Arctic sea ice still quite abundant for early summer

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, there is still plenty of sea ice over Arctic regions this summer, supplying feeding platforms for polar bears, ice-dependent seals, and walrus cows nursing their young calves. Forget about whether the numbers are below or above some short-term average, there is no catastrophe in the making for marine mammals in the Arctic at this time.

Remember, by early summer, young seals have left the surface of the ice and are in the water feeding; predator-savvy adults and subadults are hauled out on broken chunks of ice moulting their hair-coat. They may look like sitting ducks but polar bears have a hard time catching them because the seals are vigilant and have many escape routes available (due to all the open water). Most polar bears in Hudson Bay are still on the ice (you’ll see why below): the live cams near Churchill set up to watch polar bears are presently showing images of ravens with sea ice in the background, not bears.

This post is predominantly sea ice charts for mid-July, what we in the science field call observational evidence, aka ‘facts’. Keep in mind that satellites used to produce these images have an especially hard time distinguishing ice topped with melt water from open water, which means much more ice useful to these marine mammals is almost certainly present than is shown in the charts (as much as 20% more in some regions).

Arctic-wide levels, NSIDC Masie

For 13 July 2022

Canada (entire and then by region), Canadian Ice Service

Note that regional charts are for the week of July 11, shown here by ‘stage of development’ (ice thickness, with brown being old, multiyear ice and dark green ice >1.2m thick) and in the ‘departure from normal’ charts, dark blue is much more than average and dark red is much less.

Svalbard, Norwegian Ice Service

Chukchi/Beaufort Seas, Alaska Sea Ice Program

By stage of development and then, concentration:

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