a more affordable alternative to some of the best graphics cards, but there's a risk that these GPUs may turn out to be a disappointment. The reason lies in VRAM.

Read more
3D printed cheesecake? Inside the culinary quest to make a Star Trek food replicator
a slice of 3D printed cheesecake

Along with jetpacks, holograms, and universal healthcare, one of the great unfilled promises of the Star Trek-style future is the food replicator. Few concepts hold more sway over both the keen foodies always on the lookout for the latest trend in dining and those of us who can barely be bothered to put a frozen pizza in the oven than a box in your home which can create any meal you desire.

You press a button, and the machine whirs and beeps and creates the delicious dish of your choosing, no tedious chopping or marinating or pan-searing required. It’s an idea far too good to be true — but we might be one step closer to this paradisiacal utopia than you think.
How to 3D print a cheesecake
Researchers from Columbia University recently managed to 3D-print a cheesecake, in a process that is exactly as delightful as it sounds. They detailed their discoveries in an article in npj Science of Food, and we spoke to lead author Jonathan Blutinger to learn how they did it.

Read more