How Well Does Polar Bear Fur Trap Heat?

Polar bears are native to the icy regions surrounding the Arctic Circle. They spend much of their time on sheets of drifting sea ice, but they can also go on land or swim in the Arctic Ocean. In order to survive such frigid temperatures, polar bears have a heavy fur coat that covers a thick layer of body fat. Polar bear fur traps heat in two ways -- through small pockets of air that can then warm the body, and though infrared radiation which occurs when their fur absorbs heat from sunlight. In fact, polar bear fur traps heat so well that infrared cameras, which rely on emissions of body heat to create images, often can’t spot them.

More about polar bears :

  • Although polar bears appear to have white hair, it’s actually transparent and just looks white due to reflecting light.
  • The polar bear's scientific name is Ursus maritimus, which means “sea bear,” in reference to their proficient swimming ability.
  • Seals are the main food source for polar bears. Polar bears can detect their prey's scent from up to 20 miles (32 km) away.
More Info: Popular Science

Discussion Comments


You didn't say anything about polar bears having black skin, which would absorb heat. Or is that an "old wives tale?"

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