Polar bear habitat update: ice forming along Hudson Bay, Wrangel & Franz Josef Islands surrounded

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford

Western Hudson Bay polar bears near Churchill will be able to leave shore within days, at most one week later than in the 1980s, although you wouldn’t know that from the climate change activists at Polar Bears International who have spent the last week promoting some egregiously false and misleading statementsPBI controls the narrative surrounding Western Hudson Bay bears through their partnership with the biggest polar bear tourist outfits in Churchill and online.

Yesterday, it was “See how the climate crisis is changing their world”.

Developing no slower than it did in 2007 (16 years of no change), Arctic sea ice is providing polar bears in southern regions with their second-most critical feeding opportunities while in areas like Wrangel Island and Franz Josef Land, they now have easy access to and from important summer refuge/maternity denning islands. And contrary to predictions of increased ‘conflict’ between polar bears and people around Churchill, there have been fewer problem bear reports there in recent years, this year included. In other words, there is no ‘climate crisis’ for polar bears, even in Western Hudson Bay, and recent models of a dire future for polar bears are based on totally implausible worst-case climate scenarios. Sea ice loss since 1979 has been so gradual that polar bears have been able to adapt, either through natural selection or changes in behaviour.

Arctic Sea Ice Conditions

From the NSIDC, October summary shows no declining trend in sea ice coverage since 2007, despite repeated claims by some activists that sea ice conditions have been continuously deteriorating:

What the ice charts show

Close-up images take from the chart above for 9 November 2022 (overall ice coverage 9.5mk2)

Western Hudson Bay

Freeze-up this year has been a bit slower than 2020, which was as early as the earliest freeze-ups in the 1980s, but not by much. In the 1980s, most bears left for the ice at freeze-up (10% sea ice coverage) about 16 November ± 5 days (Castro de la Guardia 2017, see graph below). The earliest the bears left the ice was in 1991 and 1993, on 6 November (Julian day 310)–in 2020, most bears were gone by 8 November, one of the earliest dates on record.

Therefore, freeze-up dates of 10-12 November or so (Day 314-316) for 2017, 2018, and 2019 were some of the earliest freeze-up dates recorded since 1979 (the earliest being 6 November, Day 310, in 1991 and 1993), even earlier than the average for the 1980s. Barring offshore winds that force the ice away, this year should be similar.

That means Explore.org PBI-affiliated moderator ‘Cloud’ was passing along disinformation to viewers when she said two days ago [my bold]:

“The ice is just starting to form on Hudson Bay. It is much later than years past, but typical for our present times.”

Virtually all Western Hudson Bay bears leave the shore within about 2 days of sea ice concentration reaching 10% (Castro de la Guardia 2017), although Southern Hudson Bay bears leave when it reaches about 5% (Obbard et al. 2015, 2016). In other words, the bears go as soon as they possibly can (Stirling et al. 1977).

Hudson Bay Sea ice coverage

Weekly coverage at 7 November compared to previous years and the long-term average (courtesy Canadian Ice Service) for the NW sector of the bay, showing just how little change there has been in recent decades:

Daily coverage for 9 November:

and to the south…

Churchill Problem Bears

After 15 weeks onshore this year, there have been few problems with polar bears in Churchill:

Compare the above to the same week in 2016, when freeze-up was quite late:

Polar bear photos from Wapusk National Park

Courtesy the Explore.org web cams

Four bears sharing a seal kill, 5 November 2022.
Female with two cubs, 8 November.

Below: two males sparring vigorously, 8 November.


Castro de la Guardia, L., Myers, P.G., Derocher, A.E., Lunn, N.J., Terwisscha van Scheltinga, A.D. 2017. Sea ice cycle in western Hudson Bay, Canada, from a polar bear perspective. Marine Ecology Progress Series 564: 225–233. http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v564/p225-233/

Obbard, M.E., Stapleton, S., Middel, K.R., Thibault, I., Brodeur, V. and Jutras, C. 2015. Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys. Polar Biology 38:1713-1725.

Obbard, M.E., Cattet, M.R.I., Howe, E.J., Middel, K.R., Newton, E.J., Kolenosky, G.B., Abraham, K.F. and Greenwood, C.J. 2016. Trends in body condition in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation in relation to changes in sea ice. Arctic Science 2: 15-32. DOI: 10.1139/AS-2015-0027

Stirling I, Jonkel C, Smith P, Robertson R, Cross D. 1977. The ecology of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) along the western coast of Hudson Bay. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 33. pdf here.

