NOAA fails walrus science

by Jim Steele

NOAA’s Arctic report card made claims that hinge on the unproven hypothesis that a reduction in sea ice is detrimental by denying walruses access to foraging habitat.

In the Pacific the number of calves per cow increased as has calf survival, both indicators of a growing population, contradicting NOAA’s claim. As detailed in Hijacking Successful Walrus Conservation, historical records for the Pacific walrus (Fay 1982, 1989) observed an overall increase in the use of land haulouts coinciding with increasing populations of recovering walrus. In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 20012 (Kovacs 2014). Yet despite all the positive indicators, NOAA downplays growing populations and makes the empty assertion, “the overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines.”

The full weight of evidence suggests an alternative hypothesis is more likely. Less sea ice allows more access to larger areas of bountiful foraging habitat that had been previously covered by heavy ice. The carrying capacity of walrus habitat – its ability to nourish and sustain a population – will only decline if the following are true but perusal of the evidence suggests the carrying capacity has increased.

1) Carrying capacity will decline if the population becomes so abundant it reduces the prey base and competition for dwindling food creates nutritional stress

2) Carrying capacity will decline if there is a general decline in marine productivity

3) Carrying capacity will decline if the areal extent of potential foraging habitat is reduced, and/or

4) Carrying capacity will decline if access to foraging habitat is reduced.

Food Competition, Density-dependent Regulation, and Healthy Vital Rates

Populations are naturally regulated by “density-dependent” factors. As a growing population adds more individuals to a given area, the density increases. As the density approaches the carrying capacity of that habitat, competition for a limited food supply increases nutritional stress. Marine mammals such as polar bears, ringed seals and walruses respond to nutritional stress by reducing their reproductive output, which ultimately reduces population growth. The ratio of calves to cows decreases because pregnancy rates decline, young cows defer their first year of pregnancy to an older age, and calf survival rates decrease. Conversely when the food supply is abundant, walruses’ pregnancy rates increase, cows give birth at an earlier age, and calf survival rates increase. When those critical factors raise the ratio of calves to cows the population increases.

Based on 20th century surveys, researchers believed the Pacific walrus had rebounded from an overhunted population reduced to ~ 50,000 in the 1950s which then grew to ~250,000 to 300,000 walrus by 1980 (Fay 1989). Consistent with density-dependent theory, when the population was below the carrying capacity in the 1950s and 60s, researchers observed the highest ratios of calves per cows. As the population grew subsistence hunters reported increasing numbers of leaner individuals and a steady decline in the ratio of calves to females suggesting walruses were reaching or exceeding the region’s carrying capacity. The resulting decline in reproductive output caused the population growth rate to stop and the population peaked around 1980. Researchers then calculated a brief population decline during 1980s exacerbated by an uptick in Russian walrus harvests (Fay 1997). But the calves:cows ratio then began to increase throughout the 1990s and some researchers believed population growth had resumed. The calves:cows ratio is now as high as it was in the 1960s when the recovering population was rapidly growing (McCracken 2014). Presently calf survival rates have nearly doubled (Taylor 2015) and cow’s age of first pregnancy has been increasingly younger (Garlich-Miller 2006). All those vital signs usually suggest a well fed, growing population, supporting early research but contradicting NOAA’s current argument that the carrying capacity is “certainly declining”.

Marine Productivity is Improving

The shallow shelves of the Bering and Chukchi seas prevent nutrients from sinking to a dark abyss far from the reach of photosynthesizing plankton. Shallow seas more readily upwell nutrients enabling high rates of productivity. Furthermore ocean currents bathe large sections of those shallow shelves with nutrient rich subtropical waters further enhancing productivity. And because surface productivity more rapidly reaches the floor of those shallow shelves, bottom dwelling organisms collectively called the “benthos,” receive over 70% of the energy sequestered at the surface. As a result the Bering and Chukchi seas sustain some of the earth’s richest bounty of bottom dwelling prey sought by walrus, gray whales and bearded seals (Sirenko 2007). Contrary to earlier suggestions that global warming may possibly decrease productivity (Grebmeier 2006), satellite observations have determined marine productivity has increased by 30% since the 1990s (Arrigo 2015). The reason for this increase is elementary. Less sea ice allows more photosynthesis. Grebmeier 2015 has now reported that the Bering and Chukchi Sea “hotspots” she has studied have sustained high levels of biomass over the past 4 decades.

From a marine productivity perspective, the evidence does not support NOAA’s claim of a declining carrying capacity; just the opposite. Increased productivity has increased the carrying capacity.

Areal Extent of Foraging Habitat Has Increased

Slide1

The key variable that determines walrus foraging habitat is depth. Telemetry studies found walrus spent nearly 98% of their time foraging in shallow water no deeper than 60 meters (Jay 2005) and other observations suggest foraging at depths deeper than 80 meters is unlikely. As seen in Figure 1, much of the Arctic is not suitable for walruses. The darkest blue regions represent inaccessible regions of great depth. The 3 lightest shades of blue-gray outline the only depths with potential walrus foraging habitat.

The white mass in the upper right of Figure 1 represents the summer minimum of the 2007 ice pack. The average historic summer minimum (the yellow line in Fig.1) indicates large portions of the Chukchi Sea’s foraging habitat have been covered with summer ice concentrations of 50% and greater for much of the 20th century. Because walrus avoid ice-covered waters where sea ice concentration is 80% or greater, any heavy ice concentrations reduce the areal extent of walrus foraging habitat.

Notice that along the northern coast of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea, sea ice historically retreated over deep waters every year. Thus the most recent retreat of sea ice further northward did not impact the areal extent of foraging habitat in that region. Likewise once the Chukchi summer sea ice retreated over the deep Arctic Ocean, any additional retreat had little consequence. In contrast, the initial reduction in summer sea ice over the western Chukchi Sea opened vast regions of potential foraging habitat.

It is believed that 70 to 80% of the total Pacific walrus population exploits the western Chukchi habitat especially during the autumn when reduced sea ice exposes the most habitat. Russian researchers surveying the western Chukchi in September of 1980, estimated approximately 150,000 walrus had hauled out in roughly equal numbers on sea ice and on land. A repeat of that survey in October as freezing conditions increased, revealed the number of walrus hauled out on ice had been greatly reduced but walrus on land remained unchanged (Fedoseev 1981). Clearly 75,000 walrus were not forced onto the Russian coast due to the lack of ice. Although the lack of sea ice in 2007 very likely increased the numbers of walrus hauling out on land, media hyperbole that sensationalized terrestrial haulouts are solely due to global warming, inexcusably ignores all historical observations of natural land haulouts. Based on observations that roughly 50% of the walruses use land haulouts despite plentiful potential resting platforms of sea ice, any occupation of land haulouts serves as an indicator of where walrus accessed Chukchi habitat as sea ice cover waxed and waned.

In Figure 3 below (from Garlich-Miller 2011) the numbers locate known land haulouts. The red arrow I added points to Cape Serdse-Kamen (#50) that has always been occupied in September and October during past surveys. The numbers to the west of Cape Serdse-Kamen and to the north around Wrangel Island represent traditional haulouts that are used only in years of light sea ice but unoccupied in years of heavy ice (Fay 1984). For example despite the shallow foraging habitat north of Wrangel Island, walruses were not observed there in the 1980s (Fedoseev 1981). When sub-freezing winds removed much of the thick Arctic ice from this region in the 1990s when Arctic Oscillation shifted, walrus rapidly exploited the region’s resources and over 120,000 walruses hauled around Wrangel Island. Such observations support the hypothesis that reduced ice increases available foraging habitat and consequently the western Arctic’s carrying capacity.

Slide2

Due to heavy sea ice cover, access to rich foraging habitat on shallow shelves naturally fluctuates between seasons, years, decades and millennia. The heavy ice of the last Ice Age must have been the nadir for walrus populations. Not only was there maximum sea ice coverage, but also the drop in sea level left the shallow shelves of the Arctic Seas high and dry. Although this allowed humans to enter North America, it relegated walrus populations to narrower shelf waters as far south as central California. Eventually Holocene warmth raised sea level and reduced sea ice allowing walrus populations to once again flourish in the Arctic. Flexible migratory patterns are likely an adaptation to the constant changes in sea ice even during the warm Holocene. Proxy data covering the past 9000 years from Point Barrow revealed annual sea ice covering the eastern Chukchi Sea varied from only 5.5 to 9 months, and summer sea surface temperatures ranged from 3 to 7.5 °C, much higher than today (McKay 2008).

Seasonally, winter ice forces walrus to abandon the Chukchi. They re-enter after the warmth of spring reduces sea ice cover. Whether caused by CO2-driven global warming, observed natural changes in atmospheric circulation due to the Arctic Oscillation, or changes in the volume of intruding waters associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the extent of summer sea ice summer has fluctuated greatly over decades as seen in Figure 5 (from Jay 2012.)

Slide3

Accessing Foraging Habitat

NOAA began their report card by arguing, “Sea ice deterioration due to global climate change is thought to be the most pervasive threat to ice-associated marine mammals in the Arctic, including walruses.” But that threat has yet to be substantiated. The perceived threat to walruses is solely based on a hypothesis that walruses “require” sea ice as a platform from which they dive to suction clams, worms, etc. from the ocean floor. Based on that belief, some researchers argue that declining sea ice denies access to habitat and forces them to forage closer to their land haulouts. Expanding on that assumption NOAA argues Arctic’s carrying capacity “must be in decline.”

But several lines of evidence clearly demonstrate walruses do not “require” sea ice as a resting platform in order to hunt. A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement. For example after breeding a large proportion of male walruses abandon the sea ice and migrate south to dwell in land haul outs in ice free waters along the Russian and Alaskan coast (represented by red dots in Figure 3). From those traditional land haulouts they embark on foraging trips that last for 4 to 10 days and range as much as 130 kilometers away (Jay 2005). In addition satellite radiotelemetry determined walruses throughout the Bering and Chukchi spend over 80% of their time swimming, and the amount of time in the water was the same whether walrus used sea ice or land for a resting platform. Swimming at a relaxed speed of 10 km/hour, a walrus easily range over 200 km while foraging along the way (Jay 2010, Udevitz 2009).

Some researchers suggest that the lack of resting platforms of sea-ice will restrict walrus to hunting only along the coast and hypothesizing they will more quickly deplete more limited accessible resources. However the opposite scenario is more likely. Heavy sea ice restricts hunting grounds and the most extreme example would occur if heavy ice remained all summer in the Chukchi forcing herds to remain in the Bering Sea throughout the year. Certainly the Bering Sea’s prey base would be rapidly depleted. The migratory behavior of females and their calves into the shallow waters of the Chukchi each summer is most likely a behavior that evolved to reduce resource competition and exploit temporary access to rich foraging habitat. With a greater reduction of Chukchi summer ice, migrating herds can spread out and reduce localized foraging pressure.

NOAA Expert Opinion Claims Pacific Walrus have declined by 50%. Seriously?

Finally NOAA’s report card suggested that “expert opinion” calculated a 50% decline in Pacific Walrus populations between 1980 and 2000. The experts did agree the population had decreased during the early 1980s due to density-dependent effects when population abundance increased and exceeded the region’s carrying capacity. But the expert consensus ended there. Fay 1986 suggested after a relatively brief decline in the 80s, population growth subsequently resumed. A growing population would be in agreement with recent observations of increased marine productivity, greater access to habitat due to decreased heavy ice, higher calves:cows ratios and higher survival rates.

Estimating walrus abundance is extremely difficult and all experts agree that abundance estimates have extremely wide error bars and are totally unreliable. Russian and American biologists jointly surveyed walrus populations in the autumn every 5 years between 1975 and 1990, but survey efforts were suspended because experts could not agree on how to interpret limited data and the tremendous resulting uncertainty (Speckman 2010). The major problem revolves around estimating how many walrus are in the water and escape detection. Furthermore due walrus movements, it was impossible to replicate survey transects and constrain error estimates. A repeated transect just one week later often resulted in observed numbers differing by 2 or 3 orders of magnitude.

To circumvent survey uncertainties there have been attempts to model abundance based on observed age structure of the population (Taylor 2015), and those model results disagree with earlier calculations of a growing population. They suggested populations continued to decline from 1980 to 2000, but admit their results after 2003 were equivocal. They also acknowledged that information provided by age structure data cannot mitigate uncertainties in the population size, admitting the absolute size of the Pacific walrus population will “continue to be speculative until accurate empirical estimation of the population size becomes feasible

Thus experts would likely agree that NOAA’s claim of a 50% reduction due to “expert opinion” is likewise speculative and rather meaningless. NOAA failed to express that extreme uncertainty and failed to report the tremendous wide range in abundance estimates. For example in the most recent survey (Speckman 2010) of wintering walrus in the Bering Sea, researchers used heat detectors calibrated by high-resolution photographic evidence to estimate abundance. Unfortunately swimming walruses were undetectable. For the region surveyed, they estimated 129,000 walrus that would support a estimated 50% decline. However their 95% confidence ranged from 55,000 to 507,000 walrus. Furthermore due to time and weather constraints, the survey covered less than 50% of the Bering Sea habitat known to contain walrus. A complete survey may well have increased the estimate to well over 200,000 individuals. A midrange estimate would be similar to peak estimates of the 1980s, and high-end estimates would support hypotheses of a growing population in the Pacific; a growth that parallels observed growth in the Atlantic walrus.

Curiouser and curiouser, NOAA cited McCracken 2014 who used Speckman’s knowingly biased underestimate of 129,000 to suggest the increasing ratio of calves per cow supported a declining walrus population. Biologically such an assertion contradicts density-dependent mechanisms. Increased reproduction increases a population, unless survival rates drastically declined, but rates had increased.

Slide4

McCracken 2014 argued that calves:cows ratios are inversely correlated with population abundance as illustrated in Figure 4. However that correlation is partly speculative and unsupported and depends on using Speckman’s unrealistic estimate of half the population. No one disagrees that overhunting reduced the population in the 1950s so that more food became available for the survivors stimulating walruses to increase reproductive output as evidenced by high calves:cows ratios; a high ratio that approached the theoretical maximum. Density increased as walruses recovered from overhunting (and increasing sea ice was coincidentally recovering from its minimal in the late 1930s) so that the carrying capacity declined and walrus responded with declining calves:cows ratios that bottomed out in the 1980s. But the consensus on any population trends stops in the 1980s.

McCracken 2014 acknowledged that the validity of their inverse correlation is totally dependent upon the assumption that 300,000 walrus was the maximum population that could be sustained by the region. However they did not explore the possibility that the carrying capacity could possibly increase due to less sea ice and higher marine productivity. So they assumed that any observations of higher calves:cows ratios that would normally indicate a growing population, were only possible if the population had declined by such an extent that more food again became available.

The only dynamic that could have possibly offset increased ocean productivity and cause a population decline in an era of regulated hunting, and conservation efforts that are now protecting haulouts, was a strictly hypothetical dynamic that less sea ice prevents access to foraging habitat and was reducing the Arctic’s carrying capacity. But all reported evidence discussed above contradicts that hypothesis and McCracken’s suggestion the population had declined by 50% is untenable.

NOAAs claim that the “carrying capacity is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines” is advocated by USGS and US Fish and Wildlife researchers who believe that CO2 warming and declining sea ice must be bad. That belief is advocated in the opening paragraphs of nearly every publication. Wedded to that belief their interpretations ignore robust evidence suggesting less has been beneficial. So one must wonder how politicized those agencies have become and if political pressure has biased their publications. Researchers in those agencies likewise ignored their own observations that it was cycles of thick springtime ice in the Beaufort Sea that caused declines in ringed seals and polar bear body condition. Instead without evidence, they only advocated that reduced summer ice, consistent with CO2 warming, has negatively impacted polar bear populations and walrus Such unsupported biased interpretations are most likely the result of the politicization of science, and I fear this decade will be viewed as the darkest days of environmental science.

JC note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments civil and relevant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

190 responses to “NOAA fails walrus science

  1. Thank you, Jim Steele, for taking the time to research and explain another exaggerated conclusion from NOAA.

    • The last paragraph of Aston’s 1922 Nobel Lecture is a conflicting message of HOPE & FEAR:

      HOPE: “Should the research worker of the future discover some means of releasing this energy in a form which could be employed, the human race will have at its command POWERS BEYOND THE DREAMS OF SCIENTIFIC FICTION; . . .

      FEAR: “but the remote possibility must always be considered that the energy once liberated will be COMPLETELY UNCONTROLLABLE and by its intense violence detonate all neighbouring substances. In this event the whole of the hydrogen on the earth might be transformed at once and the success of the experiment published at large to the universe as a new star.”

      http://veksler.jinr.ru/becquerel/text/books/aston-lecture.pdf

      The current global warming scare is guided by FEAR. The only enduring solution will instead be guided by HOPE!

