Much more sea ice in NW Hudson Bay this year than 2016 or 2015 at 27 May

In recent years, sea ice loss over Hudson Bay has begun with open water in the NW corner (which is just as likely due to prevailing offshore winds as ice melt) rather than along the east coast but this year that patch of ice is smaller than its been for the last two years. In addition, despite two patches of open water at either end of the Beaufort Sea, most of the coast of Alaska is still covered in thick ice — much more than existed last year, yet masses of polar bears did not die as far as I know (actually, WHB bears came ashore in excellent condition last year).

Sea ice Canada 2017 May 27

Compare to previous years:

Last year at 27 May (2016), where there was also more open water in the Beaufort Sea (driven not by melt but by the strong currents of the Beaufort Gyre) and in Kane Basin (between NW Greenland and Ellesmere Island):

Sea ice extent Canada 2016 May 27 CIS

27 May 2015 saw open water in NW Hudson Bay almost as far south as Churchill:

Sea ice Canada 2015 May 27_CIS

All of that dark green in the charts below is thick first year ice that’s at least 1.2 m thick and brown is ice >1 year old that is 2m thick or more.

Hudson Bay ice stage of development weekly at 22 May_2017 rotated.jpg

Western Arctic ice stage of development weekly at 22 May_2017Polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher, who’s research team has been ear-tagging male WHB male polar bears in the NW sector this spring, confirms that the bears are drawn to the fragmented ice and edges of the open water in the NW where they are most likely to catch bearded seals.

Here is his plot of males (purple) and females (blue) at 24 May 2017:

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