State of the Polar Bear Report 2019: Are polar bear researchers hiding good news?

From Dr. Susan Crockford’s Polar Bear Science

Posted on February 27, 2020 | Comments Off on State of the Polar Bear Report 2019: Are polar bear researchers hiding good news?

International Polar Bear Day is a good day to ask: Are polar bear researchers hiding good news? Extended lags in publishing polar bear counts and a failure to publish data on female polar bear body weights and cub survival in Western Hudson Bay for more than 25 years make it look like polar bear researchers are delaying and suppressing good news.

StatePB2019 cover image

In particular, the failure to report the data on cub survival and weights of female bears suggests that these health measures have not declined over the last two decades as claimed. If these figures are indeed the strongest evidence that sea ice loss due to climate change is harming Western Hudson Bay polar bears, why on earth have they not been made public? And why won’t a single journalist ask to see that data?
GWPF press release, London, 27 February 2020:

A prominent Canadian zoologist has suggested that scientists may be hiding a spate of good news on polar bears.

In State of the Polar Bear Report 2019, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) on International Polar Bear Day, Dr Susan Crockford explains publication of population counts for several Arctic regions have been long overdue.

Data on the body condition of female bears and survival of cubs in Western Hudson Bay have not been published in over 25 years, despite claims that these are key measures of the impact of climate change on bears.

According to Dr Crockford, this may well be because the data do not support claims of disaster for the bears.

Dr Crockford also says that sea ice conditions for Western and Southern Hudson Bay bears have been excellent in recent years.

“It can hardly be claimed that lack of sea ice is causing Western and Southern Hudson Bay polar bear numbers to decline as a result of poor cub survival and reduced weights of adult females when breakup and freeze-up dates have been so advantageous for the last three years,” Dr Crockford said.

The report also looks at recent incidents when two Russian Arctic towns were visited by polar bears, and suggestions that 2019 was the year of the polar bear ‘invasion’. The lives of local residents were certainly threatened by the congregations of bears, which numbered more than 50.

And as Dr Crockford explains, such large congregations of polar bears are likely to be an on-going problem because there are now so many polar bears roaming the Arctic and because virtually all communities still have open garbage dumps:

There is no evidence these 2019 ‘invasion’ incidents were caused by a local lack of sea ice or because the polar bears were starving. Right now, Arctic residents and visitors face a much greater risk of having a deadly encounter with a polar bear at almost any time of year than they did decades ago because polar bear populations are so much larger.

“Predictions of future calamity do not change the present reality that polar bears are abundant and thriving,” Dr Crockford said.

Download the report here.
Key Findings

• Reports have yet to be published for polar bear population surveys of M’Clintock Channel and Viscount Melville (completed 2016 and 2014, respectively), Southern Beaufort and Gulf of Boothia (completed 2017) and Davis Strait (completed 2018), yet several were promised for 2019 or sooner.

• At present, the official IUCN Red List global population estimate (2015) is 22,000–31,000 (average about 26,000), but surveys conducted since then might raise the average to about 29,500.

• Despite having to deal with changes in summer sea ice habitat greater than all other Arctic regions, according to Norwegian biologists polar bears in the Svalbard area of the Barents Sea showed few negative impacts from the low sea ice years of 2016 through 2019.

• Despite repeated claims that the Southern Beaufort subpopulation is declining and nutritionally stressed, a summer survey of the coast of Alaska in 2019 documented 31 fat healthy polar bears onshore in July compared to only three in 2017, when sea ice retreat had been similarly early.

• In 2019, and contrary to expectations, freeze-up of sea ice on Western Hudson Bay came as early in the autumn as it did in the 1980s (for the third year in a row); sea ice breakup in spring was like the 1980s too, with the result that polar bears onshore were in excellent condition.

• If the public are to take seriously repeated claims of harm to polar bear health and survival due to climate change, data collected since 2004 on cub survival and weights of female polar bears in Western Hudson Bay must be made available: it has now been more than 25 years since data has been published on cub survival and weights of female polar bears in Western Hudson Bay but polar bear specialists continue to cite decades-old data to support their statements that lack of sea ice is causing declines in body condition and population size.

• Since polar bear researchers acknowledge that there has been no negative trend in either freeze-up or breakup dates for sea ice in Western Hudson Bay since at least 2001, the failure to report current data on cub survival and weights of female bears suggests that body condition and cub survival have not declined over the last two decades as claimed.

