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Changing Arctic Ecosystems: Updated forecast: Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions required to improve polar bear outlook

June 22, 2015

The Arctic is warming faster than other regions of the world due to the loss of snow and ice, which increases the amount of solar energy absorbed by the region. The most visible consequence has been the rapid decline in sea ice over the last 3 decades-a decline projected to bring long ice-free summers if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not significantly reduced. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) depends on sea ice over the biologically productive continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean as a platform for hunting seals. In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the threat posed by sea ice loss. The polar bear was the first species to be listed due to forecasted population declines from climate change.

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