Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)

Update

  • Status: Thanks to all for your contributions to a great 2016 SIWO season. Updates will resume in April 2017!

To share comments or images about the conditions in your area, send them to Lisa Sheffield Guy (lisa [at] arcus.org) or join the conversation on the SIWO Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/seaiceforwalrus.

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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.

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.

SIWO on Facebook Follow #SIWO (via @ArcticResearch) on Twitter

Webcams

UAF's Wales Sea Ice Webcam: http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/wales_webcam

Walrus/Whale Tracking

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

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska Native Knowledge Merges with Modern Research to Help Study Arctic (27 June 2015)

KNOM Radio: Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (27 April 2012)

Alaska Public Radio Interview: New Sea Ice Report to Chronicle Arctic Conditions (27 April 2012)

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

Arctic Sounder: Ice-forecasting Project Uses Facebook to Improve Safety for Walrus Hunters and Whalers (24 May 2011)

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

NYTimes: Another Symbol of the Arctic's Complex Ecosystem Finds Itself on Thin Ice (10 August 2010)

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

Documents

SIWO Flyer (PDF - 415 KB)

Lisa Sheffield Guy, Ronnie Owens, Helen Wiggins - Sea Ice Outlook Central Office, ARCUS
Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf - Eskimo Walrus Commission
Hajo Eicken - University of Alaska Fairbanks and SEARCH Science Steering Committee
Becky Heim, 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

9 June 2016 - Current Conditions:

Near St. Lawrence Island

The only sea ice remaining near St. Lawrence Island lies near Tomname Lagoon along the northeast coast of the island. The remainder of the island is surrounded by sea ice free waters at this time.

Wales to Shishmaref

Sea ice in the vicinity of Wales to Shishmaref continued to retreat very rapidly this past week. At this time, lagoon areas from Wales up to Espenberg have melted out to leave only open water conditions. Beyond the lagoon areas from Mugisitokiwik to Espenberg lies a very narrow belt of close pack ice that has consolidated near the coast, but is rapidly deteriorating. Very open pack ice to open water conditions lie beyond this region. The remainder of the southern Chukchi Sea offshore is sea ice free.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

St. Lawrence Island is expected to be sea ice free for the season by early next week.
Along the coast from Wales to Shishmaref we expect sea ice conditions to continue to deteriorate through the coming week. Increasing temperatures along with the coastal current picking up will aid in melting out the sea ice along the coast. Within the week we expect only isolated open to close pack ice conditions to remain near the coastline.

Weather System/Wind Synopsis

Weakening low pressure in the central Bering Sea and high pressure in the Chukchi Sea on June 10 will quickly give way to strong high pressure in the southern Bering and strong low pressure in the northern Chukchi Sea on June 12. Thereafter high pressure will prevail across the region, though with the prospect for another storm in the Chukchi Sea after June 15, with forecast confidence very low thereafter.

Temperature Trend

Temperatures will be near normal June 10 and then generally be above normal thereafter. Highs in the 40s will rise into the 50s after June 11. Lows in the 30s to lower 40s.

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

Previous Outlook Observations

  • Observations from Gambell

    2 June 2016 - Merle Apassingok

    Most of the ice has melted and what was left has been taken by the current in the immediate vicinity of Gambell. There is some remnant shorefast ice on the north side of the island. The broken up ice from the Gulf of Anadyr is still expected but it hasn't been seen yet.

  • Observations from Wales

    28 May 2016 - Amos Oxereok

    The following pictures were taken near Wales over the night of May 27th:

    27 May 2016 at 10:57 p.m.27 May 2016 at 10:57 p.m.

    27 May 2016 at 11:48 p.m.27 May 2016 at 11:48 p.m.

    28 May 2016 at 0:11 a.m.28 May 2016 at 0:11 a.m.

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Remote Sensing Data

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

Additional Resources

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/.

Information on Ice Conditions

For the current sea ice concentration analysis (updated daily)
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/ice.php?img=CT

For the current sea ice stage (thickness) analysis (updated daily)
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/ice.php?img=SA

For the current sea ice forecast map (updated M/W/F)
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/ice.php?img=Forecast

For the corresponding sea ice forecast text product (updated M/W/F)
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/marfcst.php?fcst=FZAK80PAFC

For the sea surface temperature map (updated daily)
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/ice.php?img=SST

For an interactive google map to see the concentration/stage/thickness:
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/icemap.php

SAR Imagery from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency