Polar bears could be saved from extinction if greenhouse gas emissions are considerably reduced in the next decade or two, a study released Wednesday reports.
The research, published in the Dec. 16 issue of Nature, found that if humans reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably over the next 20 years, enough Arctic ice is likely to remain unbroken during late summer and early autumn for polar bears to survive.
It also concluded that considerable retention of the remaining ice through this century, as well as partial recovery of the ice that disappeared during the rapid ice loss, would be achieved.
Research from 2007 estimated that only about one-third of the world's 22,000 polar bears would remain by mid-century if the dramatic Arctic ice decline continued, and that eventually they could vanish completely. This led to the 2008 listing of polar bears as an endangered species.
The 2007 report coincided with the amount of summer sea-ice plunging to new record lows, prompting concern that there was a temperature threshold that could throw the ice into an irreversible decline.
This latest study, however, conducted by some of the same researchers as the 2007 reports, suggests that is not the case.