Saturday, October 30, 2010

Seasonal Outlook - North American Arctic Waters - Summer 2010

Weekly Ice Coverage bargraph for the Northwest Passage

Conflicting ice data for Arctic Northwest Passage

Look at each satellite ice map - check the dates - dramatically different data sets.

First is from Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System (Arctic ROOS)
Date: August 9, 2010 - open passage - this is over a month earlier than the below announcement.

Next is the Naval Ice Center announcement on September 19, 2010

Figure 1: Shows an Annotated Image of ENVISAT (©European Space Agency) and RADARSAT (©MDA), and MODIS of the Northwest Passage Sea Route Opening as analyzed on September 20, 2010.
(Click on the image above to view the full-sized 1100 x 850 image.)

September 20, 2010, Washington, DC — September 20, 2010, the National Ice Center (NIC) identified the opening of the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. RADARSAT, ENVISAT, and MODIS imagery from the 18-20 of September, 2010, depicts only trace amounts of multi-year ice remaining in the Northwest Passage. Although the satellite imagery shows the area as "open water", conditions such as water on top of the ice, currents, winds and waves may obscure multi-year ice drifting in the area, and hazardous remnants of the older ice may still pose a threat to shipping.
The National Ice Center is a tri-agency operational center represented by the United States Navy (Department of Defense), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce), and the United States Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security). The National Ice Center mission is to provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of U.S. national interests and to provide specialized meteorological and oceanographic services to United States government agencies. The National Ice Center, along with the Canadian Ice Service will continue to monitor the opening.
For more information, please contact:
Public Affairs Officer
National Ice Center
Naval Ice Center

If you have any comments or suggestions, please E-mail the National Ice Center Public Affairs Officer.

Overview of conditions
Average ice extent for September 2010 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.89 million square miles), 2.14 million square kilometers (830,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average, but 600,000 square kilometers (230,00 square miles) above the average for September 2007, the lowest monthly extent in the satellite record. Ice extent was below the 1979 to 2000 average everywhere except in the East Greenland Sea near Svalbard.
The U.S. National Ice Center declared both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route open for a period during September. Stephen Howell of Environment Canada reported a record early melt-out and low extent in the western Parry Channel region of the Northwest Passage, based on analyses of the Canadian Ice Service. Two sailing expeditions, one Norwegian and one Russian, successfully navigated both passages and are nearing their goal of circumnavigating the Arctic.
National Snow and Ice Data Center FAQ:

Are there other sources of sea ice data? How do these sources differ from NSIDC data?

Other researchers and organizations monitor sea ice independently, using a variety of sensors and algorithms. While these sources agree broadly with NSIDC data, extent measurements differ because of variation in the formulas (algorithms) used for the calculation, the sensor used, the threshold method to determine whether a region is “ice-covered,” and processing methods. NSIDC's methods are designed to be as internally consistent as possible to allow for tracking of trends and variability throughout our data record. Links to other sources of sea ice data are listed below:
Another source of sea ice data is the operational centers that provide support to ships navigating in the Arctic. There are often discrepancies between information from these centers and our data because they employ additional data sources to capture as much detail on sea ice conditions as possible. However, unlike our data, because the quality and availability of their data sources vary, their products do not provide a long-term, consistent timeseries suitable for tracking climate trends and variability. Several Arctic nations have operational sea ice centers. The two North American centers are:

Who are you going to believe? 30 days difference is unacceptable - I'm asking the U.S. National Ice Center (NOAA) to comment.

Standby for updates.

The ocean
As in recent years, sea surface temperatures this summer were higher than normal in much of the Arctic Ocean, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Mike Steele, Wendy Ermold, and Ignatius Rigor found that temperatures in the Beaufort/Chukchi Seas and the region north of the Laptev Sea were particularly high. The high sea surrface temperatures resulted largely from the loss of sea ice: dark open water areas absorb more solar radiation than reflective ice. The warmer water in turn helps to melt more sea ice. This positive feedback likely contributed to the ice loss through summer 2010, especially late in the season when surface melt had largely ceased.
figure 4: SST for August 2007 to 2010

Press Release
Last Update: September 13, 2010

Northern Sea Route Opening

An annotated ENVISAT and RADARSAT image.
September 13, 2010, Washington, DC — September 13, 2010, the National Ice Center (NIC) identified the opening of the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic. RADARSAT and ENVISAT imagery from the 12-13 of September, 2010, depicts only trace amounts of multi-year ice remaining in the Northern Sea Route. The Northeast Passage is historically the last hold-out of remaining multi-year ice affecting the Northern Sea Route. Although the satellite imagery shows the area as "open water", conditions such as water on top of the ice, currents, winds and waves may obscure multi-year ice drifting in the area, and hazardous remnants of the older ice may still pose a threat to shipping.

