Polar bear habitat update – Sea ice starting to form on Hudson Bay

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.

Sea ice extent Canada 2014 Oct 31 CIS

[Map above from Canadian Ice Service updated daily, click to enlarge]

FoxeBasin_PBSG website_Oct 2013
Dead-on average ice cover in Foxe Basin this week, as it was back in 1980, see below. But look at how variable the ice has been, for the same date, since 1968! Click on graphs below to enlarge.

Hudson Bay Foxe Basin sea ice same week at Oct 29 1971_2014

What does this suggest about what’s to come? Back in 1980, by November 12 (just two weeks later), the ice in Foxe Basin was above average.

Hudson Bay Foxe Basin sea ice same week at Nov 12 1971_2013 with average

Can that tell us anything about when we can expect freeze-up this year on Hudson Bay to the south? Back in 1980, by November 12, the ice on Hudson Bay was also about average. But more importantly, by November 12, the ice cover was well above the 10% level now acknowledged as the point when most bears leave the shore.

Hudson Bay freeze-up ice cover same week_Nov 12 1971_2013 with average

Elsewhere in the Arctic, courtesy NSIDC’s MASIE ice maps (my labels added), ice cover is now over 9 million square km and the freeze-up pattern still different than it was at the same coverage when it was melting in early July: bears will be hunting soon in most areas, if they are not already.

2014 July vs Oct at 9.0mkm2_PolarBearScience

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