Polar bear habitat update – Arctic sea ice today covers same area as it did on June 30

Arctic refreeze is well underway. Less than half way through the Arctic autumn (Oct-Dec), polar bear habitat on 11 November 2015 covered the same total area as it did on the last day of Arctic spring (April-June); it’s just distributed differently.

polar_bear_usfws_no date_sm

Yesterday, courtesy NSIDC Masie

masie_all_zoom_4km_2015 Nov 11

Here is what 30 June 2015 ice extent looked like, with the same amount of ice coverage:


For the week of 12 November, Hudson Bay sea ice development is well underway, with more ice in the north than there has been in many years; Davis Strait ice is the highest this week since 1999 and Baffin Bay ice coverage is above average. Foxe Basin and the Beaufort Sea are both approaching maximum coverage, which means bears there will be back out on the ice hunting. Chukchi Sea ice has finally surrounded Wrangel Island but the Svalbard Archipelago in the Barents Sea is still ice-free. More ice maps and charts below.

From the Canadian Ice Service, for the week of 12 November

Hudson Bay, 1971-2015

Hudson Bay same week Nov 12 1971-2015

Northwestern Hudson Bay, 1971-2015 (where Churchill is located, in the Western Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation)

Hudson Bay NW same week Nov 12 1971-2015

Hudson Strait, 1971-2015, to the east of Hudson Bay

Hudson Strait same week Nov 12 1971-2015

Davis Strait, 1968-2015 – highest since 1999

Davis Strait same week 12 Nov 1971-2015

Baffin Bay, 1971-2015 – notice how low ice coverage was from 1968-1974

Baffin Bay same week 12 Nov 1968_2015_CIS

Foxe Basin, 1968-2015 (north of Hudson Bay) – virtually filled with ice and again, notice the low ice coverage 1968-1974

Foxe Basin same week 12 Nov 1968_2015_CIS

Beaufort Sea, 1968-2015 – also virtually filled with ice. “Below average” is meaningless to polar bears in this context, since there is lots of ice to use as a hunting platform.

Beaufort Sea same week 12 Nov 1968_2015_CIS

Canadian Arctic, 1971-2015 (minus Hudson Bay) – slightly above average for this week.

Canadian Arctic w_o Hudson Bay same week Nov 12 1971-2015

Ice maps for Canadian Waters, 2015 vs 2014 and 2014 at 12 November (from CIS)

Canadian Arctic Nov 12 2015_CIS

Hudson Bay ice development at 11 November 2015. Grey ice (dark purple) is 10-15 cm thick; bears need about 30 cm or so to support their weight before they can get out onto the ice to hunt.

Hudson Bay North stage of development_Nov 11 2015

Last year (2014) on 12 November:

Sea ice extent Canada 2014 Nov 12 CIS

Year before last (2014), on 13 November (nearest date available in my archive):

Sea ice extent Canada_2013 Nov 13_CIS

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