Dramatic Sea Ice Loss in the Arctic - New Northwest Passage Routes in 2011?

The ice
Researchers often look at ice age as a way to estimate ice thickness. Older ice tends to be thicker than younger, one- or two-year-old ice. Last winter, the wind patterns associated with the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation transported a great deal of multiyear ice from the coast of the Canadian Arctic into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Scientists speculated that much of this ice, some five years or older, would survive the summer melt period. Instead, it mostly melted away. At the end of the summer 2010, under 15% of the ice remaining (in) the Arctic was more than two years old, compared to 50 to 60% during the 1980s. There is virtually none of the oldest (at least five years old) ice remaining in the Arctic (less than 60,000 square kilometers [23,000 square miles] compared to 2 million square kilometers [722,000 square miles] during the 1980s).
Whether younger multiyear ice (two or three years old) in the Arctic Ocean will continue to age and thicken depends on two things: first, how much of that ice stays in the Arctic instead of exiting into the North Atlantic through Fram Strait; and second, whether the ice survives its transit across the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas or instead melts away.

Is a changing wind responsible for melting Arctic ice?

Where is it hot?  Where is it cold?

The latest big picture url:

Read about it here:“arctic-report-card-update-for-2010”/

The first 7 months of 2010 achieved a record high level of global mean air temperature, but this could moderate for the rest of the year due to La Niña influences. The warmest temperature anomalies for the Arctic in the first half of 2010 were over north-eastern Canada”, which may be relevant for January to June temperature in NE Canada, but is of little concern to the Arctic Ocean.

However the report does describe an interesting phenomenon, described here in direct quotes:
  • Winter 2009-2010 showed a major new connectivity between Arctic climate and mid-latitude severe weather, compared to the past.”
  • “…winds tend to blow from west to east, thus separating cold arctic air masses from the regions further south.” but “in December 2009 (Fig. A7b) and February 2010 (Fig. A7c) we actually had a reversal of this climate pattern, with higher heights and pressures over the Arctic that eliminated the normal west-to-east jet stream winds. This allowed cold air from the Arctic to penetrate all the way into Europe, eastern China, and Washington DC.
  • This change in wind directions is called the Warm Arctic-Cold Continents climate pattern and has happened previously only three times before in the last 160 years.
  • The section concludes “While individual weather extreme events cannot be directly linked to larger scale climate changes, recent data analysis and modelling suggest a link between loss of sea ice and a shift to an increased impact from the Arctic on mid-latitude climate.”