  2. Pingback: NOAA fails walrus science | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  3. More evidence that out in the real world, if CO2 does indeed cause some trivial global warming, the effects are all good for the biosphere including humans.

    What is not to like in the greening of the Sahara and the potential opening up for agriculture of vast regions of Canada and Russia that are currently useless ?

    The human population is expected to peak and then begin to decline on a voluntary basis before the end of this century so warming that helps agriculture would help to get us past that peak into that new scenario of a naturally declining and steadily more sustainable global population.

    Environmentalists are the problem more than our CO2 emissions. They seek to keep billions in poverty so that reproduction rates increase again as poor populations try to provide for themselves in old age via more children and thereby defer indefinitely that most desireable scenario.

    Humans are the only species that will voluntarily reduce reproduction rates if individuals become wealthy and educated enough to maintain themselves in old age from their own resources.

    The current form of environmental activism is potentially a crime against both humanity and nature.

  4. Jim Steele,

    Thanks. It looks like NOAA is based on the principle that CO2 is evil, and everything in the known universe is going to the devil as a result of evil CO2.

    I suppose if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, to use a very poor analogy.

    Don’t these people realise that walruses are carnivores, and greedy to boot? As they voraciously consume their food supply with no thought for tomorrow, they eventually suffer the consequences. Less food, less walruses, the clams and such probably recover, and off we go again. Maybe.

    History shows more than 99% of all species which have ever existed are extinct. Maybe the interrelation between life forms is a wee bit more complicated than the simpletons at NOAA imagine. Toy models and Warmist fanaticism don’t seem to fare too well against reality, do they?

    What next? Pictures of other pinnipeds such as elephant seals sunning themselves on the rocks and sand in Antarctica will be shown “proving” the dire effects of CO2 taking away the ice. What piffle!

    Species come. Species go. Weather changes, so does climate. Plants love CO2. Animals feed on plants. More CO2 seems like a good thing. Maybe that’s why Nature stored a whole lot of CO2 away as fossil fuel, so that humans could put it back into the atmosphere!

    Cheers.

  5. ‘Walrus foraging? Now we’re entering Lewis Carrol zone.

  6. … with one ‘l’ missing.

  7. @beth

    Llewis? A good Welsh name, look you…..

  8. Glad to see that I’m not alone in the idea that more CO2 is a Good Thing.

    It is indeed the Gas of Green.

  9. Seems to me NOAA needs a new director.

  10. This extraordinary research along with its bizarre conclusions plays into the hands of those who maintain that common sense is deserting scientific endeavours surrounding climate. As we entertain guests at new year celebrations with stories of long-drawn bows we cast doubt against scientific rent-seekers. In that sense I actually encourage outlandish research. It merely hastens the end of the dimunition of science.

  11. This is the same science equivalent of “stupid pet tricks” that is played with polar bears. Simple Zohnerism.
    Fossil fuel -> bad (no sensible reason given)
    Fossil fuels produce CO2
    CO2 -> bad
    Arctic ice is low so it must be CO2’s fault
    Low sea ice is bad because it is caused by CO2, so Arctic animals must be harmed by more CO2, whether or not they are actually harmed.

    At least with polar bears there is Dr. Susan J. Crockford to explain what a crock the official line is:
    http://polarbearscience.com

    It would be helpful if there was a walrus equivalent of polarbearscience.com.

    • I can’t see why people care so much about Arctic Ice.

      Nasty cold, barren stuff inhabited only by increasing numbers of huge lumbering cannibalistic carnivores with sharp teeth and claws who view humans as their lunch.

      Surely we should want less of it, not more?

      • Some parts of the Arctic like the Davis Strait are at their carrying capacity for polar bear. There is also considerable walrus poaching.

        Polar bear, killer whales, and people kill walruses.

        If we killed off some of the 30,000 or so polar bears, and if we did something about the poaching, we could have more walruses.

      • “I can’t see why people care so much about Arctic Ice.”

        Because it controls a good part of the Earth’s albedo during the summer.
        http://www.pnas.org/content/111/9/3322.abstract

        The Arctic sea ice retreat has been one of the most dramatic climate changes in recent decades. Nearly 50 y ago it was predicted that a darkening of the Arctic associated with disappearing ice would be a consequence of global warming. Using satellite measurements, this analysis directly quantifies how much the Arctic as viewed from space has darkened in response to the recent sea ice retreat. We find that this decline has caused 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of radiative heating since 1979, considerably larger than expectations from models and recent less direct estimates. Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 y.

      • Most importantly Arctic Sea ice controls how much heat is accumulated on earth. The tropics absorb more heat than it radiates back to space. The polar regions radiate more heat back to space than is absorbed from the sun or greenhouse gases. Ventilation of heat in the polar regions cools the earth.

        When there is more sea ice, the subsurface in Arctic regions heat up because heat transported via ocean currents (i.e. Gulf Stream) can not be ventilated. Currently much of the rise in global temperatures is due to increased ventilation of heat imported from the tropics as less ice allows more ventilation. The albedo theory of CO2 global warming that argues the oceans will warm is unraveling, and research from MIT and Harvard oceanographers suggest the upper 700 meters of the Arctic Ocean has instead cooled over the past 20 years. That observation contradicts the Arctic Amplification theory of CO2 warming, but supports the Arctic Iris Effect discussed here http://landscapesandcycles.net/arctic-iris-effect-and-dansgaard-oeschger-event.html

      • Eli
        How is the Arctic warming and sea ice extent different or worse than it was 80 to 100 years ago?

      • “Because it controls a good part of the Earth’s albedo during the summer.”
        Cloud cover over the tropics has a bigger effect.

  12. It sounds like NOAA is primarily using two of the fifteen biases in my taxonomy: #11– Asserting conjectures as facts and #12– False confidence in tentative findings.
    See http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/working-paper-29.pdf

    • Apparently walruses live to be 40 (somewhat longer than a polar bear) and humans kill about 7400 a year.

      There are about 30,000 polar bear and we kill about 1000 a year.

      Assuming the population is stable or increasing, there are over 210,000 walruses.

      http://www.defenders.org/walrus/basic-facts
      200,00-250,000 estimate sounds about right.

      • “Sounds about right” is not valid statistical reasoning. If Steele’s account is correct then the true number is highly uncertain. That it is greatly debated demonstrates this uncertainty.

      • “Sounds about wrong” is not valid statistical reasoning.

        “Sounds about right” is valid statistical reasoning.

        Let’s go at it another way.

        If the average walrus age is 20, and we are killing 7400 a year, there have to be around 148,000. And that assumes we are the only reason they are dying.

        http://polarbearscience.com/tag/carrying-capacity/

        Given that the haulout in 2014 was as big as the 1970s haulouts there are probably about 220,000 walruses.

        The previous mass haulouts were about 16% (1/6.2) of the arctic population. If this low-baller is right 1/3 of the walrus population hauled out.

        When any metric you apply produces an estimate twice as high – the science guesser is flat-out wrong.

  13. The use of Speckman’s 129,000 estimate is scientifically irresponsible if the 95% confidence interval is 55,000 to 507,000. The most we know is that the true value is very likely, but not certain, to be within this great range. To see this consider the 45% confidence interval, which includes the 129,000 and all values relatively close to it. It is more likely than not that the true value lies outside this range. I call using the 129,000 value the fallacy of the mean.

  14. Latimer, the Artic cares not how much ice is pleasing to us. It is a self-oscillating system.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/arctic-sea-ice-self-oscillating-system/

  15. Willis Eschenbach

    Jim, that is one of the best researched and most strongly supported, illustrated, and argued studies that I’ve seen in a while. Very, very well done.

    One would hope that it is bound for the journals, as you’ve done all the hard work already.

    My best to you,

    w.

    • As a editor I would be happier if he introduced the NOAA arguments and evidence in the beginning. As it stands they come as something of a surprise at the end. Also, I cannot see a science journal publishing the last paragraph, but anything is possible.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thanks, David. I didn’t say it was ready for publication. I said all the hard work was done.

        Regards,

        w.

    • David, I am not sure what came as a surprise?

      The first paragraphs states “NOAA’s Arctic report card made claims that hinge on the unproven hypothesis that a reduction in sea ice is detrimental by denying walruses access to foraging habitat.”

      After stating all the positive vital rates the 2nd paragraph states “Yet despite all the positive indicators, NOAA downplays growing populations and makes the empty assertion, “the overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines.” “

      • Jim, beginning with the “NOAA expert opinion…” heading you introduce a number of studies and opinions that support NOAA. There was no hint above that this was coming. Your prior material reads as though the NOAA position was unsupported speculation, but in fact this sounds like a scientific controversy, with experts on both sides.

      • Thanks for the feedback David! I will be more careful with the submitted manuscript.

      • Glad to help, Jim. As my old prof, Wilfred Sellers, used to say — Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.

  16. Jim Steele, thank you for the essay. I hope that you can get it published.

  17. > NOAA’s Arctic report card made claims that hinge on the unproven hypothesis […]

    I too prefer when my hypothesis is proven.

  18. JS, terrific essay. Bookmarked in my climate reference folder. NOAA and EPA have now struck out three times. Polar bears, Adelie penguins in Antarctic, and now walruses.

  19. Readers of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card will find a much more balanced report than Steele’s caricature of it. Before accepting Steele’s assertion that there is “…robust evidence suggesting less [sea ice] has been beneficial…”, one should consult the many references given in that report.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Pat Cassen | December 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Readers of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card will find a much more balanced report than Steele’s caricature of it. Before accepting Steele’s assertion that there is “…robust evidence suggesting less [sea ice] has been beneficial…”, one should consult the many references given in that report.

      Pat, I’m sorry but I don’t go on a snipe hunt for anyone, so I’m not going to “consult the many references”. I don’t have time for that.

      If there is a reference that you believe shows that Jim Steele is wrong, please do what Jim did—provide a link to your evidence, including page and paragraph numbers if necessary, and tell us in your own words what you think that the evidence means.

      Best regards,

      w.

      • Curious George

        Willis, you damned troublemaker, Pat clearly implied that no one link will suffice; you have to follow many to reach the balanced level of wisdom. Who cares about your time? Surely not Pat.

        Happy New Year, and keep up the good work.

      • Pat, I’m sorry but I don’t go on a snipe hunt for anyone, so I’m not going to “consult the many references”. I don’t have time for that.

        I don’t think Pat was suggesting you do it for his benefit. I think the suggestion was that you do it for your own benefit.

      • Pat, I’m sorry but I don’t go on a snipe hunt for anyone, so I’m not going to “consult the many references”. I don’t have time for th

        Willis makes an excellent point. Why should he waste his time researching an issue thoroughly and exploring it from as many angles as he can before formulating a conclusion?

        What kind of a “skeptic” would meet such an unrealistic expectation?

      • Curious George

        I conclude that Pat, Joshua and ATTP are buddhists. May their balanced wisdom show somehow.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Guys, what I did was simple. I merely asked Pat to properly cite and support his argument, rather than airily waving his hand and saying in effect “go study, grasshopper”.

        It’s unclear why you are attacking me. Pat is the one who is making unsubstantiated, uncited claims that Jim Steele is wrong. Contrary to Joshua’s comment, my knowledge or the lack thereof is not the issue. The issue is Pat and his handwaving argument.

        Now, Jim documented and cited his claims.

        I’m merely asking Pat to do the same. A simple scientific request.

        Y’all’s dislike for me seems to be overwhelming your scientific sense …

        w.

      • > I merely asked Pat to properly cite and support his argument

        Here’s what the other W asked:

        If there is a reference that you believe shows that Jim Steele is wrong, please do what Jim did—provide a link to your evidence, including page and paragraph numbers if necessary, and tell us in your own words what you think that the evidence means.

        Here’s what Pat said:

        Readers of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card will find a much more balanced report than Steele’s caricature of it. Before accepting Steele’s assertion that there is “…robust evidence suggesting less [sea ice] has been beneficial…”,one should consult the many references given in that report.

        Since the other W seems to accept Jim’s assertion, it might be nice to know if the other W has read the NOAA’s references.

  20. Curious George

    Jim, thank you. Well done. Happy New Year to you.

    As a walrus population increases, sooner or later an epidemic disease will reduce their numbers dramatically. Another proof of dangers of global warming!

    On a related subject, do we know how the first emperor penguins got the idea of huddling together 50 miles from the ocean? I imagine their scouts exploring the whole continent .. or maybe the ocean used to be much closer to the place?

  21. Populations can oscillate chaotically with no discernible cause. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_dynamics especially the section on the “Discrete time logistical model.” Just as the butterfly effect makes chaotic changes unpredictable, it can make them unexplainable.

    • Curious George

      Models all the way. Primitive equations, like
      “N{t + 1} = N{t} + r N{t} (1 – N{t }/ K)
      This equation uses r instead of λ because per capita growth rate is zero when r = 0.”

      The author clearly believes in a magical difference between greek and roman letters.

      Yes, it is a potentially chaotic model. But what are we attempting to model? It is a nice toy to play with, just like cellular automata. Undoubtedly it can be used for simple situations, but in a chaotic regime it has probably nothing to do with Mother Nature.

      David, this is not my bread. But at the first glance I don’t like it. Happy New Year!

      • George, this is the chaotic form of the logistic equation, which is widely used in population dynamics, as well as in biogeochemistry.

  22. 55 Years of Walruses: Life Magazine had a cover story about Walruses and other arctic mammals June 27, 1960.

    • Nearly every “crisis” seems to have been covered in the press 60 to 120 years ago. It does take a little digging but those articles exist. Differentian between conditions and trends back then and now have not been satisfactorily researched and quantified. Blaring headlines don’t cut it.

      • cerescokid

        I regularly chronicle these events and tie them in with scientific papers. They are however routinely dismissed as ‘anecdotal’.

        Yet unqualified figures from temperature data are seemingly often accepted with unknown or lower standards. Its a case of;

        ‘All words bad
        All figures good’ in animal farm speak

        tonyb

  23. > In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 20012 (Kovacs 2014).

    From Jim’s own Kovacs 2014 (K14):

    Walruses in Svalbard might face future challenges induced by global climate warming reducing their sea-ice breeding habitat (Kovacs et al. 2011) and lowering benthic production levels, which would decrease the availability of their bivalve prey (Vincent et al. 2011).

    http://www.polarresearch.net/index.php/polar/article/view/26034

    K14 might contradict Jim’s interpretation of K14.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Thanks, Willard. That is exactly what I was asking Pat to do, substantiate his handwaving with references. You cite a 2014 paper also cited by Jim:

      In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 2012 (Kovacs 2014).

      From Jim’s own Kovacs 2014 (K14):

      Walruses in Svalbard might face future challenges induced by global climate warming reducing their sea-ice breeding habitat (Kovacs et al. 2011) and lowering benthic production levels, which would decrease the availability of their bivalve prey (Vincent et al. 2011).

      K14 might contradict Jim’s interpretation of K14.

      K14 has two things in it. The first is observations, which show that the number of Barents sea walruses is going through the roof. Real world data.

      It also contains previous predictions of walrus doom and destruction, from 2011.

      I know which one I put weight on, and it’s the same one that Jim is putting weight on. Observations beat prior doomcasting any time.

      Regards,

      w.

      • > That is exactly what I was asking Pat to do […]

        Indeed that’s what you did, dear Willis, and I hope you now realize that Pat has not claimed anything remote to what you put in his mouth. In other words, you coerced him to do your own damn homework.

        Your epistemological pontifications are duly noted.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Willard | December 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm |

        > That is exactly what I was asking Pat to do […]

        Indeed that’s what you did, dear Willis, and I hope you now realize that Pat has not claimed anything remote to what you put in his mouth. In other words, you coerced him to do your own damn homework.

        Your epistemological pontifications are duly noted.

        I don’t recall putting anything in Pat’s mouth. Pat said that Jim was wrong, but he didn’t provide anything to back up his claim. Pat said:

        Readers of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card will find a much more balanced report than Steele’s caricature of it. Before accepting Steele’s assertion that there is “…robust evidence suggesting less [sea ice] has been beneficial…”, one should consult the many references given in that report.

        He calls Jim’s work a “caricature”, but he neither quotes a single thing of Jims that he says is wrong, nor does he provide anything to substantiate his claim. It’s just vague handwaving.

        And in support of his handwaving, he wants me to do his homework, and go out and find support for his vague claim that Jim’s work is somehow a “caricature”, whatever that means to Pat … sorry, Willard, but showing that Jim’s work fits Pat’s idea of a caricature is not my job.

        Pat made the claim. It’s his job to properly explain it what he thinks Jim is wrong about (exactly what is it that makes Jims work a “caricature”) and then properly support his claim.

        w.

      • Willis,
        Pat didn’t say Steele was wrong. He said this post is a caricature of the NOAA report and that maybe you should do a bit more homework before simply accepting Steele’s assertions. Your ignorance, or lack thereof, is your responsibility, not someone else’s.

