SEARCH : Study of Environmental Arctic Change

Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)


  • Status: The 2015 SIWO season started with the first report released Friday, 3 April. We will be posting weekly updates every Friday throughout the summer ice season. To receive notifications when a new report is available, enter your email address in the box to the right. You can also follow SIWO on Facebook:

If you have comments or questions about the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, please contact Kristina Creek (creek [at] arcus [dot] org).


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Photo by Maggie Prevenas - PolarTREC/ARCUSPhoto by Maggie Prevenas - PolarTREC/ARCUS

The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO), an activity of the SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook started in 2010, is a resource for Alaska Native subsistence hunters, coastal communities, and others interested in sea ice and walrus. The SIWO provides weekly reports from April through June with information on sea ice conditions relevant to walrus in the Northern Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea regions of Alaska.

If you are a local hunter, expert, or a scientist with observations on sea ice, please send your comments to creek [at] arcus [dot] org (Kristina Creek); your comments will be posted to this page.

This collaboration includes weather and ice forecasters, climate scientists and sea-ice researchers at NOAA, the National Weather Service, the University of Alaska, and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS, with funding from the National Science Foundation's Division of Arctic Sciences), who are teaming up with Alaska Native sea-ice experts and the Eskimo Walrus Commission.

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UAF's Wales Sea Ice Webcam:

Walrus/Whale Tracking

USGS Walrus Tracking Website:

AK Department of Fish and Game Bowhead Tracking Website:

Press & Outreach

Webinar hosted by Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) (May 24, 2011).

Webinar hosted by Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) (June 15, 2010).

NYTimes: "Another Symbol of the Arctic's Complex Ecosystem Finds Itself on Thin Ice":

"Ice-forecasting Project Uses Facebook to Improve Safety for Walrus Hunters and Whalers":

Radio Interview: April 27, 2012. "New Sea Ice Report to Chronicle Arctic Conditions." Alaska Public Radio.

KNOM Radio:

SIWO Highlighted in the U.S. Arctic Research Commission Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2011-2012:


SIWO Flyer (PDF - 415 KB)

creek [at] arcus [dot] org (Kristina Creek), ronnie [at] arcus [dot] org (Ronnie Owens), helen [at] arcus [dot] org (Helen Wiggins) - Sea Ice Outlook Central Office, ARCUS
Vmetcalf [at] kawerak [dot] org (Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf) - Eskimo Walrus Commission
hajo [dot] eicken [at] gi [dot] alaska [dot] edu (Hajo Eicken) - University of Alaska Fairbanks and SEARCH Science Steering Committee
Gary Hufford, Don Moore - National Weather Service
Jim Overland, Nancy Soreide, Tracey Nakamura, Nick Bond - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Lab (NOAA/PMEL)
Sue Moore - NOAA Office of Science & Technology and SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC)

Assessment of Current Ice Conditions Relevant to Distribution and Access of Walrus

24 April 2015 - Current Conditions:

Near St. Lawrence Island

The shorefast ice along the northern coastline of the island continues to be limited in extent, currently extending up to 8 miles offshore, while the shorefast ice along the southern coastline is limited to the lagoons. To the north and east of the island lies a region of very close pack ice consisting of mainly first year ice floes. To the west and south of the island lies an area covered mainly with young and new ice with isolated first year ice floes in the vicinity.

Wales to Shishmaref

Shorefast ice along the northwest Seward Peninsula beyond the lagoons does not appear to be quite as stable this year as some years in the recent past. The edge of the shorefast ice currently extends 13 miles off the coast from Mugisitokiwik, 13 miles from Ikpek, and is limited to the extent of the lagoons near Shishmaref. Sea ice continues to be mobile through the Bering Strait with close pack ice consisting of first year ice floes. Compact pack ice lies off the coast from Shishmaref to Kotzebue Sound with an area of new and young ice, along with isolated first year ice floes from Ikpek to the Bering Strait.

