Winter returns to the Arctic – freeze-up 2015 at October 20 expands polar bear habitat

polarbearscience

Fall is the season when polar bears that have spent the summer fasting can return to the refreezing sea ice to resume successful hunting. For polar bears, fall is the second-most important time of year for hunting, after spring.

masie_all_zoom_4km_2015 Oct 20

The date when freeze-up occurs across the Arctic varies from place to place and year to year, but the process is well underway this year. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center’s MASIE map for 20 October 2015 (above) shows 7.7 mkm2 of sea ice, up from the annual low of 4.41 mkm2 almost 6 weeks ago.


Conditions in the Canadian Arctic are progressing nicely (below, 21 October 2015). Unusually, according to the Canadian Ice Service (CIS), ice is already forming in Foxe Basin (north of Hudson Bay) and off southeastern Baffin Island (west of Greenland).

Canadian Arctic Oct 21 2015_CIS

Compare conditions for 21 October 2015 (above) to last year (21 October 2014, below)…

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