Did we hear a huge hue and cry in 2013 about starving polar bears and low cub survival in the Southern Beaufort Sea? No, we did not. Despite the record-breaking low summer sea ice extent the year before (2012), and despite the fact that USGS biologists were putting collars on polar bear females there the spring of 2013 (Rode et al. 2014), we heard not a peep about a polar bear catastrophe in the Southern Beaufort. Odd, isn’t it?
Several polar bear biologists and sea ice experts were busy late last fall suggesting to the media that a decline in polar bear numbers in the Southern Beaufort was due to declines in summer sea ice, which they blamed on global warming (see quotes below and earlier discussions here, here and here). However, they made no mention of the fact that the record-breaking September ice extent in 2012 did not seem to have any noticeable effect on polar bear health or survival in 2013.
Sea ice maps from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) tell most of the story about what the media were, and were not, told about summer sea ice in the Southern Beaufort between 2001 and 2013. Continue reading
Posted in Advocacy, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged abundance, aerial survey, Amstrup, Beaufort Sea, Bromaghin, Mark Serreze, mark-recapture, polar bear, population estimate, population recovery, Red list, Rode, sea ice, Southern Beaufort, spring ice conditions, summer ice minimum, USFWS
To counter the misleading ploy used by the Sunday Times — of implying polar bears are in peril because of recent changes in Arctic sea ice (Sunday Times & The Australian, 21/22 Sept. 2014 Arctic ice cap in a ‘death spiral’) — I’ll go over again why the polar bear as a species is not threatened by declines in summer sea ice or even winter ice that is predominantly “thin” (first year) ice.
Graphic above from the Sunday Times, September 21, 2014
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Summary
Tagged Arctic ice cap, arctic sea ice, Chukchi Sea, death spiral, denning females, evidence, first year ice, ice thickness, ice-free Arctic, Mark Serreze, North Pole, Peter Wadhams, polar bear, sea ice extent, thin sea ice
The yearly sea ice minimum extent is almost upon us, which has recently been the seasonal signal for excitable biologists and their activist groupies to resume their breathless rants about what sea ice loss could mean for polar bears.
Never mind that the summer minimum extent reached in September, no matter how low it goes, is pretty much irrelevant to polar bear health and survival. As I’ve discussed before, what’s really important is the presence of not-too-thick ice during the spring, so they can catch lots of young seals and put on lots of fat.
But to a lesser degree, the extent at mid-to-late summer is important because this is when pregnant females that prefer to make their maternity dens on shore are looking for good places to spend the winter.
So the topic for today is this: how much does the extent of ice at the height of summer dictate where polar bear females make their winter dens?
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Arctic ice death spiral, Arctic ice extent, Barents Sea, CIS, denning females, Labrador, Mark Serreze, NSIDC, polar bear, Southern Beaufort, summer sea ice, summer sea ice minimum, tracking polar bears, USGS, western hudson bay
Climate scientists specializing in future sea ice predictions made some remarkable statements to polar bear scientists at their last meeting – admissions that may really surprise you.
Back on June 26 (reported here), the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) posted a summary of its last meeting. So, I was very surprised to find (while there looking for something else), that on 18 July 2014 they had added minutes from the meeting to that summary.
These minutes are a bonanza because among the juicy nuggets of information is a summary of what the three invited climate scientists from Colorado (Jennifer Kay, Mark Serreze, and Marika Holland) had to say and what questions were asked. While real transparency would have involved posting copies of the sea ice presentations and transcripts of the question and answer sessions, this is certainly better than nothing.
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Arctic ice death spiral, climate models, historical sea ice record, ice-free Arctic, Mark Serreze, meeting minutes, natural variability, PBSG, polar bear, polar bear habitat, predictions, sea ice experts, sea ice models
Well, well, well — it looks the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) just had itself another secret meeting with some extra special guests.
Polar bear scientists and PBSG-approved activists got together a few weeks ago (June 9-13), with no notice beforehand, “to continue discussions how (sic) to solve issues of future capacity.”
This was their “second intersessional members-only meeting in a row” (the first one was in October 2012), but they still haven’t had their regular, now long-overdue, “working meeting.” [they had the last one in 2009].
I came upon a notice about this meeting on the PBSG website, which apparently went up June 26, while looking for something else. There has been nothing about it in the media that I’ve seen.
And guess who were “invited specialists” at this meeting of “members-only,” called “to discuss internal matters crucial for the future functioning and capacity of the group”?
Three “climate scientists“!
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population
Tagged climate change, climate scientists, global warming, Jennifer Kay, Marika Holland, Mark Serreze, PGSG, polar bear, polar bear estimates, Polar Bear Specialist Group, Russia, TEK, traditional ecological knowledge