Polar Bear Habitat More Extensive in Most Areas of the Arctic Compared to Previous Years

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford

Mid-November is half-way through the Arctic fall season (October-December) and polar bear habitat is expanding slowly. Here’s a look at fall conditions compared to previous years, so you can see where bears may still be ashore and fasting (i.e. Hudson Bay and southern Foxe Basin) and where others have already resumed feeding.

Sea ice conditions at 12 November 2021

Courtesy NSIDC Masie

Sea ice conditions back to 2012

In particular, compare conditions in the Chukchi Sea (between Alaska and Russia), the Barents Sea (north of Norway) and Hudson Bay over the last decade: you’ll notice more ice in the Chukchi and Barents Sea this year and a bit less in the western Canadian Arctic and Hudson Bay than almost every other year.

Chart below is the only one I have for 12 November 2012, which came after the lowest September minimum extent since 1979 and sent climate scientists into a panic. There was actually some ice along the west coast of Hudson Bay which this view does not show and the apparent ice in James Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are ‘artifacts’ generated by this particular NSIDC satellite algorithm (see the Canadian chart that follows):


Caption: Comparative graph showing ice extent at 12 November 2021 compared to 2012, the 1981-2010 average (solid black line) and 2 standard deviations (grey shading, which indicate values within natural variation), courtesy NSIDC Interactive.

Fall is the second-most important feeding period for polar bears. Given that global polar bear numbers have remained stable or somewhat increased since 2012, depending on which numbers you believe, and that body condition and reproductive indicators in most regions suggest thriving populations, I’m not seeing evidence that fall sea ice levels over the last 10 years have contributed to an ’emergency’ situation for polar bear survival.

In other words, despite Arctic sea ice falling to very low levels in mid-to-late September most years this decade, sea ice has expanded remarkably within the following two months as it has always done with no apparent negative repercussions for polar bears.

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Tom Halla
November 16, 2021 2:09 pm

The ice cover data starts in 1981, which was at the end of the “The next ice age is coming right soon now” Sixties and Seventies cooling scare. This very well could be closer normal since the end of the Little Ice Age.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 17, 2021 6:55 am

Very good of griff to point out that this year there is lots of ice already off the north and northeast coasts of Svalbard. DMI Modelled ice thickness
Winter is just getting started and so the best of arctic sea ice is to come.
This may be a better sea ice coverage map … it would be a shame if the ice extended down to the UK and froze griff solid DMI /COI [Ice drift from satellite observations]

November 16, 2021 2:19 pm

But in many recent years that ice hasn’t expanded to Svalbard, or its offshore islands, or has been late around Novaya Zemlya etc in October/November or even December

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 2:30 pm

Well then, I guess that’s it. We’re all going to die.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
November 16, 2021 5:27 pm

I was going to say the same thing. 🙂

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 16, 2021 8:53 pm

We’re all dead, we just don’t know it yet.

Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 2:56 pm

Griff, a special request if you please.

Could you go to some of those offshore Svalbard islands and do some “frontline” reporting from there for us please?

I’m thinking you live-streaming an hourly piece to camera, with the advancing (or not) ice front in the background, while you explain to us all what’s actually happening.

Can I get my people to talk to your people?

Reply to  Mr.
November 16, 2021 3:03 pm

Can they strap some steak to his back?

Mike Sexton
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
November 16, 2021 7:25 pm

Steak ? how about a seal

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Mike Sexton
November 16, 2021 8:14 pm

Save the seal … fit him with a nice faux fur jacket and hat and put him out on a snow drift.

Reply to  Mr.
November 16, 2021 3:03 pm

Make it a five year posting

Krishna Gans
Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 3:15 pm

Every year is different, allways was, else it would be palling, or what do you think ? 😀

Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 6:03 pm

False metrics, giffie!
That is worse than being wrong. It’s a combination of wrong climatic standards and wrong assumptions.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 8:24 pm

that ice hasn’t expanded to Svalbard

… and we should care about that because?

Reply to  griff
November 16, 2021 11:12 pm

Yawn….. Zzzzz…

As usual you make empty replies without fact/evidence to beguile us with.

You must enjoy a fact free diet.

Joao Martins
Reply to  griff
November 17, 2021 2:01 am

griff, are you already feeling that uncomfortable hot breeze from the north? Difficult to btreath in such a hot athmosphere, isn’t it?

On the other hand, it is good news: less polar bears, so less polar bear attacks to people needing health care and hospital beds…

Reply to  griff
November 17, 2021 8:54 am

They seem to be doing okay


waiting a couple more weeks for ice is apparently no big deal

Tom Abbott
November 16, 2021 5:26 pm

I really liked the graphics showing the ice extent over the years.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 16, 2021 8:17 pm

Such a positive outlook. ‘Always look on the bright side of life … ‘

November 16, 2021 8:09 pm

I’d support holding a future COP somewhere along the western edge of Hudson Bay, so as to provide delegates with the opportunity for intimate polar bear encounters.

Reply to  Scissor
November 16, 2021 8:20 pm


November 16, 2021 8:19 pm

This is a job for Inspector Attenborough, the Walrus said.

November 16, 2021 11:26 pm

It’s a shame that there a monopoly of sorts with the research. It’s weird that there isn’t an independent team from Russia counting their bears to give us an idea how things are going over there.

One good sign, for the bears at least, is the number of bears bothering people around Churchill, MB seems to be higher than in the recent past.

Climate believer
Reply to  PCman999
November 17, 2021 12:13 am

“It’s weird that there isn’t an independent team from Russia counting their bears” 


Joao Martins
November 17, 2021 1:59 am

Well, those are mere facts, so what? They do not disprove climate change belief…

November 17, 2021 5:14 am

Oh noes!!!! How will the Polar Bears survive with all these,,,,,uh,,,well, excellent conditions for them? Clearly they are doomed, DOOMED I say.

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