Not a myth: State of the Polar Bear Report shows 2020 was another good year for polar bears

From Polar Bear Science

Posted on February 24, 2021 | 

The ‘State of the Polar Bear Report 2020’ is now available. Forget hand-wringing about what might happen fifty years from now – celebrate the fabulous news that polar bears had yet another good year.

Press release from the Global Warming Policy Forum:

Download the report here.

Cite as:

Crockford, S.J. 2021. The State of the Polar Bear Report 2020. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 48, London.

London, 27 February: A prominent Canadian zoologist says that Facebook’s information is gravely out of date and 2020 was another good year for polar bears.

In the State of the Polar Bear Report 2020, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) on International Polar Bear Day, zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford explains that while the climate change narrative insists that polar bear populations are declining due to reduced sea ice, the scientific literature doesn’t support such a conclusion.

Crockford clarifies that the IUCN’s 2015 Red List assessment for polar bears, which Facebook uses as an authority for ‘fact checking’, is seriously out of date. New and compelling evidence shows bears that in regions with profound summer ice loss are doing well.

Included in that evidence are survey results for 8 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations, only two of which showed insignificant declines after very modest ice loss. The rest were either stable or increasing, and some despite major reductions in sea ice. As a result, the global population size is now almost 30,000 – up from about 26,000 in 2015.

Dr. Crockford points out that in 2020, even though summer sea ice declined to the second lowest levels since 1979, there were no reports of widespread starvation of bears, acts of cannibalism, or drowning deaths that might suggest bears were having trouble surviving the ice-free season.

As Crockford’s report reveals, plankton growth – the critical health measure of marine life in the Arctic – reached record highs in August 2020. More plankton (‘primary productivity’) due to less summer ice means more fodder for the entire food chain, including polar bears. This explains why bears are thriving in areas such as the Barents Sea, which have seen reduced levels of sea ice.

Dr. Crockford notes that, ironically, polar bears in Western Hudson Bay experienced excellent ice conditions for the fourth year in a row in 2020. Bears were fat and healthy when they arrived on shore for the summer. Some spent as little as three months on shore – about one month less time than most bears did in the 1980s and two months less than bears did in the 1990s and 2000s.

Dr. Crockford explains that polar bears are more flexible in their habitat requirements than experts assumed and less summer ice has so far been beneficial rather than detrimental.

“Polar bears continue to be described as ‘canaries in the coal mine’ for the effects of human-caused climate change, but the evidence shows they are far from being a highly-sensitive indicator species. It’s not a myth: 2020 appears to have been another good year for polar bears.”