Three times “in the last 160 years”! – yet the years are not mentioned, nor any historical context.   Instead the section ends with the conclusion that:
“Models suggest that loss of sea ice in fall favors higher geopotential heights over the Arctic.  With future loss of sea ice, such conditions as Winter 2009-2010 could happen more often.  Thus we have a potential climate change paradox.  Rather than a general warming everywhere, the loss of sea ice and a warmer Arctic can increase the impact of the Arctic on lower latitudes, bringing colder weather to southern locations.”
In the ocean section, the authors tend to focus on 2007 to 2009, not even mentioning the winter 2009/10, or any period or month in 2010.  They report that summer sea surface temperatures fell over the period, and also discuss wind driven circulation and salinity.  Astonishingly, this section (a two page long text of about 1300 words) required 15 authors from 8 institutions and 5 nations for its preparation.
The one text-page long section on sea ice cover starts with the remarkable sentence: “Sea ice extent is the primary parameter for summarizing the state of the Arctic sea ice cover.”, and regards as “Highlights” of 2010:
  • “September minimum sea ice extent is third lowest recorded.”
  • “Loss of thick multiyear ice in Beaufort Sea during summer.”
The main discussion is about the difference between 2007 and 2010, culminating in the information that:
  • “Winter 2010 was characterized by a very strong atmospheric circulation pattern that led to warmer than normal temperatures.”
  • “A strong atmospheric circulation pattern during winter 2010 kept most of the 2-3 year old ice in the central Arctic, and during June helped push the ice edge away from the coast.”
A post by one of the four authors, Dr. Walt Meier, at WUWT (21. Oct.): “Summer 2010 in the Arctic and other Sea Ice topics”, was more informative, i.e. mentioning the importance of bottom and lateral melt, which depends on the ocean temperatures.
Figure 5. GISS DJF 1939/40
The report has some value, at least with a basic analysis and explanation concerning the phenomenal change of wind direction during winter 2009/2010. While it may be risky to guess about three events, I can bet on one without any hesitation, namely winter 1939/40, the first World War II winter, which has been a subject of considerable research for some time (  (See Fig.5 (left)). At the end of the 1930s the NH temperature had been very high, but suddenly Europe was confronted with the coldest winter since the Little Ice Age. This included an interesting change in wind direction, for example in Great Britain (see Fig.4) during the winter seasons 1814, 1841, and 1939/40. One of the leading German meteorologists at the time, R. Scherhag explained the sudden change few years later:
The temperature anomalies which were observed in the northern hemisphere in January 1940 can easily be explained by the occurrence of the pressure deviations.”(Richard Scherhag, 1951, “Die große Zirkulationsstörung im Jahr 1940”; Annalen der Meteorologie, Vol. 7-9, pp. 327-328). In the same way he tried to explain the Arctic warming (1919 to 1939) In the 1930s. C.E.P. Brooks (1938) felt it necessary to provide a reason: “Attributing the recent period of warm winters to an increase in the strength of the atmospheric circulation only pushes the problem one stage further back, for we should still have to account for the change of circulation.” (in: “The Warming Arctic”, The Meteorological Magazine, 1938, p.29-32.).  And the answer regarding the change in circulation?  It is the ocean that matters.
So here we are, 70 years later. NOAA presents a report with a fanfare, but there are few new facts, meagre explanations and claims that scare. No wonder – if we cannot explain the early Arctic warming since 1919, and the onset of the global cooling since Winter 1939/40, we are unlikely to explain convincingly the mechanisms that drive the conditions in the polar region today. The oceans should be the prime factor; instead the NOAA Report puts the atmosphere and sea ice cover first.

(Click for animation)
NOAA: “Arctic Report Card 2010”,
“Arctic Report Card: Update for 2010 – Tracking recent environmental changes” Richter-Menge, J., and J.E. Overland, Eds.: Arctic Report Card 2010, (Full report)
The various essays shall cite the mentioned authors (In total about 69) (in PDF: 7.5 MB)
NOTE: The Table of Contents is only available by titles, subtitle, pages and other info added.
Figures on Global Temperature:
  • NASA: GHCN_GISS_HR2SST_1200km _Anom D/J/F_2009/10 & 1939/40 vs 1920-1939 (prepared 25/10/10).
  • Figure: Wind direction Great Britain 1939/40 is based on information from Drummond, A.J.; ‚Cold winters at Kew Observatory, 1783-1942’; (1943)  Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., No. 69, pp 17-32 (prepared by:

Polar bears should be listed as endangered species

On Oct. 20, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Obama administration to clarify a Bush-era decision that polar bears are not in imminent danger of extinction but rather just threatened. The decision went against the prevailing view of the scientific community, which predicts a dramatic decline in polar bear populations within our lifetimes due to climate change.

Rising temperatures and the ever-dwindling ice upon which the bears live are putting these iconic animals at risk of disappearing completely. The Obama administration now has the ability to make clear that the science supports listing the polar bear as endangered, which would afford the bear more protection.

Protecting the polar bear means investing in the Arctic’s future. It is the poster child for America’s Arctic but its fate is merely a preview of what’s to come. Beyond being iconic and powerful animals, the large carnivore is an indicator species for the health of the Arctic ecosystem.
Estimates indicate that there are only 20,000 polar bears left in the wild. Experts estimate that that population could dwindle to a mere third of its size by mid-century. By the end of the century — that is, within our children’s’ lifetime — polar bears could become completely extinct.

