Polar Bears International

6/11/2012 6:50:37 PM

June Ice in Trouble?

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 13:50


The latest graph showing circumpolar sea ice from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, is cause for some concern (see graph below). The ice cover for June 10th has taken a serious dip in recent days and is now below 2007, the year with the lowest ice cover in the modern record.

June Ice Chart

These sorts of graphs are a challenge to interpret for polar bears because “sea ice” is defined as coverage of at least 15%, but polar bears avoid areas with ice covering below 30% to 50%.  Nonetheless, the graph is an indicator of habitat loss.

Lone polar bear 

If you’re interested in what is happening to the home of polar bears, the National Snow and Ice Data Center is a good place to keep up to date. June is a critical month for polar bears. With an early break-up, some populations will be in trouble. For those interested in the Hudson Bay bears, the temperatures are still below “normal” (whatever normal is these days) so here’s hoping for a slow melt for that population.

Andrew E. Derocher, Ph.D., is the author of Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior with photos by Wayne Lynch. Copies are available in the PBI gift shop. Blog photo: © Craig Taylor.

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