Polar bear researchers try very hard to make good news in Kane Basin sound trivial

From Polar Bear Science

Posted on September 24, 2020 | Comments Off on Polar bear researchers try very hard to make good news in Kane Basin sound trivial

In an astonishing display of under-selling good news, the authors of a new paper announcing that Kane Basin polar bears are doing well have avoided mentioning that the population increased substantially since the 1990s and insist that any benefits will be short-lived.

Kane Basin population size at 2013 was 357 (range 221 – 493), up from 224 (range 145 – 303) in 1997. That’s an increase of 59% based on a 2016 recalculation of the 1997 population estimate of 164 (Crockford 2020) – it would have been a 118% increase otherwise.

Money quote: “We find that a small number of the world’s polar bears that live in multiyear ice regions are temporarily benefiting from climate change.” Kristen Laidre, lead author of Transient benefits of climate change for a high‐Arctic polar bear (Ursus maritimus) subpopulation

Both the paper and the press release also claim, despite acknowledging that there is no evidence for this conclusion (“the duration of these benefits is unknown“), that this good news will probably not last because computer models say beneficial conditions might not persist beyond the end of the century.

As always, if you’d like to see this paper,  use the ‘contact me’ page to request a copy (it’s paywalled).

The press release says only that Kane Basin (see map below) is home to “roughly 300-350 bears” to further hide the good news. The abstract of the paper, which is what most journalists will read, only hints at the population size increase, while the actual data are buried within the text of the paper:

“Our study provides evidence for range expansion, improved body condition, and stable reproductive performance in the KB polar bear subpopulation. These changes, together with a likely increasing subpopulation abundance, may reflect the shift from thick, multiyear ice to thinner, seasonal ice with higher biological productivity.

In the press release, first author Kirstin Laidre felt she had to include a warning that this good news from Kane Basin is negligible as well as ephemeral and no one should get too excited:

“It’s important not to jump to conclusions and suggest that the High Arctic, which historically was covered by multiyear sea ice, is going to turn into a haven for polar bears,” said Laidre, who is also an associate professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

“The Arctic Ocean around the North Pole is basically an abyss, with very deep waters that will never be as productive as the shallower waters to the south where most polar bears live. “So we are talking about temporary benefits in a limited area and to a very small number of bears.”

Except, Kane Basin isn’t in the High Arctic around the North Pole where the water is deep. It’s in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (see below) where the water is shallow and clearly capable of being highly productive when covered with annual (first year) ice that leaves open water for part of the summer – as the Kane Basin polar bear results show. 

Not only should neighbouring Norwegian Bay polar bears benefit from the same change from multiyear to annual ice (as Laidre acknowledges), so should those in Viscount Melville, parts of the Northern Beaufort, and M’Clintock Channel, which often retains multiyear ice into the summer (as it did this year, see ice chart at end of post).

We already know these beneficial changes have already happened, since it was recently revealed that polar bear numbers in M’Clintock Channel have increased, although we don’t know by how much because the survey report (finished in 2016) has not yet been made public. Why not? Not a hint from anyone involved. We are also still waiting on the results of the latest survey of Viscount Melville, which was completed in 2014. I anticipate that both reports contain more very good news that we shouldn’t get excited about, because the models say it might not last.

NSIDC Masie ice chart at 14 September 2020


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

Laidre, K.L., Atkinson, S.N., Regehr, E.V., Stern, H.L., Born, E.W., Wiig, Ø., Lunn, N.J., Dyck, Heagerty, M.P. and Cohen, B.R. 2020. Transient benefits of climate change for a high‐Arctic polar bear (Ursus maritimus ) subpopulation. Global Change Biology 2020; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15286  [paywalled]

SWG [Scientific Working Group to the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Polar Bear]. 2016. Re-Assessment of the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin Polar Bear Subpopulations: Final Report to the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Polar Bear. +636 pp. http://www.gov.nu.ca/documents-publications/349

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September 25, 2020 6:32 am

More ridiculous propaganda.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 6:53 am

The paper, you are right (!!!!!)
The articel ? Facts are propaganda ??
What world you are living in ??

Gerry, England
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 25, 2020 10:22 am


Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 7:16 am

Facts are just propaganda. Only models can reveal the truth. All Hail the Models.

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 8:02 am

More unpleasant reality for Griffiepoo.