Key Findings

  • Results of three new polar bear population surveys were published in 2020 and all were found to be either stable or increasing.
  • Southern Beaufort polar bear numbers were found to have been stable since 2010, not reduced as assumed and the official estimate remains about 907.
  • M’Clintock Channel polar bear numbers more than doubled from 284 in 2000 to 716 in 2016, due to reduced hunting and improved habitat quality (less multiyear ice).
  • Gulf of Boothia numbers were found to be stable, with an estimate of 1525 bears in 2017; body condition increased between study periods and thus showed ‘good potential for growth’.
  • At present, the official IUCN Red List global population estimate, completed in 2015, is 22,000-31,000 (average about 26,000) but surveys conducted since then, including those made public in 2020, would raise that average to almost 30,000. There has been no sustained statistically significant decline in any subpopulation.
  • Reports on surveys in Viscount Melville (completed 2016) and Davis Strait (completed 2018) have not yet been published; completion of an East Greenland survey is expected in 2022.
  • In 2020, Russian authorities announced the first-ever aerial surveys of all four polar bear subpopulations (Chukchi, Laptev, Kara, and Barents Seas), to be undertaken between 2021 and 2023.
  • Contrary to expectations, a new study has shown that polar bear females in the Svalbard area of the Barents Sea were in better condition (i.e. fatter) in 2015 than they had been in the 1990s and early 2000s, despite contending with the greatest decline in sea ice habitat of all Arctic regions.
  • Primary productivity in the Arctic has increased since 2002 because of longer ice-free periods (especially in the Laptev, East Siberian, Kara, and Chukchi Seas but also in the Barents Sea and Hudson Bay), but hit records highs in 2020; more fodder for the entire Arctic food chain explains why polar bears, ringed and bearded seals, and walrus are thriving despite profound sea ice loss.
  • In 2020, contrary to expectations, freeze-up of sea ice on Western Hudson Bay came as early in the autumn as it did in the 1980s (for the fourth year in a row) and sea-ice breakup in spring was also like the 1980s; polar bears onshore were in excellent condition. These conditions came despite summer sea-ice extent across the entire Arctic being the second lowest since 1979. Data collected since 2004 on weights of female polar bears in Western Hudson Bay have still not been published; instead, polar bear specialists have transformed standard body condition data collected 1985–2018 into a new metric for population health they call ‘energetics’, which cannot be compared with previous studies. Meanwhile, they continue to cite decades-old raw data from previous studies to support statements that lack of sea ice is causing declines in body condition of adult females, cub survival, and population size.
  • Contrary to expectations, in Western Hudson Bay, many polar bears remained on the deteriorating sea ice much longer than usual in summer, and stayed ashore longer in fall after official freeze-up thresholds had been reached, calling into question the assumed relationship between sea-ice coverage and polar bear behaviour and health. Some bears that left the ice in late August and then returned before late November would have spent only three months onshore – about one month less time than typical in the 1980s, and two months less than in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • There were few problem polar bear reports in 2020, except for one fatal polar bear attack in August, in a campground near Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Ryrkaypiy, Chukotka, which in 2019 was besieged by more than 50 bears that had congregated to feed on walrus carcasses nearby, avoided a similar problem in 2020 by posting guards around the town. The town of Churchill saw the lowest number of problems bears in years.
  • In 2020, virtually all polar bear research was halted across the Arctic for the entire year due to restrictions on travel and efforts to isolate vulnerable northern communities from Covid-19.
5 11 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 26, 2021 2:04 pm

Hmm… what other lovable-in-stuffed-toy-form Arctic creature can the fearmongers point to in order to tug at the bleeding hearts?

I have it! Santa Claus! Have the Alarmists published any recent pictures of a starving and miserable-looking St. Nick as the new face of Climate Change?

Steve Case
Reply to  Tom
February 26, 2021 3:03 pm

“Have the Alarmists published any recent pictures of a starving and miserable-looking St. Nick as the new face of Climate Change?”

Not the one I was looking for, but I think it fits your request (-:

Reply to  Steve Case
February 26, 2021 3:41 pm

LOL! I guess they’re ahead of me.

Reply to  Tom
February 26, 2021 3:49 pm

comment image

Bill Powers
Reply to  fred250
February 27, 2021 6:09 am

I believe the Climate Changes, always has always will. On the other hand I see no scientific evidence, let alone certainty, that Man is causing the globe to warm by burning fossil fuel, or that destructive weather events can be conflated with Climate in support of their hypothetical.

You should change the 2nd line of your poster to: “We have Adults that still believe in Man Made Global Warming.”

Reply to  Bill Powers
February 27, 2021 1:08 pm

next time 😉

Reply to  Tom
February 26, 2021 7:01 pm

Seals! Remember baby harp seals? I have been wondering how long until the alarmists turn on their polar bear friends and start blaming ice conditions for the plight of the baby seals which are the (primary?) food source for those baby killers.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Felix
February 27, 2021 6:19 am

We Should Open a Climate Change University in the Arctic region offering degrees in Climate Science. Once these alarmists realized they are below Polar Bear on the food chain, and ala cart on the menu, they would start calling for a thinning of the herd. All of a sudden Fuzzy Wuzzy wouldn’t look so fuzzy wuzzy after all.