• Two separate incidents at opposite ends of the Russian Arctic at the beginning and the end of 2019 made this the year of the polar bear ‘invasion’. Belushya Guba in the Barents Sea over the winter of 2018/2019 and Ryrkaypiy, Chukotka in December 2019 were each besieged by more than 50 bears, which terrified local residents. Although tragedy was ultimately averted, this is likely to be an on-going problem for Arctic settlements in the future: not because there is not enough sea ice but because there are now so many polar bears roaming Arctic coastlines.

Citation

Crockford, S.J. 2020. State of the Polar Bear Report 2019. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 39, London. pdf here.

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40 thoughts on “State of the Polar Bear Report 2019: Are polar bear researchers hiding good news?

    • Dang. A true giant.
      He was running the Space Studies Institute after its founder, Gerard K O’Neill passed away.

    • RobR,
      He knew more about physics than the entirety of the Lead Authors and Contributing authors of the UNIPCC, combined.
      He was most famous for pointing out that the impact of global warming on our climate was “grossly exaggerated”.
      I recommend to you all his many books including “The Scientist as Rebel”, “A Many Coloured Glass” and others.
      He was a true genius and a worthy member of The Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton along with Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer.
      I am enormously saddened with his death.

  1. Like a giant game od Whack-a-mole, Warmistas everywhere are desperately trying to hide all good news about climate and associated matters. The good news on Polar Bears is just one tip of the iceberg!

    • Might be that they are highly adaptable to changing conditions.
      Sorta the thing that 8 ice ages with 10Kyr-20Kyr interglacials over the last 800,000 years might do.

    • “NeedleFactory February 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm
      I am no expert, but:
      Might it be possible that warmer weather is good for polar bears?”

      Warmer weather?

      “It can hardly be claimed that lack of sea ice is causing Western and Southern Hudson Bay polar bear numbers to decline as a result of poor cub survival and reduced weights of adult females when breakup and freeze-up dates have been so advantageous for the last three years,” Dr Crockford said.”

      Warmer weather causes more sea ice?
      No!

      Don’t confuse alarmist claims for highly intermittent “high temperatures” at some distant urban station, for the reality of colder polar weather and winters.

      Some of the lowest summer sea ice periods were caused by storms, not higher temperatures.

  2. The combination of satellite photos and AI could make accurate polar bear counts possible, even easy, in the future.

    • Kinda hard in the dark of winter.
      And remember in sunlight at visible wavelengths they are white on a white background = a severe contrast problem.

      And your observing platform is a satellite in polar LEO, which means it tracks over the same ground-track/line at the same time everyday.

      Not nearly as easy as seem to would think.

    • they, the University of Minnesota, did that in 2012 ( 8 years ago ! ) with penguins down south, didnt the numbers magically multiply by more than 100% overnight due to satelite counting.
      why are we so suprised they havent done it yet up north ?
      A good case for giving them some grant money

      • “why are we so suprised they havent done it yet up north ?
        A good case for giving them some grant money”

        Attention Jeff Bezos!

      • Penguins live in colonies when it’s breeding/roosting season. The congregate en mass in many known locations known to researchers.
        When you know where to look, when to look, you place orders for pictures. To have a commercial satellite company deliver you hi-res photos from a clear day.
        Have a computer image processing algorithm do the counts, learn how colony sizes changes.

        Polar bears lives solitary lives, especially males. They roam vast distances over incredibly vast expanses, including broken ice. They wander the ice in the dark of winter looking for seal holes to snatch meals. They wander around human settlements looking for garbage.

        Longwave IR heat signatures are in the 8-15 micron band. The 300 K peak is at 9.7 microns. Even closeup photo images at ~10 micron are fuzzy.

        From about 160 miles up, if the skies are clear, a satellite-mounted polar orbiting, cooled LIR, long focal length, telescopic camera can super zoom in on a very specific spot and image it for about 80 seconds of a near nadir flyover until it moves too far downrange. Its like looking through a very thin soda straw at a very specific location (no more than a football field wide) and the atmospheric conditions need to be ideal because LIR images are already fuzzy, unlike optical or near IR images. If you zoom out to cover a wider image strip, the resolution for a polar bear size target would just become 2-4 pixel wide dots very quickly. You would have no way to distinguish the shape of the hot spot. Polar bear? Walrus? Whatever. So how you would do that over the vastness of Arctic to count solitary PBs, especially with clouds obscuring LIR images… impossible.

