Freeze-up of Hudson Bay sea ice is well underway now, virtually the same time as it was the last three years, and in 2008. Bears in the north will be able to move out, while near Churchill and in Southern Hudson Bay, some bears will be able to successfully hunt for seals on the newly-formed ice close to shore.
Over the next week or so, all the bears onshore will gradually move out onto the ice as freeze-up progresses. By the time there is ~10% ice coverage on the bay, most bears will have moved onto the ice (except pregnant females that have made dens onshore).
The Arctic outbreak underway in over North America may hasten this process along (see 7-day and 14-day weather forecasts for Churchill). Ice maps below courtesy Canadian Ice Service.
It seems pretty clear now that time of freeze-up on Hudson Bay is not correlated with the extent of sea ice at the September minimum. Have a look at the maps and graphs below. UPDATE: more recent maps added below (ice concentration 15 November; ice development 14 November).
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
Here is the October 2014 follow-up to my post on the July 2013 track map for female polar bears being followed by satellite in the Beaufort Sea by the US Geological Survey (USGS) – “Ten out of ten polar bears being tracked this summer in the Beaufort Sea are on the ice.”
See that post for methods and other background on this topic, and some track maps from 2012 (also available at the USGS website here). The USGS track map for October 2014 is copied below (Fig. 1).
For the end of October, there was more ice in the Southern Beaufort this year than there has been since 2010.
Eight bears (all females) were on the ice and four were onshore. Only six of the eight on-ice bears were actually in the Southern Beaufort – the other two were in the Chukchi Sea (west of Point Lay, see discussion here).
Note that the recent boundary change between the Southern and Northern Beaufort subpopulations (the US/Canada boundary of the Southern Beaufort), reported here, has not addressed the fact that many western “Southern Beaufort” bears move into the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Posted in Sea ice habitat
Tagged Alaska, Beaufort Sea, boundary change, Chukchi Sea, polar bear movements, polar bears, satellite collars, sea ice, Southern Beaufort, subpopulation boundaries, tracking polar bears, USGS
Finally, an unbiased first-hand report about Churchill polar bears and freeze-up on Hudson Bay.
Over the last few weeks, biologists Andrew Derocher and Steve Amstrup have been repeating their tired old tales of doom and gloom about the polar bears around Churchill and I’ve done my best to refute the worst of their nonsense.
Figure 1. Polar bear female with cub, 2009, Churchill, Western Hudson Bay. Wikipedia.
To that effort we can now add this report from PolarBearAlley, where Kelsey Eliasson has posted a good-news story about the bears of Cape Churchill and the progress of freeze-up, including sightings of a number of mothers with cubs.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Amstrup, Churchill, Derocher, extinction, freeze-up, good news, Kelsey Eliasson, mothers with cubs, polar bear, PolarBearAlley, sea ice, Wapusk National Park, western hudson bay
A new day, a new lawsuit by environmentalists: this time, the species-on-a-pedestal is the same population of Chukchi Sea walrus that generated a news frenzy last month, which apparently still has legs.
Posted in Advocacy, Life History, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Arctic drilling, Center for Biological Diversity, Chukchi Sea, Earthjustice, Greenpeace, haulout, lawsuit, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil exploration, Point Lay, polar bear prey, Sierra Club, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, walrus
In a press release this afternoon, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) announced it had added polar bears to their list of Appendix II migratory species. [CMS is a pseudo-arm of the UN Environment Programme, the UNEP1]
“The Polar Bear, the largest apex predator on Earth is affected by climate change that has led to the loss of 2 million m2 of sea ice. The Appendix II listing introduces the global perspective of existing threats to Arctic species stemming from shipping and oil exploration, making it a case for all CMS Parties.“
But why formally list the polar bear as a migratory species when it is protected under several other national and international programs?
UPDATED 10 November 2014, see additions below
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Arctic oil, BBC, climate change, CMS, global warming, migratory species, oil exploration, oil money, polar bear, Red list, sea ice habitat, UNEP
Yesterday, the BBC published a story that gave the two most alarmist polar bear researchers on the planet a forum to market their ‘polar bears are doomed’ message. This time the desperation shows: watch how these biologists move the goal-posts, make claims so misleading they border on lies, and pretend they don’t have big, big trouble with their predictive models.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Amstrup, average global temperature, Bayesian models, BBC, climate change, Derocher, extinct, future climate, future population decline, global warming, polar bear, sea ice declines, sea ice models
Activist polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher (University of Alberta) may have gone too far this time. In an interview with Yahoo News, Derocher is quoted as saying:
“When I first started here about 30 years ago the population was about 1,200 bears and now we’re down to about 800,” team member Andrew Derocher, a biology professor at the University of Alberta, said in a phone interview from the tundra outside Churchill.” [my bold]
Environment Canada’s “Map 3: 2014 Canadian Polar Bear Subpopulation and Status Map,” original here. Click to enlarge.
However, the Polar Bear Technical Committee of Environment Canada says differently: it estimates there are ~1000-1,500 bears in Western Hudson Bay (WH) and that the population is probably stable, as their new status map (dated June 2014, copied above) shows. A recent (2014) peer-reviewed paper by Stapleton and colleagues (discussed here) provides the data for that estimate.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population
Tagged conservation status, Derocher, Environment Canada, Hudson Bay freeze-up, polar bear, Polar Bear Technical Committee, population estimate, western hudson bay, WWF
There is far more ice — and far more concentrated ice — in Canada this year than on this day last year. That’s good news for most polar bear populations.
[And, it turns out, more ice total this year on this date than there has been since 2001!]
I’ve made a composite 2014/2013 ice map for 4 November that tells the story (courtesy daily Canadian Ice Service sea ice maps).
Posted in Sea ice habitat
Tagged Amundsen Gulf, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Canadian Ice Service, Coronation Gulf, Foxe Basin, good news, habitat, ice maps, polar bear, Queen Maud Gulf, sea ice, sea ice concentration, Southern Route
What exactly are Western Hudson Bay (WHB) polar bear researchers hiding? Since 2004, research on the body condition and cub production of Western Hudson Bay (WHB) polar bears has been carried out but none of the results of these mark-recapture studies have been made public.
The researchers all claim that WHB polar bears are struggling to survive because of recent sea ice changes but won’t release the 10 years worth of updated information they possess on the bears or the sea ice.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Amstrup, body condition, climate change, cub mortality, Derocher, global warming, invasive research, litter size, Lunn, mark-recapture, misinformation, photo ops, polar bear, polar bear survival, polar bear week, Polar Bears International, population estimate, propaganda, vital rates, western hudson bay