“Oh Fuzzy! What big teeth you have!”

Tony Sullivan
February 26, 2021 2:34 pm

There are a few posters on this forum that won’t like this news. I’m sure they’ll do their best though to inject some nonsensical negative spin on the story.

Reply to  Tony Sullivan
February 27, 2021 5:35 am

Yes, step up Griff.

February 26, 2021 2:43 pm

Coca Cola was going to bring back their polar bear commercial…but ….you guessed it….no white only bears for Coke… for Panda commercial?

Paul S
February 26, 2021 2:48 pm

Have you seen the latest copy of the Smithsonian magazine? The cover story is “Polar Bears on the Edge”. Some comments include:

“The big bears have likely scared off the family groups, York says, explaining that at this desperate time of year, when adults are near starving before the sealing season, males are more likely to cannibalize cubs and attack humans”.

“The polar bear has become perhaps the pre-eminent symbol of the consequences of climate change because it needs sea ice to survive”.

“But the shrinking of their arctic habitat is making the species more and more fragile worldwide. In Greenland and Norway, the WWF lists polar bears as vulnerable. In Russia, they’re rare or recovering, depending on the location, and in Alaska…..polar bears are threatened. In Canada, where 60 to 80 percent of polar bears live, they’re a species of special concern, a click of the dial below threatened or endangered.”

“….but consensus among scientists is the animals won’t be able to find new food sources once they can no longer hunt seals. If a warming climate shrinks sea ice at projected rates, most polar bear populations will be too nutrient starved to reproduce by the end of the 21st century”.

For decades I read National Geographic until it became “woke” about 15 years ago, and then switched over to Smithsonian. I guess Smithsonian has now become “woke”. How sad.

Reply to  Paul S
February 26, 2021 4:56 pm

““….but consensus among scientists is the animals won’t be able to find new food sources once they can no longer hunt seals. If a warming climate shrinks sea ice at projected rates, most polar bear populations will be too nutrient starved to reproduce by the end of the 21st century”.”


Arrant NONSENSE, mixed with mindless IGNORANCE

Polar bears made it though the last 10,000 years, …

… most of that time there was FAR LESS Arctic sea ice than now.

Reply to  fred250
February 26, 2021 5:06 pm

Maybe the next Enlightenment will be sparked by a modern-day incarnation of Immanuel Kant –

In his essay ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ (1784), the German philosopher Immanuel Kant summed up the era’s motto in the following terms:

‘Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!’

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Paul S
February 27, 2021 6:41 pm

The consensus among polar bears is that scientists are tasty.

Reply to  Paul S
February 28, 2021 8:25 am

I stopped reading National Geographic back in the 1980s.
Their articles went from fact and data filled documented articles to emotionally laden opinions and emotive pictures, all while blaming mankind for all presumed declines.

I subscribed briefly to Smithsonian. One year was too much. It was obvious their writers never visited Smithsonian museums or queried the same institutions for geological, biological or historical data.

February 26, 2021 4:02 pm

Every time I see pictures of polar bears I’m always reminded of the classic “Far Side” cartoon. Two happy polar bears sitting around an igloo. 1st polar bear eating the broken top of the igloo says to the other, “Hey, don’t you just love these?? Crunchy on the outside and chewy center”
There are human footprints leading into the igloo entrance, icebergs in the distance.

Reply to  bwegher
February 26, 2021 5:41 pm

comment image

February 26, 2021 5:54 pm

A couple of weeks ago it was so cold down in Texas I found one of those Polar bears swimming in my pool.

Reply to  Stevek
February 26, 2021 6:01 pm

If it’s not on YouTube, it didn’t happen.
(such is contemporary credibility of events, alas)

Reply to  Stevek
February 26, 2021 6:18 pm

Presumably your local rag put the lack of walruses in the swimming pool down to climate change?