      • > Pat said that Jim was wrong […]

        Then it would be easy to quote Pat saying so.

        ***

        > And in support of his handwaving, he wants me to do his homework […]

        A quote might be nice. As far as I’m concerned, he met the Denizens’ armwaving with his own armwaving.

        That armwaving includes yours, dear Willis.

        ***

        > It’s his job to […]

        First, it’s not a “job,” Willis. Second, you really should go first:

        [T]hat is one of the best researched and most strongly supported, illustrated, and argued studies that I’ve seen in a while.

        This wins the thread as far as armwaving is concerned, and contrary to Pat, you don’t handwave to anything.

        ***

        > He calls Jim’s work a “caricature” […]

        Not really: he says that Jim caricatured NOAA’s page.

        Besides, please note that following Jim’s citations ain’t what you required “Pat to do.” Here’s the page to search:

        http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

        It’s the first link in Jim’s editorial, so it might be tough to miss.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pat called Jim’s work a “caricature”.

        Y’all say things like:

        Pat didn’t say Steele was wrong.

        You guys truly are letting your hatred for me override your common sense. Calling someone’s analysis of a report a “caricature” of the report is absolutely saying that their analysis is wrong. Grab a dictionary if you don’t believe me.

        What Pat did not say, and still has not said, is exactly where Jim is wrong. Not even in general terms. He’s just waved his hand and said its a caricature.

        Well, perhaps it is … but to establish that, he needs to quote what Jim said that he thinks is wrong, and point out where it is wrong, and provide evidence to support his claim that Jim’s analysis is a caricature of the report.

        Me, I’m just the messenger. The issue is not what I know or don’t know. The issue is not what I’ve read or haven’t read.

        The issue is whether Pat can back up his vague claims with facts and citations. To date he hasn’t, and all of your red-herring assertions that I’m the problem can’t hide that.

        w.

      • Willis,

        You guys truly are letting your hatred for me override your common sense.

        I genuinely don’t care enough about you to hate you.

        Pat called Jim’s work a “caricature”.

        Yes, he called it a caricature of the NOAA report and he suggested you read the report and the references therein before making up your mind.

        but to establish that, he needs to quote what Jim said that he thinks is wrong, and point out where it is wrong, and provide evidence to support his claim that Jim’s analysis is a caricature of the report.

        Umm, no he doesn’t. I suspect he thinks he already has. If you can’t be bothered checking for yourself, there’s no real reason for someone else to do it for you.

        The issue is whether Pat can back up his vague claims with facts and citations.

        I doubt that Pat cares. You’re, of course, free to ignore his suggestion. As I said, your ignorance – or lack thereof – is your responsibility alone.

      • > You guys truly are letting your hatred […]

        Armwaving to someone else’s mind states when criticizing armwaving is a rare thing of beauty.

      • > What Pat did not say, and still has not said, is exactly where Jim is wrong.

        What Willis did not say, and still has not said, is exactly where Pay said that Jim is wrong.

        What Willis did not say, and still has not said, is why he believes that Jim’s editorial is one of the best researched and most strongly supported, illustrated, and argued studies that I’ve seen in a while.

      • Dear me. Such a fuss over a mere suggestion that readers should…read more.

        Willis – Pat said that Jim was wrong…

        I am not surprised that my words are not read as carefully as I choose them. Happens all the time. Jim Steele may be right: less sea ice may be beneficial. But his hypothesis is not accepted* by anyone else (AFAIK) studying the issue; there are counter arguments. (Willis wants chapter and verse: I will copy and paste some of them here, but I did not expect that anyone would want such hand-holding.)

        “While temporally constrained models indicate that primary production has increased over the Chukchi Sea shelf [Arrigo et al., 2008], recent 6- year time series show that chlorophyll a concentrations are not increasing throughout the region as a whole (Figure 1). Thus, researchers must exercise caution before summarily assuming that increased primary production accompanies an extended open-water season— biological processes vary greatly with seasonal solar input, timing of sea ice retreat, effects of open-water storm events on mixed- layer depth, increased freshwater runoff, and nutrient limitation…”

        “A key sea-ice-related sensitivity with walrus is that, at least seasonally, all populations use the MIZ [Marginal Ice Zone] as a platform to move over foraging areas that are too far from land-based haul-out sites to be energetically feasible sites for feeding. The use of the two seasonally different haul-out habitats, by at least segments of the population, broadens the feeding distribution markedly, which in turn permits greater overall walrus abundances.

        “As more walruses haul out on land instead of sea ice, nearshore prey populations will be subjected to greater predation pressure. Today, it is unknown whether more concentrated foraging by walruses will change or deplete nearshore prey communities, or if walrus energetics will be affected if prey do become less abundant. A better understanding of walrus movement and foraging patterns is necessary to appreciate the ways in which decreasing availability of sea ice may affect walruses and the prey upon which they depend.

        And so forth. There is more. Keep reading. (Quotes are easily found in the Report references.)

        *Note to the hasty reader: In this case “not accepted” does not necessarily mean “rejected”.

        And what about “caricature”?

        Readers of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card will find a much more balanced report than Steele’s…“representation in which certain characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a grotesque effect.” Nah, I’ll stick with “caricature”. Read it and decide for yourself.

        Steele concludes that …one must wonder how politicized those agencies have become and if political pressure has biased their publications. Scientific disagreements are a poor rationale for accusations of politicization.

        Unlike John Lennon, I am not the wallrus; I will read and learn.

      • Pat, “A better understanding of walrus movement and foraging patterns is necessary to appreciate the ways in which decreasing availability of sea ice may affect walruses and the prey upon which they depend.”

        In 2006 there was a heart tugging tale of how walrus pups were abandoned by their moms due to the ice they were on drifting to deeper water where mom just couldn’t bring home the vittles. I believe the land based haul outs are only land based for a few months of the year since there isn’t going to be year around zero Arctic sea ice for at least a few millennia. Unvarying sea ice conditions would likely be the worst case for the Walrus, but even then that survival of the fittest thing would kick in. Perhaps over-hyping the potential catastrophe with not enough evidence could be considered politicization, which I believe was Jim Steele’s point..

      • > Perhaps over-hyping the potential catastrophe with not enough evidence could be considered politicization, which I believe was Jim Steele’s point..

        The CAGW meme crawls in just about every guest post Judy publishes. It does not take much reading to scratch the scientific façade.

        Auditors ought to wonder why.

      • David Springer

        goo goo g’joob

      • Willard, “Auditors ought to wonder why.”

        No reason to wonder, hyping is a common sales tool and perfectly normal for about any profession other than “serious” science. Quite a few serious scientists are getting a bit miffed at the over selling.

        “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” – James Hansen

        Do you deny the existence of over hyping?

      • > [H]yping is a common sales tool and perfectly normal for about any profession other than “serious” science.

        I think it also applies to “serious” science, Cap’n, unless you are willing to consider Jim’s science as not “serious.” Compare his many “speculative” dismissals with his own hypothesis:

        Some researchers suggest that the lack of resting platforms of sea-ice will restrict walrus to hunting only along the coast and hypothesizing they will more quickly deplete more limited accessible resources. However the opposite scenario is more likely.

        Instead of dismissing Jim’s hypothesis as speculative like he does, I’d rather consider that Jim’s using the “speculative” ringtone to hype his own hypothesis, and believe that Jim’s science is very “serious.”

        There’s no need to speculate to observe that “some researchers suggest” is weasel wording. Do you think it’s normal to use weasel wording in “serious” science?

    • cross-species controversy
      cat fight over walruses

  24. @Pat Cassen Really? NOAA more balanced? NOAA’s caricature implies the observed exponential growth is simply due to the end of hunting in the 60s and ‘most certainly the carrying capacity is decreasing” despite all the evidence show ocean primary productivity has been increasing? Their empty assertions appear to be more of an attempt to denigrate the good news about the growing populations.

    THe Pacific walrus has also been recovering from hunting yet there NOAA’s so called “balanced” caricature suggested” expert opinion” suggests a 50% drop in population. My analysis was an effort to produce a truly balanced review of the great uncertainties and unlikeliness of the low numbers NOAA chose to broadcast. NOAA’s 50% decline is based on vital rates that show growth and health. Yet NOAA tries to argue those excellent vital rates must mean the population crashed by 50%.

    Bot you and “Then there’s Physics” do not dispute or even try to debate the statistics and data I cited. Instead you try to attack the arguer or those who applauded the analyses. You both set off all Sagan’s science baloney alerts by avoiding discussing the evidence. If you think NOAA’s report was truly “balanced” then discuss the evidence as I have done. Present an argument that is based on evidence and solid biology. But instead “Then there is Physics” inappropriately engages in personal attacks against Willis that are completely void of scientific reasoning. Your moniker “Physics” suggests you should be able to do much better than engaging such low level obscuration.

    • > Instead you try to attack the arguer or those who applauded the analyses.

      An example might be nice.

      • Scratching my own itch, here’s Jim in ad hom mode:

        Your moniker “Physics” suggests you should be able to do much better than engaging such low level obscuration.

        You can’t make this up.

    • I don’t know enough about Pat Cassen Dr Steele, but you can bet the mortgage that Ken Rice and Willard won’t take up that challenge.

      Re the NOAA report – seems they decided to select one interpretation of extremely uncertain data. Even then they have to rely on model projections to get to reach their conclusions. capt Dallas has the best analysis.

      • > won’t take up that challenge.

        Which challenge, timmy boy?

        If you read the Potential Threats to Walruses identified by the authors, none of them are being discussed by Jim. They’re in bold, if you don’t feel like looking for them.

        Jim’s “analysis” is both opportunistic and beneficial for the CAGW meme.

      • As is your usual these days Willard – “timmy boy” is the best you can do.

        Your fascination with boys and cheerleaders suggests you never matured past high school.

      • Willard I assume you mean these threats listed in the Kovacs paper:

        Potential Threats to Walruses

        “Because walruses will make use of terrestrial sites for haul-out, extinction due to climate change impacts on sea ice is unlikely to occur for this species. But, it is certain that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past (Jay et al. 2012; Kovacs et al. 2012). ”

        Ocean acidification.
        Commercial shipping.
        Oil and gas exploration/development.
        Disease and contaminants.
        Walrus Harvesting and Management

        Well, Dr Steele does address the first directly. As for the remainder, what is there to address? The authors basically offer nothing but speculation. Disappearing shelf ice is their primary mechanism to claim a poor report card. The rest is a grab bag of topics to make it look as if walrus are faced with a multitude of threats. But no evidence. Ocean Acidification? Well, yeah! Can’t leave out something as scary as that. Commercial shipping? OMG, we found a dead (as in one) walrus coated in oil. Oil & Gas exploration – sh#t, they are starting to do some of that and no way can it be good for walrus, because you know, it can’t. Disease and contaminants? Hey, we are on a roll. Let’s not stop now.

        They should have stopped at the last one. Then they wouldn’t have looked foolish by including harvesting and management. The exact mechanism which led to the rebound in populations in the first place.

        You should stick to the boys & pom poms responses Willard.

      • > Dr Steele does address the first directly […]

        Not really, timmy boy, if by “the first” you are referring to what he candidly calls “Kovacs’ speculation.” To address it, he’d need to look at the observations that leads to it. To see where to find them, he’d need to sift through the citations. To see the citations, quote the whole paragraph:

        Because walruses will make use of terrestrial sites for haul-out, extinction due to climate change impacts on sea ice is unlikely to occur for this species. But, it is certain that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past (Jay et al. 2012; Kovacs et al. 2012). Additionally, documented indeclines in the northern Bering Sea among dominant clam populations that are critical prey for walruses, associated with reductions in sea ice declines (e.g., Grebmeier et al. 2010), provide cause for concern; such ecosystem changes are clearly important for walruses and other animals. It is also expected that other climate-change related factors such as acidification, increased shipping, increasing development in the North including oil and gas extraction, disease and contaminant risks, will all represent increasing threats to walruses in the future (e.g., Kovacs et al. 2012; MacCracken 2012, MacCracken et al. 2013).

        http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

        Lots of factors that don’t appear in Jim’s piece, it seems.

        I’m not sure where Jim acknowledges that the authors concede right off the bat that a lack of sea ice won’t cause walrus extinction, perhaps indicating that other factors might be important enough to be put in bold in the NOAA report card.

        Keep on the ridicule, timmy boy, you’re good at it.

      • Willard denigrating people’s names is not science, and that seems to be your only forte here.

        Furthermore listing things I did not include in my essay is a ridiculous tactic of denigrating it because I did not write an encyclopedia of walrus information.

        Willard you wrote, “Not really, timmy boy, if by “the first” you are referring to what he candidly calls “Kovacs’ speculation.” To address it, he’d need to look at the observations that leads to it. To see where to find them, he’d need to sift through the citations. To see the citations, quote the whole paragraph

        But you are just fabricating your own scenarios. I had read the citations and there is no evidence to be found. When Kovacs speculates that using land haul outs is detrimental, and cites Koavacs previous speculation, it is really a worthless exercise to ask others to wade through the sam nebulous claims.

        On the otter hand Willard perhaps you should red the whole paper, and present the damning evidence for all to see.

      • Willard,

        thanks for the cudos on my ridiculing ability, but I can’t take credit. In your case it is all self inflicted.

        I did exactly as you suggested and read the Potential Threats to Walruses. Then responded. How about this time I borrow your cut and paste tactic and include them here.

        “Ocean acidification. Global warming has already led to increased acidification (lowered pH) of the world’s oceans, particularly in the Arctic (AMAP 2013; Mathis 2011). Ocean acidification reduces the saturation state of carbonate ions in the water, which can affect the growth, development and survival of calcifying invertebrates that are the major prey of walruses. However, the response of species to lowered pH is highly variable depending on the species, life stage, duration and level of exposure, adaptive capacity, and evolutionary history. To date, there is no evidence that ocean acidification is affecting walrus prey. It appears that carbonate saturation states are still adequate, though tipping points might be reached by as early as 2020 in the Arctic Ocean (Freely et al. 2009). This could have negative implications for bivalve populations, on which walruses feed.”

        Notice the operative words in this paragraph? “can affect”, “highly variable” (meaning we don’t really know), “to date there is no evidence” (that one even you should have picked up on), and finally the reference to tipping points which “could have” negative implications. Now you may consider this rock solid scientific proof that ocean acidification is a threat to Arctic walrus. I see it as filler.

        Commercial shipping. Commercial shipping is increasing across the Arctic, especially through the Northern Sea Route as sea ice reductions have taken place. Associated with this increased activity is increasing noise and concerns about shipping accidents that might release oil or other contaminants. Most of this traffic within the range of the Pacific walrus has been confined to Russian waters. While no large accidents have been reported, oiled wildlife was found 2012 in the vicinity of St. Lawrence Island, albeit with no identified source. In the North Atlantic, fisheries are thriving, as is the tourist industry, adding to the movement of goods. Ships striking walruses appears to be a minor concern as they are able to avoid large vessels, but the disruption of subsistence hunts has been reported. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently adopted the voluntary Polar Code, which provides guidelines for safe operations in the Arctic. In addition, several groups, including the Arctic Council’s PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment) team, are working to identify ecologically significant areas for incorporation into the IMO process and also working to identify sensitive areas for marine protected area planning (e.g. PAME 2015).

        Same exercise. First a statement with no information to provide context – just “commercial shipping is increasing”. By how much? Were they to assign a numeric value to this increase readers might realize how much of it involves real ships and how much is projections based on modeled ice extent. Next claim – “concerns about shipping accidents”. Not documented instances, just concern. Then they take a good thing – “fisheries are thriving” and make it into a threat to walrus, based on some “movement of goods” hypothesis. No mechanism by which this hypothesized threat works (in fact they discount the most logical mechanism), other than a strange reference to it “disrupt(ing) subsistence hunts. How is this a threat to walrus? Hunting them – sure. Distrupting those hunts – not sure at all.

        Oil and gas exploration/development. Oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi Sea in the range of the Pacific walrus population had a burst of activity starting around 2008, with numerous seismic surveys conducted in the US and Russia. This was followed by exploratory drilling, which occurred in 2012 and 2015 in the US. However, by 2015 several companies with leases in US waters had indefinitely suspended exploratory operations, eliminating this potential stressor for the foreseeable future for this subpopulation. In the North Atlantic, seismic surveys and plans for northward expansion of oil platforms continue. In waters of the Pechora and Kara seas development has already taken place in key walrus habitats in the southern parts of their range (Lydersen et al. 2012), with little or no impact assessment work related to marine mammals preceding development. These activities are deemed to be “highly hazardous” to walruses in the southeastern Barents Sea (Boltunov et al. 2010) and are likely to be a threat to this benthic feeding pinniped throughout its range if development is not well-managed.

