With all the talk this week about future climate – the global warming imagined by IPCC crystal ball models, that is – the focus for many is rightly on the gulf between predictions and observations that have taken place so far. This follows on reminders a few weeks ago of the many failed predictions that we would have seen an “ice-free Arctic” by now.
[by “ice-free” they mean “nearly ice-free,” or “when ice coverage is less than 1 million square kilometers, or about 386,000 square miles.”]
But what about the polar bears? Is there a similar disconnect between predictions and observations for polar bear survival? Yes, indeed.
Many Arctic biologists insist that polar bears are not just threatened by future global warming and a “melting ice cap.” They contend polar bears are already being harmed by declines in summer sea ice coverage, or will be shortly.
The problem is, the results of scientific studies show otherwise. Virtually all of the evidence generated by polar bear researchers shows that polar bears are not being harmed by declines in summer sea ice, and in some cases, they are doing very well indeed. In other words, they are not responding as expected.
A few weeks ago, I summarized these studies, which reveal that:
Less summer ice ≠ few bears (evidence from Davis Strait; S. Hudson Bay; Barents Sea; S. Beaufort; W. Hudson Bay).
Less summer ice ≠ “skinnier” bears (evidence from Chukchi Sea; S. Hudson Bay).
“Skinnier” bears ≠ fewer bears (evidence from S. Hudson Bay; S. Beaufort; Davis Strait).
Less summer ice ≠ lower cub survival (evidence from S. Hudson Bay; Chukchi Sea).
Less summer ice ≠ more cannibalism & hybridization
Have a look if you missed it (August 18, 2013, with pdf copies to download), “Polar bears have not been harmed by sea ice declines in summer – the evidence.”
[Update Sunday Sept 29 2013: these two stories (on the temperature pause and polar bears thriving (in which I get a mention), just out in the Mail on Sunday (UK)]