Spring sea ice prediction by CIS for Atlantic Canada 2016 vs. observations

The Canadian Ice Service prediction for spring ice coverage for Atlantic Canada in 2016, released 1 December 2015, would be as extensive as 2014 and 2015 or greater.

Their expected ice coverage for 19 February 2016 is copied below (CIS fig. 3):

2016 Newfoundland Ice outlook for 19 Feb 2016_at Dec 1 2015

In my December 2015 post that reported this prediction, I compared it to past ice coverage at 19 February. But that date is now past: how does the predicted ice coverage compare to reality (i.e., observations)? Have a look below.

Sea ice extent Canada 2016 Feb 19 CIS

Ice concentration charts for Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence:

Newfoundland NE ice conc 19 Feb 2016_CIS

Gulf of St Lawrence ice conc 20 Feb 2016_CIS

My conclusion? Pretty close for the region north of Newfoundland (where polar bears feed on seals in spring) but far off the mark for the Gulf of St. Lawrence (where polar bears have not been sighted since about 1940).

Later this week I’ll discuss what this might mean for the harp seals that usually have their pups on the sea ice in the Gulf in the first week of March.

However, the current ice levels off Newfoundland and Labrador are great news for Davis Strait polar bears, some of whom are already in the area waiting for the birth of harp and hooded seals.

One final note: I recently found this image of Gulf sea ice from 2013: to me, it looks pretty close to 2016 conditions.

Earth observatory image taken Feb 20 2013 Gulf of St. Lawrence:

Gulf of St Lawrence ice_Feb 20 2013_NASA EarthObservatory_sm w labels

Canadian Ice Service 2015. Seasonal Outlook, Gulf of St Lawrence, East Newfoundland Waters and Labrador Coast, Winter 2015-2016. Environment Canada, CIS, December 1. PDF 2016 Newfoundland St Lawrence outlook_Dec 1 2015

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