Polar bears are decreasing in number because of climate change. Polar bears depend on Arctic sea ice to hunt for their food. In a warming climate, sea ice is disappearing. Because of this, many polar bears around the Arctic are expected to disappear. Are there any places in the Arctic where polar bears might have a chance to survive when the sea ice disappears? What would those habitats look like? Would the polar bears that live there look or act differently?
We found a group of polar bears in Southeast Greenland that live in fjords. They use ice from glaciers as well as sea ice to hunt. We conducted a study looking at their movement, genetics, and demography. We found that Southeast Greenland polar bears don’t travel much because of the rugged environment. They have been isolated from other polar bears for about 200 years and are a genetically distinct group. Future studies of these polar bears will help with conservation efforts for the species.