“unprecedented amount of ice” Led To Polar Bear Attack

From the BSES trip log. Looks like The Guardian and BBC entirely fabricated their stories about missing sea ice as the cause.

Sea Ice and Polar Bears!

July 27th, 2011

After arriving in Longyearbyen to see our first midnight sun we were all so relived to see our tents set up and waiting. I think we must of all dreamt of Polar bears because the next day was eagerly waiting for the ice flows to break up so we could move on to base camp. There was a P.bear sighting across the fjord about a mile away. Unfortunately a Westerly wind and freak climatic events have led to an unprecedented amount of ice in the fjord meaning we are marooned here for the time being. Despite this everyone was in good spirits because we encountered another P.bear floating on the ice, this time we were lucky enough to borrow an kind Norwegian guides telescope to see it properly. After that experience I can say for sure that everyone dreamt of P.bears that night. The ice flows are still dominating the fjord and our movements. We understand the depression causing the Westerly wind may not move off until Sunday. In light of this we have planned to strike camp and re locate to a more remote part of the island – should we find ourselves un able to get the boats to base camp again. During our time here we have explored Longyearbyen’s surrounding area. Although we are all itching to move to base camp, many including myself are thinking of home and the people awaiting our return. We are all thinking about you and want you to know everyone is enjoying themselves. Five weeks will fly by out here.

I have written too much now but there is still so much more to say, so be anticipating the many stories we will be coming home with.


h/t to Marc Morano


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31 Responses to “unprecedented amount of ice” Led To Polar Bear Attack

  1. Dave N says:

    Interesting that they seemed to consider a sighting to be fortunate. There’s apparently a population of 3,000 bears in the area, about one for every 20 square kilometres.

    I expect seal hunting (and increases in bear population) would contribute more to the problem of bears attacking humans than a non-issue like AGW.

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    So the wind blew a great deal of ice into the fjord. So what?

    • John Silver says:

      Ah, but you see, it was a “freak climatic event”. There is climate everyday these days, you know. Unprecedented and all that jazz.

    • So that makes it OK for the Guardian and BBC to fabricate stories?

    • Grumpy Grampy ;) says:

      The BBC claimed the bear was on land due to lack of ice, which would be a total fabrication. Just like most claims by the Chicken Little Brigade!
      BSES appears to have a habit of placing youth in harms way. I seems last year they went to the peaceful country of Afghanistan to climb mountains among the insurgents that are at war with countries fighting terrorists. Maybe next year they will spend their Summer vacation on an active volcano to observe lava flows.

  3. Paul H says:

    In the UK we are used to the BBC telling lies. Their standard of journalism unfortunately has become worse than shoddy in recent years.

  4. Chris Korvin says:

    I didnt have the benefit of being educated at Eton, but its ice floe not flow.

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Ah, Grumpy Grampy, now I understand your error. You don’t know enough about polar bears, you don’t know much about ice, and you don’t know much about camping in the cold, or boating.

    The BBC claimed the bear was on land due to lack of ice, which would be a total fabrication. Just like most claims by the Chicken Little Brigade!

    If you follow polar bears and arctic wildlife, you’ve seen this a lot over the past decade plus. Polar bears need hard pack ice on the ocean in order to hunt seals – they travel on foot on the ice miles out to sea, where they can get the seals when the seals come up for air. The bears don’t eat in the water — they need hard, pack ice to eat the seals on. Female bears need the hard pack ice to den on, and to take their cubs out to hunt for seals. Bears can swim a long distance, but they can’t take cubs those distances, they can’t kill seals in the water, generally, they can’t eat in the water, and they can’t feed cubs in the water.

    Hard pack ice. Remember that.

    If there is no hard pack ice on the ocean, the bears stay on land. When they have to stay on land, they get very grumpy, because there are not enough seals to eat (the seals are at sea), and there’s nothing to feed the cubs.

    Flash forward to this event in Norway. In a normal season, there would be hard pack ice a ways away where the bears are, and generally open water in between. Due to a warmer winter and a warmer winter, however, there is not a lot of hard pack ice, even in diminished form — instead the ice is broken up into smaller chunks, too small to provide a base for bears to hunt. These smaller chunks are driven by the wind, however. And the wind drove a lot of these smaller chunks into this fjord, making it impossible to take a boat from one side to the other.

    So, yes, the lack of hard pack ice kept the bears on the land. And, the unusual event of having lots of chunks of smaller, non-pack ice that was wind-driven into the fjord, also made it impossible to move the students to the other side with boats, on that day.

    It’s the difference between having ice in a bond so you can skate, or chunks of ice in such density that you can’t boat. Too little hard, pack ice, can make both too little ice and too much of the wrong ice occur at the same time.

    BSES appears to have a habit of placing youth in harms way. I seems last year they went to the peaceful country of Afghanistan to climb mountains among the insurgents that are at war with countries fighting terrorists. Maybe next year they will spend their Summer vacation on an active volcano to observe lava flows.

    Maybe they relied on your advice. “Are the mountains in Afghanistan safe for mountain climbers to climb?” they asked? You said ‘yes.’ Of course, your answer was limited to safe climbing, not including the possibility of the territory being unsafe due to war. War isn’t mountain climbing, after all, you argue.

    • Paul H says:


      Polar bears are so common in Svalbard they have road signs warning about them.

      Furthermore “he fjords and sea areas north and east of Svalbard are covered with ice for 8-9 months of the year, while the fjords on the west side of Spitsbergen can be ice-free for large parts of the winter.”

      The boys by the way were camping in Adventfjorden which is on the West coast.

    • John Marshall says:

      Bears are able to dive whilst swimming. Why would they learn that skill?

      If bears need ‘hard pack ice’ then how did they survive the MWP and RWP both of which were warmer than today?(And presumsbly with far less ‘Hard Pack Ice’).

      Female bears use mountain slopes to dig birthing dens because it is safer and easier to dig a hole into a drift on a slope. (Even the BBC showed this on one of their documantaries).

    • Grumpy Grampy ;) says:

      You have been studying at Fantasyland. The Polar Bears appear to do better in regions with less ice as their numbers are increasing faster in location where ice concentration has been reduced. Then of course you failed to account for the Holocene Optimum that was much warmer in that region.
      Your first language may well not be American English as I was criticizing them for their foray into the mountains of Afghanistan during armed conflict and their nature walk among the “Cuddly” polar Bears.
      I guess the polar bears swimming long distances was not developed due to lack of ice in the region but they wanted to compete in the Olympics swimming events.
      Please come back and share your fantasies with us again!

      • Ed Darrell says:

        You have been studying at Fantasyland. The Polar Bears appear to do better in regions with less ice as their numbers are increasing faster in location where ice concentration has been reduced.

        Bear sitings increase in land areas where the ice disappears, not because there are more bears, but because they can’t go out on the ice that doesn’t exist. Fantasyland? I dare you to find a credible polar bear expert who says polar bear populations are increasing where hard pack ice has been reduced, the pack ice they use to hunt the seals to feed the cubs.

        There’s a difference between bears hanging around towns where they’d like to leave to go out on the ice, and more bears. Wildlife management isn’t one of your specialties, I know — but use hard data and real research, will you? You can do that.

        Except, if you do, you can’t make that assertion.

    • Stephen Richards says:

      You also failed to realise that seals spend more time on land than in water. Overall, 2/10

  6. David says:

    Don’t tug on Superman’s cape
    Don’t spit in the wind
    Don’t go on hikes near that white polar bear;
    Or else you’ll be done in.

    A polar bear doesn’t need an excuse to kill. That is what he does.

  7. Grumpy Grampy ;) says:

    There is a nice volcano in the Aleutians that is active and the BSES could still make a short visit to do red rafting in the lava flow.

  8. Maqfly says:

    How does a ( female ) polar bear make a den in hard pack ice? Have you tried digging in hard pack ice? Have you tried drilling in hard pack ice?
    Just asking.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      As I understand it, they used the piles of ice where it crunches up — key point being that they need the pack ice to hunt to feed the pups. Polar bears don’t have natural prey on land, for the most part — if they can’t get the cubs on the pack ice, the cubs don’t survive.

      See: http://endangeredpolarbear.com/polar_bear_habitat.htm

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Also see:

      Polar bears are only found in the Arctic region and are highly dependant on the pack ice there since they spend much of their time hundreds of miles from land. The most important habitats for polar bears are the edges of pack ice, where currents and wind interact with the ice, forming a continually melting and refreezing matrix of ice patches. These are the areas of greatest seal abundance and accessibility.

      Individual polar bears can travel thousands of miles per year following the seasonal advance and retreat of sea ice. Polar bears are distributed throughout the Arctic region in 19 subpopulations. Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway have polar bear populations. See a polar bear range map >>

      Polar bears are highly dependant on older stable pack ice in the arctic region, where they spend much of their time on the ice hunting, mating, and denning. They are generally solitary as adults, except during breeding and cub rearing.

      Unlike brown bears, non breeding polar bear females and males do not hibernate or den in the winter. Pregnant polar bears need to eat a lot in the summer and fall in order to build up sufficient fat reserves for surviving the denning period, during which time they give birth to one-pound cubs and then nurse them to about 20-30 pounds before emerging from the den in March or April.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      And also see:

      Ice is a must. Polar bears depend on ice for access to their prey.

      In summer, when ice floes retreat, polar bears follow the ice—sometimes traveling hundreds of miles—to stay with their food source.

      Polar bears stranded on land in summer must stay put until the ice forms again in fall. On land, bears face lean times. They rarely catch seals in open water.

      * * * *
      Hunting: Polar bears’ main prey and favorite food is the ringed seal. Polar bears usually catch ringed seals when seals surface to breathe at openings (leads) in the ice or at breathing holes called aglus.

      In fall, a seal cuts ten to fifteen aglus in the ice using the sharp claws on its foreflippers. It keeps the aglus open all winter long, even when ice is six feet (~2 meters) thick. Seals surface about every five to fifteen minutes at one of these breathing holes.

      Polar bears locate breathing holes with their powerful sense of smell and lie in wait for the seals to rise. Polar bears have to be smart and patient because the wait can be long—from hours to days.

      Seal stalking. Bears also stalk ringed seals that are basking on the ice by taking advantage of their sleep-wake rhythms. The bear crawls slowly forward and freezes in place when the animal raises its head. At about 20 feet from the seal, the bear pounces, killing the seal before it can escape back into the sea.

      Ringed seals are the most abundant seal in the circumpolar region north to the Pole. They live in water and on land-fast or solid ice, and sometimes on ice floes.

      A polar bear without pack ice is like a Texas longhorn without a prairie — dead meat.

      • John Swallow says:

        Not too sure what your point is but this is what took place back in the 1920s and, guess what, there are still polar bears today.”The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”

        who reported this ? the IPCC, the Meteorological Office…. No, that was the US Weather Bureau in 1922.
        Friday, August 05, 2011

        “The source report of the Washington Post article on changes in the arctic has been found in the Monthly Weather Review for November 1922. It is much more detailed than the Washington Post (Associated Press) article. It seems the AP heaviliy relied on the report from Norway Consulate George Ifft, which is shown below. See the original MWR article below and click the newsprint copy for a complete artice or see the link to the original PDF below:”

      • John Swallow says:

        Polar Bear Blog – October 1, 2009 – More Bears, Less People..
        “Back in June, the Churchill River did not ‘break’, the term given when the last ice jam opens up and flows out with the tide, until June 16. For years, the port of Churchill has kept records of break-up and 2009 tied for the latest breakup in the last fifty years. A cool summer further contributed to a good, long ice season for the bears.”

        “Other exciting news from Churchill this summer includes the sighting of a mother with triplets along the coast of Hudson Bay. First reported by the summer tundra buggy tour, this is a very positive sign for Churchill’s bear population. Most bears that show up in the Churchill area can be considered as the periphery of the western Hudson Bay population, usually young, old or nutritionally challenged. Most healthy bears stay far away from Churchill until late in the season.”
        Here is another one for you from the same source:
        Polar Bear Blog – October 5, 2009 – Good Ol’ Days Are Here Again… Sort of
        “Should be interesting to see how this season shapes up with the impressive ice conditions on Hudson Bay. Barring an unseasonably warm October (it is marginally above normal but not enough to make a big difference…), 2009 should go down on record as one of the longer ice seasons since 1971, the beginning of Environment Canada’s modern weather records, definitely the longest ice season since 1992 – the year in which the ice season was extended due to the global cooling caused by the eruption of Mount pinatubo.”
        This one is about the bears;

      • Ed Darrell says:

        How do ice condition in those areas today compare with 1922, John Swallow? Considering that it took 70 years for the polar bear populations to recover from that early 20th-century event, how many more such events do you calculate the species can take before extinction, based on what research?

      • P.J. says:

        @Ed: “Considering that it took 70 years for the polar bear populations to recover from that early 20th-century event”

        The issue back then for the polar bears, like many other species, was hunting.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Steve said:

        Polar bear populations have tripled.

        Sez who? Tripled from 1922, and no longer in danger? Sez who?

      • Latitude says:

        “A polar bear without pack ice”
        Ed, you can’t really believe that………
        Mazuri even makes polar bear chow…………

  9. brothersmartmouth says:

    Tents + Polar Bears = Disaster

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