        Once again, nothing of substance. All they have is “little or no impact assessment”. Meaning there could be impacts but we don’t know. Now for a guy who posts videos of walrus copulating, the default might be that if we don’t know, we must assume seriously bad things are happening. Which is why we see words like “deemed” and “likely”. If the purpose of this is to identify possible future issues which could impact walrus populations, fine. If the purpose is to issue a report card on their well being, at best useless and at worse misleading.

        Disease and contaminants. Increased disease risks associated with climate change have no direct elements that are specific to walruses. Instead, the risk is associated with the impact increased contact with temperate species might have on all of the ice-affiliated marine mammals that have lived in cold environments, with few disease vectors during recent evolutionary time frames (Altizer et al. 2013). Similarly, contaminants risks are likely to be associated with increased risks due to multiple stressors, rather than the actual contaminant burdens in walruses, given their generally low trophic feeding position in food webs (Robarts et al. 2009). However, possible trends toward increased seal predation by walruses (see Seymour et al. 2014) could dramatically alter the situation regarding contaminants exposure (Wolkers et al. 2006).

        Don’t know what to say. Other than they got nothing. But no problem when you can rely on good old fashioned speculation. The vague “increased contact with temperate species”, which “might” have an impact. In fairness I will point out that increased contact with one temperate species has proven to have a detrimental impact – the one with humans. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t include the impact to loss of haul out habitat resulting from the huge increase in summer tourism from beach goers and the resort hotels built to accommodate them.

        So there you go Willard. Exactly what has Dr Steele failed to address or respond to? Responding to filler is similar to telling someone how much you liked the packing peanuts in the package their Xmas present came in.

      • Well done timg56. Well done!

  25. > Yet despite all the positive indicators, NOAA downplays growing populations and makes the empty assertion, “the overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines.”

    Yet that empty assertion is presumed by Jim’s claim A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement, a claim that makes a distinction void of any scientific relevance. In a non-essentialist world, nothing’s truly necessary.

    Let’s quote the full paragraph minimized by Jim:

    A particularly noteworthy case with respect to trying to detect climate change impacts on arctic pinniped populations, among other stressors, is the situation for walruses in Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard is an Arctic hot-spot that is experiencing dramatic sea ice declines and warming ocean and air temperatures (Beszczynska-Möller et al. 2012; Nordli et al. 2014; Laidre et al. 2015), and yet walrus numbers in the archipelago are increasing exponentially (Lydersen et al. 2008; Kovacs et al. 2014). This situation arises because of the extreme historical overexploitation of the walruses in this area that took place over several hundred years up until the 1950s. When walruses did finally become protected in Svalbard in 1952, there were at best a few hundred animals occupying a few sites. But, after 60 years of complete protection from hunting, with some special no-go reserve areas, recovery is taking place. More females with calves are documented during surveys and historically used sites are being reoccupied as walruses continue to expand through the archipelago. These changes are occurring despite the fact that overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines. Studies are currently taking place to determine whether seasonal movement patterns are being affected by the changing sea ice conditions. This includes the use of remote cameras to study occupancy patterns at several haul-out sites, exploring the potential impacts of various sources of disturbance. For instance, the impact of rapidly expanding marine tourism activities is being investigated, via assessments at visited and non-visited sites.

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

  26. @ Willard “K14 might contradict Jim’s interpretation of K14.You write”

    Willard you too seem eager to obfuscate the issue. Since when would Kovacs’ future speculation contradict the observations presented by Kovacs of walruses doing better now than ever? If anything it appears that Kovacs was is clinging to the hypothesis of climate catastrophe in the face of all contradictory evidence. K14’s observations only contradict catastrophic climate fears.

    So a question WIllard. Did you read Kovacs 2014? are you just cherry-picking whatever red herrings you could find? Because every observation in K14 supports my analysis.

    The key points were posted on Kovacs’ 2014 abstract stating:

    (1) land based haul-out sites [increased] (from 78 in 2006 to 91 in 2012);

    (2) occupied sites [increased] (from 17 in 2006 to 24 in the 2012 survey);

    (3) sites with mothercalf pairs (which increased from a single site with a single small calf in 2006 to 10 sites with a total of 57 small calves in 2012) and;

    (4) a 48% increase in abundance in the six-year period between the two surveys to 3886 (confidence interval 3553 4262) animals,

    Kovacs concluded “currently the Svalbard walrus population is growing at a rate that matches the theoretical maximum rate of growth that has been calculated for recovering walrus populations under favourable environmental conditions with no food limitations.”

    Hmmm the state current conditions are allowing the “theoretical maximum” for walrus population growth under “favorable environmental conditions”.

    No such growth was observed when there was more sea ice immediately during the 30 years after hunting was prohibited.

    So what is your real intent/argument Willard?

    • Dear Jim,

      First, your obliviousness to push the right “reply” button and your “reading chanllenge” make me believe that you must be new here [1]. So welcome aboard our delectable Denizens. Go team!

      Second, you ask a rhetorical question: Since when would Kovacs’ future speculation contradict the observations presented by Kovacs of walruses doing better now than ever The main problem with rhetorical questions is that they can get answered. In this case, the most obvious response is that your interpretation fails to take into account the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are “some special no-go reserve areas.” I’m putting the last fact in quotes to help you find the relevant paragraph where it appears. Coincidentally, it’s just a few sentences before the one you mock.

      Third, my response to your rhetorical question shows that you’re relying to a red herring. It’s quite obvious that your interpretation of K14 differs from K14. In fact, Kovacs is one of the authors of the NOAA page which is the topic of your quite mundane CAGW concerns. Your whole analysis rests on a distinction without any difference about the notion of requirement.

      Fourth, your “every observation” stance is one of the most tired claptraps of the auditing sciences. What you call your “analysis” simply does not follow directly from the “observations” you decided to pick from the very guy you caricature. There are lots of epistemological points we could make here, but I’d rather cut to the chase and simply state that your argument is invalid [2].

      Fifth, I would advise that you keep your “what is your real intent/argument” to yourself, since it may very well turn against you. Your whole “analysis” smells like the usual CAGW meme machinery, and has nothing very tangible to offer except for recyclers of conspirational stuff like Sir Rud.

      Sixth, there are people whose line of work relies on being able to sift through the kind of crap you’ve produced in minutes. What you may have been able to discover in months of research in the library of your youth (just recall the postcards you had to send to get paper facsimiles) is at the fingertip of anyone who has a knack for reading technical stuff in less than an hour. I could of course be more thorough, but I’m usually paid to do so.

      This should suffice to justify why I ask you, dear Jim, to beware your wishes, very please with sugar on it.

      [1]: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/you-must-be-new-here

      [2]: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/your-argument-is-invalid

      • Willard that was a lot of blather intent on justifying your attempt to suggest that pure speculation trumps evidence and observation. My question was not rhetorica and l suggests that clearly you have no science background. Kovacs clearly fears CO2 warming, but his research clearly suggests that walrus are doing better than ever since 1960. If the recovery of the Atlantic walrus was simply due to the release of hunting pressure, then why has this recovery only occurred in the last 20 years and between 1960 and 2000? And again both Pacific and Atlantic walrus were released from heavy hunting pressure in the 1950s.

        Finally Willard you are acting like professional internet sniper when you try to denigrate “every observation” as tired claptrap. Every observation indeed supports my claim as well as Kovacs; that “currently the Svalbard walrus population is growing at a rate that matches the theoretical maximum rate of growth that has been calculated for recovering walrus populations under favourable environmental conditions with no food limitations.” Did you read “favorable environmental conditions”?

        Instead of attempting to simply denigrate meaningless verbave,please demonstrate your scientific integrity and simply present the observations (and a gentle reminder that speculation is not observations) that contradict my claim!

      • > your attempt to suggest that pure speculation trumps evidence and observation.

        Another strawman. My suggestion was rather that “but evidence” is a meme that does not warrant your own analysis. This suggestion rests on an elementary reading exercise.

        ***

        > Kovacs clearly fears CO2 warming […]

        Spoken like a true scientist. Does this psychological diagnostic rest on your ecology background, Jim?

        ***

        > Finally Willard you are acting like […]

        Your ad hominem is duly noted.

        Please, do continue.

    • David Springer

      Please don’t feed the trolls. Willard is a troll.

  27. Pat, You are very wrong to say “Jim Steele may be right: less sea ice may be beneficial. But his hypothesis is not accepted* by anyone else (AFAIK) studying the issue; ”

    There are several papers arguing exactly what I reported that less sea ice increases productivity. I have also argued that increased intrusions of subtropical waters both contribute to the loss of sea ice as well as pumping more nutrients into the Arctic, which also enhances productivity. Nonetheless no matter how much enhanced import of nutrients, without open waters due to less ice there will not be enhanced photosynthesis.

    In contradiction to Casen’s bogus statement regards less ice means more productivity that it “is not accepted by anyone else studying the issues” start with Arrigo:

    From Arrigo 2015:

    “Annual NPP increased 30% over the Arctic Ocean during our study period, with the largest increases on the interior shelves and smaller increases on inflow shelves. Increased annual NPP was often, but not always, associated with reduced sea-ice extent and a longer phytoplankton growing season (fewer days of ice cover). Spatial patterns of increased annual NPP suggest that increased nutrient fluxes may also play an important role.”

    • > From Arrigo 2015 […]

      Arrigo 2015 being

      Arrigo, K. R., and G. L. van Dijken, 2015: Continued increases in Arctic Ocean primary production. Progress in Oceanography, 136, 60-70.

      http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/ocean_primary_productivity.html

      The citation comes from another report card, this time about ocean productivity. Denizens can verify that Jim quoted a part of the abstract:

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079661115000993

      Ocean productivity is only tengential to Pat’s “less sea ice may be beneficial [to walruses, but Jim’s] hypothesis is not accepted* by anyone else (AFAIK) studying the issue.”

      The best way to refute Pat’s claim would be to cite someone who accepts Jim’s hypothesis from the community that studies walruses. Everything else might be too speculative.

  28. Willard says ” Jim’s claim A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement, a claim that makes a distinction void of any scientific relevance. In a non-essentialist world, nothing’s truly necessary.”

    But Willard ignores the evidence of well accepted published evidence I presented that a large proportion of the population, mostly males, migrate south into ice free waters of the Bering Sea to forage all summer. That foraging time was independent of whether or not walrus use land based or ice as a haul out. Clearly sea ice is not a requirement. Willard does not produce evidence to refute the observed evidence.

    So what are we to make of Willard’s caricature of the evidence presented as “void of any scientific relevance”. Willard is not arguing the evidence, but sniping with empty assertions. No one is making up Willard’s dishonest tactics, they are plain t see.

    • > So what are we to make of Willard’s caricature of the evidence presented as “void of any scientific relevance”.

      Another rhetorical question, another response:

      First, you trace back what it refers to, i.e. a resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.

      Second, you meditate on what the notion of ecological requirement implies. Some might argue that in most contexts it’s an oxymoron. After all, it’s quite possible for walruses to live on concrete. They even seem to enjoy heavy metal music at the Aquarium of Québec City.

      Third, you try to see what function this distinction without a difference makes in Jim’s argument. Let’s see: because sea ice are only beneficial, the overall carrying capacity doesn’t matter? Something’s amiss in Jim’s argument.

      Fourth, find out what Jim has omitted from his response. Yes, the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are “some special no-go reserve areas.”

      Fifth, look for the hammered ad homs to spot Jim’s own weaknesses: “ignores the evidence,” “does not produce evidence,” “not arguing the evidence,” etc. Jim simply conflates his analysis with the evidence he presents, and when his analysis is questioned, he turns back to “but evidence.”

      Total time: ten minutes.

    • > So what are we to make of Willard’s caricature of the evidence presented as “void of any scientific relevance”.

      Another rhetorical question, another response:

      First, you trace back what it refers to, i.e. a resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.

    • Second, you meditate on what the notion of ecological requirement implies. Some might argue that in most contexts it’s an oxymoron. After all, it’s quite possible for walruses to live on concrete. They even seem to enjoy heavy metal music at the Aquarium of Québec City.

    • [I think I found the word that triggers moderation.]

      Second, you meditate on what the notion of ecological requirement implies. Some might argue that in most contexts it’s an oxym[…]. After all, it’s quite possible for walruses to live on concrete. They even seem to enjoy heavy metal music at the Aquarium of Québec City.

      Third, you try to see what function this distinction without a difference makes in Jim’s argument. Let’s see: because sea ice are only beneficial, the overall carrying capacity doesn’t matter? Something’s amiss in Jim’s argument.

      Fourth, find out what Jim has omitted from his response. Yes, the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are “some special no-go reserve areas.”

      Fifth, look for the hammered ad homs to spot Jim’s own weaknesses: “ignores the evidence,” “does not produce evidence,” “not arguing the evidence,” etc. Jim simply conflates his analysis with the evidence he presents, and when his analysis is questioned, he turns back to “but evidence.”

      Total time: ten minutes.

    • David Springer

      Please don’t feed the trolls.

      Willard is a troll.

    • Jim, you have run into some alarmist jokers who run around on “skeptic” blogs playing a very silly game of whack-a-mole. They suffer from a compulsion to “debunk” climate heresy, wherever and whenever it pops up. They want the polar bears and walruses to die off fast, so that we will be scared we are next.

      • Yes Don, I am very familiar with . Simply asking to debate the evidence usually results in more blather, no science and clearly exposes their game.There is an uncanny resemblance between Willard and Miriam Obrien (aka Slandering Sou http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/20/hotwhoppers-miriam-obrien-hoisted-by-her-own-petard/) They use similar tactics and phrases.

      • Thank you for the kind words, Jim. That you associate me with Sou doesn’t bode well for your ecological skillz. Sou’s niche is certainly not mine, and doubling down on ad homs will only lead to your own demise.

        Dismissing K14’s conclusions as “speculation” does not look like “asking to debate the evidence.”

      • Jim
        Not only phrases and tactics but exact words and themes and faux evidence. I’m convinced there is a clone factory producing an unlimited supply of droids, automatons and animatronics with the mission of disrupting thoughtful discourse. Like a high school freshman, any penetrating questions requiring complex reasoning and critical thought process leaves them flustered and red faced. They are then retired to the closet.

  29. richardswarthout

    Jim

    Thank you for the post. Sorry for the annoying posturing of the leftists.

    Richard

  30. “Willard is not arguing the evidence, but sniping with empty assertions. No one is making up Willard’s dishonest tactics, they are plain t see.”

    He’s new here, but obviously a quick study.

    • Glad you could find the time, Don Don.

      So far, there was no need to “argue the evidence,” whatever that means. Not that Jim “produced” any, if by producing one means something else than to borrow it from those he criticizes.

      However, when Jim will tire of throwing ad homs (not unlike Sou, incidentally) and strawmen, perhaps we’ll get to a sentence his analysis seems to have overlooked:

      [I]t is certain that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past (Jay et al. 2012; Kovacs et al. 2012).

      http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

      Plenty of evidence to counterbalance Jim’s “non-requirement” hypothesis, which indicates verbal posturing more than anything else.

      • And exactly what is Willard’s “plenty of evidence”? An opinion that uses the phrase “it is certain”?

        Do we need to go back to the very basics and define “evidence versus “speculative opinions”?

      • > And exactly what is Willard’s “plenty of evidence”? An opinion that uses the phrase “it is certain”?

        Again with the rhetorical questions, Jim.

        The answer is: citations.

      • Willard asserts “Plenty of evidence to counterbalance Jim’s “non-requirement” hypothesis, which indicates verbal posturing more than anything else.”

        Obviously Willard does not know the difference between evidence and speculation. Makes one wonder who is paying him for his analyses?

      • Jim yet again goes for the big hit instead of paying due diligence to citations, in this case Jay et al. 2012 and Kovacs et al. 2012. Basic inspection of Jay and al 2012 reveals why Jim may need that big hit.

        First, this short paragraph:

        Areas of walrus foraging in June to September (Fig. 5) overlap with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management oil and gas lease blocks within the Chukchi Sea Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193 (US Minerals Management Service 2009). The period of highest overlap between the lease sale area and areas of high walrus foraging concentration was in July and August. As the duration of ice-free periods in the Chukchi Sea increases in the future, other activities in the Chukchi Sea, such as ship and air traffic (Arctic Council 2009), are also likely to overlap walrus use areas in some months.

        It would be interesting to know if Jim disputes these facts.

