Polar bear habitat update at mid-August

From Polar Bear Science

Oddly, after light winter ice coverage on Canada’s east coast and a slightly earlier sea ice breakup on Hudson Bay, the Arctic melt season has stalled. That’s not my opinion but the observation of the sea ice experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):

Sea ice loss during the first half of August stalled, though ice in the Beaufort Sea is finally starting to weaken. The Northern Sea Route appears closed off in 2021, despite being open each summer since 2008.

Overall, ice coverage is well above what it was in 2012 (the lowest September extent since 1979) and many years since:

Russia and the Northern Sea route

No getting through that ice, shown below at 19 August 2021 closeup (NSIDC MASIE):

Chukchi Sea (Western Arctic) in detail

Wrangel Island is still half covered in ice, as is most of the coast of Chukotka. Too much ice for walrus to be hauling out on Russian beaches and no word of them onshore in Alaska either (although they were of course expected last month).

Canada and Alaska

Lots of ice still in the western portion, Kane Basin (between Ellesmere Island and northwest Greenland), and in Foxe Basin, where the polar bear attack took place 10 days ago:

As is evident by the charts above and below, all routes through the North American Northwest Passage are also blocked:

Beaufort Sea in detail

Sea ice in the Beaufort Sea hasn’t been this extensive at mid-August since 2005:

Barents Sea and Svalbard

As is evident from the graph below, the ice around Svalbard has only decline below normal levels in the last few days. However, even though ice levels were very low last summer and at some points during the winter, data collected on polar bears in the region this spring show they are still doing well.

PS. Oddly, the city of Churchill has posted no further Problem Polar Bear Reports since 12 July, although they are usually issued every week between breakup and freezeup in Western Hudson Bay. No idea why. The first two are included in this post.

5 23 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Devils Tower
August 21, 2021 10:11 am

I have heard weather reports of unusual cold air settling in over northern Russia and Canada.

John Tillman
Reply to  Devils Tower
August 21, 2021 12:55 pm

Arctic sea extent yesterday was higher than nine of the past 14 years at that point.

Antarctic sea ice was higher than ten of those years, and well above the norm since 1979. As many here know, 2013 and 2014 were record highs in the dedicated satellite era.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 22, 2021 3:28 am

Yes, I was looking at NSIDC Charctic graphs yesterday.

This year is higher than the last server years and may challenge the massive rebound in 2013 which was massively not reported by MSM after apoplectic coverage of 2012 OMG minimum.


According to CPOM data, arctic sea Ice volume increased by 65% in the single year 2012-2013. Totally unreported.

Reply to  Devils Tower
August 21, 2021 2:09 pm

The cooling starts here at 500 hPa and also at levels above this point. Cooling at 500 hPa directly translates to cooling at the surface. I have been watching this for some years now. … https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/500hPa/overlay=temp/orthographic=-116.20,91.18,506/loc=-168.498,80.955

Currently this region of the atmosphere is cooler than on average for this time of year. That is why the sea ice is running stronger than in previous years. A similar process is occurring at the South Pole.

August 21, 2021 10:12 am

I’m in the dead center of the Great Lakes region. I think we are going to get an early start to, and serious to dangerous” cold/snow levels in the 2021-2022 winter.

Stephen Wilde
August 21, 2021 10:29 am

We appear to have had persistent polar high pressure cells throughout the summer so far.
Often extending into the middle latitudes to create the wavy jet stream which has caused anomalous heat in some places and equally anomalous cold in others.
If it continues for the next 9 months there will be a cold northern hemisphere winter.
This is typical of periods of low solar activity which creates longer jet stream tracks and a cloudier world.
Less energy gets into the oceans which rebalances ENSO in favour of La Ninas.
After a while, global surface temperature starts to drop.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 21, 2021 10:41 am


High global atmospheric humidity levels lead to more storm activity.

Low global atmospheric humidity levels lead to temperature extremes.

