Sea ice and Polar Bears

It’s almost June so this is a good time to check in on the polar bear.

Female bears emerged from their dens in March or April after eight months of feeding their cubs from stored fat. This is feast time for polar bears as the young seal pups are easy prey. The extent of sea ice is normal for this time of year. Click on the graphic below to enlarge.

AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent

But what about the thickness of the ice? Will it last for another month or two so that the bears can build up a reserve of fat? Here is an eyewitness report on the thickness of the arctic ice:

LEE TRELOAR

Special to The Globe and Mail

May 24, 2008

I am on the bridge of the massive Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the tension is palpable. We have hit ice – thick ice.

We are travelling from the northeastern corner of Russia, across the Bering Sea and the top of Canada to Resolute Bay in Nunavut. At least that’s the plan. We haven’t even reached Canadian waters and we are already in trouble.

The ice master studies the mountains of white packed around the ship while the 24,000-horsepower diesel engines work at full throttle to open a path. The ship rises slowly onto the barrier of ice, crushes it and tosses aside blocks the size of small cars as if they were ice cubes in a glass. It creeps ahead a few metres, then comes to a halt, its bow firmly wedged in the ice. After doing this for two days, the ship can go no farther.

The ice master confers with the captain, who makes a call to the engine room. The engines are shut down. He turns to those of us watching the drama unfold, and we are shocked by his words: "Now, only nature can help this ship." We are doomed to drift.

Icebreaker

For the rest of the story read here.

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