Return of Svalbard sea ice in time for seal births and the polar bear feeding bonanza

From Polar Bear Science

Susan Crockford

It seems that every fall and winter for the last decade at least, there has been hand-wringing about the lack of Svalbard sea ice and what a tragedy this is for polar bears. And like clockwork, before the end of winter (30 March) every year, the pack ice returns in time for spring: for ringed and bearded seals to give birth–and for the polar bears to gorge themselves on the fat newborns.

This year there is even ice as far south as Bear Island (Bjørnøya) and it’s only 15 March. This has happened several times now in the last 10 year. So much for the catastrophe! And soon Norwegian biologists will be out checking on the health of these bears, which they do every year and report their results online for everyone to see.

Global sea ice at mid-March

Sea ice chart for Barents Sea

Sea ice graph for Svalbard

Sea ice chart for Svalbard

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Steve Case
March 19, 2023 3:09 am

“It seems that every fall and winter for the last decade at least, there has been hand-wringing about the lack of Svalbard sea ice and what a tragedy this is for polar bears.”

First one up on a Google News Search on “Svalbard Polar Bear”

               The Barents Observer
        On thin ice, more polar bears move 
        from Svalbard to Franz Josef Land

February 27 marks International Polar Bear Day, 
but there is no reason to celebrate at Svalbard 
where the entire west- and north coasts of 
Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet are open waters. 
Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting seals.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 19, 2023 4:44 am

use or any other non-google search engine

Reply to  Steve Case
March 19, 2023 6:16 am

The composition and extent of Arctic sea ice is highly variable year on year as we all know.

On the same date, 27th of February 2020, the picture was very different.

The Barents Observer article doesn’t show this of course.

Climate alarmists love their cherries.

Reply to  Alpha
March 19, 2023 6:19 am

… and I’d just like to add also that Polar Bears denning areas are all found on the East side of the island where all the snow accumulates, not on the open water West side.

Polar bear denning svarlbard 2020.jpg
March 19, 2023 5:17 am

It seems that every fall and winter for the last decade at least, there has been hand-wringing about the lack of Svalbard sea ice and what a tragedy this is for polar bears. 

This is the ‘narrative’. And – it’s always worse for females, somehow…

“Climate change ‘impacts women more than men’ – BBC News”

So, why not female polar bears?

“We evaluated the impacts of environmental variation on demographic rates for the Western Hudson Bay (WH), polar bear subpopulation from 1984 to 2011 using live-recapture and dead-recovery data in a Bayesian implementation of multistate capture–recapture models. We found that survival of female polar bears was related to the annual timing of sea ice break-up and formation. Using estimated vital rates (e.g., survival and reproduction) in matrix projection models, we calculated the growth rate of the WH subpopulation and projected population responses under different environmental scenarios while accounting for parametric uncertainty, temporal variation, and demographic stochasticity. Our analysis suggested a long-term decline in the number of bears”

Demography of an apex predator at the edge of its range: impacts of changing sea ice on polar bears in Hudson Bay
Nicholas J. Lunn, Sabrina Servanty, Eric V. Regehr, Sarah J. Converse, Evan Richardson, Ian Stirling
First published: 25 February 2016

This post has been narrative compliance checked and rejected….

Last edited 6 days ago by strativarius
March 19, 2023 6:46 am

And where do seals go to bear their young when there is no ice? Do they simply all abort or do they go ashore for this function where they are available for shorebound bears?

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  Denis
March 19, 2023 8:05 am

They just hold it in like kids are told to do on road trips.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Denis
March 19, 2023 11:37 am

Some years ago I commented that shrinking ice would change polar bear fortunes for the better. They would have a two dimensional linear hunting ground along the shores instead of a three dimensional one on the ice.

March 19, 2023 7:52 am

Just wondering why they call it Bear Island ?
and I guess its been called Bear island for a long time so its good to see polar bears back on their own island

Scarecrow Repair
March 19, 2023 8:03 am

It has always astonished me that the same people who complain about clubbing baby harp seals applaud polar bears killing other baby seals. This selectivity is worse than personal pronouns. How am I supposed to keep track of the politically correct players without a score card?

Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
March 19, 2023 8:28 am

“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.” – Anthony Malcolm Daniels Theodore Dalrymple 

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  sskinner
March 19, 2023 10:30 am

Interesting observation. Sounds true too, but for all propaganda, even kids on a playground. Worth remembering, thanks.

Reply to  sskinner
March 19, 2023 10:46 am


For some reason, our society has lost that duty to help our children learn the old adage” sticks and stones will break my bones, but….”

Gums remembers….

March 19, 2023 8:28 am

See also my commentary on a recent hysterical piece about Svalbard by the BBC at

March 19, 2023 1:57 pm

Good news.

March 20, 2023 11:31 am

How about a more realistic polar bear logo for WWF with seal blood and torn flesh?

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