Polar bear habitat
Polar bears depend on sea icePolar bears are found throughout the circumpolar Arctic...
- along or near coasts
- on islands
- and most importantly, on sea ice.
Polar bears live on the annual arctic sea ice that provides a platform from which they can hunt, live, breed, and in some cases create maternal dens.
Why is sea ice important?
Sea ice is more than a simple platform: it is an entire ecosystem inhabited by plankton and micro-organisms, which support a rich food chain that nourishes seals that in turn become prey for polar bears.
It is the very foundation and defining characteristic of the arctic marine ecosystem.
As the climate warms, Arctic sea ice is disappearing. Almost every summer, the amount of remaining ice gets smaller. The oldest ice has essentially disappeared.
What's happening to sea ice?
- Learn how climate change affects the polar bear's habitat.
- Learn about the region where summer sea is projected to last the longest - the Last Ice Area
This time-lapse video from NASA shows how the extent of sea ice has changed since the 1980s.
Where polar bears live
Where polar bears live© WWF-Canon / Miriam Geitz
Sea ice from the air. The WWF Arctic team and French and German tv ...
Where polar bears live© Steve Morello / WWF-Canon
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on edge of an ice floe, Spitsbergen, ...
Where polar bears live© Tom Arnbom
Polar bear tracks. Chukotka, Russia.
Where polar bears live© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Polar bear adult with young.
Where polar bears live© Jon Aars, NPI / WWF-Canon
Polar bear running on the sea ice. Svalbard, Norway.