        Second, a paragraph that undermines Jim’s evidence-free storification of the “the migratory behavior of females”:

        Although walruses foraged in most of the areas they occupied, we observed areas of low levels of foraging, which may have been related to traveling behavior, such as when they moved to find a haul-out substrate when sea ice disappeared over the shelf in August, moved from haul-out sites on the coast of northwestern Alaska to the coast of northern Chukotka in September and October, or moved between onshore haul-outs and offshore foraging areas at times during the period from August to October (Fig. 4). These periods of low levels of foraging, which are largely associated with the unavailability of offshore sea ice for walruses to use for hauling out, are likely to affect the level of energy reserves in the blubber of these walruses and their ability to compensate for energetic challenges that may occur in subsequent months. Walruses most vulnerable to altered activity patterns are likely to be lactating females and the young (Noren et al. 2012). Lactating females have double the energy demand of nonreproductive adult females and can only meet the elevated demand by utilizing the stored energy in the blubber. Walruses 2 to 5 yr of age may also be challenged, because they are weaned and have higher mass-specific energetic demands than adults (Noren et al. 2012). The energetic consequences of altered habitat use and activity patterns of walruses from decreased sea ice habitat in the Chukchi Sea are not fully understood

        Compare this with Jim’s mansplanation:

        The migratory behavior of females and their calves into the shallow waters of the Chukchi each summer is most likely a behavior that evolved to reduce resource competition and exploit temporary access to rich foraging habitat.

        Jim’s mansplanation of “the migratory behavior of females” during summer as an exploitation of “temporary access to rich foraging habitat” does not seem to cohere very well with the researchers’ observations. It fails to take into account that less sea ice in the Chukchi Sea leads to more human activities during summer and alters migrations. It fails to take into account that altered migrations lead to more places with less forageing opportunities and affects lactating females and walruses of 2 to 5 yr of age.

        ***

        Chadwick V. Jay’s “walrus science” coheres with the NOAA’s claim that “land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past.” Jim’s mansplanation, not so much.

        Has Jim ever contacted Chadwick to sort out these things?

      • Willard, I must sau you are persistent in your attempt to denigrate my essay. Your emphasis on increased human activities is a very different issue than the present discussion at hand of whether or not the carrying capacity of the Arctic is increasing or decreasing. But I understand you are desperate to find a negative.

        Finally when you quote, “moved from haul-out sites on the coast of northwestern Alaska to the coast of northern Chukotka in September and October, or moved between onshore haul-outs and offshore foraging areas at times during the period from August to October”

        That observation easily confirms what I am suggesting. Walrus forage on the Alaskan coast early in the season then migrate to Russia’s Chukotka coast in August thru October after the sea ice recedes making foraging habitat available.

      • > Your emphasis on increased human activities is a very different issue than the present discussion at hand of whether or not the carrying capacity of the Arctic is increasing or decreasing.

        Not quite true, since the latter leads to the former. Moreover, what Jim identifies as “current discussion” is a bit inexact: it is about the claim that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past. Even more specifically, it’s about Jay et al 2012 and Kovacs et al. 2012.

        To divide ecological issues may not to best way to conquer them.

        ***

        Besides, Jim kinda forgot to tell Denizens if he contacted Jay, the source for his “130 kilometers away” armwaving. We’ll turn at the end of this thread to some facts in Jay 2005 he also kinda forgot to mention.

  31. Willard writes “After all, it’s quite possible for walruses to live on concrete”

    ROTFLMAO You can’t make up such ridiculousness, nor the total lack of scientific understanding. I think this internet sniper has clearly revealed his/her ignorance.

    • > ROTFLMAO

      Your “unproven hypothesis” wasn’t bad either.

      Were you being sarcastic when you said that NOAA’s Arctic report card made claims that hinge on the unproven hypothesis that a reduction in sea ice is detrimental by denying walruses access to foraging habitat?

      If you were not, you need to explain how being deprived of something you assess as opportunistic and beneficial can be non-detrimental.

      If you can’t, this means your argument is knocked down simply by paying due diligence to the very first sentence of your editorial, Jim.

      If you could also provide an example of a proven hypothesis, that would be great.

  32. I must say, some of the attacks here certainly suggest once again I have exposed a fallacious argument.

    Willard’s desperate attempt to denigrate this essay has become one of the most feebly hilarious attempts I have ever encountered. My respectful requests that those who disagree simply present evidence that can be sincerely debated is now portrayed by Willard as ad homs.

    Willard says “look for the hammered ad homs to spot Jim’s own weaknesses: “ignores the evidence,” “does not produce evidence,” “not arguing the evidence,” etc. Jim simply conflates his analysis with the evidence he presents”

    Somehow Willard thinks demanding evidence in a scientific debate instead of engaging in personal attacks is a form of “ad homs” .

    No people you can not make up such idiocy! My regards to Sou!

    • No need for formality here, Jim. We call him souey.

    • > [S]ome of the attacks here certainly suggest once again I have exposed a fallacious argument.

      Handwaving for confirmation bias’ sake.

      Jim, you’re a perfect fit for Judy’s. Please stay.

    • > Somehow Willard thinks demanding evidence in a scientific debate instead of engaging in personal attacks is a form of “ad homs” .

      Two other strawmen, Jim. You were not “demanding evidence,” you were requiring that we debate the evidence. You’re pushing thoughts in my head. I don’t have this belief, if only because there’s no dichotomy between the two activities.

      Mind probing is ad hom. Your overall strategy of making it about me is ad hom. There’s a simple test for that: is your comment any different than Don Don’s or Big Dave’s? If not, chances are it’s ad hom.

      The bottom line is that requiring we “debate the evidence” when it’s your hypothesis is on the line acts as a decoy.

      When will you acknowledge the two facts I put on the table regarding the walruses in Svalbard?

  33. “A recent NOAA study, published in the journal PLOS One, shows “living shorelines” — protected and stabilized shorelines using natural materials such as plants, sand, and rock — can help to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, helping to blunt the effects of climate change.” – from the NOAA website.

    Oh no! Evil organic CO2, being used to restore historical levels, will likely be the death of us all! We must blunt the effects of climate change!

    Mind you, we don’t know what blunting the effects of climate change actually means, but it sounds sciencey and politically correct. And of course, we’re a bit confused about carbon, and carbon dioxide. But coal is generally blackish, and soot is dirty, so carbon must be bad. Common salt is made of dangerous flammable sodium metal and that horrible poison gas (beloved of freedom hating tyrants), chlorine. We all know how bad too much salt in the diet is, don’t we? Carbon is obviously so much worse!

    Maybe NOAA is a secret Government project to employ politically correct fantasists, to keep them off the streets. A sort of sciencey unemployment program for accidental PhD recipients. The world wonders!

    Cheers.

  34. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #211 | Watts Up With That?

  35. Willis Eschenbach

    Pat Cassen | December 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm |

    Dear me. Such a fuss over a mere suggestion that readers should…read more.

    Ah, you misunderstand me, likely my fault. The problem is not how much readers might read, or how much I might read.

    The problem was that you called Jim’s work a “caricature”, but you did not say why you thought that … and there is no amount of my reading that can reveal your thoughts.

    Willis –

    Pat said that Jim was wrong…

    I am not surprised that my words are not read as carefully as I choose them. Happens all the time. Jim Steele may be right: less sea ice may be beneficial. But his hypothesis is not accepted* by anyone else (AFAIK) studying the issue; there are counter arguments. (Willis wants chapter and verse: I will copy and paste some of them here, but I did not expect that anyone would want such hand-holding.)

    Pat, unless you think saying someone’s analysis is a “caricature” of the report is a clever way to claim that they are right, I fear that you did indeed say that Jim was wrong … but you did not say where you thought he was wrong or what it was that he said that you thought was wrong.

    You seem to believe that the issue is how much I understand or whether my hands need holding. It is not. The issue is that you claimed Jim was wrong without either quoting where you think he was wrong, telling us why you think he is wrong, or backing up your ideas with citations or other support.

    And there is no one who can do that but you. No amount of my reading or you hand-holding me can reveal your thoughts. The issue is not me or anything to do with me.

    The issue is your own unsupported claims.

    w.

    PS—Near as I can tell, your only quote of Steele’s work that you find incorrect is:

    Steele concludes that … one must wonder how politicized those agencies have become and if political pressure has biased their publications. Scientific disagreements are a poor rationale for accusations of politicization.

    Really? Surely you must have notices that scientific disagreements about climate are often politicized beyond belief?

    Look, when Kovacs feels that he has to re-hype his own failed past forecasts of walrus doom, despite his own findings that walruses are increasing, you gotta know that politics is raising its ugly head. Scientific disagreements are indeed a poor rationale for accusations of politicization … but when you see a scientist like Kovacs disagreeing with himself, it becomes a very possible rationale.

    • When Cassen wrote “Jim Steele may be right: less sea ice may be beneficial. But his hypothesis is not accepted* by anyone else (AFAIK) studying the issue”, it was clear that he was willing to lie and was just sniping. Clearly he was not sincerely interested in a scientific discussion. When Cassen outright denies the consensus opinion, and basic biology, that less ice allows more photosynthesis and hence more productivity, and that even NOAA’s 2015 report finds productivity has been increasing, then we should not expect a sincere and honest discussion based on the evidence.

      The definitive signature of a troll is that they provide a lot of blather (i.e. WIllard’s spamming) geared solely at obscuring the issue without one iota of discussion based on the evidence. Perhaps I am too harsh but If the trolls sincerely want to discuss the fate of the walrus, I suggest they start quoting what I wrote and then producing the evidence that counters my analyses. Unsupported speculation about future problems are just meaningless red herrings and another signature of trolls.

      The evidence is experts such as Arrigo who analyze marine productivity unequivocally show across the Arctic productivity has been increasing, even though there may be small localized areas of less productivity. The consensus of biologists is an increase in productivity increases the ocean’s carrying capacity. Walrus experts all report an increase in walrus calf survival, and an increase in the ratio of calves per cows. All biologist understand thoss vital signs are evidence of a healthy growing population. Unless the trolls address those facts, they are just spamming the thread with meaningless blather and we should not expect a meaningful discussion from them!

      • As a non-scientist, I am not entitled to an opinion on the ultimate issue.

        But the contrast between Mr. Steele’s logic and his opponents’ bluster make his position compelling to someone like me, who for decades had to make decisions based on reports by experts in fields in which I was less than knowledgeable. In this observer’s view, that is, the smell test gives the nod to Mr. Steele.

        Unfortunately, my experience is that logic has little advantage over bluster in either the blogosphere or the court of public opinion generally.

      • > I suggest they start quoting what I wrote and then producing the evidence that counters my analyses.

        Jim has yet to this once. Jim also presumes that this hasn’t been done, which is false, e.g.:

        [Y]our interpretation fails to take into account the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are “some special no-go reserve areas.”

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/25/noaa-fails-walrus-science/#comment-754490

        These facts are absent from Jim’s storification:

        In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 20012 (Kovacs 2014).

        Jim doesn’t acknowledge these facts. Jim also fails to acknowledge that Kovacs is one of the authors of the NOAA page he criticizes. Furthermore, Jim fails to take into account the paragraph he’s criticizing:

        A particularly noteworthy case with respect to trying to detect climate change impacts on arctic pinniped populations, among other stressors, is the situation for walruses in Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard is an Arctic hot-spot that is experiencing dramatic sea ice declines and warming ocean and air temperatures (Beszczynska-Möller et al. 2012; Nordli et al. 2014; Laidre et al. 2015), and yet walrus numbers in the archipelago are increasing exponentially (Lydersen et al. 2008; Kovacs et al. 2014). This situation arises because of the extreme historical overexploitation of the walruses in this area that took place over several hundred years up until the 1950s. When walruses did finally become protected in Svalbard in 1952, there were at best a few hundred animals occupying a few sites. But, after 60 years of complete protection from hunting, with some special no-go reserve areas, recovery is taking place. More females with calves are documented during surveys and historically used sites are being reoccupied as walruses continue to expand through the archipelago. These changes are occurring despite the fact that overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines. Studies are currently taking place to determine whether seasonal movement patterns are being affected by the changing sea ice conditions. [Etc.]

        http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

        Jim has not paid due diligence to Lydersen et al. 2008. Neither has he paid due diligence to the citations offered on the paragraph that follows, which directly addresses the relationship between walruses and see ice (op. cit.):

        Because walruses will make use of terrestrial sites for haul-out, extinction due to climate change impacts on sea ice is unlikely to occur for this species. But, it is certain that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past (Jay et al. 2012; Kovacs et al. 2012). Additionally, documented indeclines in the northern Bering Sea among dominant clam populations that are critical prey for walruses, associated with reductions in sea ice declines (e.g., Grebmeier et al. 2010), provide cause for concern; such ecosystem changes are clearly important for walruses and other animals. It is also expected that other climate-change related factors such as acidification, increased shipping, increasing development in the North including oil and gas extraction, disease and contaminant risks, will all represent increasing threats to walruses in the future (e.g., Kovacs et al. 2012; MacCracken 2012, MacCracken et al. 2013).

        Jim also does not addresses the other climate-change related factors.

        To counter this explanation, Jim omits it, replaces it with weasel wording in another section of his text (look for “some researchers argue”), and introduces his hypothesis according to which “a resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.”

        We reserve the discussion for another comment. Suffice to say that Jim doesn’t even present his hypothesis as a hypothesis. Everything that doesn’t fit his narrative is dismissed as speculative. Jim even goes so far as to speak of an “unproven hypothesis,” which shows a clear misunderstanding of the concept of hypothesis.

        To counter Pat’s claim, all he’d need is to provide a citation. Instead he goes on an unsubstantiated rant.

        You just can’t make this up.

      • Willard’s attempt at character assassination is very fiery unny and is this one of the best examples that Willard et al is simply intent on spamming the thread with meaningless/false criticisms.

        Willard tries to present a caricature of me as someone who is hiding facts, writing”

        “These facts are absent from Jim’s storification:

        In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 20012 (Kovacs 2014).

        Jim doesn’t acknowledge these facts”

        Oh but I have if only Willard reads just the first paragraphs of what I wrote instead of fabricating Willard’s false scenarios!

        I wrote, “In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts coinciding with an exponential population growth, a 48% increase in abundance between 2006 and 20012 (Kovacs 2014). Yet despite all the positive indicators, NOAA downplays growing populations and makes the empty assertion, “the overall carrying capacity of the region for walruses is almost certainly declining because of sea ice declines.”

        So how does Willard write that I do not acknowledge precisely what I wrote. It doesn’t get more ridiculous than that folks.

        The only thing we can surmise from Willard’s denial of what I wrote is either he does not read or he is only intent on fabricating lies and hoping others do not read saw well!

        Furthermore as mentioned above and in my earlier essay http://landscapesandcycles.net/hijacking-successful-walrus-conservation.html

        what Willard inadvertently points out is that a walrus recovery from overhunting never happened between 1920 and 2000 in the Atlantic, when ice conditions were heavier than today. The Atlantic walrus recovery is a very recent phenomenon. The Pacific Walrus are also recovering from hunting pressures, but Willard avoids all those facts. Both NOAA and Willard try to suggest that the observed exponential growth of Atlantic walrus in the past 20 years is simply due to a recovery from hunting pressure that was reduced in 192o so they can side step the consensus that less sea ice increases ocean productivity.

      • Willard does not seem to be concerned with how transparent his false allegations are. Compare what I rote and Willard’s attempt to smear my analysis.

        I wrote, “The full weight of evidence suggests an alternative hypothesis is more likely. Less sea ice allows more access to larger areas of bountiful foraging habitat that had been previously covered by heavy ice. ”

        Willard blathers “We reserve the discussion for another comment. Suffice to say that Jim doesn’t even present his hypothesis as a hypothesis.”

        Has Willard even bothered to read the essay? And who is “we reserve”? Willard and Sou?

      • Thanks for your patience with out trolls, Jim. That a wrap.

      • > Willard write that I do not acknowledge precisely what I wrote.

        Then quote where you acknowledge the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are some special no-go reserve areas, Jim.

      • Jim, take a deep breath and calm down.

        When I wrote “…less sea ice may be beneficial…, I meant “beneficial to walrus” (what’s the plural, walrii?). I apologize for not being clear. You are quite right that there is compelling evidence for increases in net primary productivity; I do not disagree.

        No doubt you appreciate that the relation between net productivity and benthic species, e.g. bivalves (walrus food) is complicated. A good discussion of the disturbances to arctic benthic ecosystems is found in Status and trends in the structure of Arctic benthic food webs. From the conclusions of that paper (“Winners and Losers”):

        Benthic species may decrease in
        biomass with increased pelagic grazing and recycling in
        the water column, which may lead to reduced amount or
        quality of organic matter settling from the water column
        to the seafloor. This will affect benthic feeding marine
        mammals and seabirds, whose foraging areas will become
        less productive and prey less available. Food webs will
        likely lengthen at the low trophic levels, lowering trophic
        transfer efficiency and thereby lowering the percentage
        of primary production that reaches top predators.

        Agree with that conclusion or not, increases in primary productivity do not automaticaly lead to more walrus food.

