Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)


Status: Our seasonal outlooks will begin in March 2018. Until then, please follow us on Facebook for relevant updates about walrus, sea ice, and weather in the Bering Strait and visit our resources page for links to ice and weather forecasts and satellite imagery.

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Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook

The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) 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 weather and sea ice conditions relevant to walrus in the northern Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea regions of Alaska.

The Outlooks are produced with information on weather and sea ice conditions provided by the National Weather Service - Alaska Region and Alaska Native sea ice experts. SIWO partners include the Eskimo Walrus Commission, the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), and scientists at the National Weather Service and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Funding for SIWO is provided to ARCUS by the National Science Foundation's Division of Arctic Sciences (PLR-1304316). SIWO is considered a contribution to the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH).

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National Weather ServiceInternational Arctic Research CenterEskimo Walrus CommissionWeather Ready Nation

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

9 June 2017 - Current Conditions:

This final outlook of 2017 focuses only on the remaining sea ice in the Wales to Shishmaref area

Wales to Shishmaref

The ice along the coast continues to deteriorate and is no longer shorefast. Very close pack ice extends 1 to 3 nautical miles offshore. Beyond that is open water and sea ice free conditions, with the exception of a small area of open pack ice that extends up to 15 nautical miles offshore near Shishmaref.
SHH hourly weatherNWS hourly weather graph for Shishmaref

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

Near the Wales to Shishmaref coast, pieces of ice are expected to gradually break off the very close ice pack while concentration along the ice edge continues to quickly diminish through the next week. Pieces that break off of the pack will rapidly melt as they move into warmer waters offshore.  
5 day ice forecastNWS Alaska Sea Ice Program 5-day Sea Ice Forecast

Wind Synopsis

Winds on Friday Jun 9th will be northerly 15 to 20 kt (15 to 20 mph) and diminish to 10 to 15 kt (10 to 15 mph) on Sunday June 11th. Variable winds 10 kt (10 mph) or less will develop on Monday June 12th and persist through Wednesday June 14th. Winds will shift to northeast 15 to 20 kt (15 to 20 mph) Thursday June 15th.

Temperature Trend

Temperatures will remain near to slightly above normal from Friday June 9th to Friday June 16th.

Daily Weather, Wind, and Temperature Updates

The National Weather Service provides twice-daily, text only updates on the weather, wind, and temperature conditions in specific geographical zones. An interactive weather map for access to other Alaskan zones can be found here:

Wind maps are updated daily and can be viewed here:

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

  • Observations from Shishmaref

    9 June 2017 – Curtis Nayokpuk

    Our crew and one other made it back after hunting the ice fields north of Shishmaref. No Walrus seen or found anywhere and ice looks to have been beaten by large wave action. On return to launch area we encountered large 8 ft. swell coming in from the west and could not land at departure/launch site due to large wave swell and ice pans grinding so we made it in at another safe scattered ice a mile east to get back to shore ice. Thanks to our local search and rescue for going out to retrieve our snow machines and sleds and bring them back to town on shore ice heaving and breaking up with unexpected swell from the west. Forecast weather with light N-NE winds in our area was as forecast but winds reported by hunter near Wales were high west winds and building swell and tried to relay information to our hunters but we were already out hunting. Picture show our crews helping each other to move our skiffs to solid ice and home thru fracturing shore fast ice. Only had time for one picture shot during break watching fog roll in with west wind. Thanks for this site and look to see you all again next year.
    Wind and fogCrews help each other to move skiffs to solid ice

Remote Sensing Data

Wales to Shishmaref satellite image Wales to Shishmaref
St. Lawrence Island region satellite image St. Lawrence Island
Bering Strait region satellite image Bering Strait

MODIS Imagery

MODIS imagery from Mar 21 to Apr 2MODIS imagery from Mar 21 to Apr 2

This animation of MODIS imagery from Mar 21 to Apr 2 shows a recent increase of open water through Anadyr Strait and north of Gambell, likely current driven. Simultaneously, a substantial portion of ice broke away from the SW side of the Seward Peninsula off Port Clarence, very likely wind-driven as the area has experienced steady NE wind over this period. Our last update mentioned this as likely. The ice that broke out on the SW side of the Seward Peninsula broke all the way up to the south side of Cape Mountain near Wales.

Additional resources for satellite imagery and weather are available here.