Polar bear habitat update for end July 2021 compared to previous years

Here’s a trip down memory lane for Arctic sea ice at the end of July, which as far as I can see provides no evidence that a very low sea ice disaster is in the cards for polar bears this year.

A look at this year first:

The ice in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is primarily thick multiyear ice (brown), as the charts below show (Chukchi and western Beaufort first) from the Alaska Sea Ice Program. Wrangel Island in the western Chukchi Sea, which is a major denning area and summer refuge for polar bears, is still surrounded by ice (in fact, ice is covering most of the label for the Chukchi Sea):

Eastern to central Beaufort, from the Canadian Ice Service, for the week of 26 July. That open water provides important ice-edge feeding areas for seals (and thus hunting potential for bears):

Hudson Bay is virtually ice free at this point, which is earlier than the last few years but not extraordinarily so, as I explained last week. As I also pointed out in that post, there is almost certainly more ice present than is shown on this map, due to the problems that satellites have interpreting melting ice. Oddly, Andrew Derocher has not updated the tracking map for his remaining bears with satellite collars since 19 July: I guess he is too busy. Same thing regarding the Town of Churchill problem bear reports, which haven’t been updated since 12 July. However, some of the bears that came ashore near Churchill and are hanging out on the shore of Wapusk National Park have been spotted by the Explore.org live cams.

Compare this year to previous years









2013 (the Canadian chart is the only one I have in my archive for this period in 2013):

Here is Canada this year for comparison to 2013 above:

I don’t see a looming sea ice catastrophe for 2021, do you see a looming sea ice catastrophe?

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