SEARCH : Study of Environmental Arctic Change

Friday, 8 June 2012 - Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook

Weekly Outlook

Date: 
8 June 2012
Assessment of Current Ice Conditions Relevant to Distribution and Access of Walrus: 

St. Lawrence Island

Satellite imagery shows a lot of shorefast ice still in place around the island. A large number of ice floes of various sizes are present west of St. Lawrence Island, many of which are now coming from the Gulf of Anadyr. Heavy ice is still present east of the island as well. All of this ice is slowly drifting northward.

Wales to Shishmaref

Shorefast ice is still present off Wales and Shishmaref. Grounded ice off Point Prince of Wales is helping to hold the shorefast ice in off Shishmaref. There is a lot of open water in the Bering Strait with very scattered and dispersed ice floes present.

5 to 10 day Outlook

Sea ice will continue to melt in place and/or drift northward. A storm is centered over the mainland and a ridge of high pressure is over the Bering Sea. This pattern is producing NW 25 knot (30 mph) winds in the area. The pattern will begin to break down on Saturday as the ridge disappears over the Bering Sea. Winds on Sunday should be variable, around 10 knots (15 mph). The ridge will rebuild on Wednesday, 13 June, as a large storm forms over the western Aleutians. This will tighten the pressure gradient again and winds will be SE 20 knots (25 mph), building to SE 25-30 knots (30-35 mph) Thursday, 14 June. Winds will become N 25-30 knots (30-35 mph) on Sunday and remain through Monday, 18 June.

St. Lawrence Island wind direction and speed
Map of 10-day outlook of wind conditions
Bering Strait wind direction and speed

Arrows show wind direction and wind speed in knots

Remote Sensing Images

Bering Strait
Bering Strait Closeup
St. Lawrence Island

Observations and Comments

Observations of Sea Ice Development: 
Comments from Gambell

7 June 2012 - Paul Apangalook

The temperatures are now in the mid- to upper thirties, and there is still a lot of scattered ice from close to shore out to the horizon. Although there is plenty of ice, there is often hardly any game except for some maklaks (bearded seal) occasionally spotted on the ice.

Many boats went out yesterday, some going long distances to the north and most hunting among the ice pack for whatever they can find. The ice is comprised of larger melting floes mixed with thicker, broken floes. Much of the game found is maklaks and other seals. One polar bear was taken. Some walrus have been spotted in the water from onshore migrating close to shore.

Much of the harvest was completed the latter part of May and most families are satisfied with their hunt. A lot of our young men have been bird hunting a few miles just south of the village. Villagers continue to hang meat of the new season for drying.

Comments from Shishmaref

8 June 2012 - Curtis Nayokpuk

One boat crew is launching to hunt in open water thirteen miles north of Shishmaref. Hunters are currently harvesting oogruk (bearded seal) from open leads along shorefast ice east of the boat launch/open water. Poor trail conditions with rotting ice and pressure ridges blocking travel from the shoreline to about eight miles north of Shishmaref have discouraged hunters hauling boats to hunt the open water. Today was the second day with 10-12 mph W-NW wind and fog. West wind and easterly tide current (into Kotzebue Sound avg. 6 hr. change when pack ice moves east or west along shorefast ice) will close leads and hunters will be back out when the weather improves with forecasts of light SW winds to open leads by Sunday.

7 June - Shorefast ice edge 13 miles north of Shishmaref. Photo: courtesy of C.N7 June - Shorefast ice edge 13 miles north of Shishmaref. Photo: courtesy of C.Nayokpuk

Comments from Wales

8 June 2012 - Winton Weyapuk

The landfast ice has completely gone out, from in front of the village to below the airport. From the airport on north there still is landfast ice although considerable amounts of it broke off. There has been no pack ice or walrus sighted this past week. A few pieces of broken shorefast ice were drifting north with the current. A couple of days ago with high winds they were drifting SW. Very few walrus have been seen so far and the ones seen were swimming.