February 26, 2021 6:07 pm

“Dr. Crockford explains that polar bears are more flexible in their habitat requirements than experts assumed and less summer ice has so far been beneficial rather than detrimental.”

You mean to tell me it’s a lot like drought then rains and the skeeters?
Ross River virus cases are surging in La Niña conditions and mosquito control needs a silver bullet (
I suspect the Walrus Liberation Front is all in favour of any kind of bullets under the circumstances or chuck the poley bears off skyscrapers should the bipeds feel the urge again.

Reply to  observa
February 26, 2021 6:42 pm

Mandatory mask usage will stop Ross River virus, but only if you triple mask.

Brian Jackson
February 26, 2021 7:28 pm

The GWPF isn’t a scientific journal. When is Crockford going to actually publish a peer reviewed scientific paper?

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 26, 2021 7:53 pm

And which part(s) of her Report did you find in error?

Reply to  BobM
February 26, 2021 8:43 pm

Brian doesn’t do analysis, he just does hate.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 26, 2021 8:42 pm

Pal review isn’t the gold standard your petit mind wants to believe it is.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 26, 2021 9:43 pm

Your ignorance is your undoing since she has a nice list of published science papers in her career.

Her publications

She has a PHD in Zoology

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 26, 2021 9:44 pm

The ignorance is strong with you, brianless

Scientifically…. you are an empty sock, just waiting for a hand to give you some pretense of meaning.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 27, 2021 12:13 am

I often wonder if you people are expecting a serious response to such a picayune comment. It proves you understand neither science nor publishing. Susan is likely the world’s foremost authority on polar bears, with numerous books and papers to her name.

Climate believer
Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 27, 2021 2:10 am

Don’t let your sexism get in the way of facts Brian, here are the facts that you wish to deny:

The US Geological Survey estimated the global population of polar bears at 24,500 in 2005.

In 2015, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group estimated the population at 26,000 (range 22,000–31,000).

This is only a slight-to-moderate increase, but it is far from the precipitous decline polar bear experts expected given a drop of almost 50% in sea-ice levels since 1979.

This indicates summer sea-ice levels are not as critical to polar bear survival as USGS biologists assumed.

If you can’t “bear” reality then there really is no hope for you.

Chew on this.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 27, 2021 11:27 am

If Greta Thunberg says it, that’s good enough for me.

February 27, 2021 2:17 am

the Global Warming Policy Foundation aren’t polar bear researchers, or disinterested unbiased reporters. Much polar bear research has been halted during the pandemic.

Arctic ice loss forces polar bears to use four times as much energy to survive – study | Arctic | The Guardian

Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 5:33 am

Neither are Griff or the Grauniad.

David Kamakaris
Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 6:19 am

Perhaps, Griff, given yet another ridiculous assessment, you might explain why polar bear populations are 5 times greater than 50 years ago.

Climate believer
Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 8:02 am

the Global Warming Policy Foundation aren’t polar bear researchers, or disinterested unbiased reporters.”

Then it should be easy to refute them then, but you can’t because….facts.

Also: link to climate catastrophe propaganda rag and avoid facts tactic.

All your hot air about polar bears is void, they are surviving, they are reproducing, and they are growing in numbers, full stop.

From National Geo video:

polar bear not endangered.png
Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 11:34 am

If you genuinely want to be taken seriously on WUWT, stop citing The Grauniad.

Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 11:42 am

Here’s a report by the Nunavut Department of the Environment (not Susan Crockford).

It states:

Overall, our findings suggest that the demographic status of the GB subpopulation is currently healthy, although we recommend that lower estimates of total and unharvested survival for male bears warrant further investigation. We hypothesize that spatial and temporal reductions in sea ice may have provided transient benefits to the GB subpopulation due to increased biological productivity.

Through gritted teeth and added words like “transient” to avoid being stoned to death by the likes of you, they admit it’s a healthy growing polar bear population in the Gulf of Boothia.