  3. A short search finds this:

    “Today, polar bears are among the few large carnivores that are still found in roughly their original habitat and range–and in some places, in roughly their natural numbers.

    Although most of the world’s 19 populations have returned to healthy numbers, there are differences between them. Some are stable, some seem to be increasing, and some are decreasing due to various pressures.”

    Source:
    https://arcticwwf.org/species/polar-bear/population/

    Well that’s interesting, that link worked just yesterday when I posted it on a You Tube Channel:

    https://www.youtube.com/post/UgwrXEXGqnoPI1mHh-d4AaABCQ

  4. So now we have to *speculate* that polar bear populations are doing well because people paid by the public to study them won’t publish their findings???

    The world just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

    Maybe the First Nation peoples are keeping track of the bear weight as they hunt the bears. This would at least be data – and far less chance it has been tampered with.

  5. I worked in the arctic islands in the early 1970’s on geological field parties on north western axel heiberg island and there were no polar bears around as we were quite far north, no need to carry rifles to protect ourselves when we were working in the field. the sea ice was mostly solid and lots of seals around on the ice but no polar bears. Once we moved south later in the summer to an area in devon island we saw a lot more polar bears and always carried a rifle on our day trips. there was a walrus colony not too far away that attracted them and lots of transitional sea ice rather than solid ice. I did see several polar bears eating seals on the shore miles from any sea ice and appeared to do quite well capturing their prey. I also saw healthy polar bears swimming in open water miles from sea ice and they appeared to be healthy. there are millions of seals in the arctic and the polar bears will do quite well as they have done for many thousands of years. there is no doubt in my mind they will thrive.

  6. Never was the phrase “speaking truth to power” more truly applicable as it is to Susan Crockford. She is to be applauded for her exceptional courage and integrity – and for being the one real rarity in the Arctic – a genuine scientist.

  7. When you think about it, and you’re paranoid (that would be me), it would be pretty easy for green no-goodniks to tell tall tales about what is going on in the Arctic. It’s not as if the New York Times has an Arctic Circle correspondent, is it? This is why the climate in the Arctic is often cited as a bellwether of the Earth’s climate as a whole. If you want to convince people that the climate where they live is going to get worse (when it is obviously not at the moment), you say that climate change (always bad) in the Far North is a harbinger of the climate change (and it’s bad, baby) that is on the way to where you live.

    Like, the sea ice (or the land ice, I’m a little confused about which) in the Arcitc will melt and the resultant rise in sea level will inundate Miami Beach. That’s a story, but it seems plausible enough to fool quite a few people.

  8. Susan’s illuminating piece will be rubbished by the usual clowns of the MSM. Her question of why no journalist has ever asked for the data will not be answered. The telling of falsehoods to our children will continue unabated.

    • For nearly all journalists for generations, finding truth is of zero value compared to pushing the Party Narrative.

  9. “Reports have yet to be published for polar bear population surveys of M’Clintock Channel and Viscount Melville (completed 2016 and 2014, respectively), Southern Beaufort and Gulf of Boothia (completed 2017) and Davis Strait (completed 2018), yet several were promised for 2019 or sooner.“

    Still working on adjustments?

  10. Question:
    State of the Polar Bear Report 2019: Are polar bear researchers hiding good news?

    Ans:
    Is Pinocchio a poor motivational speaker?

    ht/ some commercial on TV

  11. Of course the CO2 klimate kultists are willing to hide good news about polar bears. This is about protecting their money and their power, in the form of government funding, grants, jobs, pensions in public sector funded science, and the political apparatus that surrounds these Lysenkos.

    It’s as I told a committed warmunist recently, the loss of sea ice will hurt the seals far more than it will hurt the polar bears. Sea ice gives seals a huge advantage, forcing bears to hunt of millions of square miles that would normally be nothing but open water, as to the bears merely browsing for their nice fat baby seals along a contained coastline with few hiding places afforded to the denning seal mothers.

    THINK PEOPLE! (this is directed at the people who equate loss of sea ice to polar bear survival, not at the sensible WUWT readers).

  12. If the global-warming alarmists don’t want people to know that the polar bear population is increasing, then don’t bother counting them! Back in 1999, Mann and Trenberth tried to hide the decline in temperatures. Now it’s time to hide the increase in polar bears!

    Which is small consolation to the inhabitants of those Russian towns invaded by large packs of polar bears. Where are those people supposed to hide? And no one is supposed to mention the presence of too many polar bears!

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