Polar bears hunt by standing on floating ice sheets and then diving into the water to capture prey, an activity that clearly only works when there is ice to stand upon. During the past few years, the ice has decline dramatically resulting in significant numbers of dead bears. Part of this is due to drowning as the distance between ice sheets has gotten farther and farther apart, forcing bears to swim for miles between sheets of ice.

At the same time, drilling for oil in the Arctic has put added pressure on polar bears. Drilling means noise, human activity, and the inevitable oil spills that drive bears away and poison their habitat. Protecting polar bears means tackling climate change as well as restricting oil and gas development in polar bear habitat.

Though former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced in 2008 that the polar bear would be listed as threatened, he made sure that the listing would not affect U.S. climate policy, exempting greenhouse gas emissions and oil development from regulation under the Endangered Species Act, even though those are the two main threats to the bears.

In March 2009, Congress gave Interior Secretary Ken Salazar the power to correct Kempthorne’s mistake. Unfortunately, Salazar chose not to use his authority to protect the polar bear. Judge Emmet Sullivan’s recent ruling is a final chance for the Obama administration to get this one right. Polar bears are one of the first species to feel the negative effects of climate change, but if we don’t act now, they will not be the last.

Listing the polar bear as endangered will show that the Obama administration is serious about the value of science, it will show that we value our country’s wild legacy, and it will demonstrate that the U.S. takes the threat of climate change seriously and is ready to take action to prevent its most damaging effects.

Matt Kirby is a member of the Sierra Club.

Selected abstracts, book reviews and essay on the Arctic of interest to NORTHWEST PASSAGE 2011

From the

Carin J. Ashjian, Stephen R. Braund, Robert G. Campbell, J.C. "Craig" George, Jack Kruse, Wieslaw Maslowski, Sue E. Moore, Craig R. Nicolson, Stephen R. Okkonen, Barry F. Sherr, Evelyn B. Sherr, Yvette H. Spitz


The annual migration of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) past Barrow, Alaska, has provided subsistence hunting to Iñupiat for centuries. Bowheads recurrently feed on aggregations of zooplankton prey near Barrow in autumn. The mechanisms that form these aggregations, and the associations between whales and oceanography, were investigated using field sampling, retrospective analysis, and traditional knowledge interviews. Oceanographic and aerial surveys were conducted near Barrow during August and September in 2005 and 2006. Multiple water masses were observed, and close coupling between water mass type and biological characteristics was noted. Short-term variability in hydrography was associated with changes in wind speed and direction that profoundly affected plankton taxonomic composition. Aggregations of ca. 50–100 bowhead whales were observed in early September of both years at locations consistent with traditional knowledge. Retrospective analyses of records for 1984–2004 also showed that annual aggregations of whales near Barrow were associated with wind speed and direction. Euphausiids and copepods appear to be upwelled onto the Beaufort Sea shelf during Eor SEwinds. A favorable feeding environment is produced when these plankton are retained and concentrated on the shelf by the prevailing westward Beaufort Sea shelf currents that converge with the Alaska Coastal Current flowing to the northeast along the eastern edge of Barrow Canyon.

Key words: bowhead whale, plankton, oceanography, Beaufort Sea, subsistence whaling

Lori T. Quakenbush, John J. Citta, John C. George, Robert J. Small, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen

Ref: ARCTIC, VOL 63, NO 3 (2010)


Working with subsistence whale hunters, we tagged 19 mostly immature bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) with satellite-linked transmitters between May 2006 and September 2008 and documented their movements in the Chukchi Sea from late August through December. From Point Barrow, Alaska, most whales moved west through the Chukchi Sea between 71˚ and 74˚ N latitude; nine whales crossed in six to nine days. Three whales returned to Point Barrow for 13 to 33 days, two after traveling 300 km west and one after traveling ~725 km west to Wrangel Island, Russia; two then crossed the Chukchi Sea again while the other was the only whale to travel south along the Alaskan side of the Chukchi Sea. Seven whales spent from one to 21 days near Wrangel Island before moving south to northern Chukotka. Whales spent an average of 59 days following the Chukotka coast southeastward. Kernel density analysis identified Point Barrow, Wrangel Island, and the northern coast of Chukotka as areas of greater use by bowhead whales that might be important for feeding. All whales traveled through a potential petroleum development area at least once. Most whales crossed the development area in less than a week; however, one whale remained there for 30 days.

