Polar Bear Scientist Cleared of Misconduct

October 1, 2012; 5:02 AM ET
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This polar bear photograph is courtesy of Photos.com.

An investigation by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) into possible scientific misconduct by scientist Charles Monnett concluded that no misconduct occurred.

The question of misconduct came about because of a report written in 2006 by Monnett, a wildlife researcher with BOEM and colleague Jeffery Gleason, concerning polar bear deaths in the Arctic, according to BOEM.

In the report, the scientists concluded that the four dead polar bears seen along the coast of Alaska in September 2004, drowned while swimming during a storm with high winds (see graph below). They further stated more polar bear deaths could be expected due to the reduced amount of sea ice observed in the Arctic during the months of September and October.

The team had been conducting an aerial whale survey when they spotted the dead bears floating in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

After receiving complaints of possible scientific misconduct in March 2010, officials with the Interior's Office of the Inspector General opened the investigation.

The investigation took place over a period of more than two years. In a written statement, BOEM press secretary Theresa Eisenman said, "We have confirmed that the findings do not support a conclusion that the individual scientists involved engaged in scientific misconduct."

Mentioned in Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", the bears have become a symbol of the threat of climate change.

Monnett was informed of the decision on Friday.

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