Sea ice extent in the Arctic is a bit below average this year at mid-winter but there are no data to suggest this situation will have a negative impact on polar bears.
[Photo above is sea ice off the coast of Labrador, Canada on 26 March 2007 (from Wikimedia): polar bears in the southern portion of the Davis Strait subpopulation have been particularly successful in recent years because in late March through May/June they hunt abundant numbers of young harp and hooded seals in this habitat]
Polar bear researchers presume that most animals eat little to nothing over the winter, because it explains why even non-pregnant bears are at their lowest weight at the beginning of spring.
Sea ice charts and maps below.
Polar bear habitat in Canada at 18 February 2016 (Canadian Ice Service):
Eastern Canada regional for the week of 12 February – slightly below average but much higher than 1969, 1970, 2010 and 2011 (this and others below from the Canadian Ice Service):
Newfoundland NE for the week of 12 February, just about average and much higher than 2004 and 2010-2013:
Labrador S for the week of 12 February (the regional ice used for the harp and hooded seal pupping grounds known as “The Front”), just above average for this date and much higher than 1969, 1980, 2004 and 2010:
Gulf of St. Lawrence for the week of 12 February (about 20% of the Western North Atlantic harp and hooded seals have their pups here, the other 80% are at the Front), ice is well below average but still higher than 1969, 1970, 2006, 2010 and 2011:
Global sea ice with anomaly, 17 Feb 2016 (courtesy WUWT Sea Ice Page):
High resolution original here:
Global sea ice thickness, 17 Feb 2016 (US Naval Research Lab, courtesy WUWT Sea Ice Page):
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