Polar bear habitat update: highly concentrated ice in eastern Hudson Bay this spring

Sea ice in eastern Hudson Bay (bright white in the map below) is more concentrated than at this time last year and similar to the ice found in the Central Canadian Arctic.

Sea ice extent Canada 2015 April 11 CIS

There is more concentrated ice (10/10 concentration) in the east side of the Bay than there was in 1992, a heavy ice year blamed in part on the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo (Chambellant et al. 2012) that resulted in the latest breakup date for Western Hudson Bay since 1991.


Same time, last year – no bright white (10/10 concentration) in eastern Hudson Bay, according to the Canadian Ice Service:

Sea ice extent Canada 2014 April 11_CIS

1992 vs. 2015 at 2 April [11 April not available for 2015] (from Cryosphere Today):

Sea ice concentration 1992 and 2015 at April 2_CryosphereToday_see HB

Compare this year to 1999 at 2 April: 1999 had the earliest breakup in Western Hudson Bay since 1991:

Sea ice concentration 1999 and 2015 at April 2_CryosphereToday_see HB

And how about 2004 compared to this year? Breakup in Western Hudson Bay was relatively late in 2004:

Sea ice concentration 2004 and 2015 at April 2_CryosphereToday_see HB

Could this large patch of concentrated ice in eastern Hudson Bay this spring portend a relatively late breakup date for Western Hudson Bay this summer – or at least an average (~ July 1st) breakup date for the fourth year in a row?

Time will tell.

References
Chambellant, M., Stirling, I., Gough, W.A. and Ferguson, S.H. 2012. Temporal variations in Hudson Bay ringed seal (Phoca hispida) life-history parameters in relation to environment. Journal of Mammalogy 93:267-281.

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