Tag Archives: natural variability

Biggest threat to polar bears reconsidered

What presents a bigger risk to current polar bear populations: natural hazards that have already proven deadly or potential, yet-to-be-realized threats prophesied to occur due to human activities? That’s a perfect question for International Polar Bear Day.

Natural ice_snow variation and polar bears_model_PolarBearScienceFeb 20 2016

Dag Vongraven, chair of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, remarked last year that “until 2001, everything was fine.

Polar bear researchers thus assume that 2001 was the year climate change became the new over-hunting – but is it true? What are the relative harms presented by proven natural causes, potential human-caused threats, and predicted threats due to sea ice declines blamed on global warming? Considered objectively, is climate change really the single biggest threat to polar bear health and survival right now?
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Sea ice experts make astonishing admissions to polar bear specialists

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.

USFWS_PolarBearNews2013_pg5 labeled

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.
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Now that Bering Sea ice cover is high again, variability is normal

Sea ice development in the Bering Sea is trending higher than average again this year, even though it is early in the season. The NSIDC sea ice extent image for Dec 6 2012 below (Fig. 1) shows extensive ice development in the Bering Sea. [courtesy WUWT sea ice reference page]

Seven of the last 10 years have produced above-average freezing in the waters west of Alaska” says Kathleen Cole of the Alaska National Weather Service (Dec. 6, 2012) – see “Featured Quote” #20 in the right column (also filed in the “Quote Archive“).

Fig. 1 National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) sea ice extent at Dec. 6 2012. The orange line is the median extent for this date for 1979-2000.

Figure 1. NSIDC sea ice extent at Dec. 6 2012.
The orange line is the median extent for this date for 1979-2000. Click to enlarge.

The NSIDC, in their report on the annual freeze-up of the Arctic (November 2012), have this to say about the ice in the Bering Sea:

“…ice extent in the Bering Sea by the end of the month was greater than average, continuing a pattern seen in recent years. Extent in the Bering Sea was at record high levels last winter.”
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