We are seeing one of the extremes in Hudson Bay sea ice variability this year, not only in extent but in distribution of ice. Ice coverage on Hudson Bay this year at 28 July was twice what it was in 2009, the last “late” ice breakup year for which detailed ice maps are available (409 vs. 204 thousand km2), according to NSIDC MASIE ice maps. Canadian Ice Service data show 2015 coverage for the week of 30 July was the highest since 1992.
The odd pattern of ice distribution presents a conundrum. Have a look at the maps and graphs below.
Posted in Sea ice habitat
Tagged breakup, early breakup dates, Foxe Basin, Hudson Bay, icebreaker, NW Hudson Bay, Obbard, polar bear, science, sea ice, Southern Hudson Bay, thick ice, western hudson bay
More than half of Southern Hudson Bay polar bears under study are still out on the thick Hudson Bay sea ice that’s been giving Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers so much trouble.
James Bay polar bear female and her cub on shore. Courtesy Ministry of Natural Resources, News Ontario, June 2, 2009.
As I pointed out a few days ago, most of the ice remaining on Hudson Bay is in the region used by Southern Hudson Bay polar bears. While you wouldn’t know it from the Polar Bears International “Bear Tracker” – which hasn’t been updated since 2 July – on Friday (24 July 2015) Ontario polar bear researcher Martyn Obbard used the PBI website to reveal where his study sample of polar bears are located.
Obbard posted a little essay on PBI’s “Save our sea ice!” website which had, buried near the end, the admission that on 20 July, five out of his nine Southern Hudson Bay females with satellite radio collars were still out on the ice, “far from the Ontario coast.”
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Bear Tracker, Belcher Islands, Canadian Ice Service, Coast Guard, Hudson Bay, icebreaker, James Bay, long swim, Martyn Obbard, polar bear, Polar Bears International, science, sea ice, thick sea ice