5 to 10 Day Forecast

Weather System/Wind Synopsis

A low near Bristol Bay will bring north to northeast winds 10 to 15 kt (15 to 20 mph) Friday, 24 April. The low will move into the southern Gulf of Alaska on Saturday, 25 April, bringing northwest winds of around 10 kt (15 mph). Another low moves into the southern Bering Sea Sunday the 26th with light and variable winds of 10 kt (15 mph). Monday, as the low strengthens in the southern Bering Sea, the winds become southeast at 10 kt (15 mph) near St. Lawrence Island and variable at 10 kt (15 mph) in the Bering Strait. That low moves quickly east of the Bering Sea Monday night and is replaced by another in the southwest Bering Sea Tuesday with east winds around 10 kt (15 mph). The low strengthens a bit in the southern Bering Sea Wednesday the 29th with northeast winds of 10 to 15 kt (15 to 20 mph). The low continues to strengthen near Adak with winds of 10 to 20 kt (15 to 25 mph). By Friday May 1st, the low moves near Unalaska. Northeast winds of 10 to 20 kt (15 to 25 mph) persist. The low moves slowly to Cold Bay Saturday, 2 May, with northeast winds of 15 to 25 kt (20 to 30 mph). The low moves a bit east of Cold Bay Sunday the 3rd with continued northeast winds of 15 to 25 kt (20 to 30 mph). High pressure builds into the Chukchi Sea Monday, 4 May, with a low in the Gulf of Alaska. Winds will continue from the northeast at 15 to 25 kt (20 to 30 mph).

Temperature Trend & Ice Forecast

Temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees above normal with daytime temperatures around 30 to 40 degrees. Overnight temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees are anticipated, except around Kotzebue Sound where they will be in the teens.

Since the majority of the wind direction will be east and northeast during this period, we expect that sea ice will continue to compact along the northern coastline of St. Lawrence Island with the polynya along the south and west-facing coastline expanding. During this time the shorefast ice edge from Wales to Shishmaref and ice floes near Wales along the Bering Strait will shift out into the Bering Strait and south into the northern Bering Sea.

Assessment of Current Ice Conditions Relevant to Distribution and Access of Walrus

Observations of Sea Ice Development

In this location, you will find comments about ice development based on information provided by local ice experts and other researchers based on ground observations and satellite images.

Additional comments and images are regularly posted to the SIWO Facebook page.

Current Outlook Observations

No observations reported.

Previous Outlook Observations

  • Observations from Gambell

    22 April 2015 - Merlin Koonooka

    These past several days we have seen quite a lot of new snow with light winds blanketing the land and ice. When this happens, the people and hunters say in Yupik "Alliighighaa," which means a new soft layer of snow is laid on the ice for the newborns (walrus and the many species of seal) during their nursing period.

    17 April 2015 - Merle Apassingok

    There are larger ice floes coming in, but there has been mostly young ice forming over the past couple of weeks. The lack of winds and the currents have affected the opening west of Gambell. In the past 3-4 days areas west of Gambell have started to open up. The ice floes seen are thicker—not the multiyear ice from the past but still thick with good integrity.

  • Observations from Nome

    20 April 2015 - Fred Tocktoo

    Over the weekend, we saw some shorefast ice break off near Nome where some crab pots were located especially on towards the southwestern shore line, a couple of miles from Nome town. It won't be too long for the shorefast ice to break off in Nome.

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Remote Sensing Data

St. Lawrence Island St. Lawrence Island
Wales to Shishmaref Wales to Shishmaref
Bering Strait Bering Strait

Additional Resources

Ice Imagery

Additional satellite images can be found at the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA) website:

For those with low-bandwidth internet connections, there is also a direct feed to the most recent satellite images for the Bering Strait, St. Lawrence Island, and the Barrow region. You can access these images at:

Information on Ice Conditions

SAR Imagery from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency