Posted onAugust 30, 2023|Comments Off on W. Hudson Bay polar bear numbers declined 27% in 2021 but not because of missing ice: secret paper
As will become apparent tomorrow, Western Hudson Bay polar bear numbers apparently declined 27% between 2017 and 2021 but not because of sea ice loss. This fact, gleaned from a secret government report leaked to the media, emerged just before Christmas last year and spread around the world. I commented on it here at the time.
It will also be apparent tomorrow why that government report is still unavailable. Thursdays are when the big two science magazines publish their papers, which means associated news stores promoting preferred narratives are embargoed until then. Stay tuned.
Posted onAugust 16, 2023|Comments Off on Conservation officers misleading the public about polar bear problems in Churchill
Canadian government-funded media outlet CBC ran a story this morning about problem polar bears in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, the self-described “Polar Bear Capital of the World” that contains some very misleading statements from Manitoba Conservation officers.
Breakup of sea ice on Hudson Bay was earlier this year than it has been in more than a decade (17 June) and some people are trying to hype the significance of this phenomenon to support a tenuous link to human-caused climate change, even though bears out on the ice this spring were reportedly in good condition and one of the problem bears captured on 8 August was also in good condition (a male weighing 910 lbs, photo above). Unfortunately, reports for similar early breakup years in the early 2000s have not been made public. However, I’ve been keeping track of these Polar Bear Alert Program Reports since 2015 and have read the available literature about their history: these records simply do not corroborate the statements in this CBC account.
Posted onJuly 14, 2023|Comments Off on Hudson Bay sea ice loss has not accelerated since 2014: in fact, summer ice cover has improved
This is an early breakup year for Hudson Bay but sea ice loss has not been accelerating. While some Western Hudson Bay bears have been on land for weeks, others are still out on melting remnants of sea ice, much of it invisible to satellites. This is only the third year since 2014 that the bay has had less than usual amounts of ice, which means most years since then have had normal or nearly normal ice coverage, similar to the 1980s. Hardly the ever-worsening catastrophe of sea ice loss story being spun in the media for Western Hudson Bay polar bears.
From the tracking map above, out of the 38 visible tags or collars on bears at 11 July 2023, 16 bears (42%) were on land and 22 (58%) were still out on the sea ice. That’s virtually identical to the 40/60 percent split last week when there was even more ice.
Posted onJuly 9, 2023|Comments Off on Natural flexibility explains W Hudson Bay polar bear movements at breakup better than climate change
Hudson Bay in early July this year is a mosaic of more-than-average and less-than-average sea ice coverage but apparently, only the less-than-average ice areas constitute the “early breakup” caused by climate change, and only “deniers” would say otherwise.
I say some folks are cherry picking the ice conditions that support a story line they prefer, forgetting that polar bears know better than they do when to come in off the ice.
Posted onJuly 4, 2023|Comments Off on Early sea ice breakup in W Hudson Bay caused by “record breaking” warmth in 2023 but not 2015?
According to Polar Bears International, the “3rd-earliest” breakup date for Western Hudson Bay was caused by a “record breaking” heat wave in May. Western Hudson Bay sea ice hit the 30% coverage threshold used by PBI to define “breakup” on 17 June this year, prompting speculation about potential future impacts on polar bear survival should breakup come even earlier.
“This year’s break-up date of June 17 is the 3rd earliest in the 45 years of satellite-based sea ice data from Western Hudson Bay, after 2015 and 2003.” [Flavio Lehner, PBI]
17 June 2023 is day 168 on the Julian calendar used to graph the data in the image included in the PBI essay (see copy below). However, the data point for 2003 is about three days earlier, on day 166 (14 June) and the point for 2015 is on day 152 (1 June).
If “record-breaking” heat caused this year’s early ice retreat, what caused the ice to retreat more than two weeks earlier in 2015? May was warm that year along the west coast as well but obviously not “record-breaking” warmth, because the records were broken this year. In fact, whatever warmth that occurred only affected ice melt in the western sector, while very thick ice over the rest of the bay resisted melt and allowed bears to stay out many weeks later than usual.
Posted onMay 13, 2023|Comments Off on Polar bears in W. Hudson Bay are in good shape, says researcher. So are numbers really falling?
We’ve got ourselves another round of field data–i.e., facts–not fitting the polar-bears-are-starving-to-death narrative. According to polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher, Western Hudson Bay polar bears his team saw in April while installing collars and ear tags were in good shape this year, as he said they were last year. There was no spring field work in 2021 and 2020 but in 2019, he also said the bears he saw were in good condition.
Two years in a row of bears in good condition in spring–with no mention of starving bears–does not fit the picture of a population supposedly declining due to starvation. The most recent population count for WH, which garnered wide-spread media attention just before Christmas last year, claims that a 27% decline in numbers took place between 2017 and the fall of 2021 even though sea ice conditions had been good during those five years as well. It’s a perplexing situation. Makes me really wonder what that survey report actually says, but it still hasn’t been released, five months after the results made news around the world.
Meanwhile, no further reports from Churchill about problem bears: the last one issued was for the first week in August. Time will tell at freeze-up whether this will be yet another very good year for Western Hudson Bay bears.
Polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher reported that two of his 23 tagged polar bears were still on the sea ice, a phenomenon that’s been happening since at least 2015 at breakup. Instead of heading to shore when the sea ice concentration dwindles below 50% coverage, some bears are choosing to lounge around on decaying bits of ice, sometimes into late July or well into August, until they must finally swim ashore. There is no evidence that the bears continue to successfully hunt seals under these conditions but no evidence either that their choice to stay on the ice rather than move to land at this time of year has had any negative impact on their health or survival.
Posted onJuly 29, 2022|Comments Off on Most Hudson Bay polar bears are still offshore, excellent ice conditions for late July
With only a few days until the end of July, most Western Hudson Bay polar bears are still on a thick band of thick first year ice that remains close to shore. The few bears that have come off the ice appear to be nice and fat, indicating they had good spring feeding conditions.
We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if this year shapes up as it did in 2020, when the last of bears didn’t come ashore until the third week of August, despite there being very little visible ice. Last year, most of the bears were ashore by the end of July.