Polar bears prospering in sea ice-free shelters in southeastern Greenland

Researchers report the discovery of a genetically distinct isolated polar bear group in southeastern Greenland. Unlike other polar bears that rely on rapidly declining sea ice, polar bears in southeastern Greenland hunt on freshwater ice near the Carving Glacier, whose glacier terminus is underwater, throughout the year.

This sea ice condition is similar to what is expected in the high-latitude Arctic Circle at the end of the 21st century, and the results of this study provide hopeful insights into the resilience of polar bears in the face of climate warming.

The Arctic is warming at an astonishing rate that is more than double that of the rest of the globe. Of all the organisms threatened by the warming of the Arctic, polar bears are particularly vulnerable. Most polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt seals, but the formation and sustainability of Arctic sea ice has declined sharply. Recent predictions of a shrinking polar bear distribution are based on a wide range of climate predictions and do not take into account the role of small habitats, which are characterized by potential shelter from climate change.

Kristin Laidre et al. Combined 36 years of migration, genetic and population dynamics data, including traditional ecological knowledge, to discover genetically distinct isolated polar bears in southeastern Greenland. They also used advanced habitat analysis and natural history observations, as well as traditional ecological knowledge, to discover that this polar bear group behaves in previously unreported behaviors of polar bears. Specifically, it uses freshwater ice in front of the Carving Glacier, also known as the Ice Melange, as a scaffolding for seal hunting throughout the year.

Other polar bears have to move overland in the ice-free season with the retreat of sea ice to areas of the Arctic where food is scarce, but polar bears in southeastern Greenland say: It thrives in places that are not suitable for survival if it is not adapted.

According to Laidre et al., The findings also relate to the protection of polar bears, suggesting that carving glaciers can be a refuge from previously unrecognized climate change, albeit with limited availability. It is said that it is. Most parts of the Arctic do not have many of these ice melanges, but they do exist in areas such as Greenland and the Svalbard Islands. In the relevant Perspective, Elizabeth Peacock addresses the questions that have emerged from this study.

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