Key words: bowhead whale, Balaena mysticetus, satellite telemetry, fall movements, Chukchi Sea, migration, habitat use, petroleum development, kernel density

Sue E. Moore, J.C. "Craig" George, Gay Sheffield, Joshua Bacon, Carin J. Ashjian


Aerial surveys for bowhead whales were conducted in conjunction with oceanographic sampling near Barrow, Alaska, in late summer of 2005 and 2006. In 2005, 145 whales were seen, mostly in two distinct aggregations: one (ca. 40 whales) in deep water in Barrow Canyon and the other (ca. 70 whales) in very shallow (< 10 m) water just seaward of the barrier islands. Feeding behaviours observed in the latter group included whales lying on their sides with mouths agape and groups of 5–10 whales swimming synchronously in turbid water. In 2006, 78 bowheads were seen, with ca. 40 whales feeding in dispersed groups of 3–11 whales. Feeding behaviours observed included surface skimming, echelon swimming, and synchronous diving and surfacing. Surfacing behaviour included head lunges by single animals and groups of 2–4 whales. Of 29 whales harvested at Barrow, 24 had been feeding. Euphausiids were the dominant prey in 2006 (10 of 13 stomachs), but not in 2005 (4 of 11 stomachs). Copepods were the dominant prey in the stomachs of three whales harvested near Barrow Canyon in 2005. Mysiids were the dominant prey in four stomachs, isopods in two, and amphipods in one although these taxa were not routinely captured during plankton sampling conducted in the weeks prior to the autumn harvest. Key words: bowhead whale, feeding, functional anatomy, zooplankton, western Arctic, Beaufort Sea, aerial surveys

Janice Cavell


This article examines the relationship between Lady Lucy Barry and John Franklin. Barry has been dismissed by other writers as a fanatic who had only a passing influence on the explorer’s religious beliefs. Though their friendship ended after Franklin’s marriage to Eleanor Porden in August 1823, Barry’s Evangelical faith, as expressed through the books she presented to the members of the first Franklin expedition, had already shaped both Franklin’s own understanding of his Arctic experiences and the literary representation of them in his Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the Years 1819, 20, 21, and 22. In the narrative, both Franklin and his companion John Richardson affirmed the great value of religious books and practices in helping them to endure the sufferings of the journey. As a result, the public came to revere Arctic explorers as Christian heroes. Without Lady Lucy Barry and her books, Arctic exploration might never have come to hold such an important place in 19th-century British culture. Key words: Sir John Franklin, Arctic expeditions, books and reading, religion, evangelicalism

Dominique St-Hilaire-Gravel, Trevor J. Bell, Donald L. Forbes


 This study investigates whether raised beach sequences preserved on emergent coasts of the central Canadian Arctic Archipelago contain a proxy record of past sea-ice conditions and wave intensity. We hypothesize that periods of reduced sea ice (increased open water) expose shorelines to more prolonged and higher wave energy, leading to better-developed beach ridges. Surveys of raised beach sequences on Lowther Island revealed the following patterns: a) high, wide, single- to multi-crested barriers backed by deep swales or lagoons characterize both the active and lowest relict shorelines; b) small, narrow, discontinuous ridges of poorly sorted gravel extend from 1.0 to 7.5 m asl, except from 4.5 to 5.0 m asl; c) ridge morphology is similar to the active and first relict ridges between 7.5 and 11 m asl; d) a near-featureless zone with minor terraces and ridges above 11 m extends to above 30 m asl. These distinct morphological and sedimentary units are interpreted as a function of wave climate and thus of summer sea-ice conditions. This model suggests periods of greater wave activity from the present day back about 500 14C years (530 cal BP; Unit A), during a short interval from 1750 to 1600 14C years BP (1750–1450 cal BP; Unit B′), and earlier from 2900 to 2300 14C years BP (3030–2340 cal BP; Unit C). Units B and D are interpreted as the result of more severe ice conditions with lower wave energy from 2300 to 500 14C years BP (2340–530 cal BP) and earlier from more than 5750 to 2900 14C years BP (6540–3030 cal BP). Discrepancies with previously published interpretations of regional sea-ice history may reflect the local nature of the beach proxy record, which implies occurrences of extensive open-water fetch east and west of Lowther Island but cannot be extrapolated to a regional scale. The beach record shows distinct variation through time and provides an alternative window on past summer ice extent in central Barrow Strait. Key words: beach morphology, gravel beach, sea ice, climate history, Canadian Arctic