Another research group’s inconvenient results (not Susan Crockford) have also been rescued by the word “transient”

Our study provides evidence for range expansion, improved body condition, and stable reproductive performance in the KB polar bear subpopulation. These changes, together with a likely increasing subpopulation abundance, may reflect the shift from thick, multiyear ice to thinner, seasonal ice with higher biological productivity. The duration of these benefits is unknown because, under unmitigated climate change, continued sea‐ice loss is expected to eventually have negative demographic and ecological effects on all polar bears.

So the story is always the same: “it might look good now but just you wait our models predict disaster any day now. Any day… “

As the Russian orthodox chant goes,

Помышляю день страшный
“I think about the terrible day”

Reply to  griff
February 27, 2021 1:13 pm


That is all griff has left

FACTS and SCIENCE.. an empty abyss.

Such desperate timed for this with ACDS. !!

Come on, mindless twerp, please explain how Polar Bears survived during the last 10,000 years, when NEARLY ALL THAT PERIOD HAD FAR LESS SEA ICE THAN NOW

Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
February 28, 2021 4:48 pm

Utter unadulterated nonsense at that article. From the article;

The paper corroborates existing models that predict a global decline in polar bear abundance of between one and two-thirds by the end of the century.”

Models predict…don’t need to read any further to know reality is not conforming to model predictions based on actual observations.

Tom in Florida
February 27, 2021 4:24 am

And yet last night I saw a commercial from WWF asking people to “adopt a polar bear”. They start with pictures of “distressed” bears and sad commentary. For $12 per month you will receive all kinds of cheap crap and a certificate & picture.
Later a similar commercial to adopt a tiger appeared. Same MO, same $12 per month but at least this one has a small stuffed tiger toy to hug.

February 27, 2021 5:24 am

But, but what about the poor seals…

/sarc, as if you didn’t know.

Bruce Cobb
February 27, 2021 5:32 am

Poley bears are the canards in the Alarmists minds. That they are doing so well is damn inconvenient for them. Truthfully though, all facts are inconvenient for them.

February 27, 2021 3:55 pm

OT/ … temps in the 3.4 region continue to drop once again ever since the fairly strong sunspot AR2804 came on the scene. Prior to AR2804 in the north there was several weak almost spots in the south. ENSO temps were rising slowly. Then when AR 2804 showed up temps in the ENSO stopped rising, and then went sideways for several days before starting a downward trend. So my speculative thoughts on sunspots being connected to temp changes in the ENSO region is still alive and well. The sun has only been weakly active to date as the minimum continues to fade away. The northern half of the sun should see the greater number of sunspots. Imo, this will lead to a further drop in 3.4 temps. AR2804 is about to move to the back side of the sun.

nino34 2 27 21+.png
Reply to  goldminor
February 28, 2021 12:23 am

Interesting to speculate whether a strong sunspot could indirectly strengthen the trade winds, which would draw up more cold upwelling off Peru?

Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
February 28, 2021 4:40 pm

My best guess at how this interaction works is that it modifies surface wind flows in key areas. I have also been keeping watch on one position just above the equator since last year to observe if there is any connection between changes in the speed of the current, and changes in sunspots. …,-22.07,672/loc=-110.880,0.521

Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
March 2, 2021 3:05 pm

Here is a bit more anecdotal evidence for the claim. Sunspot 2804 moved out of sight yesterday. Today there is an AR in the south. At the same time Tropical Ts 3.4 ENSO graph stopped falling for the first time since 2/24/21.

SDO is showing two ARs in the south, and none in the north. This should lead to a gradual rise in temps in the 3.4 region in the days ahead.

Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
March 2, 2021 7:45 pm

One of the two ARs in the southern hemisphere will get a number tomorrow as it has grown in strength. The northern sunspot, 2804, has moved further behind the sun. The ENSO 3.4 chart at 18:00 UTC of Tropical T’s is now showing a temp increase from the last update at 12:00 UTC.

nino34 3 2 21++.png
%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights