The Polar Bears of Hudson Bay

by Miceal O'Ronain

(29 December 2002)


In an apparently successful effort to convince the people of Canada that, unless they ratified the Kyoto Protocol, they face an Artic meltdown of apoplectic proportions, the greenhouse industry launched a media blitz which was large, even by their standards. The stars of this campaign were the polar bears of Canada [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], with particular attention to the population about Churchill, Hudson Bay. As there is nothing cute or lovable about one of the most formidable predators on the planet, all of the stories about polar bears included the obligatory photographs of polar bear cubs, which are adorable by any criteria. Given the propensity of the greenhouse industry to craft subsets of data which support their positions, while carefully ignoring contradictory data, the question which begs to be asked is: How real is anthropogenic global warming in the area about Hudson Bay? The 2002 climate year ended in November and the complete data for 2002 is now available, with some very chilling implications for the greenhouse industry and the people of Canada.


Reports of Climate Change Around Churchill Hudson Bay

In the world of the climate alarmists, the selection of auspicious beginning and ending dates is of paramount importance, when fabricating any climate change scenario. So predictable is this behavior that an examination of the temperatures associated with dates not included in the climate change scenario, can be highly informative. So exactly what are the climate alarmists reporting for temperature change in and about Churchill Hudson Bay Canada?

In the journal Science on August 30, 2002 [10], Richard Kerr reported:

 "In western Hudson Bay, where warmer temperatures in the 1990s made for earlier ice melting in the spring and later formation in the fall, polar bears have suffered."

In a report on the Discovery Channel titled "Warmer Winters Threaten Polar Bears" [1], Dr. Michael Goodyear, director of the Churchill Northern Studies Center is quoted as saying:

"Over the last 20 years, the ice breaks an average of two weeks earlier,"

In the same report Dr. Ian Stirling an Artic expert for the Canadian Wildlife Service is referenced for a report he made in Artic Magazine, several years ago:

In an article for Arctic Magazine three years ago, he noted that between 1981 and 1998 the physical condition of both male and female adult bears had seriously deteriorated in western Hudson Bay bears, in tandem with a general reduction in their numbers.

According to Stirling, the immediate cause of this decline was an increasingly early melt, leading the bears to come ashore in weaker and weaker states. The source of the shortened ice season appeared to be the effect of long-term gradual warming in the spring, he said.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a report titled "The Shrinking Polar Bears" [2], provided some additional facts about climatic conditions in the area about Churchill: 

These days break-up is, on average, 10 to 14 days earlier than a couple of decades ago.

Temperatures in western Hudson Bay have been steadily rising 0.3 to 0.4 degrees every decade since 1950.

A second photo shows what Hudson Bay looked like on July 1, 1999. It's open water. If things keep getting warmer, this is probably the direction of the future.

In a story, which appears to be based in large part on the CBC report noted above, Space Daily's story of "Global warming makes polar bears sweat" [3], would be unremarkable were it not for the fact that the environmentalist press is so mathematically and scientifically challenged that they, can't even plagiarize a story successfully: 

The average temperature here has risen from 0.3 to 0.4 degrees Celsius (32.45 to 32.72 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1950. According to the Canadian Wildlife Service the bears, on average, already weigh between 80 and 85 kilograms (176 and 187 pounds) less than they did in 1985.

The first sentence should read:

The average temperature here has risen from 0.3 to 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.54 to 0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 1950.

Not to be left out of the fun, the United Nations Environment Programme, in a review titled "Polar Bears Victims of Inaction on Global Warming" [5] of a World Wildlife Fund report, citing the following facts to show the deteriorating conditions of polar bears in the Hudson Bay area:

The WWF report finds that there is evidence that global warming is already affecting the condition of polar bears in the Hudson Bay in Canada. Canada - home to 60 per cent of all the world's polar bears - is one of the leading global warming polluters currently dithering on ratifying the Kyoto climate treaty.

Increasing global warming pollution has caused Arctic temperatures to rise by 5°Celsius over the past 100 years, and the extent of sea ice has decreased by six percent over the past 20 years. Scientists now predict a 60 percent loss of summer sea ice by around 2050, which would more than double the summer ice-free season from 60 to 150 days.

The definitive climate alarmist report on polar bears has to be the one issued by the World Wildlife Fund in May 2002 titled "Polar Bears at Risk" [6]. A shorter version of essentially the same report titled "Vanishing Kingdom, The Melting Realm of the Polar Bear" [7], is also from the WWF. The shorter report contains prettier pictures and is even less objective then the full report, if that is possible.