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 8:33 am

Time to consider a time out for Griff if this is going to be the substance of his posts.
Griff if you have an issue then type it out for discussion …. you have done so in the past .
I am getting sick of Griff and Mosher making these types of useless posts.

Climate believer
Reply to  stewartpid
September 25, 2020 12:33 pm

I know what you mean, but I think it’s important though that they are allowed to have their say. I’m a free speech absolutist so I have to defend the most unpopular speech, and Griff’s is about as unpopular as it gets. I think they’re running out of steam, all they have are platitudes.

Reply to  stewartpid
September 25, 2020 1:38 pm

They aren’t useless posts. It is always good to know who are willingly ignorant so we can ignore them.

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 8:48 am

This comment is unhelpful, griff. I am amazed that the moderates are ok with your trolling.

Reply to  leowaj
September 25, 2020 11:15 am

This comment is unhelpful, griff.

You are correct leo, your comment is unhelpful.

Once again Griff scores are great success a WUWT. All it takes in three words, which do not even constitute a sentence and you all FEED THE TROLL .

Instead of discussing the insightful and informative article about polar bears, you idiots go for the bait and divert the thread into pointless yapping about what your favourite troll did or didn’t say and how much you love talking about how meaningless it was.

You are also calling or hinting at the need to ban censor of suspend him which is TOTALLY what everyone here has been railing about from the other side for years and the exact opposite of what this site stands for. Pot meet kettle …

Why don’t you go run tell your Ma ? Griffy was nasty to me again, he said something that did mean anything and it upset me ! Please make him go away.

Look, you know how it works : DON’T FEED THE TROLL !

If you really want him to have less presence and less impact , STOP taking the bait. Ignore him.

Reply to  Greg
September 25, 2020 5:25 pm

Don’t feed the trolls. Ancient wisdom from the early days of the Internet.

It’s true, though. Most people can only scream into the void for so long before losing interest/motivation.

I don’t often comment, but the comment section and discussion here is quite informative. Let’s not let trolls and venting at trolls take it over.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Matthew
September 26, 2020 1:17 pm

Trolls are a disease
Like cancer
Metastasizing though the web

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 9:05 am

You manage to forget to make your case Griff, did your dog delete your counter post?

Did you bother to ponder over this?

“The press release says only that Kane Basin (see map below) is home to “roughly 300-350 bears” to further hide the good news. The abstract of the paper, which is what most journalists will read, only hints at the population size increase, while the actual data are buried within the text of the paper:

“Our study provides evidence for range expansion, improved body condition, and stable reproductive performance in the KB polar bear subpopulation. These changes, together with a likely increasing subpopulation abundance, may reflect the shift from thick, multiyear ice to thinner, seasonal ice with higher biological productivity.“

Your warmist/alarmist ideology virus is still going strong.

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 9:47 am

@ Griff,
I got nothing out of that comment.
Care to be more concise ?

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 10:46 am

Griff. Ni e to see you’ve seen the light and are slagging off the conclusions of this paper. Well done.

M Seward
Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 12:46 pm

These scientific scum are little more than polemic pole dancers gyrating on the peer/pal reviewed stage hoping for some more funding to be stuffed into their knickers.

Sorry to all those actual pole dancers out there earning a legitimate buck.

Reply to  griff
September 25, 2020 1:24 pm

You type your heading.. then say nothing

You really are a stupid little worm. !

Reply to  griff
September 26, 2020 2:43 am

I take it Griff is finally admitting what his own posts are.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  griff
September 26, 2020 1:29 pm

I agree griff, this new paper is pure propaganda. Welcome to the ranks of the skeptical. Does this make you a climate change denier now?

Loren C. Wilson
September 25, 2020 6:33 am

Six years and you can’t count noses? Sounds like the researchers are stalling on reporting data. In my experience as a lab researcher, a failure to show your data is an admission that they don’t agree with your hypothesis.

Bro. Steve
September 25, 2020 6:38 am

It’s a persistent theme in media coverage. There must never be any good news.

Peter W
Reply to  Bro. Steve
September 25, 2020 10:38 am

Of course! If all the newspapers said every day was that it is another lovely day, everything is fine with the world, who would bother to buy the newspaper? Disaster sells, whether it be individual disaster or mass disaster. A certain “scientist” knows this all too well, so he proceeds to mathematically prove in the 1960’s that there will be mass starvation by the 1980’s, and when that doesn’t work out, merely comes up with another prediction of disaster, and has made a living with this sort of stuff for years.

