Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)
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). Archive available here: http://ine.uaf.edu/accap/telecon_archive.htm
Webinar hosted by Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) (June 15, 2010). Archive available here: http://ine.uaf.edu/accap/telecon_archive.htm
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: http://www.arctic.gov/publications/2011-12_usarc_goals.html
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
A polyna remains along the northern coastline of St. Lawrence Island stretching from 3 to 9 miles in width. Beyond the northern coastline polyna is an area of close pack ice consisting of first year medium to new sea ice. Off to the east of the island is a large area of very open pack ice. The southern coastline of the island has filled in with close pack ice with the exception of the area from near Powooiliak Camp to near Silook Camp where a polyna has opened with a width of 2 to 15 miles.
Wales to Shishmaref
Open to very open pack ice is present from the western half of the Bering Strait stretching up into the southern Chukchi Sea. Very close pack ice remains mobile along the shorefast sea ice stretching from Wales to Shishmaref. A polyna that is roughly 5 miles wide has formed at the shorefast ice edge near Ikpek up to Shishmaref. The shorefast ice extent along the coast varies from 2 miles off Shishmaref to 18 miles off Ikpek to 10 miles off Mugisitokiwik. The outer edges of the shorefast ice are becoming more unstable.
5 to 10 Day Forecast
A low-pressure system in the Chukchi Sea will bring north winds of 15 to 25 mph (10 to 20 knots) on Friday, 17 April. Expect the polyna along the southern coastline of St. Lawrence Island to remain open through Friday. Ice will continue to drift south through the Bering Strait during this time.
The low will work north of Wrangell Island Saturday, 18 April, with winds becoming south at 10 to 20 mph (5 to 15 knots). The southerly flow will increase to 20 to 30 mph (15 to 25 knots) Saturday night and remain strong through Sunday. The flow will turn a bit to the southeast and east but remain at 20 to 30 mph (15 to 25 knots) Monday, 20 April, as a low moves into the Southern Bering Sea. During this time the polyna off the southern coastline of St. Lawrence Island will close in with pack ice and a polyna will form beyond the shorefast coastline on the northern side of the island. The pack ice north of St. Lawrence will spread out to the north and northwest up to the Bering Strait. The close pack ice along the coastline from Wales to Shishmaref will also spread out into the southern Chukchi Sea.
This low as well as its associated winds from the east and southeast will weaken as it works north through the Bering Sea Tuesday and Wednesday, 21-22 April, before disappearing on Thursday. Winds will be light (< 10 mph) and variable Thursday the 23rd through Monday the 27th as weak high and low pressure systems move through the area. During this time areas of open water may freeze over with new ice and ice drift will slow.
Additional Ice Imagery from the NWS Ice Desk
Archive of Recent Satellite Images Showing More Detail
The links above take you to a user-friendly archive, through the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA) website, which contains all the available high resolution satellite images for the two regions.
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
Previous Outlook Observations
The NOAA/NWS Sea Ice Desk contributed additional satellite imaging with clearer conditions, dated 12 May 2013:
Comments from Shishmaref
10 May 2013 - Ken Stenek
Nothing has really changed since [mid-April]. Top layers of snow are beginning to melt with warmer temperatures. Snow is becoming larger individualized ice crystals. Hunters are digging snow out of their boats so that they can drain and dry. Hearing that hunters are going out in Norton Sound though.