While the WWF gives a great deal to attention to the polar bears of Hudson Bay, the evidence for climate change advanced by the WWF is for the entire Artic region. On page 11 of the full report, the following evidence is presented:

·         Although not geographically uniform, air temperatures in the Arctic have increased by about 5°C over the last 100 years (Serreze et al. 2000).

·         Since 1972, a 10 per cent decrease in snow-cover extent across the northern hemisphere has been observed (Brown, 2000).

·         Between 1978 and 1996, arctic sea ice extent decreased by approximately 3 per cent per decade (Parkinson et al. 1999); Figure 2 illustrates that spring sea ice extent in the Nordic Sea has been reduced by 33 per cent over the past 135 years (Vinje 2001).

The only direct reference to temperature conditions in Hudson Bay are to be found on page 13 of the report:

Evidence has been given suggesting that changes in sea ice associated with a 1ºC warming in Hudson Bay could result in a weight loss of 22 kg in females (about 8 per cent of total body weight) due to fewer days spent on the ice hunting (Stirling and Derocher 1993). Derocher and Stirling (1996) found in western Hudson Bay during the period 1980-1992 that the survival of cubs from spring to the end of the ice-free period in autumn was 44 per cent, with the main cause of death being either an absence of food or lack of maternal fat for lactation.

Note that no evidence is advanced by the WWF to correlate cub mortality with temperature change or that there has even been a change in cub mortality over time. Based on the data presented by the WWF, a 44% cub mortality rate may be normal for a species for which multiple births are the norm.

Pages 9 & 10 of the WWF report contains information which is truly amazing, in light of all the stories about the deteriorating condition of polar bears. There are three groups of polar bears which border Hudson Bay, all three of which have stable populations according the WWF:


Population                                 Estimate              Status

Foxe Basin (FB)                          2300                     stable

Southern Hudson Bay (SH)        1000                     stable

Western Hudson Bay (WH)        1200                     stable

The general population status of polar bears is currently stable, though there are pronounced differences between the various populations. Some populations are stable, some seem to be increasing, and some are decreasing due to various pressures. The status of some populations is not well documented.

The polar bear population of Hudson Bay and the total world wide population in general are stable and are only endangered in the environmentalist press. Of the 20 polar bear population districts listed in the WWF report, six are categorized as being of "unknown" population status, two are decreasing in population, ten have stable populations and two are increasing in population. Figure 1 on page 9 of the WWF report, which maps polar bear populations, is almost impossible to read. A good quality map is available from The World Conservation Union's (ICUN) "Bears: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan", Chapter 14 [13], Figure 14.1, "Distribution of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) populations throughout the circumpolar basin".  If you are interested in a more balanced review of the current condition of polar bears or bears in general, I recommend the ICUN report to your attention.

Of interest in the ICUN report is the fact the of the two polar bear groups which the WWF lists as decreasing in population, which are Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, the ICUN only lists Baffin Bay as decreasing. According to the ICUN, the reason for the decline of the Baffin Bay polar bear population, which migrates between Canada and Greenland, is unrestricted hunting in Greenland, not global warming. Like the Baffin Bay group, the Davis Strait polar bears migrate between Canada and Greenland, and the ICUN is concerned about the accuracy of the hunting reports from Greenland, but it still listing the population as stable for now.

Even the sport pages have to get in on the action with headlines such as "Canadian Hockey, Polar Bears, Roiled by Pace of Global Warming" [9] by Bloomberg News. While water may freeze at 0ºC everywhere else on the planet, apparently real Canadian hockey fans like their outdoor hockey rinks at -20ºC (-4ºF) or lower.  Living in New Jersey, 10 miles from the center of the New York City urban heat island, my first reaction to this story was that it must be a joke, particularly in light of the fact that commercial indoor rinks appear to operate at -9ºC (16ºF), but the story appears to be serious. Unfortunately all of the locations described in the story were above the Artic Circle and there was not much information about polar bears. Still it is humorous to observe the lengths to which people will go to support a lie.

Still searching for evidence of anthropogenic global warming in the Hudson Bay area, I turned to the ever dependable Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [11] and was not disappointed. On page 27 of the "IPCC 2001 Report: Technical Summary" [12], are figures Figure 3a "Annual temperature trends, 1901 to 2000" and Figure 3d "Annual temperature trends, 1976 to 2000".  As these graphics were rendered in a native PDF format, it was possible to expand these images by 300% to improve readability, as follows:


It should be noted that there appears to be a discrepancy between the titles on two of the four figures and the caption which is provided below. The Figures 3a and 3d indicate that the data extends through 2000, while the caption would indicate that the data only extends through 1999. There is the caption attached to Figure 3:

Annual temperature trends for the periods 1901 to 1999, 1910 to 1945, 1946 to 1975 and 1976 to 1999 respectively. Trends are represented by the area of the circle with red representing increases, blue representing decreases, and green little or no change. Trends were calculated from annually averaged gridded anomalies with the requirement that the calculation of annual anomalies include a minimum of 10 months of data. For the period 1901 to 1999, trends were calculated only for those grid boxes containing annual anomalies in at least 66 of the 100 years. The minimum number of years required for the shorter time periods (1910 to 1945, 1946 to 1975, and 1976 to 1999) was 24, 20, and 16 years respectively.