After 4 years of solar minimum and a year (so far) of La Nina, sea surface temperatures are bound to be on the low side, resulting in low atmospheric humidity levels, and as noted by Stephen Wilde above, temperature extremes.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 21, 2021 2:20 pm

A big problem with that is it is likely related to the drought on the west coast. Meaning that the drought will continue for another year at least. I have a fire to the west of me which is threatening the area in which I live. Luckily the winds shifted 5 days ago from westerly to southerly. The fire then moved south instead of marching further to the east. Now the wind has shifted again, and once again this area has to worry about the Monument fire crossing east to threaten the main town in Trinity County, Weaverville. … https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7750/

Stephen Wilde
Reply to  goldminor
August 21, 2021 2:25 pm

There does seem to be a drop in Californian precipitation when the jets are more wavy in cooler periods. The flow of moist Pacific air onto the Sierras becomes less reliable.
There are records of such droughts lasting 100 years or more.
The settling of California may well have occurred duirng a particularly favourable period.
Desalination plants may well be needed in due course.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 21, 2021 7:57 pm

“There are records of such droughts lasting 100 years or more”

I would like to hear an explanation for how this happens. It has to have something to do with a very persistent high-pressure system.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 22, 2021 2:47 pm

Here is the primary cause of the drought, imo. The Hadley cells in the Pacific start pushing most Pacific storms north or northeast into Alaska/Canada. … https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/overlay=total_cloud_water/orthographic=-159.20,43.46,892/loc=-151.243,46.481

This pattern started around 16 months ago. It could be related to the last solar minimum ending and sunspots returning. But that is where the rains have gone which would typically move into the coastal states.

Reply to  goldminor
August 21, 2021 3:33 pm

Here in the desert southwest, mesa Arizona in July and August we got a years worth of rain. This years monsoon was nice considering that last year it was a nonsoon.

Reply to  goldminor
August 22, 2021 3:34 am

winds shifted 5 days ago from westerly to southerly. The fire then moved south instead

Why did the fire move south under the influence of a southerly wind?!

Richard Page
Reply to  Greg
August 22, 2021 12:41 pm

Because a southerly wind blows from the north and towards the south.

Reply to  Richard Page
August 22, 2021 12:53 pm

Are you sure about that????!
Any wind direction, you’ll find in normally understood meteorological terms, is identified by the direction of origin! In other words, a southerly wind is a wind that blow from the south…..NOT towards the south….!

Reply to  Ben Kellett
August 22, 2021 3:00 pm

I never quite got that right in my mind. I did mean winds moving south which stopped the eastward movement of the fire. Even better than that part of the winds moving south came from the northeast which pushed the front of the threatening eastern face of the fire back upon itself. That meant a bit of blue sky for part of the day, and a reduced threat from the fire.

I am still working on knocking out a 40 foot stretch of blackberry vines which sit like a fence behind my unit. They hold a large amount of fuel. If they went up then they would take my unit out, and also impacting nearby units. So I am being proactive at this point. I ordered an electric water pump, 6000 gals/hr, plus a dual fuel inverter generator. I don/t own much, but everything I have sits here. So I am prepared to stand and fight if that fire makes it here.

Reply to  goldminor
August 22, 2021 3:37 pm

I truly hope it doesn’t ever come to that for you Richard. I guess the best wind direction for you is the one bringing heavily leaden, rain bearing clouds….!

Richard Page
Reply to  Ben Kellett
August 22, 2021 3:41 pm

No and oops. I thought it was odd when I posted it but must have had a complete brain fart moment. Apologies for a stupid and wrong comment.

Reply to  Richard Page
August 23, 2021 12:16 pm

I think we all have those moments from time to time,,,,,the older I get, the more frequently they happen 😉

August 21, 2021 10:40 am

That can’t be right. Al Gore said the Arctic would be ice free by now.

Ron Long
Reply to  Alan
August 21, 2021 3:31 pm

AlGore went up to the arctic to see the ice gone, and that happy polar bear picture at the start of this report is resting because he ate AlGore. Problem solved.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 22, 2021 3:35 am

I wish.

