Polar bears without sea ice (a story of hope).

Nature reports on polar bears who appear to be adapting to climate change by altering their hunting strategies to survive in a world without sea ice:

Researchers identified the genetically distinct sub-population living in the fjords of southeast Greenland, which is surrounded by mountains and an ice sheet to the west, and ocean to the east. Because this region is so far south, sea-ice coverage lasts for only around 100 days each year.

Polar bears need access to Arctic sea ice to hunt for seals. So, with sea ice in the region diminishing because of global heating, the animals are expected to near extinction by the end of this century.

But the isolated sub-population has found a way to hunt without sea ice. The group, consisting of several hundred individuals, has adapted to hunting on the ice that has calved off glaciers — called glacial mélange. The research team used genetic analysis to learn that this population has been isolated from other polar bear populations along Greenland’s east coast for at least 200 years.

The existence of this small population in conditions of low sea-ice cover suggests there is a chance the species can survive, even as sea ice retreats farther north each year.

You can read the research here, in Science.