In all four figures, up to 33.3% of that data can be missing for a grid box and that grid box will still be used in the computations to calculate global warming. In an interesting departure from previous practices, the IPCC is now showing a 0ºC change as a small green dot, instead of a small red dot as they did in the past.

There are a few very interesting bits of information which can be gleamed from Figures 3a and 3d:

1.      Figure 3a would suggest that over the past 100 years, temperature change 
in the Hudson Bay area was +0.2ºC (+0.36ºF) per decade as reported by the 
grid boxes which were active for that duration.

2.      Figure 3d suggests that over the last 25 years, the three active grid 
boxes, which form a triangle about Hudson Bay, are showing a +0.6ºC 
(+1.08ºF) to +0.8ºC (+1.44ºF) temperature increase per decade.

While not relevant to this discussion, there are three other items of interest in Figures 3a and 3d:

3.      Figure 3d indicates that, with the exception of the North Slope, much of Alaska has been cooling over the past 25 years.

4.      Figure 3d indicates that, the West cost of Greenland has been cooling over the last 25 years.

5.      Figure 3a suggests that over the past 100 years, much of the Southern United Sates has been cooling.

If you are confused as to why the IPCC report for the last 100 years is showing only modest warming, while the report for the last 25 years is showing significant warming, then examine Figure 3c in the original PDF document, which shows that between 1946 to 1975, the Earth underwent significant cooling. Now that we have examined the various temperature data for Hudson Bay as reported by climate alarmists, let's look at actual temperature values for the Hudson Bay area as reported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the Internet.


The Surface Temperature Stations of Hudson Bay

In cooperation with Environment Canada [14, 15], NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies [16] maintains an on-line database [17] of monthly, seasonal and annual surface temperature histories for Canada and many other locations around the Earth. Annual temperatures are expressed as a seasonal year which runs from December to November. Recently, the GISS updated the November 2002 surface temperature data for many locations in Canada including the area about Hudson Bay, which completes the temperature history for 2002. Along the shore of Hudson Bay, the GISS maintains temperature histories at a number of locations; however, only three of these stations are currently active through 2002 and only two others are of long term historical interest, albeit their data is very fragmentary. During the 1990's, for reasons unknown to this author, there were discontinuities in the temperature records for many Canadian stations.

GISS Active Hudson Bay Stations

Station Name

Lat. & Lon.


Churchill, Manitoba


1884 - 2002

Inukjuak, Québec


1921 - 2002

Coral Harbour, Nunavut


1933 - 2002


GISS Historical Hudson Bay Stations

Station Name

Lat. & Lon.


Churchill Factory, Manitoba

58.8, -94.0

1768 - 1858

York Factory, Manitoba

57.0, -92.3

1774 - 1910

Churchill Manitoba and Inukjuak Québec are at nearly identical latitudes and separated by 923 km (574 miles) of open water/ice. Coral Harbour, Nunavut, which is at the extreme Northern end of Hudson Bay, is 831 km (516 miles) from Churchill Manitoba and 698 km (434 miles) from Inukjuak Québec. The distance between Churchill Factory and York Factory is 224 km (139 miles). The three active Hudson Bay stations correspond exactly the three grid boxes which appear in IPCC Figure 3d for the Hudson Bay area.


Surface Temperature History of Active Hudson Bay Stations

A composite graph of the three active GISS stations on Hudson Bay, at Churchill Manitoba, Inukjuak Québec and Coral Harbour Nunavut, covers a period from 1895 to 2002. There appears to be good correlation between the temperatures at Churchill and Inukjuak, which are both at approximately the same Latitude. Coral Harbour, which is at the extreme Northern end of Hudson Bay has a significantly lower annual mean temperature but tracks the other two stations quite well.

