Summary of polar bear population status per 2014

The present table was discussed during late fall and early winter 2014, and agreed upon by the group Jan 20, 2015. This status table will be updated whenever there are new information available that is considered credible and valid by the group.

This year's status table includes two new columns with metrics for sea ice change:

  1. Change in date of spring sea ice retreat and change in date of fall sea ice advance (days per decade) over the period 1979-2014. Each year the area of sea ice reaches a maximum in March and a minimum in September.  In order to measure the timing of the seasonal change in sea ice, we find the date each spring when the area of sea ice has dropped to a specific threshold and the date each fall when the area has grown back to that same threshold. The region-specific threshold is halfway (50%) between the mean March sea-ice area and the mean September sea-ice area over the period 1979-1988 for each subpopulation region.
  2. Change in summer sea ice area (percent change/decade, June 1 – October 31) relative to the average summer sea ice area during 1979-1988. Sea ice area was calculated as the sum, over all grid cells with >15% sea ice concentration, of the grid cell area multiplied by the grid cell sea ice concentration.

Press the subpopulation hyperlink and more information will appear.

Download the status table (PDF 98.7 kB)

Subpopulation Size Trend Sea ice metrics Human-caused removals 2010–2014
Estimate /
95% CI
Year Method Relative to historic level
(approx. 25-yr past)
Current (approx. 12-yr
period centered on present)
Change in spring ice retreat / Change in fall ice advance (days per decade) Change in summer sea ice area (percent change per decade) 5-yr mean Last year
Potential Actual Potential Actual
Arctic BasinUnknown  Data deficientData deficient-3.2/8.0-6.7    
Baffin Bay1546
(Based on physical capture-recapture estimate from 1998)
Data deficientDeclining-7.3/5.2-18.9144149132137
Barents Sea2644
2004Distance samplingData deficientData deficient-16.6/24.2-16.0NA2NA3
Chukchi SeaUnknown  Data deficientData deficient-3.4/4.2-18.85830 (U.S.) + approx. 32 (Russia)5823 (U.S.) + approx. 32 (Russia)
Davis Strait2158
2007Physical capture-recaptureData deficientStable-7.7/9.7-19.99999103105
East GreenlandUnknown  Data deficientData deficient-6.2/5.5-6.562636465
Foxe Basin2580
2009/10Distance samplingNot reducedStable-5.3/5.8-14.297.81047185
Gulf of Boothia1592
2000Physical capture-recaptureNot reducedStable-6.9/8.3-12.260585852
Kane Basin164
1994-1997Physical capture-recaptureData deficientDeclining-7.2/5.6-12.2116115
Kara SeaUnknown  Data deficientData deficient-9.2/7.6-18.6 NA NA
Lancaster Sound2541
1995-1997Physical capture-recaptureData deficientData deficient-5.6/5.1-7.79384.810283
Laptev SeaUnknown  Data deficientData deficient-8.2/6.5-14.7 NA NA
M'Clintock Channel284
2000Physical capture-recaptureReducedIncreasing-3.9/5.8-9.03333
Northern Beaufort Sea980
2006Physical capture-recaptureNot reducedStable-5.8/3.3-5.96537.46543
Norwegian Bay203
1997Physical capture-recaptureData deficientData deficient-1.3/4.3-2.342.243
Southern Beaufort Sea907
2010Physical capture-recaptureReducedDeclining-8.7/8.7-20.57635.67342.3
Southern Hudson Bay951
2012Distance samplingNot reducedStable-3.1/4.1-11.460626056
Viscount Melville Sound161
1992Physical capture-recaptureData deficientData deficient-4.7/7.4-6.15.6767
Western Hudson Bay1030
2011Distance samplingReducedStable-5.2/3.6-16.322.623.22832