- Status: The 2014 SIWO season concluded with the final report released on June 20th. An archive of the season's reports is available at the bottom of this page, as are the outlooks from previous years. If you have comments or questions about the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, please contact Kristina Creek (creek [at] arcus [dot] org).
Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)
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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.
UAF's Wales Sea Ice Webcam: http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/wales_webcam
USGS Walrus Tracking Website: http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/walrus/tracking.html
AK Department of Fish and Game Bowhead Tracking Website: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=marinemammalprogram.bowhead
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": http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/08/10/10climatewire-another-symbol-of-...
"Ice-forecasting Project Uses Facebook to Improve Safety for Walrus Hunters and Whalers": http://www.thearcticsounder.com/article/1121ice-forecasting_project_uses...
Radio Interview: April 27, 2012. "New Sea Ice Report to Chronicle Arctic Conditions." Alaska Public Radio.
SIWO Highlighted in the U.S. Arctic Research Commission Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2011-2012:
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
Near St. Lawrence Island
St. Lawrence Island is sea ice-free beyond the western, southern, and eastern coastlines. Strips of brash sea ice are continuing to stream off the main pack ice remaining near the Gulf of Anadyr and are passing to the north and northwest of the island at this time. The remainder of the Northern Bering Sea is mainly open water to sea ice-free.
Wales to Shishmaref
Lagoons from Wales to Espenberg are mostly sea ice-free at this time. Sea ice-free conditions lie from the Bering Strait through much of the southeastern Chukchi Sea offshore from Wales to Shishmaref.
5 to 10 Day Forecast
Weather System/Wind Synopsis
High pressure will be situated over the northern Bering Sea on Friday, 20 June, with a light northerly flow around 15 to 25 mph (10 to 20 kt). These winds will decrease through Saturday the 21st and become light (<15 mph or <10 kt). On Sunday, 22 June, the wind will turn to the west at 15 to 20 mph (10 to 15 kt) south of the Bering Strait and north 10 to 20 mph (5 to 15 kt). High pressure will move to the eastern Bering Sea on Tuesday the 24th, causing the winds to be southerly at 10 to 20 mph (5 to 15 kt). North flow returns on Thursday, 26 June, with low pressure over the western Alaska mainland. Light flow (<15 mph, <10 kt) returns on Saturday the 28th. No widespread precipitation is expected through Monday, 30 June.
Temperature Trend & Ice Forecast
Overnight temperatures during the period will be in the 30s over the Bering Sea and west coast of Alaska. The daytime temperatures will range from the low 40s over the Bering Sea to the upper 40s to lower 50s along the west coast of Alaska. Strips of brash sea ice are expected to continue drifting to the northwest of St. Lawrence Island through the week. The remainder of the northern Bering Sea and southeastern Chukchi Sea are expected to be open water to sea ice-free through this period.
Additional Ice Imagery
Additional satellite images can be found at the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA) website: http://gina.alaska.edu.
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: http://watch.gina.alaska.edu/.
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
Observations from Wales
20 June 2014 - Winton Weyapuk, Jr.
There is no more pack ice or fragments of shorefast ice near Wales. A few hunters last week thought pack ice from the Chukotka side of the strait approached near the Diomede Islands. There were also reports of remaining broken shorefast ice 32 miles north of Wales at the Ikpek inlet to Shishmaref Lagoon, but basically there is no more pack ice near Wales. People here are now waiting for salmon to begin running and have started picking greens from the tundra.
Observations from Gambell
16 June 2014 - Merle Apassingok
There is still some sea ice present coming from the west. Ice is present from the southwest to just east of northeast. There is quite a bit of ice occurring in a combination of sparse and dense ice. The ice is full of silt indicating it is from shorefast ice probably from the Russian coast. Hunters are reporting a lot of spotted and ribbon seals, but hardly any walrus. A lot of whales including killer whales have also been observed. During calm days like these many hunters take the opportunity to teach their young sons and daughters how to hunt, and about hunting safety.
Previous Outlook Observations
Observations from Wales
13 June 2014 - Amos Oxereok
Only a small strip of landfast ice north of Wales remains and is rotting in place.
10 June 2014 - Amos Oxereok
Crumbled ice from the Teller / Grantly Harbor area has packed in around Wales.
This crumbled ice extends for almost 10 miles up the coast to the northeast, near shore. Weakened shore ice that is currently breaking up extends at least another 10 miles up the coast.
Of the several grounded pressure-ridge burgs near the coast, this is the largest one we have found.