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Polar Bear Population Likely to Plummet by 30% Due to Rapid Melting of Sea Ice

Dec 08, 2016 10:24 AM EST
Munich Zoo Presents Twin Polar Bear Babies
Polar bears are one of the most threatened species in the planet. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)
(Photo : Alexandra Beier / Stringer)

Polar bears are one of the most threatened species in the planet. The world's largest bear is constantly threatened to disappear especially with the melting of the Arctic sea ice.

According to a report from, the first systematic assessment published in the Royal Society's Biology Letters revealed that there is about a 70 percent chance that the numbers of polar bears around the world could decline by over 30 percent within the next 35 years. The population of the majestic species is currently estimated at 26,000 worldwide and the prospect of a sharp drop over the next three generations is a distressing thought.

Biology Letters' study is the most comprehensive research on the subject. It uses 35 years of satellite data on the Arctic sea ice as well as information on 19 different polar bear groupings in four ecological zones all over the Arctic.

Disappearing sea ice is a huge problem for the species as they depend on it for most facets of their life history. In hunting, polar bears use it as a platform when catching seals, who can swim faster than them in the open sea.

Eric Regehr of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska led the team of researchers designed three different population scenarios. Each one projected doom for the bear. The study averaged the numbers of all three scenarios, coming to the conclusion that the probability of the polar bear population decreasing by a third in 35 to 41 years is over 70 percent.

All around the planet, the ice is melting more rapidly than ever, a Reuters report revealed. Sea ice in Antarctica and the Arctic is at an all-time low, shrinking in both ends of the Earth. Ice roughly the size of India or two Alaskas have disappeared, threatening the lives of polar bears.

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