        The widely held belief that “a reduction in sea ice is detrimental by denying walruses access to foraging habitat”, is based, as far as I can tell, largely on the observation that mating and birth occur largely on sea ice, and pregnant females and young have high nutrient demands which are stressed without ready access to sea ice. Many papers, and some anecdotal reports, support this view. For instance, from
        QUANTIFYING THE SENSITIVITY OF ARCTIC MARINE MAMMALS TO CLIMATE-INDUCED HABITAT CHANGE:

        With recent climate warming, however, the summer ice edge now recedes far
        into the Arctic Ocean, hundreds of kilometers north of
        the shelf break (Comiso 2002, Walsh 2008). This poses a
        particular problem for adult female walruses that are
        nursing young calves that presumably would be
        disadvantaged by swimming long distances in the open
        sea (Cooper et al. 2006). Unlike males, female Pacific
        walruses seem to avoid hauling out on land, perhaps
        because when they do so their calves are vulnerable to
        crushing in the large dense herds (Fay and Kelly 1980),
        and they may be preyed upon by polar bears (Ovsya-
        nikov 1996) and perhaps brown bears (Ursus arctos).
        Furthermore, walrus calves are dependent upon mater-
        nal care for approximately two years before they can
        forage completely on their own and are therefore ill-
        adapted to lack (or rapid retreat) of seasonal ice cover
        (Cooper et al. 2006).

        You assert that behavorial changes will mitigate these factors. Could be. But, for me, that’s no more compelling an argument than the one given above (and others, given e.g. in the Cooper reference) at this point.

        Jim, if you had simply stated that the Report neglected to discuss the possibly important effects of increased primary productivity, which you then elaborate, you would have had no argument from me. But to deny all validity of the arguments regarding the possible negative effects of retreating sea ice underrmines your position.

        The Report is a summary of research, as evaluated by its authors. There’s always potentially much to disagree with, in emphasis and even main conclusions. But the details of the arguments are to be found in the references, many of which you quote. There is much there that you agree with. But you conclude that the report is so biased as to suggest political interference. I disagree, and so my (unfortunate) characterization of your representation as a caricature. Maybe I should have just said that I thought it was “unfair”.

        Willis – I don’t think we really have any big argument between us. My few comments at this website are usually intended to nudge readers toward some research that I found useful. If you don’t want to be nudged, fine. You don’t have to pursue, I don’t have to repeat points that are readily accesible in the papers any interested reader can access.

        As for politicization, you are absolutely correct that “scientific disagreements about climate are often politicized beyond belief”. I’m just saying that scientific disagreement is a lousy rationale.

        Thanks to all for nudging me to learn a lot more about walrusses than I imagined I ever would. I grant to Jim, Willis, Willard et al. the last word(s) – Happy New Year to all.

      • Pat Cassen, So glad to see you finally “calmed down”, “took a deep great”h and are now backing away from your ill-advised smear tactics in your rush to denigrate the essay. And I thank you for acknowledging that the evidence is strong that less ice increases primary productivity.

        You then attempt to address the important point that perhaps increased primary productivity “might” not translate into an increase in the walrus’ food items but ignore what I wrote. INstead you chose to cite papers that were again filled with nothing more than speculation suggesting less ice could, might, maybe etc etc decrease the supply of that increased primary productivity to the benthos, the walruses food. Did you read those papers?

        To address “concerns” such as yours I had written, “Contrary to earlier suggestions that global warming may possibly decrease productivity (Grebmeier 2006), satellite observations have determined marine productivity has increased by 30% since the 1990s (Arrigo 2015). The reason for this increase is elementary. Less sea ice allows more photosynthesis. Grebmeier 2015 has now reported that the Bering and Chukchi Sea “hotspots” she has studied have sustained high levels of biomass over the past 4 decades.”

        Grebmeier 2015 presented evidence that there has been no decline in the benthos reporting, “Detailed benthic macrofaunal sampling indicates that these hotspot regions have been persistent over four decades of sampling due to annual reoccurrence of seasonally consistent, moderate-to-high water column production with significant export of carbon to the underlying sediments.” Perhaps I could have been more explicit that the increased biomass equaled increased walrus food. BUt if you were concerned with the robustness of the evidence I cited, I would expect you would read the paper I cited. Such evidence a Grebmeier 2015 reported once again trumps any speculation in the papers you chose to highlight instead.

        Your other choice of a paper that highlighted Cooper et al 2006 is quite hilarious and suggests you never read that paper either. Cooper 2006 is the iconic embodiment of Mark Twain’s quote “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

        During a cruise Cooper observed 9 calves swimming without their mothers in the Arctic where depths were over 3000 meters. That was the full extent of his observations. Yet from those observations Cooper magically concluded, “Given limited sea surface visibility from the ship, we surmise that many additional calves may have been separated in the overall study area. These conditions appear to have been related to the transport of unusually warm (7° C) Bering Sea water into this area north of Alaska. Walruses invest considerable maternal resources while caring for calves on seasonally ice-covered continental shelves for periods of up to 2 y or more and only rarely separate from their young. Therefore, these observations indicate that the Pacific walrus population may be ill-adapted to rapid seasonal sea-ice retreat off Arctic continental shelves.”

        Then you cite a paper that uses Cooper to conclude that less sea ice ” poses a particular problem for adult female walruses that are nursing young calves that presumably would be disadvantaged by swimming long distances in the open sea (Cooper et al. 2006)”

        This published “science” reminds me of a game we played as kids called “telegraph” where one kids whispers a phrase to the next kid and that kid passes it on down the line. When the last kid speaks the message they received it is totally distorted, sometime beyond recognition.

        Radiotelemetry studies have shown that when an ice flow that a walrus was using to rest on moves away from their foraging area, the walrus simply abandons the ice floe. So why would the observed calves be over waters that were 3000 feet deep, in locations never used by walruses to forage? Why would Cooper surmise the mother’s had led them to bad foraging areas or that unusually warm water caused the separation?

        It is more likely Cooper’s observations were just more examples of individuals with bad directional genetics. every year we observe birds from the eastern USA flying over the Pacific. Nature simply culls their bad genetics. In addition Orcas have been observed attacking swimming walrus herds and systematically separating mothers from calves. It is also more likely Copper’s lost calves were the result of such an attack. Orcas are the top cause of walrus deaths.

        Yet you and your cited publications want to present Cooper’s observations of lost calves as evidence that global warming and less sea ice “poses a particular problem for adult female walruses that are nursing young calves that presumably would be disadvantaged by swimming long distances in the open sea”

        Mark Twain nailed the idiocy that often masquerades as science. To repeat “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

  36. Willard, Regards hunting pressure I suggest you read the link I provided in the beginning to an earlier essay that deals with the hunting pressures that depleted the walrus population. All your sniping that it is I who failed to address hunting only proves that you failed to read what you so desperately attack.

    Read “Hijacking Successful Walrus Conservation” http://landscapesandcycles.net/hijacking-successful-walrus-conservation.html

    Here’s an excerpt from my post that shows since 1920 hunting pressures were greatly reduced yet by the 1980s the walrus had failed to reclaim the beaches they had traditionally hauled out o.

    Several northern European nations rushed to avail themselves of Spitsbergen’s cornucopia of marine life, sending warships to protect the hunters. The frenzied competition led to the destruction of Svalbard’s wildlife. Although most wildlife had already been eliminated, the 1920 treaty of Spitsbergen finally ended the tragedy of the commons and the “rape of Spitsbergen”. In 1986 when McGhee went to Svalbard to search for any evidence that early Inuit or more ancient Tuniit may have reached the island, he only found evidence of the European overkill. Massive whalebones abounded, and beaches were littered with tusk-less walrus skulls. The birds had returned to the ponds and cliffs, while the reindeer and fox were now more common. But the beaches that once sheltered thousands of walrus were still empty and silent.

    • > Regards hunting pressure I suggest you read the link I provided in the beginning to an earlier essay that deals with the hunting pressures that depleted the walrus population. All your sniping that it is I who failed to address hunting only proves that you failed to read what you so desperately attack.

      That’s another strawman, Jim. I did not say you failed to “address hunting,” because I already know that your article mentions “overhunting” and “regulated hunting.” What I said was that your interpretation fails to take into account the facts that the Svalbard walruses have been protected from hunting for 60 years and that there are “some special no-go reserve areas. Your handwaving does not mention these two facts, and does not cover for your omission.

      A rhetorical question like since when would Kovacs’ future speculation contradict the observations presented by Kovacs of walruses doing better now than ever may lose most of its impact if you mention that the walruses are living in a protected area. Noting that Kovacs’ 2014 survey counted 3886 walruses on Svalbard might also have more evidence-based than touting a 48% increase. Recalling, as you noted elsewhere, that there was once was over 25K walruses in Svalbard might also have curbed your readers’ enthusiasm regarding “walruses doing better than ever.”

      The Svalbard Archipelago might need a few more 48% increases like that before getting to overcrowding issues. Only then will we be able to test your hypothesis or what you call “Kovacs’ speculation” for real. Meanwhile, Kovacs’ hypothesis contradicts your own hypothesis, not “the observations.”

      Besodes, if you really want to criticize Kovacs’ hypothesis, you really ought to cite and discuss Kovacs 2011, since it’s the citation on the NOAA page. Here’s the link and the abstract:

      Arctic sea ice has changed dramatically, especially during the last decade and continued declines in extent and thickness are expected for the decades to come. Some ice-associated marine mammals are already showing distribution shifts, compromised body condition and declines in production/abundance in response to sea-ice declines. In contrast, temperate marine mammal species are showing northward expansions of their ranges, which are likely to cause competitive pressure on some endemic Arctic species, as well as putting them at greater risk of predation, disease and parasite infections. The negative impacts observed to date within Arctic marine mammal populations are expected to continue and perhaps escalate over the coming decade, with continued declines in seasonal coverage of sea ice. This situation presents a significant risk to marine biodiversity among endemic Arctic marine mammals.

      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12526-010-0061-0

      Is it true that walruses “give birth and mate on sea ice”?

    • Another paper discusses “Kovacs’ speculation” is Kovacs 2012, i.e.:

      Kovacs, K. M., A. Aguilar, D. Aurioles, V. Burkanov, C. Campagna, N. Gales, T. Gelatt, S. Goldsworthy, S. J. Goodman, G. J. G. Hofmeyr, T. Härkönen, L. Lowry, C. Lydersen, J. Schipper, T. Sipilä, C. Southwell, S. Stuart, D. Thompson, and F. Trillmich, 2012: Global threats to pinnipeds. Mar. Mamm. Sci., 28, 414-436.

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00479.x/epdf

      Listing the authors affiliations fills more than two pages. Kovacs may not be the only one to speculate in that report.

      The paragraph containing a citation to Fishbach 2009 (also cited on the NOAA report card) on p. 430 seems to be the important one regarding that “Kovacs’ speculation.” The paragraph also contains another dozen of citations. More speculative articles, no doubt.

      • Oh wow. You are truly brilliant Willard. Two pages of affiliations certainly trumps evidence. LOL

        But perhaps you just forgot to post the critical evidence discussed in those papers you cite. So just what was their critical evidence? You never supply any evidence.

        I know what you are thinking, that asking for evidence is a straw man argument. LOL Science doesn’t require evidence just affiliations.

      • > Two pages of affiliations certainly trumps evidence. LOL

        Your false dilemma is refuted by the observation that affiliation may provide enough evidence to backup one’s claims. These two pages of affiliation clearly indicates that your “Kovacs’ speculation” runs the risk of minimizing the number of authorities who endorse that hypothesis.

        The title of your piece also minimizes the extent of the walrus science you’re discussing. Here might be a more fitting title:

        The Norwegian Polar Institute, the University Studies on Svalbard, University of Barcelona’s, Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute, Russia’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Australian Marine Mammal Centre, NOAA, the South Australian Research & Development Institute, Leeds’ Institute of Integrative & Comparative Biology, Pretoria’s Research Institute, Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, University of Alaska, IUCN, Conservation International, Metsahallitus (Natural Heritage Services), University of St Andrews, and Bielefeld University fails walrus science

        This list of affiliation clearly shows that there are lots of organizations that conspire to fail walrus science.

        The truth is out there, Jim.

        ***

        > perhaps you just forgot to post the critical evidence discussed in those papers you cite

        Perhaps you forgot to read the papers that substantiates the hypothesis you criticize, Jim.

        What’s clear is that you haven’t cited them.

      • Willard, why do alarmist trolls always avoid the evidence and revert to some nebulous consensus argument. I support you would have joined the 100 against Einstein as “proof” Einstein was wrong.

        Co-authors often contribute many different factoids or insights. Your list tells us nothing about their thoughts on the lack of sea ice platforms. Sadly using your list of Kovacs authors only condemns them all. You seem to avoid dealing with the fact the Kovacs did not know walrus mated in the water. But since there is that big list of authors, then there false assertion that walrus mate on ice must be correct, eh? Willard do you real understand how science works. Its based on evidence not speculation not a list of names no matter how long. As Einstein responded to the 100 agains him, if he was wrong then it would only have taken one person to refute the evidence.

      • > Sadly using your list of Kovacs authors only condemns them all.

        I’m not sure how Jim can reconcile this condemnation with his other claim that the “list tells us nothing about their thoughts on the lack of sea ice platforms.” One makes the other irrelevant.

        While he can still choose which one he prefers, going for tarring a whole disciplinary matrix would be funnier. To that effect, here could be a suitable title:

        Walrus Science Fails and Jim Steele Wins

        Why do contrarians always compare themselves to Einstein or Galileo?

        The truth is out there.

        ***

        Just to make sure nobody falls for Jim’s gallop (yesterday it was all Svalbard) and since he claims to abide by evidence-based reasoning, reminding that Kovacs 2012 included lots of authors and lots of institutions provides evidence that his “Kovacs speculation” minimizes the number of people that his use of “Kovacs” hides, thereby showing that his “Kovacs speculation” contains not just one caricature, but two.

        Two caricatures in two words sounds perfect.

      • And Willard once again lends weight to my theory that the climate is extremely sensitive to semantics

      • I’m not sure you share my meaning of “semantics,” peter.

        So far, we’re into footnotes to one sentence in the NOAA report card:

        [I]t is certain that land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past (Jay et al. 2012; Kovacs et al. 2012).

        We have yet to enter into Kovacs et al. 2012, and we have not looked into Jay et al. 2012 at all.

        All we have so far on the table against the claim that

        [Kovacs’ speculation] Land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past.

        [Jim’s Winning Hypothesis] A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.

        The two statements are not even contradictory. To see that, you could make their presuppositions explicit, with quantifiers appropriately scoped over their predicates. Now, that would be doing semantics the way I conceive it.

      • I was referring to your last post, not the whole kitchen sink

      • Fair enough, peter3172.

        Would contacting Kit Kovacs on Jim’s behalf be enough to get out of the semantic loop?

      • I must admit I am impressed with how Willard can persistently misrepresent what ever is said.

        Willard says “Why do contrarians always compare themselves to Einstein or Galileo?”

        But no one compared themselves to Einstein. Einstein’s struggles with politicized science was mentioned because those who politicize typically make it a popularity contest. The consensus argument is trolled agains the average foot soldiers of science like as well as revered geniuses like Einstein. Those who politicize science do not care who they defame.

        The point Willard’s blather completely misses is the scientific method never depends on how many affiliations you can print to support a hypothesis, it just take one person with good evidence. It is the evidence that must be debated.

      • Willard I am sure people here are impressed with how you change tactics like a clueless day trader. First you accuse me of not presenting my ideas as a hypothesis when you blathered, “We reserve the discussion for another comment. Suffice to say that Jim doesn’t even present his hypothesis as a hypothesis.”

        Now you say [Jim’s Winning Hypothesis] A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.

        And to be clear once again you confuse fact with hypothesis. It is an undeniable fact that walrus do not require sea to forage. That is the fact, and the consensus of experts. Bering Sea walruses don’t care about speculation or affiliations.

        My hypothesis is based on that fact. My hypothesis is that less sea ice may be very beneficial because it opens up larger prey-rich areas for walruses to forage in.

        Once again how do we test my “winning hypothesis” as Willard is now fond of calling it? By measuring the energetic budget and determining the trade off between swimming distances and acquired food supplies. But such a definitive study is prohibitive for many reasons.

        So is there any evidence that suggests less ice has benefitted walrus?

        Yes indeed. Exponential growth in the Atlantic where the greatest amount of sea ice retreat has been observed. In the Pacific vital rates all indicate a growing population. Increased calf:cow ratios as well as increased calf survival are all indicators that the lack of sea ice has not been detrimental!

        But all Willard offers is irrelevant blather and a list of co-authors!

      • > ­[N]o one compared themselves to Einstein.

        Jim’s analogy dogwhistles the sources and the targets quite clearly:

        I support you would have joined the 100 against Einstein as “proof” Einstein was wrong.

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/25/noaa-fails-walrus-science/#comment-754881

        Jim’s “support” is relevant insofar as his analogy transfers my criticisms into the good ol’ opposition to Einstein’s “proof”: if I am like a critic of Einstein’s “proof,” then Jim’s hypothesis becomes Einstein’s “proof,” and the author relationship makes Jim the Einstein of his story.

