Polar bears in Baffin Bay are going through tough times, and even though they are plentiful in the area, they show signs of stress, and the population may decrease in the future. This is the overall conclusion in three recently published scientific articles by senior scientists Kristin Laidre and Erik Born from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources with co-authoring scientists from Canada, USA and Norway.
The basis of the articles are polar bear studies and satellite observations conducted during the periods 1991-1997 and 2009-2013. In particular Kristin Laidre, as the driving force behind the scientific articles, has documented how the polar bears in Baffin Bay, as a consequence of the effects of climate change, are under increasing pressure in their natural habitats.
One article describes the reduction of the area that Baffin Bay polar bears inhabit, as well as the increasing isolation of the area’s bears from bears in neighbouring populations (Figure 1).
Another article concerns the changes in the female bears’ behaviour over the course of the last 20 years: Pregnant females leave the sea ice to get to land earlier in summer but hibernate later; they dig out their dens higher in the terrain and stay in them for a shorter period of time (Figure 2).
The third and most recent article demonstrates how the polar bears use areas with less sea ice, stay closer to the mainland and make shorter migrations as the open water season increases (Figure 3).
Some of the results have already been included in previous strategic environmental assessments for areas in Disco West in 2013 and the eastern Baffin Bay in 2011, as well as in a report from the Canadian/Greenlandic Polar Bear Commission´s scientific work group in 2016. However, it is the first time that the studies, after a thorough revision process, are published as scientific articles and conveyed to scientists around the world.
The studies and the satellite tracking of the Baffin Bay polar bears were done by scientists from Greenland and Canada, as the two countries share the population. The satellite tracking in 2009-2013 was primarily funded by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency via the DANCEA scheme. The Greenland Government contributed funding from oil companies with exploration licenses in Northwest Greenland.
For more information, please contact:
Kristin Laidre, e-mail email@example.com, or Fernando Ugarte, phone +299 36120 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org