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Polar bear numbers to plunge a third as Arctic sea ice melts

Polar bears currently number about 26,000, but their population is expected to diminish by some 8,600 animals over the next 35 to 40 years, the scientists said. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 13, 2016, 03.01 AM (IST)

 

The melting of the Arctic sea ice could reduce the polar bear population by a third over the next few decades, scientists said on Monday, news agency Reuters reported.

Arctic sea ice is the animal’s chief habitat.

The current global population of polar bears is estimated to be around 26,000.

However, scientists say their population is expected to diminish by some 8,600 over the next 35-40 years. 

The new findings were presented as part of a panel discussion about climate impacts on wildlife during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. 

"There is the potential for a large reduction in the global population of polar bears over the next three generations if the sea ice loss continues at the rate we've seen it," Reuters quoted Kristin Laidre, a marine mammal ecologist at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center, as saying.

The study was led by the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Eric Regehr. 

The polar bear research is drawn from new satellite data documenting a loss of Arctic sea ice from 1979 to 2015.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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