Here comes the pack ice for the Canadian East Coast

Davis Strait pack ice is now descending on the Labrador coast. Only slightly later than usual but it looks like there’s plenty of it.

This is the ice that brings polar bears to Newfoundland and southern Labrador (photo above from April 2022). Be careful what you ask for…

As I said in my most-popular post of last year (12 August 2022): ‘Alone’ and ‘Alone Frozen’ survivor reality show participants were never at risk of a polar bear attack

…polar bears only come to southern Labrador when the pack ice from Baffin Bay barrels south. The pack ice is generated in the northern reaches of Baffin Bay in autumn and throughout the winter, and is pushed south by winds and currents. Polar bears ride the ice south. Shore-fast ice that develops in place isn’t relevant in this context: only pack ice counts.

In the chart below, the pack ice from the north is green, the rest is newly-formed shorefast ice:

Further south, there isn’t much ice on the north coast of Newfoundland yet:

Compared to 2017 on the same date: that’s the year there was heavy ice well into May and many polar bear sightings in southern Labrador and Newfoundland in March/April.

In 2018, there was a bit less ice along the Labrador coast but much more in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Northern pack ice never reaches that far south except for a bit that might leak through the Strait of Belle Isle at the northern tip of Newfoundland late in the season: virtually all Gulf of St. Lawrence ice develops in place.

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