This week, Arctic sea ice in Canada, where 2/3 of the world’s polar bears live, had more sea ice than was present in the early 1970s. Globally, the ice is spitting-distance close to the 1981-2010 average calculated by the NSIDC for this date – which means lots of winter/spring hunting habitat for polar bears.
This is the peak of the polar bear birthing season (both in the wild and in zoos.) Newborns will be snug in maternity dens built by their mothers onshore or on the sea ice; the rest of the population will be out on the ice.
Regional ice charts going back to the late 1960s and early 1970s for this week show even more surprises — have a look.
First, here’s today’s ice map (26 December 2014) published by theCanadian Ice Service. Click on any of the maps or charts below to enlarge.
Ice in “Eastern Canada” (which in this case excludes Hudson Bay) in the late 1960s and early 1970s was well below recent levels for the week of 25 December — the area covered by the graph is noted by the map in the upper left corner, marked in red:
Ice in “Western Canada” (which includes the Alaskan portion of the Southern Beaufort) in the late 1960s and early 1970s was also below recent levels for the week of 25 December: