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By Paul Homewood


As you might have expected, the Telegraph has got the wrong end of the stick, as Susan Crockford explains:

An article in a UK newspaper yesterday contains a claim made by local residents that polar bears which used to hang around Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) in western Alaska, are ‘moving to Russia’ (i.e. the Chukchi Sea) in a ‘mass exodus’. It’s certainly possible but if so, it should come as a surprise to no one and is good news for polar bears.

If the allegation is upheld by scientific evidence, polar bears will not have been pushed out of Alaska by lack of summer sea ice (i.e. ‘forced to migrate’) but rather pulled into the Chukchi Sea by abundant food resources that did not exist when summer ice cover was more extensive. It’s a big difference and it speaks to the benefits of less summer sea ice that no one wants to discuss.

Moreover, moving temporarily to where conditions suit them best is what polar bears do all the time: it’s not a new phenomenon, it’s a prominent feature of their biology (Crockford 2019).

The article in question appeared yesterday in the UK Daily Telegraph (1 Jan 2020), “Polar bears forced to migrate from America to Russia because of climate change”. The piece oddly conflates a record high temperature on Boxing Day 2021 in Kodiak (located in the Gulf of Alaska, which is nowhere near the Beaufort Sea and well south of polar bear territory) with lack of summer sea ice much further north.

At issue here is the claimed ‘mass exodus’ of bears.

In fact, it’s been known for decades that most of the bears that visit Utqiagvik really belong to the Chukchi Sea subpopulation: virtually all of these visitors have always been Russian bears, not Alaskan (see below from Amstrup et al. 2005; see also Amstrup et al 2001).

In fact, movement of bears into and out of the Southern Beaufort at both ends has confounded efforts to get an accurate population size estimate (AC SWG 2018; Atwood et al. 2020; Bromaghin et al. 2015; Conn et al. 2021; Rehehr et al. 2018).

Moreover, very few Southern Beaufort or Chukchi Sea bears ever come to land at all: these are subpopulations where most bears remain on the sea ice year-round (Crockford 2018, 2019; Rode et al. 2015).

And while these folks blame lack of sea ice in the Southern Beaufort for driving the bears away, the author of the piece neglects to explicitly state the obvious alternative explanation (although he alludes to it): that abundant food in the Chukchi Sea in recent years caused by greater primary productivity during the longer ice-free seasons has made ice over Russian waters a more attractive place to live for polar bears (Frey et al. 2021; Rode et al. 2014, 2018).

It’s the back-handed way of presenting one of the great benefits of reduced summer sea ice in the Arctic that’s blamed on ‘climate change’ (Crockford 2021). Get used to it: this is something we will likely be seeing more of in the next few years as the predicted summer sea ice ‘decline’ remains stalled (see graph below from Meier et al. 2021).

Full post here.


JANUARY 3, 2022