Shocking picture of starving polar bear shows reality of climate change

Starving polar bear
A starving female polar bear.
Kerstin Langenberger Photography

This shocking picture of a starving polar bear was taken by photographer Kerstin Langenberger in Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Thanks to for pointing it out.

Local scientists claim that Svalbard’s bear population is stable, but Langenberger says she regularly sees thin or starving bears – mostly females. She believes she knows why.

“I see the glaciers calving, retreating dozens to hundreds of meters every year. I see the pack ice disappearing in record speed. Yes, I have seen bears in good shape – but I have also seen dead and starving polar bears. Bears walking on the shores, looking for food, bears trying to hunt reindeer, eating birds’ eggs, moss and seaweed. And I realized that the fat bears are nearly exclusively males which stay on the pack ice all year long. The females, on the other hand, which den on land to give birth to their young, are often slim. With the pack ice retreating further and further north every year, they tend to be stuck on land where there’s not much food.”

Meanwhile, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has posted an interactive graph showing the extent of sea ice. There’s a screen shot below but go to their website for the full interactive version.

It shows that there is much less sea ice in the Arctic than usual, although not quite as little as 2012, which recorded the lowest seasonal minimum extent in the satellite record since 1979. Arctic sea ice that year reached its minimum extent for the year on 16 September at 3.41 million square kilometres.

Arctif sea ice
National Snow and Ice Data Center

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