All three stations show an interesting annual temperature trend from 1990 to 2002. As reported by the greenhouse industry, from 1990 to 1999 the temperatures for Churchill and Inukjuak underwent dramatic increases and in fact set new records for the past 100 years. Coral Harbour also increased significantly but did not exceed records set in 1953, 1977 and 1981. Between 1999 and 2001, temperatures appeared to stabilize at the higher values only to drop significantly during 2002. Regular readers of Still Waiting For Greenhouse, know that polar climates operate on multi-decennial time scales and that it is very dangerous to draw any conclusions from a temperature trend which only covers a few years. However, that is exactly what the greenhouse industry did in the case of Hudson Bay. From the mid 1970's to the mid 1990's all three stations were exhibiting long-term cooling. The evidence which the greenhouse industry used to prove the existence of anthropogenic global warming in Hudson Bay is predicated on an extreme temperature increase which occurred over a few years at the end of the 1990's. The three large red dots which triangulate Hudson Bay in IPCC Figure 3d are also the result of the fortuitous increase which occurred at the end of the 1990's. The behavior of temperatures about Hudson Bay is not consistent with anthropogenic global warming but is consistent with multi-decennial oscillations which influence climate in the Polar Regions.

An obvious question is: how common is the extreme temperature increase which occurred at the end of the 1990's? Fortunately, thanks to the record keeping of the Hudson Bay Company, there is a historical record which may provide a partial answer to that question.


Comparison of Surface Temperature Histories of Active and Historical
Hudson Bay Stations

During the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Hudson Bay Company operated two trading posts known as Churchill Factory and York Factory. Apparently one of the duties of the staff was to keep temperature records. It would be fair to question the accuracy of these early records but it should also be noted that British colonial outposts had a tradition of maintaining good records and the accuracy of these two stations was probably 
no worse than the temperature records maintained by many third-world countries which form the bases for much of the evidence for today's global warming. What gives credibility to the records from Churchill Factory and York Factory, is that during the few short periods where the two stations have overlapping dates, the temperatures appear to be in agreement. During the early 1900's there is a period of overlap between Churchill and York Factory, again with good agreement between the two stations. Because of its short history and extreme difference in temperature relative to the other stations, Coral Harbour was not included in the comparison between historical and active stations on Hudson Bay.

Even if the historical data for Hudson Bay is not calibrated relative to modern stations, it should be consistent within its own frame of reference and shows that over the past several hundred years, the Hudson Bay area has been subjected to many extreme temperature changes. If anything, the temperatures for the 20th Century have been unusually stable, if the historical record is accurate.


An Assignment for Canadians

I would now like to give Canadian readers an assignment, which I would ask that they revisit over the next several years. The following table contains hyper-links to all the NASA-GISS Canadian temperature stations which contain temperature histories to the current date. The first column contains the Latitude and Longitude of the active temperature station and links to a list of all stations which are about the active station. The second column contains the name of the active station and links to a graph of the temperature history of the station. The remaining columns contain the Station Id, the Population about the station and the range of Years for which the station contains data. The table is sorted in order of the Station Id. At the bottom of each "Surface Temperature Analysis" graph is a legend which says "Click for monthly data in table form". If you click on this object, you will be given a table which gives all of the monthly, seasonal and annual temperature history, in a format which can be loaded into Excel, Lotus, or any spreadsheet/graphing program, if you so desire.

Please review all of the temperature graphs for these stations and makeup your own mind about what is occurring with regards to temperature change in Canada. You will find that some stations are showing warming, others are showing cooling and others exhibit little if any change. You will find that the stations which are now showing warming are either in major population centers, where urban heat islands dominate the weather or locations very close to the Artic Ocean. If you are interested in the impact of urban heat islands on major population centers, change the value "data_set=1" in the URL string to "data_set=2" and the GISS database will make a correction for the impact of urban heat islands. Note that I consider such calculations to be risky, as population data is not always accurate, but the results are sometimes interesting.

Do not trust anything which I tell you. Do not trust anything which you're Government tells you. And, never trust anything the environmentalists tell you. Periodically review the GISS Canadian temperature data and make up your own mind about climate change in Canada. Examine the actual temperature data, over a historically significant period of time, and come to your own conclusions as to the existence of anthropogenic global warming. Once you have made an informed decision, act on it.

NASA-GISS Canadian Temperature Stations With Histories Through 2001 & Current


Station Name

Station ID



(Lat. & Lon.)


Whitehorse, Y.T.



1942 - Current





1942 - Current


Stephenville, Nfld.


rural area

1942 - 2001


Gander Int.Airport, Nfld.



1937 - Current


Kapuskasing, Ont.



1937 - Current


Sept-Iles, Que.



1944 - Current


Moosonee, Ont.


rural area

1877 - Current


Goose, Nfld.


rural area

1941 - Current


Edmonton Muni., Alb.



1880 - 2001


Prince George, B.C.



