More Sea Ice Than Average In Southernmost Arctic First Week Of Aug.
Written by Susan J Crockford PhD
Polar bear habitat update for the first week of August 2019 shows there is still more sea ice than average in Hudson Bay, the southernmost area of continuous habitation for this species.
That certainly wasn’t part of the predictions of doom, especially since freeze-up in that region for the last two years has also been earlier-than-average, which means a shorter ice-free season than we’ve seen for decades.
Despite ice coverage for the Arctic ice as a whole being marginally lower than it has been since 1979 for this time of year, sea ice for the first week of August was also above average around Svalbard in the Barents Sea and higher than the last few years in the Central Arctic, which is a critical summer refugium for polar bears that live in the peripheral seas of the Arctic Ocean, including the Chukchi (see photo below, taken in early August 2018).
ARCTIC SEA ICE COVERAGE JULY
However, it has been a quiet week for problem bears in Churchill, which suggests few starving individuals around – also not a predicted outcome for a low-ice summer for the Arctic.
All of that thick first-year ice adjacent to Southern Hudson Bay shown below (home to the southernmost polar bear subpopulation) means most of the bears in that region will be heading to shore over the next week or so – which would have been about normal back in the 1980s. Again, not what you’d expect for a low-ice Arctic summer.
From the Canadian Ice Service:
Dr. Susan Crockford is a University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) zoologist who specializes in Holocene mammals, including polar bears and walrus. Her new book is The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened (Amazon).
Read more at Polar Bear Science