September 25, 2020 6:44 am

Glad the boys and girls are doing very well in the frozen north. That also indicates the seals must be doing fine as well as the fish the seals feed on and the little fish the big fish feed on and so on down the chain. Probably the best thing for all animals and fish concerned up there is the lack of humans screwing up the environment or shooting things, not the lack of or preponderance of sea ice.

Wonder how they are all going to do when the climate flips to cold in the coming years? Probably much better than the Europeans will when the Gulf Stream slows down and the polar jet meanders all over the place during winter. Good luck Griff, you are going to need it.

September 25, 2020 7:21 am

Well, maybe if they string it out to another four years (so it’s 10 years total), they’ll be even more unhappy that their theories and reality don’t jive, and they’ll find other jobs, maybe in the food service industry.

Reply to  Sara
September 25, 2020 8:37 am

Polar bear burger with fries please Mr. Griff. Nice uniform and badge.

Andy Pattullo
September 25, 2020 7:34 am

No (positive) news is good news. Only death and destruction helps the cause – the cause being the dissembling of fear, panic and a feeling of helplessness that encourages the stubborn free thinkers of the world to submit to central planning and socialism.

Gary Pearse
September 25, 2020 7:51 am

It is high time for competition in the polar bear numbers game. Maybe GWPF, Heartland or some crowd funding base could be initiated. Appoint Susan Crockford to manage counts. Do a thorough sampling of populations to a very high standard and scoop the Polar Bear Lysenkoists at their game. I’m sure they are hiding good news from their now 5 year old survey but their numbers will be as low as they decently can get away with anyway like the IPCC and their ridiculous spread of Climate Sensitivity range, the lowest of which still is higher than observations. Good revenge for Susan as well.

Bill Rocks
September 25, 2020 7:55 am

Dr. Crockford,

Thank you for another revealing essay and the good news about the Kane Basin bears.

It is sad to know that those experts use weasel words about polar bears.

Old Retired Guy
September 25, 2020 7:57 am

These “researchers” think they’re smarter than the polar bears. I’m betting on the bears.

Dodgy Geezer
September 25, 2020 8:02 am

Some hints for people writing papers about Polar Bears who want to avoid good news:

1 – Polar Bears are getting fatter – obesity becoming an issue
2 – More Polar Bears – the balance of nature is upset
3 – Polar Bears having to live closer together – could get infected with Covid
4 – More Polar Bears breath out more CO2…
5 – …

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
September 25, 2020 12:09 pm

Polar bears and cats living together ….

Reply to  philincalifornia
September 25, 2020 5:30 pm

Mass hysteria, I tell you. Mass hysteria.

September 25, 2020 8:20 am

Well it is hard to count polar bears.
They all look the same, and don’t stand still for long.
So an Excel spreadsheet is obviously the best way to determine what’s happening in the world of poley baars.

September 25, 2020 8:58 am

I used to like to say to climate-concerned friends that “Happiness is a warm planet!”

I would go on to point out fossil-record evidence that life thrived and diversified in the geologic past when the Earth was much warmer. Also common sense indicates that longer growing seasons will mean more food, especially in currently unproductive parts of Canada and Eurasia.

Hard to make converts among the frightened and religiously zealous, though.

September 25, 2020 9:59 am

Hi all,
I will add this to my post as an update. News just out from Nunavut this morning (25 Sept): “New Nunavut polar bear surveys point to “currently healthy” populations in M’Clintock Channel and Boothia Bay.”

The survey report has still not been made public but this announcement suggests that population numbers in these subpopulations have also increased by some amount that will be discounted as unimportant. The news story is here: https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/new-nunavut-polar-bear-surveys-point-to-currently-healthy-populations-in-mclintock-channel-and-boothia-bay/

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Susan Crockford
September 25, 2020 11:36 am

Thanks for dropping by – keep up the good work!
As Winston Churchill would have said, “DLTBGYD”.

Dr John
Reply to  Phil Salmon
September 25, 2020 1:10 pm

Actually the Romans said that:
‘Nihil illegitimi carborundum’.

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Phil Salmon
September 26, 2020 6:20 am

Good doctor
Is that the Latin for “don’t let the bu99ers get you down”?