        This analogy provides evidence that Jim knows how guilt by association works.

      • First Willard the word support was a typo that was autocorrected from suggest.

        Second when you blather, “Jim’s “support” is relevant insofar as his analogy transfers my criticisms into the good ol’ opposition to Einstein’s “proof”: if I am like a critic of Einstein’s “proof,” then Jim’s hypothesis becomes Einstein’s “proof,” and the author relationship makes Jim the Einstein of his story.”

        You reveal you ridiculous blather as more ignorant attempts areto attribute whatever negative things you can imagine. But I thank you for that blather. It evoked a great belly laugh.

    • David Springer

      Fat stupid mammals are sometimes protected. Hence Willard’s continued presence among us.

  37. Willard I don’t know why you insist on embarrassing yourself.

    First despite calling everything a “straw man” argument, you obviously don’t understand what a straw man argument is. That you characterize my “requiring that we debate the evidence” is a straw man argument is hilarious and an example that your blather about “straw man” arguments is just plain ignorant.

    Second why are you trying to divert the discussion to Kovacs 2011 paper when he obviously does not know what he is talking about? The most obvious blunder is his claim that you quoted that walruses “give birth and mate on sea ice”?

    Walruses mate in the water and that fact has been published since at least Fay 1982. From Garlich-Miller 2011 Status Review of the Pacific Walrus, “Males perform visual and acoustical displays in the water. … Individual females leave the resting herd to join a male in the water where copulation occurs.”

    I suggest you learn more about walruses before you engage in persistent internet sniping because obviously Willard you don’t know what you are talking about either, which makes everyone suspect your true intentions. My essay are meant to be informative, but I can only lead you to the information but I can’t make you drink.

    Finally citing a paper that simply speculates on the effect of sea ice is just one more example of your nonsense. I have read Kovacs 2011 and he presents no evidence to support his speculation.

    If you or Kovacs want to demonstrate that the lack of sea ice prevents walruses from accessing foraging grounds, then you need to present evidence that when sea ice retreats and makes those foraging areas available, walrus do no go there because those ice free waters are too far away from terrestrial haul outs. IN that regard there has been no evidence or observations, just speculation. But the evidence I presented clearly demonstrates that when sea ice is thick there are no walruses hauling out in nearby areas. But when sea ice retreats then walruses are present.

    I have presented peer reviewed evidence that walruses in the Bering Sea spend their whole summer in ice free waters. Such observations have been recorded for centuries. So if you are Kovacs want to insist that climate change is preventing walruses from accessing foraging grounds because there is no ice to haul out on, then you must explain the Bering Sea Paradox that walruses choose to spend their summers in ice free waters.

    Perhaps you can quote Kovacs where he has demonstrates – not silly states or speculates – that less sea ice prevented access to foraging ground.

    Kovacs 2011 states “Sea ice broadens the feeding distribution of this species markedly, which permits greater overall walrus abundances.”
    But he supplies no evidence to support that statement. In contrast I reported consensus opinion that walrus avoid regions where ice concentrations are 80% or more and reported research where the numbers to the west of the traditional land haul out at Cape Serdse-Kamen and to the north around Wrangel Island represent traditional haulouts that are used only in years of light sea ice but unoccupied in years of heavy ice (Fay 1984).

    • Jim,

      I think you’ll find that those 2 statements in the last paragraph aren’t in opposition, as you appear to believe.

      • Michael I agree that the two statements are not in opposition. As I wrote in the essay sea as resting platforms are likely opportunistic and beneficial, but the point of debate is that sea ice platforms are not a requirement. Although the last statement is not in opposition to the possibility that sea ice may broaden foraging habitat, it is solid evidence that sea ice also limits foraging habitat. Again to demonstrate that sea ice broadens foraging habitat, we need observations that walrus avoid areas of open water even though those open waters are over rich foraging grounds. And we need evidence to explain the Bering Sea Paradox where walrus choose to use ice free Bering Sea waters all summer.

      • And no one has said that it’s “a requirement”.

        Just the opposite, as your own quote shows. It “broadens the feeding distribution”, with population implications.

      • Michael you are mistaken in that regard. It is often implied in one way or another that sea ice is a requirement. Converesely those who simplistically argue are ice broadens foraging grounds conversely argue the lack of sea ice reduces foraging habitat. i.e. a requirement

      • Jim,

        It does not follow at all, that sea ice broadens their range, that it’s ‘a requirement’. A requirement for what? That you quibble about it now as being “implied” is not surprising.

      • Michael, you do not quote me completely. Yes, an argument that sea ice broadens the foraging habitat is not an argument the sea ice is a requirement. It is the argument that less sea ice means less foraging habitat that is inferring that sea ice is a requirement. Your misunderstanding and quibble is strange and illogical.

      • Jim,

        You win the internetz with that.

    • > That you characterize my “requiring that we debate the evidence” is a straw man argument is hilarious and an example that your blather about “straw man” arguments is just plain ignorant.

      Jim might be referring to a comment where I characterized two of your claims as strawmen. The two claims were:

      Somehow Willard thinks demanding evidence in a scientific debate instead of engaging in personal attacks is a form of “ad homs” .

      The first strawman puts thoughts in my head I don’t have. The second strawman misconstrues Jim’s own request. The overall effect is to caricature what I was saying, which was Jim simply conflates his analysis with the evidence he presents, or in other words:

      The bottom line is that requiring we “debate the evidence” when it’s your hypothesis [that] is on the line acts as a decoy.

      In that piece, Jim opposes his “analysis” to the hypothesis held by the authorities on walrus science. He calls it “unproven hypothesis” and dismisses it as “speculation”. Yet his own hypothesis regarding sea ice has not been proven either, and is as conjectural as the other.

      At first I thought that Jim’s fingers slipped when he wrote “unproven hypothesis.” I’m starting to have doubts. Does Jim really believe that there’s such a thing as a “proven” hypothesis, and that his own hypothesis is proven?

    • Do you little debunker trolls have anything on Jim Steele’s funding? What about the religion angle? Your walrus knowledge is very weak. He’s been kicking your little buttocks up between your ears. You all need to dig up some dirt.

    • > [W]hy are you trying to divert the discussion to Kovacs 2011 paper when
      he obviously does not know what he is talking about?

      The answer to this question-begging rhetorical question is: because that’s a citation from the NOAA report’s list of references, and because that citation appears in the paragraph of Kovacs 2012 I mentioned earlier:

      Some ice-associated pinnipeds in the Arctic are already being challenged by reductions in the geographic extent, seasonal duration, and quality (stability) of sea ice (see Kovacs et al. 2011 for a review).

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00479.x/epdf

      There’s a whole section on climate change in Kovacs & al 2012.

      Jim’s “diverting the discussion” is therefore unwarranted, i.e. question-begging.

      As for Jim’s “obviously does not know what he is talking about,” Jim shows yet again that personal attacks are not incompatible to scientific debate.

      Also note that there’s at least one “she” in Kovacs 2011:

      Kit M. Kovacs, Christian Lydersen, James E. Overland, Sue E. Moore

      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12526-010-0061-0

      There might even be two:

      This shows once again that citation details can act as evidence.

      • Willard you keep dodging the fact that Kovacs and all her co-authors published a paper that said walrus mate on ice. You pushed that yourself until I educated you that walrus mate in the water. When I ask why you push incorrect knowledge, you divert with blather calling it a “question-begging rhetorical question” and avoid dealing with it. If Kovacs et al can not get that simple well-known well-observed fact correct, why do expect her to correctly portray a far more difficult problem regards the effect of sea ice as a resting platform.

        IInstead in true internet sniping fashion you counter with the fact that I did not know whether Kovacs was male or female Setting off Sagan’s Baloney Alert. Indeed I never bothered to find out Kovacs gender because gender is not the issue, and does not have any relevance to the discussion and the evidence. But it is a typical troll attempt to discredit the arguer. You know ad homs.

        As Einstein responded to the 100 against him, if he was wrong then it would only have taken one person to refute the evidence. Willard’s blather is irrelevant.

        People who read the various Kovacs papers will also find that Kovacs admits there is very little data to make a proper assessment. The only evidence that Kovacs and other use to argue climate-change-causes-less-ice-must-be-bad hypothesis is that when there is less ice they see more walruses hauled out on land. No doubt there is an effect, is it bad? Perhaps you throw out nebulous cherry picked phrases from Kovacs, but never any details or evidence. Why is that?

        All the evidence including NOAAs report card on Svalbard’s walrus shows the more abundant the population the more often they are found on land. Why is evidence of increased abundance turned on its head by alarmists to argue the walrus are suffering?

      • > [Y]ou keep dodging the fact that Kovacs and all her co-authors published a paper that said walrus mate on ice.

        Since I’m the one who cited Kovacs 2011 and asked about walrus mating on sea ice, I’m not sure why Jim thinks I’m dodging it. I can even quote what they say. Jim, on the other hand, does not quote much the papers he criticizes, if at all. From Table 1, under relationship to ice:

        Walruses give birth and mate on sea ice and use it seasonally to reach bivalve beds too far from shore.

        Under Key sensitivity to changing sea-ice conditions

        Sea ice broadens the feeding distribution of this species markedly, which permits greater overall walrus abundances.

        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12526-010-0061-0

        Jim’s “walrus mate in the water.” contradicts claims like “walruses don’t mate on sea ice” and “walruses only mate on sea ice.” It does not contradict the possibility that walruses can do both. Walruses could also mate in the water near sea ice too. What Jim would need to claim to contradict “walruses mate on sea ice” would be “walruses don’t mate on sea ice” or even stronger “walruses only mate in water.”

        The latter might be hard to argue. Here’s a treesome, mating on cement:

        The more mating space away from predators the merrier walruses, I say!

      • > Indeed I never bothered to find out Kovacs gender because gender is not the issue […]

        Another reason might be because Jim doesn’t know walrus scientists very well. Not that he needs to, if all he needs is to criticize them from the calm comfort of Sierra Nevada.

        The video also provides evidence that Kit Kovacs is indeed the one who made the Svalbard survey. It also provides evidence that she has a sense of humor. Perhaps Jim should contact her, to see if she’d laugh at what he’s saying here.

        After all, why would Kit not laugh at Jim’s candor when he says of her

        he obviously does not know what he is talking about”

        Perhaps she’d laugh so much as to invite him in her next trip to Svalbard.

        Has Jim ever went there?

      • > Jim’s “walrus mate in the water.” contradicts claims like “walruses don’t mate on sea ice” and “walruses only mate on sea ice.”

        The first claim should read “walruses don’t mate in the water,” of course.

      • ROTFLMAO A video of walruses in a zoo as evidence that Kovacs’ statement that walrus mate on ice is correct. Your desperation knows no bounds.

        Perhaps Willard when you contact her and invite her to this forum ask her to defend here speculation. She certainly could provide more evidence than you have, which is none. And if walrus infrequently mate on ice despite the most commonly observed and reported act of mating is in the water, ask her why her paper only mentioned mating on ice. Seems there is some biased reporting.

      • > Perhaps she will tell us why she thinks walrus only mate on ice and on concrete.

        Two other strawmen.

        To refute “walruses only mate in water,” all that is needed is to show walruses mating elsewhere than in water.

        The claim in Kovacs & al 2011 that Jim mocks does not imply that walruses only mate on ice.

        When we say that birders use binoculars for birdwatching, it doesn’t imply that they only use binoculars. They also use telescopes.

  38. Willard you act more like Slandering Sou with every post as now you try to transform the science issues into a personal matter between me and Kovacs. Slandering Sou tried the very same tactic to defend Parmesan’s failure to provide data for independent verification and her failure to publish an update that most of the butterfly populations Parmesan had suggested had gone extinct due to climate change , were now thriving. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/20/hotwhoppers-miriam-obrien-hoisted-by-her-own-petard/

    Again if you sincerely want to discuss the science, all you need to do Willard is supply the evidence to refute my arguments, not lists of speculation.

    It is a fact walrus do not require ice to mate, despite Kovacs wrong assertion. Such wrong assertions appear to be an attempt to make changes in sea ice appear more threatening.

    It is a fact that walrus do not require sea ice to forage as the undeniable evidence of walrus in the Bering Sea illustrate. Why do walrus choose ice free waters to forage, even when plenty of ice abounds elsewhere?

    It is a fact that on average ocean productivity has increased with less ice.

    It is a fact that the use of haul outs increase when populations increase even when sea ice abounds. So why is it used to argue that less ice is bad and forces walruses ashore?

    Despite your endless irrelevant blather you have failed to refute any of those facts.

    Those who argue that the lack of summer sea ice has “certainly” reduced ocean’s carrying capacity, need to show any extra energy expended swimming to newly open ice free waters with rich foraging habitat, is not offset by any increased energy gained from foraging in those areas. But such a study is logistically prohibitive. So we must suffer through claims of “certainty” when there is no certainty at all. Just speculations that less sea ice must be bad.

    • > [Y]ou try to transform the science issues into a personal matter between me and Kovacs.

      Yet Jim’s minimized an hypothesis supported by walrus scientists “Kovacs’ speculation” and said of the main author of a report involving many “walrus science” research centers:

      [H]e obviously does not know what he is talking about.

      .

      One way to depersonalize this would be to communicate with the NOAA and all the institutions that paid for a report in which we can read that walruses mate on ice. It’s quite obvious that walruses mate in sea. Perhaps Jim could also write a letter to the Editors of the journals that published the articles cited in the NOAA score card. It could end with “LOL,” “ROFL,” or “ROFLMAO.”

      INTEGRITY ™ – LOL.

  39. Jim, If you are unaware of this fact, Willard is the inventor of the “science” of Climateball, an art developed by Willard to divert attention from the fact that he is not a scientist and rather ignorant of science generally, especially rigorous science. Being Lord Russell’s squirrel is his signature persona. I have also seen nothing in Willard’s postings here that amounts to any evidence of any scientific merit. Willard needs to reread Russell’s decalogue and be a bit skeptical about his own ramblings.

    • “an art developed by Willard to divert attention from the fact that he is not a scientist and rather ignorant of science generally, especially rigorous science.” Indeed dpy6629 Willard seems to be a well-practiced troll dedicated to denigrating any skeptical science no matter how much evidence is supplied and no matter how great his lack of evidence and logic.

      • Jim, don’t worry about not knowing Kovacio’s gender. You are better off that way. Just use gender neutral pronouns, as the person under discussion might decide to go tranny on you and you will get crucified for not being sensitive. That was probably little willito’s plan, all along. Watch out he is trying to talk you to death. It’s the well-worn little alarmist troll filibuster tactic.

      • “Watch out he is trying to talk you to death”

        Agreed that is Willard’s tactic, but the more Willard talks the more he/she demonstrates his total ignorance and dishonest diversionary tactics. His fabrications and speculations are easily refuted. I keep hoping Willard get Kit Kovacs to join the conversation. Perhaps she will tell us why she thinks walrus only mate on ice and on concrete. LOL

  40. richardswarthout

    I believe that Willard is a Philosophy of Science Phd; came to that understanding some time ago, might be wrong.

  41. Dr. Steele, you presented a very strong thesis. IMO, it has also now been ably defended from the warmunist trolls. A rule of thumb I have developed is that the stronger the posted essay (and yours is very strong), the more it brings out the troll attacks. Here, they they have failed miserably, and in more than one dimension: lack of contrary observations despite initial vague referrals to such, confusing future speculations with observations, contradicting themselves, changing the subject (walrus habitat carrying capacity as a function of sea ice and water depth, ad homs…all the usual tactics exposed for all to read. Well done. Hope this gets published soon.

  42. Pingback: The Sense of Scientific Style | Skeptical Swedish Scientists

  43. Pingback: 50+ Failures and Deceptions of Global Warming Models and Climate Scientists | UnderstandItAll

  44. In the section Accessing Foraging Habitat Jim states:

    [S]everal lines of evidence clearly demonstrate walruses do not “require” sea ice as a resting platform in order to hunt. A resting platform of sea ice is likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement. For example after breeding a large proportion of male walruses abandon the sea ice and migrate south to dwell in land haul outs in ice free waters along the Russian and Alaskan coast (represented by red dots in Figure 3). From those traditional land haulouts they embark on foraging trips that last for 4 to 10 days and range as much as 130 kilometers away (Jay 2005).