August 21, 2021 10:46 am

Yep, total Arctic sea ice is more than 1 wadham above the same day in 2012, and more than half a wadham over 2007. Meanwhile Antarctic sea ice continues to track above 1979 levels.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  philincalifornia
August 21, 2021 7:58 pm

You are going to depress Griff, talking like that.

Coeur de Lion
August 21, 2021 11:05 am

I subscribe to a professional military quarterly journal in which I have a standing bet that Arctic ice will bottom out above 4Msq km at the equinox. Punters would have won last year, that’s two in fourteen. Dammit no one took me up this year. Even tho some of the contributors seem to believe climate alarmism the brainwashed fools.

August 21, 2021 11:37 am

Paging Griff, paging Griff….

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Graemethecat
August 21, 2021 11:43 am

The last thing we need is a series of nonsense Fkybys from Griff. They only distract from sensible discussions.

Reply to  Graemethecat
August 21, 2021 12:32 pm

I don’t know which is worse – Griff’s post or the replies to him. Do not feed the trolls!

The absolute worst, and totally inexplicable and completely inexcusable are posts from people who encourage Griff to join in.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ric Werme
August 21, 2021 12:45 pm

Had he or she any shame, Griff wouldn’t comment on polar bears, after baselessly attacking Dr. Crockford. She has been repeatedly shown right on polar bears. Her hypothesis regarding the role of thyroid hormones in speciation is not well supported, outside canids, her area of specialization, but she’s a real scientist. Griff, not so much.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 21, 2021 12:58 pm

I’m going with “it”.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 21, 2021 2:07 pm

Has it declared its pronouns yet?

Reply to  John Tillman
August 21, 2021 3:19 pm

I still believe that griff is a group of people tag teaming under the same name.
From week to week, it’s style changes, sometimes drastically.

Reply to  MarkW
August 21, 2021 11:26 pm

Naa, seriously why would he? He’s just like everyone here, an interested contributor.

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 21, 2021 1:26 pm

What’s worse is talking about it [Griff] as if it mattered.

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 21, 2021 3:05 pm

I agree Griff is a hopeless troll. I was trying to be ironic….

Reply to  Graemethecat
August 21, 2021 11:28 pm

And yet you comment. Obviously not that hopeless.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Graemethecat
August 21, 2021 12:46 pm

Griff is paranoid about many things, be patient. Plus you have to say the name three times quickly.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 21, 2021 12:51 pm

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice???

Reply to  SMC
August 21, 2021 2:00 pm

Betlegeuse! Betlegeuse! Betelgeuse!….and it’s Show Time! The griffter will not comment on this subject…the Arctic ice will start the Big Freeze in a few weeks.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Anti-griff
August 21, 2021 2:10 pm

I’m of the opinion that each of the trolls has a specialty it is paid to cover, rather like wikipedia editors (who can rewrite and or remove any contribution within minutes of an addition).

Joel O'Bryan
August 21, 2021 12:49 pm

Not surprised. Alaska’s NOAA/CPC forecast Outlook has looked like this (see attached graphic) for all of August. Gonna be a cold NH winter. US natural gas supplies by December January will be in real pinch by then. Most especially in Greentard states like New York and Massachusetts where they refuse to build new pipelines and remain near wholly dependent on Natural Gas-fired electicity. Stock up now on wood and propane heaters and extra propane if you live there.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 21, 2021 2:04 pm

Don’t worry about the greentard states, they will be able to import Russian natural gas once the pipeline to Germany is done.

August 21, 2021 12:59 pm

The AMO rolls over. Who wudda guessed it?? People who do real science, that’s who!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Shrnfr
August 21, 2021 1:17 pm

I think its more related to recently past SC24-25 solar minimum finally settling in to affect weather than the AMO. I see this as linked to Solar EUV and ozone production and how that affects the formation of the polar vortex every NH winter.