Sarah Boon, David O. Burgess, Roy M. Koerner, Martin J. Sharp


The Devon Island ice cap has been the subject of scientific study for almost half a century, beginning with the first mass balance measurements in 1961. Research on the ice cap was the first to investigate (1) the role of meltwater in seasonal ice-velocity variations on a polythermal Arctic ice cap, (2) the use of air temperature rather than net radiation as a proxy for the energy driving surface melt, and (3) the influence of the changing frequency of specific synoptic weather configurations on glacier melt and mass balance. Other research has included investigations of ice cap geometry, flow dynamics, and mass balance; ice core analyses for records of past climate and contaminant deposition; and studies of changes in ice cap area and volume and their relationship to surface mass balance and ice dynamics. Current research includes ground studies connected to efforts to calibrate and validate the radar altimeter that will be carried by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) CryoSat2 satellite, and a major collaborative Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) project focused on the Belcher Glacier, on the northeast side of the ice cap, that examines hydrodynamics of large tidewater glaciers. This paper summarizes our current knowledge of the Devon Island ice cap and identifies some of the outstanding questions that continue to limit our understanding of climate-ice cap interactions in Arctic regions. Key words: Devon Island ice cap, Canadian Arctic, glaciology, ice dynamics, mass balance, climate change, tidewater, ice cores

Sarah A. Trefry, Bill Freedman, James M.G. Hudson, Gregory H.R. Henry


Long-term monitoring of bird populations in the Arctic is of considerable interest as this area is experiencing rapid climate warming; however, multi-decadal studies in the Canadian High Arctic are rare. Over five summers between 1980 and 2008, we conducted breeding bird surveys by walking transects and mapping territories in a periglacial lowland on east-central Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. In all survey years, snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus), and Baird's sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) were the most abundant species. Over the study period, the assemblage of breeding bird species appears to have changed little, except for an increase in Lapland longspur. In the summer of 2008, we also compared two techniques for censusing territories. We found that spot-mapping, a simple and cost-effective method, produced similar results to the more labour-intensive active-flushing. Spot-mapping is therefore suitable for conducting bird surveys in northern locations where the vegetation is short, the terrain is flat, and the visibility is extensive. In the coming years, it will be important to continue monitoring Arctic birds to determine how climate change is affecting their breeding populations. Key words: active-flushing, Arctic, climate change, Ellesmere Island, High Arctic, monitoring, rope-drag, spot-mapping, survey

James R. Lovvorn, Joseph J. Wilson, David McKay, Joseph K. Bump, Lee W. Cooper, Jacqueline M. Grebmeier


We observed walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) pursuing spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) within pack ice of the Bering Sea, 70–90 km from the nearest land. We used both direct observations from a helicopter and a heligimbal camera system that can film animals from a helicopter at high altitudes. The eiders were in monospecific flocks of thousands of birds within large leads. The walruses apparently tried to catch the eiders from below; the eiders responded with a “flash expansion” (explosive radial movement), wing-flapping and running along the water surface to escape. Disturbance by individual walruses could restrict flocks of thousands of birds to small portions of the open water. In eight such events that we witnessed over 75 min of observations, we were unable to confirm that walruses captured any of these full-grown, flight-capable eiders. However, the high rate of attacks and the eiders’ dramatic escape response suggest that walruses can at times be effective predators on them, and may affect the eiders’ dispersion and energy balance. Key words: Bering Sea, heligimbal camera system, marine mammal predation on birds, pinniped predation on birds, predator avoidance, spectacled eider, walrus