    The “130 km” factoid is based on Jay 2005. It’s mentioned two times in the article. Here’s one paragraph where it appears:

    Locations associated with confirmed foraging behavior were observed throughout most of the distribution of the combined offshore locations of the eight walruses with satellite-linked time-depth-recorders (Fig. 3). All these animals were tagged at CP in late July and August. Foraging was confirmed to within about 10 km of CP and 45 km of CS, and across the entire bay, as far as 130 km from the nearest haul-out site. One foraging location was identified in the shallow waters of Kuskokwim Bay.

    http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic58-2-192.pdf

    Compare with Jim’s response to Pat Cassen: During a cruise Cooper observed 9 calves swimming without their mothers in the Arctic where depths were over 3000 meters. That was the full extent of his observations.. From the same observational extent, and the example of male walruses, Jim argues that sea ice is “not a requirement.” Yet, here’s how Jay 2005 starts:

    Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) are segregated by gender for much of the year as they migrate over vast areas of the Chukchi and Bering seas (Fay, 1982). Adult females and dependent young remain with the sea ice year-round, traveling to the north in the Chukchi Sea in summer and to the south in the Bering Sea in winter. In contrast, adult males generally abandon the sea ice in spring for land haul-outs along the coasts of Russia and Alaska. During summer, the adult males rest at the land haul-out sites for up to several days at a time between offshore foraging trips lasting 4–10 days (Hills, 1992; Jay et al., 2001). Bristol Bay has long been recognized as the most important area for summering adult males in Alaskan waters. In the mid-1980s, these animals comprised roughly 7% of the total Pacific walrus population, then estimated at 232 518 (Gilbert, 1989). However, little is known about the exchange of animals between haul-out sites, the location of foraging areas within the bay, or the timing of autumn migration from the bay. This information is important in developing policies to conserve essential coastal and offshore walrus habitats (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994).

    So walruses don’t require sea ice because, male walruses.

    #NotAllWalruses

  45. Willard first thanks for verifying my quote that walrus are observed foraging as far as 130 km from a land haul out.

    Second you would be mistaken to interpret your bolded statement to mean only males don’t require ice. It would be inconsistent with hundreds of observations. Yes, mostly females follow the ice northward as ice recedes, but that is simply because it allows them to immediately access foraging habitat as receding ice opens that foraging habitat. Again it does not mean sea ice is requirement. Furthermore during the summer thousands of females and calves haul out on land in the Chukchi and forage in the ice free waters along the Chukchi coast, they do not follow ice northward over deeper waters where there is no good foraging habitat. Furthermore you ignore the telemetry evidence that shows both female and males in ice free waters will spend an equal amount of time swimming.

    Finally studies by Jay 2012 confirm my argument that as sea ice recedes walruses (females and calves) can expand the areal extent of their foraging habitat (i.e. increase the Arctic’s carrying capacity) writing, “more northerly extension in the range of walruses Odobenus rosmarus divergens in the Chukchi Sea in June and July (Fig. 4) than has been depicted in maps of walrus distributions in the past (Fay 1982, Fay et al. 1984), which was coincident with recent increases in areas of open water and lower sea ice concentrations during these months.”

    Jay 2012 further confirm the benefit of less ice by confirming less ice also extends the duration of the foraging season of females and their calves writing “Walruses and substantial areas of open water occurred in the Chukchi Sea in November of our study, whereas, in the past, most walruses had passed south of the Bering Strait by this month (Fay et al. 1984). With increasing sea ice loss, it is likely that young and adult female walruses will occupy the Chukchi Sea for longer periods during the year and increase their use of coastal haul-outs and associated nearshore foraging areas (Jay et al. 2011).”

    It is a mystery Willard that instead of celebrating these walrus benefits brought by less sea ice, you persist in posting irrelevant quibbles to portray a negative situation when quite the opposite has been observed. And like your egregious attempts to portray my essay as deviously ignoring every small detail that you think my hold some meaning, should I likewise portray your blatant failure to convey the very critical facts above as your attempt to mislead the readers? Please, at least try to be more professional even if you lack a scientific background. Just because you are ignorant of all the facts doesn’t mean you are being devious and deceptive, does it?

    • > [Y]ou would be mistaken to interpret your bolded statement to mean only males don’t require ice.

      This is irrelevant to the point being made: Jim’s “130 km” number comes from tagging nine male walruses. To back up his hypothesis that sea ice is not a “requirement,” and in contradiction to the very first paragraphs of Jay 2005, Jim armwaves around the “130 km” number, which is based on nine male walruses. The end of Jay 2005’s introduction confirms we’re talking about male walruses

      In this paper, we report on the movements of adult male walruses in Bristol Bay, using satellite radio transmitter data collected intermittently between 1987 and 2000. Although these data came from studies with various objectives, we used them to the extent possible to estimate haul-out fidelity, describe the seasonal distribution of walruses, and comment on autumn migrations from the bay.

      This paper has more to do with estimating haul-out fidelity, i.e. how much the walrus male population kept to the same haul-outs, than with Jim’s hypothesis.

      Jim’s reading of Jay 2005 is both opportunistic and a beneficial convenience.

      ***

      > It would be inconsistent with hundreds of observations.

      Yet Jim’s “130 km” number comes from tagging nine male walruses.

      In any case, here’s the second occurence of that number:

      The distance that walruses move from their haul-out sites during foraging trips is likely related to prey density, but information on prey density is lacking (Born and Knutsen, 1997; this study). In our study, walruses moved
      a considerable distance offshore to feed, up to 130 km from their nearest haul-out site. However, offshore locations were conspicuously absent from areas beyond about 50 km west-southwest of CS and 100 km west-southwest of CP and in waters more than 60 m deep (consistent with Jay et al., 2001). The fact that depths in these areas are apparently within the aerobic dive limits of the animals (Jay et al., 2001), and less than maximal foraging depths observed for Pacific walruses (Fay and Burns, 1988), would suggest that these areas had insufficient prey densities or patch sizes for effective foraging.

      http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic58-2-192.pdf

      Seems not all shallow waters are deemed walrus snack-bars.

      • Well Duh,

        The ocean floor is not a homogeneous matrix of prey. Of course Jay reported, The distance that walruses move from their haul-out sites during foraging trips is likely related to prey density, but information on prey density is lacking”

        That quote further confirms what I have been demonstrating. The greater the amount of foraging habitat that is available then the greater distance walrus are willing to travel.

      • Little willy has been studying the walrus, for about a week. Another few hours and he will be the world’s foremost expert.

        COMMENTS ARE CLOSED FOR THIS THREAD

      • > That quote further confirms what I have been demonstrating.

        It seems that according to Jim, everything confirms his hypothesis, and hypothesis Jim already confirmed cannot really be demonstrated, since “a definitive study is prohibitive for many reasons.”

        This quote rather confirms what Pat Cassen was saying in his “Jim, take a deep breath and calm down” comment:

        [I]ncreases in primary productivity do not automaticaly lead to more walrus food.

        Duh indeed.

        ***

        In that Pat mentions Laidre et al. 2008. An excerpt that confirms that “land-based sites alone will not support the same number of walruses that the mixed seasonal use of sea ice and land has permitted in the past”:

        As ‘‘K strategists’’ Arctic marine mammals are adapted to a fluctuating environment and have a greater capacity to tolerate sudden interannual changes, thus have survived repeated periods of cooling or warming over
        evolutionary time (Harington 2008). However, longterm unidirectional changes, as opposed to large-scale interannual variation, present a particularly difficult challenge to the conservation of large polar marine mammals because such changes are likely to result in permanent habitat change, if not complete habitat loss, in some cases.

        Here’s another tidbit that mentions female walruses:

        Walrus in the Pacific and Atlantic display sex-specific distribution and movement patterns. Females with young move to separate summering areas from those of males, although both sexes generally occupy the same areas in winter (Fay 1982, Wiig et al. 1996, Sease and Chapman 1998). Walruses use the same terrestrial haulout sites and wintering areas from year to year (Born and Knutsen 1997, Born et al. 2005).

        In the Pacific, nearly the entire population of walruses spends the winter in the Bering Sea, where they use ice floes for hauling out over the relatively shallow continental shelf. In the summer, adult males mostly
        haul out on more than 30 terrestrial sites along the Russian coast of the Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea and a few on the coast of Alaska (Estes and Gol’tsev 1984). These terrestrial haul-outs are presumed to be located in
        close proximity to areas suitable for feeding. As ice cover recedes in spring, juvenile and adult female walruses move northward with the ice into the Chukchi, east Siberian, and Beaufort seas (Fay 1982). The females and juveniles move southward in the fall to join the males in
        the Bering Sea ice.

        This does not seem to confirm anything regarding the unspecified subset of Jim’s eight male walruses that can go on for 130 km in one go.

      • Re: Increases in primary productivity do not automatically lead to more walrus food.

        Please see Time-Series Benthic Community Composition and Biomass…

        for evidence that

        …some of the more sedentary macrofauna [bivalves] are showing significant declines in biomass since 2004, particularly in the center of a macrobenthic hot[s]pot that has been persistent for decades in the southern Chukchi Sea.

        and
        …the decline in benthic biomass at the core of the biological hotspot during the last decade determined by this study may provide a first indication of an ecosystem response to ongoing changes in this area.

        The paper provides the relevant data in its full complexity, as well as a valuable perspective on the effort it takes to obtain and interpret such data.

      • Willard there is absolutely nothing in what you highlight that refutes my analysis. Do you have evidence that females can not venture out 130 km? Observations have noted male and females will spend similar amounts of time swimming. You can incessantly quibble as much as you want, but you have yet to demonstrate that females require sea ice to forage.

        But you have ignored the evidence that supports the primary premise confirmed by Jay 2012 that less ice increases the areal extent of foraging habitat and increases the duration which that habitat is used.

      • Pat, Thank you linking to that new paper. I had not read it until now.
        However your quote mining does not support your quibbling that “Increases in primary productivity do not automatically lead to more walrus food.”

        Did you read the paper because it further confirms what I wrote that in addition to less ice “ocean currents bathe large sections of those shallow shelves with nutrient rich subtropical waters further enhancing productivity”. The authors link the declines in biomass with a decline productivity due to fewer nutrients advected in the Anadyr Water through the Bering Strait.

        This brings up another point that I did not elaborate on but is critical for understanding how natural cycles reduce sea ice and increase the ocean’s carrying capacity. Much of the reduced sea ice in the Chukchi has been associated with increased flows of warmer waters through the Bering Strait. That inflow also brought more nutrients so that reduced ice cover could then increase primary productivity.

        Their model reported

        “possible mechanisms of climate influence on the production/biomass of benthic macrofauna. Increased transport through Bering Strait of Anadyr Water and associated nutrients would enhance production, food supply, macrofaunal growth increments, and overall production and biomass of benthic fauna. Increased seawater temperatures would also increase growth increments and associated benthic production and biomass. In comparison, decreased volume transport through Bering Strait would have a negative impact on food supply and, if temperatures were lower, would decrease benthic growth increments and reduce benthic production and biomass.”

        Although their model is valid and important, their discussion about a decline ignored the fact that less sea ice allowed other air-breathing bottom feeders like Gray Whales and Bearded seals to proliferate in the Chukchi.

        Nonetheless based on their model you should be most concerned for the walruses if there is less inflow of Anadyr water and an increase of sea ice causing a decline in primary productivity.

      • > Thank you linking to that new paper. I had not read it until now.

        Yet it was cited in Pat’s “take a deep breath and calm down” comment.

        Now that Jim read it, it confirms what he wrote. It seems that according to Jim, everything confirms his hypothesis, and hypothesis Jim already confirmed cannot really be demonstrated, since “a definitive study is prohibitive for many reasons.”

        So according to Jim, one “should be most concerned for the walruses if there is less inflow of Anadyr water and an increase of sea ice causing a decline in primary productivity.” This idea echoes Jim’s quasi-evidence-based claim that “[t]he heavy ice of the last Ice Age must have been the nadir for walrus populations.” In other words, too much ice is bad for walruses, therefore sea ice is not that good, or rather “likely an opportunistic and beneficial convenience – not a requirement.”

        If that’s not enough to convince you, just look at how far can swim some of the eight male walruses in Jay 2005. Even if that does not convince you, you can’t prove Jim’s hypothesis wrong. Thus walrus scientists conspire to hide the duh-obvious conclusions Jim reached right here in this essay. Just ask Willis or Sir Rud.

        The truth is out there.

    • I’m beginning to understand why Willis thought that all he needed to do to understand the issues was to take Jim’s word for it without taking the time to look at the evidence from various perspectives.

      Drawing cinclusions is so much harder when you examine more evidence.

  46. > [T]here is absolutely nothing in what you highlight that refutes my analysis.

    Jim returns to his strawman technique. I never claimed having refuted Jim’s hypothesis. Nor do I see why I’d need to do so. I would even argue that we can crank it a bit more, and suggest that walruses don’t even need ground sites. Zoological facts are indisputable: walruses can live on concrete.

    One way to test that hypothesis would be to adapt the incoming oil drilling platforms in the Bering and Chukchi seas so they can welcome walruses, including pregnant females seeking a shelter from the trampling males.

    If we can adapt to anything, so could walruses, by the sheer virtue of our own limitless power of adaptation.

    ***

    > Do you have evidence that females can not venture out 130 km?

    Jim now shifts the burden of proof. He’s the one who claims that the swimming performances of a fraction of eight male walruses should suffice to infer the same about female walruses. This inference goes against well-documented facts about walrus ethology. It also goes against basic physiology: next time Jim goes shopping, let him carry around a 2 yo to see how fast and how far he can go.

    ***

    > [Y]ou have yet to demonstrate that females require sea ice to forage.

    Jim finishes up with a red herring.

    I don’t need to provide such demonstration, a requirement that would destroy his own hypothesis anyway, since “a definitive study is prohibitive for many reasons.” Jim’s counterfactual thinking does not obligate anyone to respond. It’s just an alternative hypothesis, and science is a race, not a boxing match. For the purpose of this exchange, all I need is to consign some facts.

    Walrus females do “give birth and mate on sea ice and use it seasonally to reach bivalve beds too far from shore.” These facts, which Jim has yet to dispute (standing aside his caricatural reading of “mate on sea ice”), should suffice to substantiate the claim that “sea ice broadens the feeding distribution of this species markedly, which permits greater overall walrus abundances.”

    If that’s not enough, we could continue to explore the behavior of female walruses, and to pay due diligence to the lichurchur. Here’s one interesting sentence from Jay 2012:

    With increasing sea ice loss, it is likely that young and adult female walruses will occupy the Chukchi Sea for longer periods during the year and increase their use of coastal haul-outs and associated nearshore foraging areas (Jay et al. 2011).

    This claim is based on the observations consigned a bit earlier:

    We observed a more northerly extension in the range of walruses Odobenus rosmarus divergens in the Chukchi Sea in June and July (Fig. 4) than has been depicted in maps of walrus distributions in the past (Fay 1982, Fay et al. 1984), which was coincident with recent increases in areas of open water and lower sea ice concentrations during these months. Furthermore, in September and October in 3 (2009, 2010, and 2011) of our 4 study years, walruses foraged in nearshore areas, in contrast to foraging
    in offshore areas in the past, because in recent years, sea ice disappeared over the continental shelf and caused young and adult female walruses to haul-out on shore in large numbers, a condition that did not commonly occur in the past (Fay et al. 1984).

    Whatever the merits of Jim’s hypothesis, I think it’s safe to assume that these facts, and many more else we could read even in the NOAA’s report card and its references, substantiate the concern walrus scientists have over

    the effects of declining sea ice on future energetics of females and young animals that must now make feeding trips from coastal haulouts to areas of high prey abundance (180 km one-way), rather than utilizing nearby ice edges for resting as they did in the past. Current research will hopefully soon shed light on this potential stressor.

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html

    INTEGRITY ™ – What Reading Can Do

  47. Willard, I must apologize for thinking you were Slandering Sou. Although Slandering Sou will also be rude and insulting making up lies and trying to attribute fabricated devious behavior, Sou does not drone on endlessly with meaningless blather about useless details. That behavior was more the earmark of Pete Meisler http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/01/07/peter-miesler-helps-expose-ushcn-homogenization-insanity-and-antarctic-illusions/ and I must say you are giving Peter a run for his money in that department. I must say it is rare to find someone so self unaware of their folly.

    Every one of your posts Willard has been nothing more than an excuse to shoot the messenger while admitting you can not refute a thing I have written admitting, “I never claimed having refuted Jim’s hypothesis. Nor do I see why I’d need to do so.” Peter is also an internet stalker who shared your obsession with trying to denigrate me with the most meanginless trivia and no integrity. Its pretty creepy, but that’s the way of the climate wars.

    But in addition to the belly laughs you provided, you provided a clear demonstration of just how bad science is perpetuated via ignorant cut and pasting. Kovacs ignored all the observations that walrus mate in the water, in order to make sea ice a more vital requirement. She cuts and paste some quip that walrus mate on ice. Then those who know even less, cut and paste her misinformation, and so on and so on. Such is the dark side of the internet. And when their ignorance is exposed, they become obsessed with denigrating those who expose their total ignorance, like you Willard do here. And like Willard some will cut off their nose hoping to save some face and argue that a walrus in the zoo mating on cement proves their intelligent. Willard you have been an icon of all the ugly ignorance evoked by the climate wars. So again I thank you.