12/10/2013 5:40:14 PM

Polar Bear Range States Meeting

 Polar bear on melting sea ice

Our chief scientist, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, delivered this powerful message at the recent Polar Bear Range States Meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada:

"If we don't take action soon on climate change, we risk becoming nothing more than polar bear historians."

The gathering—more accurately known as the meeting of the parties to the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears—brings together representatives from the five polar bear range states (Canada, Greenland/Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States) every two years to discuss polar bear conservation.

Amstrup was invited to address the meeting as a representative of the ICUN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), the scientific body that advises the range states. Eminent polar bear scientist and author, Dr. Ian Stirling, was also invited to speak as a PBSG representative.

Amstrup's talk focused on the overall trend of climate change in the Arctic and its affect on polar bear populations. He discussed the four Polar Basin Ecoregions in the Arctic and how the story of sea ice and polar bears varies from one region to the next. Stirling outlined the effects already being felt by the Western Hudson Bay population.

The scientists said that while some sea ice regions may temporarily benefit polar bears in a changing Arctic (thinning of extremely thick ice in some High Arctic areas may provide better access to seals, for example), ultimately, these, areas, too, will melt unless action if we continue on our current course. They concluded that the only way to save arctic sea ice and polar bears is to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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