E.J. Stewart, A. Tivy, S.E.L. Howell, J. Dawson, D. Draper


Tourism in the Hudson Bay region of central northern Canada generally is associated with non-consumptive forms of nature-based activities (such as polar bear viewing). However, the region has experienced variable growth in the cruise sector in recent years. This paper examines patterns of cruise activity in all subregions of the Hudson Bay region during three cruise seasons (2006, 2008, and 2009) and mainly reveals a pattern of decline. Since the prevalence of sea ice is an important part of visitor experiences of polar cruises, we examine sea ice change and occurrence of icebergs in the Hudson Bay region. Our sea ice analysis suggests that the length of the navigable shipping season is increasing in this region, which may facilitate both earlier and later shipping. But in terms of cruise traffic, we suggest that the demise of ice coverage signals a possible decline in cruise activity in most of the Hudson Bay region because ice-supported wildlife may shift north with the diminishing ice regime. Given the possible environmental and socio-cultural implications of changing cruise activity patterns in the Arctic and the absence of broad-scale monitoring and surveillance of the industry, use of these available data sources is vital to building a clearer picture. Key words: Canadian Arctic, Hudson Bay region, sea ice, tourism, polar tourism, cruise tourism

P.R. Richard, J.L. Laake, R.C. Hobbs, M.P. Heide-Jørgensen, N.C. Asselin, H. Cleator 


Aerial surveys of narwhals (Monodon monoceros) were conducted in the Canadian High Arctic during the month of August from 2002 to 2004. The surveys covered the waters of Barrow Strait, Prince Regent Inlet, the Gulf of Boothia, Admiralty Inlet, Eclipse Sound, and the eastern coast of Baffin Island, using systematic sampling methods. Fiords were flown along a single transect down the middle. Near-surface population estimates increased by 1.9 %– 8.7% when corrected for perception bias. The estimates were further increased by a factor of approximately 3, to account for individuals not seen because they were diving when the survey plane flew over (availability bias). These corrections resulted in estimates of 27 656 (SE = 14 939) for the Prince Regent and Gulf of Boothia area, 20 225 (SE = 7285) for the Eclipse Sound area, and 10 073 (SE = 3123) for the East Baffin Island fiord area. The estimate for the Admiralty Inlet area was 5362 (SE = 2681) but is thought to be biased. Surveys could not be done in other known areas of occupation, such as the waters of the Cumberland Peninsula of East Baffin, and channels farther west of the areas surveyed (Peel Sound, Viscount Melville Sound, Smith Sound and Jones Sound, and other channels of the Canadian Arctic archipelago). Despite these probable biases and the incomplete coverage, results of these surveys show that the summering range of narwhals in the Canadian High Arctic is vast. If narwhals are philopatri to their summering areas, as they appear to be, the total population of that range could number more than 60 000 animals. The largest numbers are in the western portion of their summer range, around Somerset Island, and also in the Eclipse Sound area. However, these survey estimates have large variances due to narwhal aggregation in some parts of the surveyed areas. Key words: Monodontidae, line transect, mark-recapture distance sampling, population size, High Arctic, fiord

Book Reviews:

The Arctic Gold Rush: The New Race for Tomorrow's Natural Resources, by Roger Howard Janice Cavell URL:

World Ocean Census: A Global Survey of Marine Life, by Darlene Trew Crist, Gail Scowcroft and James M. Harding, Jr.
Ian M. Dutton

The Great Ocean of Truth: Memories of "Hudson-70," the First Circumnavigation of the Americas, by Peter Wadhams
John R. Marko, David B. Fissel

The Northern World AD 900-1400, edited by Herbert Maschner, Owen Mason and Robert McGhee
Rpbert W. Park

Arctic Doom, Arctic Boom: The Geopolitics of Climate Change in the Arctic, by Barry Scott Zellen
Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox

Furs and Frontiers in the Far North: The Contest among Natives and Foreign Nations for the Bering Strait Fur Trade, by John R. Bockstoce
Peter Schledermann

Encounters on the Passage: Inuit Meet the Explorers, by Dorothy Harley Eber
William Barr

The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North, by Ed Struzik
David W. Norton

Face to Face: Polar Portraits, by Huw Lewis-Jones
John Splettstoesser


Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the Circumpolar Arctic
Magdalena A.K. Muir

"Just in Case" Policy in the Arctic
Eva Ingenfeld

It's Not Just About Bears: A Problem-Solving Workshop on Aboriginal Peoples, Polar Bears, and Human Dignity
Douglas A. Clark, Susan G. Clark, Martha Dowsley, Lee Foote, Thomas S. Jung, Raynald H. Lemelin

Books Received and Papers to Appear: