Beaufort Sea polar bear habitat highest since 2008 at this date

Good news for Southern Beaufort polar bears! Sea ice converging on the north shore of Alaska earlier than any year since 2011 at least, according to NSIDCs regional ice plots (below).

r01_Beaufort_Sea_ts_4km

But wait, their Masie ice maps show it’s actually the earliest since 2008 (although the ice movement onshore was also earlier than 2006 and 2007, see below). And it’s still a full week before the end of October, the first month of Arctic fall (October-December). Lot’s of seal hunting habitat.

This emphasizes the fact that the primary problem faced by Southern Beaufort sea polar bears is not scarce summer ice but by thick sea ice conditions in the spring. Bears photographed near Kaktovik this year were in excellent condition (see here and here, taken by Kelsey Eliasson, Polar Bear Alley). If folks have been seeing starving bears, they haven’t said anything that I’ve been able to find.

Ice maps below.

NSIDC Masie for 24 October 2015:
masie_all_zoom_4km

CIS for 25 October 2015:
Canadian Arctic Oct 25 2015_CIS

Maps for the same date (24 October, day 297) for 2010 to 2006 below, from the Masie archive (click to enlarge):

2010:
masie_all_r00_v01_2010297_4km

2009:
masie_all_r00_v01_2009297_4km

2008 (leap year, hence day 298):
masie_all_r00_v01_2008298_4km

2007:
masie_all_r00_v01_2007297_4km

2006 (last year available):
masie_all_r00_v01_2006297_4km

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