Another paper predicts more Atlantic sea ice over next 10 years

Atlantic Sea Ice Could Grow in the Next Decade: Changing ocean circulation in the North Atlantic could lead to winter sea ice coverage remaining steady and even growing in select regions.

So states a summary of winter sea ice modelling by Stephen Yeager and colleagues (2015) just published in EOS (newsletter of the American Geophysical Union) by Lily Strelich.

cropped-cropped-arctic-ice-and-ships_noaa_cropped.jpg

Excerpt:

“They [Yeager and colleagues] found that decadal-scale trends in Arctic winter sea ice extent are largely explained by changes in ocean circulation rather than by large-scale external factors like anthropogenic warming….”  [my bold]

One fact Strelich does not mention is that the predictions made by Yeager and colleagues extend to 2023 and that their predictions included ice levels off Labrador and northern Newfoundland (the Labrador Sea).  Read the rest of her EOS summary here.

Note this is winter (January-March) sea ice being discussed, which adds to previous predictions (Swart et al. 2015) that the current hiatus of summer (JulySeptember) sea ice extent (evident from 2007 to at least 2015) could last another decade or more – a point I raised in EATEN and therefore listed in its Recommended Reading. See map below for what recent winter sea ice looked like in the Atlantic (at 8 March 2014). Continue reading

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Polar bear sightings in Southern Labrador

polar_bear570  ONTARIO MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Just days after a rare polar bear sighting on Fogo Island, Newfoundland last week, a 2 February 2016 warning was issued after multiple polar bear sightings in Labrador:

“Polar bears have been reported in at least four communities in southern Labrador, and the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency is warning residents to be cautious.

The bears have been seen in Charlottetown, Black Tickle, Norman Bay and the Wunderstrands area.

According to a news release from the provincial government, conservation officers are watching the animals’ movements.”

CBC also carried virtually the same the story here.  Maps showing the location of these communities below. Continue reading

Polar bears rarely come ashore in January but one did on Tuesday

Polar Bear stock image gg66298544_sm

In a life-mimics-fiction moment, this report appeared Tuesday morning (26 January) in The Telegram newspaper in Newfoundland:

“The RCMP is warning the public after reports were received of a polar bear in Tilting. Fresh bear tracks were seen in the Fogo Island community Tuesday.”

Tilting is a small town on the eastern shore of Fogo Island (see map below): Fogo Island sits off the northeast shore of Newfoundland (and is featured prominently in my new polar bear attack novel). Fogo Island lays at about the same latitude as London, England. The CBC, Canada’s national news outlet, also ran the story.

Fogo_on Fogo Island Newfoundland details

A government public advisory issued yesterday stated:

“Residents are cautioned following reported sightings of polar bears tracks near the community of Titling, on the eastern end of Fogo Island. Conservation officers confirmed the tracks to be within one kilometre of the community and believe the polar bear has since returned to saltwater. [my bold]

Polar bears are not usually seen onshore in Newfoundland until late March or April (previous stories here and here), after the ice has been close to shore for week and bears have feed extensively on newborn harp and hooded seal pups. Bears that come ashore in January – well before seal pups are born in spring (late February/mid-March) – can potentially be very dangerous because they are likely very hungry. None of the reports of this sighting gave any indication of the probable age of this bear. However, it must be kept in mind that young bears (3-5 years old) are more apt to be in a desperate state at this time of year.

Or, perhaps the bear caught interesting smells coming from shore and decided to take a short swim to check it out. The sea ice was still offshore at the time (see maps in yesterday’s post) but clearly, not too far off for the bear to swim. There may have been icebergs frozen into the pack ice that broke away (too small to show up on ice maps), that brought the bear further south than it would have ventured on its own.

It is a rare event for a polar bear to come ashore at Newfoundland in January, but it has happened before. Apparently, another bear came ashore, also on Fogo Island – in 1935 – and attacked someone. See the story below.
Continue reading

Spring sea ice prediction for next year off Newfoundland: extensive ice coverage

Reblogged from PolarBearScience, originally published 3 December 2015.

EATEN – my new polar bear attack novel – is set in Newfoundland 2025 for a reason. I wondered: what if sea ice coverage 10 years from now is as high or higher than it has been for the last two years, with inevitable positive effects on Davis Strait harp seal and polar bear populations?

The Canadian Ice Service prediction for this region, released earlier this week (1 December 2015, see references for link), is that 2016 is set to meet my “what-if” scenario handily. Nine years to go! See the CIS expected ice coverage for 19 February 2016 below (CIS fig. 3):

2016 Newfoundland Ice outlook for 19 Feb 2016_at Dec 1 2015

How does the above ice map compare to the last two years? At least as high or higher. Have a look below.

Continue reading

Hungry polar bear attacks: why my novel “Eaten” is set in early March

polarbearscience

As I’ve pointed out previously, polar bears are leanest – and thus, hungriest and potentially the most dangerous to humans – at the end of winter (i.e. March).

Polar bear feeding by season simple_Nov 29 2015

That is why the unexpected prospect of hundreds of lean and hungry polar bears coming ashore in early March hunting available human prey would be a truly terrifying and daunting experience. Such a speculative scenario stands in marked contrast to an actual incident in July that involved a single well-fed bear that attacked a man asleep in a tent because he and his companions had chosen to dismiss the known risk.

Any predatory attack by a polar bear is terrifying but which is potentially the more deadly? One you can reasonably expect (and thus prepare for) or one that comes out of the blue and catches everyone unprepared?

The first scenario is what happens in my novel, Eaten: it is…

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