Reply to  Phil Salmon
September 28, 2020 1:52 pm

More like “don’t let the bastards grind you down” (Hog latin)

Dr John
Reply to  Phil.
September 28, 2020 3:40 pm

Congratulatiions Phil – you got the right answer.
And if anyone is wondering what a polar bear steak tastes like -its a wine red colour but tastes like fish.
p.s. I worked in the Canadian arctic over several years when the quotas allowed a reasonable number of kills, meat for the whole community, and bones for the dogs.

Eamon Butler
Reply to  Susan Crockford
September 26, 2020 3:33 am

Many thanks. Best to you.

September 25, 2020 10:31 am

The usual suspects, the BBC, Guardian etc., love a polar bear story. No sign of this one yet. Could it be that despite the author’s heavy spin, they simply can’t have a story in which polar bears are doing well?

Steve Z
September 25, 2020 10:55 am

From the maps, both the Kane Basin and McClintock Channel are relatively narrow bodies of water bordered by larger areas of land.

If the water in such areas was frozen over year-round, what would a polar bear eat? Seals would not try to breed there in the spring, so any polar bears in the area would have to survive on whatever they can find on land in the summer.

But if the sea ice melts during the (relatively) warm season, polar bears may be able to feed on seals along the coast in early spring, then be able to feed on any fish swimming close to the coast in summer, so the polar bears might prefer a few months of open water per year to find more food.

Climate believer
September 25, 2020 11:08 am

Oh! those Government of Nunavut officials and their propaganda! /sarc

September 25, 2020 1:34 pm

Not only are PBs happier when they can get to their food, but the drop in sea ice slightly toward the pre-LIA levels has opened up the food supply for the nearly extinct Bowhead Whale, and they are returning to the waters around Svalbard


The Blue Mussel is also making a return, having been absent for a few thousand years, apart from a breif stint during the MWP.


Many other species of whale are also returning now that the sea ice extent has dropped from the extreme highs of the LIA. Whales cannot swim on ice. !


Reply to  fred250
September 25, 2020 1:52 pm

And of course, THANKS TO FOSSIL FUELS and plastics, these whales will no longer be hunted for whale oil or whale bone.

Reply to  fred250
September 25, 2020 2:05 pm

From the second reference above

“Shallow marine molluscs that are today extinct close to Svalbard, because of the cold climate, are found in deposits there dating to the early Holocene. The most warmth-demanding species found, Zirfaea crispata, currently has a northern limit 1000 km farther south, indicating that August temperatures on Svalbard were 6°C warmer at around 10.2–9.2 cal. ka BP, when this species lived there. The blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, returned to Svalbard in 2004 following recent warming, and after almost 4000 years of absence, excluding a short re-appearance during the Medieval Warm Period 900 years ago.

Arctic is so much COOLER than it was for most of the Holocene, which explains why there is still so much sea ice up there.

Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2020 2:08 pm

Why can’t they admit that the increasing primary productivity of the Arctic is benefiting all trophic levels of the food chain? Increasing numbers of seals and walruses are the key to polar bear survival and population expansion.

Primary productivity is increasing in those areas by all satellite studies that monitor the Chlorophyll-A signature return in the sunlit summer and fall months. More primary productivity (phytoplankton) equals more krill and more mollusks (filter feeders). The pelagic level increases (fish), the seals increase in numbers (eat fish). The walruses feed on the mollusks, and the Polar bears feed on seals and walruses.

sky king
September 25, 2020 4:47 pm

Good news if you are a polar bear looking for a mate. For the rest of us – meh!

Louis Hunt
September 25, 2020 10:30 pm

The authors of a new paper announce that Kane Basin polar bears are doing well… and insist that any benefits will be short-lived.

Hasn’t that been the case will most announcements on the current state of climate change? Other than some weather events that were happening just as often before CO2 increased, the news has been fairly positive and devoid of disaster. The world is greening, sea levels are not accelerating, polar bears are doing fine, there are no mass migrations because of the climate, but catastrophe is always just around the corner. Can someone notify me when we finally get around the corner?

Pat from kerbob
September 26, 2020 1:53 pm

The polar bears are one of the best examples of the disgusting state of alarmist climate science.

They made a conjecture that melting ice harms polar bears, send money

The ice levels have fallen faster than they predicted and at bare minimum, the polar bears are not declining.

Most research shows increasing and healthy populations.
These are facts
And yet the “scientists” simply cannot be brought to admit it.

Their hypothesis has clearly failed

Any one who cannot admit the initial hypothesis is clearly wrong should be banished from any field claiming science as a goal

Actions have to have consequences

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