1912 - 2001


The Pas, Man.


rural area

1910 - Current


Fort Chimo, Que.


rural area

1941 - Current


Inukjuak, Que.


rural area

1921 - Current


Churchill, Man.


rural area

1884 - Current


Fort Nelson, B.C.


rural area

1937 - Current


Fort Smith, N.W.T.


rural area

1928 - Current


Frobisher Bay, Nunavut


rural area

1942 - Current


Coral Harbour, Nunavut


rural area

1933 - Current


Baker Lake, Nunavut


rural area

1946 - Current


Norman Wells, N.W.T.


rural area

1943 - Current


Coppermine, Nunavut


rural area

1930 - Current


Inuvik, N.W.T.


rural area

1957 - Current


Hall Beach, Nunavut


rural area

1957 - Current


Cambridge Bay, Nunavut


rural area

1929 - Current


Clyde, N.W.T.


rural area

1933 - Current


Resolute, N.W.T.


rural area

1947 - Current


Eureka, N.W.T.


rural area

1947 - Current



Based on the report "Bears: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan" [13], issued by the World Conservation Union (ICUN), polar bear populations are in no immediate danger except for one or two groups on the West cost of Greenland which are subjected to excessive hunting. All of the other populations which have been documented are either stable or increasing.

The greenhouse industry's presentation of polar bears as endangered by global warming is at best a gross exaggeration and at worse a lie. What is particularly shameful is that the ICUN has documented several species of bear which are near extinction, while resources are being diverted to save polar bears which are in absolutely no danger. The truly endangered bear species are not useful to the greenhouse industry in the advancement of their political agenda, so you do not hear much about them.

During the later part of the 1990's temperatures did increase suddenly in the area about Hudson Bay. Between 2001 and 2002 this increase reversed itself and temperatures appear to be returning to the norms for the 20th Century. This sudden increase and decrease, at the end of the 20th Century, occurred at multiple locations throughout Canada. Temperature data covering a period of several centuries in the Hudson Bay area, suggests that extreme swings in temperature are common for the region. All of the reports issued by climate alarmists, chronicling the deteriorating condition of polar bears are predicated on this single event, which appears to be in the process of reversing itself. If climate alarmists run true to form, you will not see them issuing any corrections. Either polar bears will be trapped in 1990's time loop endlessly teetering on the brink of extinction or the climate alarmists will focus on a different population of polar bears and ignore Hudson Bay altogether, only time will tell.

The Canadian Government has now ratified the Kyoto Protocol and in doing so has sacrificed the economy and future of Canada at the clay feet of environmentalist deity whose theology is predicated on lies. The greenhouse industry has made it very clear that they will use any lie to gain the absolute control and power they desire. By using the polar bear as their poster animal and all the resources that entails, they have shown that they don't give a damn about endangered species which are not useful to them and will fabricate evidence for species which are not at risk, as long as it advances their agenda.

So is that is going to happen to the temperature about Hudson Bay and other areas of Canada? In my view anyone who tries to predict weather or climate more than one week in advance is a fool, but I will venture four observations:

1.      The current solar cycle is coming to an end.

2.      The current El Niño event will be peaking and beginning to subside.

3.      The Pacific Decennial Oscillation has gone into its cooling phase.

4.      Historically, large increases in Canadian temperatures are followed by equally large decreases.

I truly hope that the people of Canada love the cold as much as their politicians think they do, for they may be getting more than they wished for. But as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and in the case of Canada, once mandatory CO2 reductions are imposed, Canadians can look forward to every home having its own indoor hockey rink, without the need for all that expensive refrigeration equipment.


1.       "Warmer Winters Threaten Polar Bears";

2.       "The Shrinking Polar Bears";

3.       "Global warming makes polar bears sweat";

4.       "Thin Polar Bears Called Sign of Global Warming";

5.       "Polar Bears Victims of Inaction on Global Warming";

6.       "Polar Bears at Risk";

7.       "Vanishing Kingdom, The Melting Realm of the Polar Bear";

8.       "All About Polar Bears";

9.       "Canadian Hockey, Polar Bears, Roiled by Pace of Global Warming";

10.   "A Warmer Arctic Means Change for All"; Kerr, Richard A.; Science 2002 August 30; 297: 1490-1493. (in News);

11.   "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change";

12.   "IPCC 2001 Report: Technical Summary", "Figure 3d: Annual temperature trends, 1976 to 2000"; Page 27;

13.   "Global Status and Management of the Polar Bear"; Figure 14.1. Distribution of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) populations throughout the circumpolar basin.;

14.   "Environment Canada";

15.   "Meteorological Service of Canada";

16.   "Goddard Institute for Space Studies";

17.   " NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies: Surface Temperature: Station Data";

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