Average polar bear habitat for November 2014 was well within two standard deviations1 and higher than 2003, according to the November report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (line and labels added, below).
Notice that the lowest average November level occurred in 2006 — not 2007 (after the second lowest September extent since 1978) and not 2012 (after the lowest September extent since 1978). Take note that the scale on the graph above does not go to zero but to a whopping ~9.5 million square km!
Quotes from the NSIDC monthy report and sea ice maps for November 2014 and 2 December 2014 below.
UPDATE 3 December 2014: CIS has issued a new ice map corrected for ice level on Hudson Bay – new map below.
Posted in Sea ice habitat
Tagged arctic sea ice, Chukchi Sea, CIS, Davis Strait, Hudson Bay, NSIDC, polar bear, polar bear habit, sea ice extent, September ice minimum, standard deviation
Pretty typical ice levels in both regions for this time of year – Davis Strait polar bears (especially those in Labrador) are still onshore while Hudson Bay bears (even those in the south) have their sea ice hunting platform back.
Funny thing is, the Davis Strait subpopulation may still be increasing despite a longer ice-free season than Western Hudson Bay. And bears in the south of that region – who spend the summer onshore in Labrador – have the longest ice-free season of all1 yet according to the latest survey they were even doing better than bears in northern Davis Strait.
That apparent paradox has an easy explanation – sea ice extent in late summer/early fall (length of the ice-free season) has much less of an impact on polar bear health and abundance than the state of the food supply in the spring. More seals in spring, polar bears do well; few seals in spring, polar bears starve.
Posted in Conservation Status, Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Davis Strait, Eastern Canada, harp seals, ice-free season, Labrador, Peacock, polar bear, sea ice extent, seal pups, spring sea ice, starving polar bears, survival
The polar bear attack that was all over the news last summer is now an ebook about global warming. The Maine lawyer who was mauled by a bear while on a hiking trip to Labrador (and lived to tell the tale) has allowed his story to be co-opted by an activist journalist to promote fears of sea ice decline, polar bear extinction, and man-made global warming.
The press release issued yesterday by the news group that published the book and employs author Sabrina Shankman (InsideClimateNews), described it this way:
“A riveting new e-book about the battle between man, beast and Nature in a warming world. Called Meltdown: Terror at the Top of the World, the e-book tells the story of the hikers’ harrowing encounter with a polar bear; of the plight of the polar bear in general, facing starvation and extinction as the sea ice melts and its habitat disappears; and of the Arctic meltdown, the leading edge of man-made climate change.”
I have little doubt the man mauled by the bear was indeed terrified and that his companions were as well. However, that horror is exploited shamelessly in this book as a means to promote anxiety over the future survival of polar bears and instill panic over a prophesied Arctic “meltdown.”
Posted in Advocacy, Book review, Polar bear attacks
Tagged Amstrup, attack, climate change, Davis Strait, excerpt, extinction, global warming, ice-free season, InsideClimateNews, Labrador, Meltdown, polar bear, sea ice extent, Shankman, Sierra Club, starvation, terror, top of the world
Is that ice I see forming along the shore of Hudson Bay, just in time for Hallowe’en? Not enough to resume hunting but a sign that freeze-up can’t be too far off. See the ice map below and this photo posted at PolarBearAlley confirming the presence of slushy ice on the shore near Churchill.
[Map above from Canadian Ice Service updated daily, click to enlarge]
To counter the misleading ploy used by the Sunday Times — of implying polar bears are in peril because of recent changes in Arctic sea ice (Sunday Times & The Australian, 21/22 Sept. 2014 Arctic ice cap in a ‘death spiral’) — I’ll go over again why the polar bear as a species is not threatened by declines in summer sea ice or even winter ice that is predominantly “thin” (first year) ice.
Graphic above from the Sunday Times, September 21, 2014
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Summary
Tagged Arctic ice cap, arctic sea ice, Chukchi Sea, death spiral, denning females, evidence, first year ice, ice thickness, ice-free Arctic, Mark Serreze, North Pole, Peter Wadhams, polar bear, sea ice extent, thin sea ice
With Barents Sea ice way above average this summer, Polar Bear Specialist Group biologist Ian Stirling now claims the old polar bear that he said died of climate change last year on Svalbard was “in his prime” and still blames the bear’s death on lack of sea ice — despite all evidence to the contrary.
UPDATE Sept. 19, 2014 typo fixed in Fig. 1 caption [sea ice low for 2012 was 3.41 m2km, not 4.1, see here.]
Figure 1. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says the September minimum for 2014 is “imminent” and suggests the low may come in at 5.1 million square kilometers (far short of the
4.1 3.41 m2km low reached in 2012. About the much larger than average amount of ice around Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, they said only: “As was the case for the beginning of the month, extent remains below average in all sectors of the Arctic except for a region in the Barents Sea, east of Svalbard.”
Posted in Advocacy, Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged AMO, annual summer minimum, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Barents Sea, Franz Josef Land, Hopen Island, minimum ice extent, Mult, NSIDC, polar bear that died of climate change, Polar Bears International, sea ice extent, starving polar bear, Stirling, Svalbard
Polar bears are all out on the sea ice at this time of year, feeding on new-born seal pups. Here’s a look at what the ice conditions are like at this critical time.
The ice extent is still well within two standard deviations from the 1981-2010 average, which indicates no deviation from natural variation, as the graph (below) for May 1, 2014 from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows.
Between the official spring maximum (according to the NSIDC ) on March 21, with a total extent of 14.8 million km2, the ice slowly retreated in some regions and increased in others, while most regions remained pretty much the same. This is an important reminder that the Arctic as a whole is not a homogeneous region but one with marked regional variation.
As has been noted elsewhere (Sunshine Hours), ice in the Greenland Sea (habitat of ‘East Greenland’ bears) and the Barents Sea both increased in extent over this period. Bering Sea ice (habitat of southern ‘Chukchi Sea’ bears) declined markedly but Baffin Bay/Gulf of St. Lawrence ice (habitat of ‘Davis Strait’ bears) declined much less, as NOAA’s MASIE maps copied below show very well.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged arctic sea ice, baffin bay, Barents Sea, Bering Sea, critical feeding period, Davis Strait, Greenland Sea, polar bear, regional variation, sea ice extent, sea ice thickness, spring ice maximum