The attached graphic shows NOAA tracking of the NH Polar Vortex area for last Northern Hemisphere (the Red line) winter through May 2021. You can see the Winter 2020-2021 Polar Vortex area was much diminished. This realtes to how much ozone was there nad how much has to be replensihed in the summer (now).

NOAA writes this:
The polar vortex defines the area in which cold polar air is trapped by the very strong winds of the Polar Night Jet. During the winter/spring period, when the polar vortex is strongest, air outside of the vortex can not enter. So, because the warm air from the mid latitudes can not mix with the cold polar air, the polar air continues to get colder due to radiative loss of heat. Also, when ozone in the vortex is depleted, it is not replenished with ozone rich air from outside the vortex. Not until mid to late spring does the polar vortex weaken and eventually break down. After this, thorough mixing occurs and ozone amounts are replenished.”
source: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/polar/polar.shtml#plot8

Because ozone rich air has to replenish the during NH summer, but solar EUV (tracked by Solar flux F10.7) has been low this summer, the polar vortex will be weak again this winter. That means lots of cold polar air will be spilling into the NH mid-latitudes this winter.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 21, 2021 1:47 pm

SC25 has some problems to start following TCI
comment image

Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 21, 2021 1:56 pm

The AMO appears to be driven by a heat engine that synchronizes with the lows in the envelope of the solar cycle. 1908 or so was a previous bottom and a low in the solar cycle envelope.

In any event, it is likely to be getting colder through the 2040s.

Stephen Wilde
August 21, 2021 2:29 pm

This may be a good time to remind readers of my proposed explanation for wavier jets during periods of less active sun:


Events seem to be developing as expected.

Shoki Kaneda
August 21, 2021 3:53 pm

Polar Bears will be just fine if humans leave them alone, other than occasionally and inadvertently feeding them.

Smart Rock
August 21, 2021 5:11 pm

Sea ice loss during the first half of August stalled, though ice in the Beaufort Sea is finally starting to weaken. The Northern Sea Route appears closed off in 2021, despite being open each summer since 2008

Do I detect a hint of panic at the NSIDC? OMG it’s supposed to get worse every year! what are we going to do?

August 21, 2021 5:12 pm

Love the picture at the top!

Don’t poke the bear, though.

Chris Norman
August 21, 2021 6:47 pm

It’s just a grand solar minimum. I would strongly recommend you bone up on the last one.

August 22, 2021 6:39 am

This seems to miss the arctic areas where there is far less ice than usual… the Laptev Sea has lost more sea ice thus far than at any other time in the satellite record. 

Reply to  griff
August 22, 2021 9:43 am

Well damn. Who told the CO2 to gang up over the Laptev Sea? Whoever it was, wait ’til your father gets home.

Reply to  griff
August 22, 2021 1:04 pm

I guess if you were to choose several areas in the Arctic, you would find some sort of extreme at some point since the satellite era began. Point is, as a whole, the speed of the melt season has reduced quite remarkably through August. Still time for a sudden acceleration in melt but the chances of this decline significantly the closer we get to the equinox.

Arctic temperatures have been consistently lower than average this summer.

Richard Page
Reply to  griff
August 22, 2021 1:07 pm

I really wish you hadn’t mentioned the Laptev sea area. There are other areas that have lost sea ice that you could have mentioned, areas that have been subject to storms and high winds that have contributed to sea ice loss. The Laptev sea has had nothing like that – it’s a rather unique environment that experiences different patterns than some of the other coastal areas. It’s winter sea ice extent has been exactly the same for at least the last 41 years (this year included) but shows a wide range of variation during the summer months mainly due to it’s extremely shallow depth (50% of the sea is 50m or less deep) meaning that storm surge, negative storm surge and tidal influences actually have a much magnified effect due to the extent of the coastal shelf. The Laptev sea is not a good example if you want to look at temperature effects simply because it is difficult to isolate that from the other stresses on sea ice formation and losses.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights