The review could result in polar bears being “uplisted” to endangered, with further protections, or de-listed altogether.
Alaskans shouldn’t read too much into the early season cold temperatures and snowfall.
The federal agency listed polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008.
Polar bear sightings in Kotzebue aren’t without precedent. The world’s largest documented polar bear was found in Kotzebue in the 60s, weighing more than 2,200 pounds and standing more than 11 feet high.
While most of the cause has been attributed to a warming Arctic climate, a new study from the University of Alaska Fairbanks has found evidence that warming waters outside of the Arctic are impacting sea ice as well.
Blizzards and winter storms battered the Seward Peninsula and surrounding region throughout the month of March, but the sea ice has proved more resilient than in recent years.
This year was the second warmest on record in the Arctic, with impacts to sea ice, erosion and marine ecosystems.
One climatologist forecasts sea ice will form late, the extent will be below average, and it will be similar to last year’s.
Thoman says that temperatures have been considerably warmer on average since about 2012.
Despite the drop in temperatures this last-minute cold snap likely won’t change Alaska’s record-breaking climate forecast for the year.