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November 11, 2022 2:18 am

Paragraph “Western Hudson Bay”
Line 3, ” … earliest bears left for the ice ….. ?

Ron Long
November 11, 2022 4:00 am

Another good report by Dr. Susan. Looks like Polar Bears International should get themselves to COP 27, where they would fit right in, because the whole thing is a Liars Contest. Maybe they could take some polar bears with them, for hugs and kisses, wait for the videos.

Tom Abbott
November 11, 2022 5:36 am

Situation normal.

No Polar Bear crisis.

Life is good!

Richard Greene
November 11, 2022 6:37 am

How does one count polar bears?
Semms like that would almost be as hard as counting Antarctica penguins.
Alarmists have started spray painting numbers on the bears with black paint.
They need a lot more volunteers.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 11, 2022 7:02 am

Urban graffiti activists. Poor bears.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 11, 2022 9:11 am

Yeah, send Greta, Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, WEF, EDF, Earth First, and all the other anti-human psychos to take care of that.

Tell them the bears are warm and fuzzy just like in the Coke commercials.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
November 11, 2022 7:42 pm

Tell them the bears are warm and fuzzy just like in the Coke commercials.”

Tell them superglue works on polar bears…

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 11, 2022 9:21 am

How does one count polar bears?

Well, firstly you need to recruit people who can actually count.

Which leaves out advocates for utility-scale solar & wind power generation, because those folks clearly CANNOT count, add up, subtract, divide or multiply.

(Nick Stokes is the exemption to this rule. Nick is expert with numbers, but when it comes to wind & solar metrics, he chooses not to apply his expert numeracy skills. Just to shit-stir here I suspect).

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 11, 2022 7:41 pm

Alarmists have started spray painting numbers on the bears with black paint.”

Bears have a bad habit of seriously disliking such interference in their lives.

Native Americans tell tales of braves swatting a bear’s tail and escaping.

Tom Brown tells a tale of swatting the bear’s tail and then running for his jeep.
He made the jeep without an instant to spare and then spent a disquieting length of time hiding under the jeep while the bear smashed up the jeep and tried to reach him underneath the jeep.

I would expect a polar bear to outrun any activist easily.

Of course, we could spread stories about activists successfully spraying numbers of polar bears… We just say nothing about the activist finishing the bear’s number.

November 11, 2022 7:01 am

Industrial collusion. Shades of CFL, ozone “hole”, acid rain, nuclear tide, etc. assessed in models, in labs, because it’s profitable, if less than functional.

John Hultquist
November 11, 2022 12:06 pm

There is a scarcity of news about these cute cuddly creatures in the mainstream media. Funny that! One might conclude that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. One would be wrong.

Thank you, Susan, for reminding the world that the Bears are doing fine.

November 11, 2022 7:34 pm

PBI controls the narrative surrounding Western Hudson Bay bears through their partnership with the biggest polar bear tourist outfits in Churchill and online.”

That is a Conflict of Interest.
And if they knowingly lie about ice conditions and polar bear activity, it is fraud.

Evidence should be sent to relevant government departments/agencies responsible for hiring/funding PBI.

November 11, 2022 7:46 pm

Sure looks like the Northwest Passage is closed for the winter.
Anyone that amuses us stuck waiting for the thaw? e.g., Cruise ships to the Arctic?

Caleb Shaw
November 12, 2022 10:34 am

Thanks for another interesting report, Susan.

What I find interesting is the increase in multi-year sea-ice in The East Siberian Sea, west of Wrangle Island. The fact those areas became ice free during recent summers was a point Alarmists used to stress the shrinkage of sea-ice, but sea-ice has now moved the opposite direction, in those same areas. Likely it has something to do with a generally “cold” PDO, and the fact the cold La Nina has persisted for three straight years. But it is interesting to watch things and see if sea-ice grows and shrinks as a “cycle’, and has little to do with atmospheric CO2 levels.

Mike Lorrey
November 14, 2022 11:43 am

I made this meme over 8 years ago, and it has been shared across the intertubes millions of times without attribution. Feel free to keep sharing it, but please mention me…

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