Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)

Update

Status: The 2021 SIWO began on Friday, 26 March and will continue until sea ice retreats from the Bering Strait. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/seaiceforwalrus for more discussion. An evaluation of the SIWO will be conducted in mid to late 2021 to determine what we are doing right and where we need improvement—stay tuned for details on how you can participate in the evaluation!

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

Subscribe

Subscribe here to receive new SIWO reports via email.

Enter your email address:

Overview

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 during the spring sea ice season 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 is managed by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), in partnership with the Eskimo Walrus Commission, the National Weather Service, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and local observers. Funding for SIWO is provided to ARCUS by the National Science Foundation's Division of Arctic Sciences (PLR-1928794). During 2020–2021, SIWO received support from Alaska Sea Grant for a formal evaluation, which is being led by University of Alaska Fairbanks. Results of the evaluation will be shared publicly when available.

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

National Weather ServiceInternational Arctic Research Center 2020Eskimo Walrus CommissionWeather Ready Nation

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

14 May 2021 - Current Conditions:

Click the name of each community below to view more frequently updated and detailed information from the National Weather Service.

Synopsis – A low will gradually move eastward across the southern Bering Sea through Saturday, then move south into the North Pacific Sunday and Monday.

Near St. Lawrence Island

There is shorefast ice, mainly on the north and east side of St. Lawrence Island, generally extending 1 to 2 miles offshore. Beyond the shorefast ice on the north side of the island is compact pack ice to consolidated ice consisting of medium to vast floes. To the east and west of the island is open pack ice that extends 23 miles to the west of the island and 11 miles to the east of the island. To the south of the island is open water extending up to 90 miles.

Nome

Shorefast ice around the Nome area extends up to 2 miles offshore from Sinuk to near Solomon, and up to 7 miles offshore near Cape Rodney out to Sledge Island. There is an area of open pack ice south of Nome, with open water to the west of Dexter and to the east of Cape Nome. Close to very close pack ice exists south of the open water, throughout central and southern Norton Sound with medium to vast floes.

Brevig Mission/Port Clarence Area

Shorefast ice remains intact and extends 23 to 25 miles west/southwest of Brevig Mission. There is a small polynya that extends off the shorefast ice up to 4 miles, then close pack ice consisting of medium to vast floes.

Wales to Shishmaref

Shorefast ice extends up to 2.5 miles from the coast. Beyond the shorefast ice is consolidated ice consisting of medium to giant floes. To the west and northwest of Wales, very open pack ice to open water extends up to 30 miles.

Diomede

Shorefast ice persists between the islands. There is consolidated ice to the north of the shorefast that extends around 2.5 miles. Otherwise, open water extends to the north, east, and south of the island.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

Continued offshore flow will move the icepack mainly to the southwest, 20 to 30 miles through Thursday May 20th. Polynyas will continue to grow. Thinner sea ice between thicker ice floes will continue to melt through the week.

NWS 5-day Sea Ice ForecastNWS 5-day Sea Ice Forecast

NWS Sea Ice Stage AnalysisNWS Sea Ice Stage Analysis

Wind Synopsis

Norton Sound Region...
Friday, May 15th northeast wind 10 to 15 kts (12–17 mph) becoming northwest Sunday, May 17th in the morning. Wind on Monday, May 18th shifts to west and increases to 15 to 20 kts (17–23 mph) diminishing to southwest 10 to 15 kts (12–17 mph) Tuesday, May 19th in the afternoon. The wind diminishes to variable 5 to 10 kts (6–12 mph) for Wednesday, May 20th then shifts into the east and increases to 15 to 20 kts (17–23 mph) on Thursday, May 21st before diminishing on Friday, May 22nd morning back down to 5 to 10 Kts (6–12 mph) from the southeast.

Bering Strait and Saint Lawrence Island Region...
Friday, May 15th northeast wind 20 to 25 kts diminishing to northwest 15 to 20 kts (17–23 mph) late Sunday, May 17th. Wind on Monday, May 18th becomes variable 5 to 15 kts (6–12 mph) until Thursday, May 21st when early in the morning it begins increasing to northeast 20 to 25 kts (23–27 mph) through Friday.

Temperature Trend

Norton Sound Region...Friday, May 14th through Friday, May 21st maximum temperatures in the 40s. Minimum temperatures in the upper 20s to upper 30s.

Bering Strait Region...Friday, May 14th through Friday, May 21st maximum temperatures in the mid to upper 30s. Minimum temperatures 25 to 30.

St. Lawrence Island Region...Friday, May 14th through Friday, May 21st maximum temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s.

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: http://weather.gov/anchorage/ice

Higher resolution satellite images and wind maps (wind updated daily) can be viewed here: http://www.weather.gov/afg/SIWO_overview

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 Diomede

    Tuesday, 11 May 2021 – Marty Eeleengayouq Ozenna

    Took pictures of the north side this morning, still holding but rotting from underneath, also the top is melting away and were still waiting for the weather to die down or the south side to break off more. Couple boats ready.

    Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 1.Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 1.

    Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 2.Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 2.

    Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 3.Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 3.

    Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 4.Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 4.

    Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 5.Sea ice and weather conditions in Diomede - view 5.

  • Observations from Elim to Nome

    Monday, 10 May 2021 – Kim Takak

    Near Elim, flight from Nome (4 photos).

    Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 1.Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 1.

    Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 2.Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 2.

    Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 3.Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 3.

    Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 4.Near Elim, flight from Nome - view 4.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome (6 photos).

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 1.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 1.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 2.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 2.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 3.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 3.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 4.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 4.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 5.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 5.

    Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 6.Flight to Nome around Rocky and towards Nome - view 6.

  • Observations from Savoonga

    13 May 2021 – Aqef Waghiyi

    No good for boating here still. Gambell has been boating almost daily. No walrus yet. Still winter for us here. Few open leads here and there. Shore ice is kinda thin on some parts to go down to the open water. It’s melting pretty fast the past week or so.

    14 May 2021 – Aqef Waghiyi

    Yesterday few boats went out few hours after you called, and I think all boats got walrus 5 to 8 miles out.

  • Observations from Gambell

    14 May 2021 – Clarence Irrigoo, Jr.

    From May 9–12 boats went out got walrus. May 11 was so foggy but 18-20 boats went out. Most of the boats got walrus. Once when we get to the ice 20+ miles out we see all this. See no more ice, only ice is coming from NE.

    Walrus seen near Gambell.Walrus seen near Gambell.

    Walrus seen near Gambell.Walrus seen near Gambell.

    Walrus seen near Gambell.Walrus seen near Gambell.

    Walrus seen near Gambell.Walrus seen near Gambell.

    Walrus seen near Gambell.Walrus seen near Gambell.

  • Observations from Nome

    14 May 2021 – Boogles Johnson

    The shorefast ice has broken from the shore in Nome today. Our rivers are starting to flow and spring is beautiful. A majority of the spring hunters have been successful in harvesting Ice Seals and Walrus this year. Spring is a little later this year than the past few years but it seems like the thaw has been happening faster than the past few years.

    Weather and sea ice conditions in Nome - view 1.Weather and sea ice conditions in Nome - view 1.

    Weather and sea ice conditions in Nome - view 2.Weather and sea ice conditions in Nome - view 2.

  • Observations from Port Clarence and Brevig Mission

    14 May 2021 – Marcus Barr

    Not much of a difference but looks like it's going to break off around by Cape Douglas.

Remote Sensing Data

Bering Strait Satellite Image Bering Strait Satellite Image
Wales to Shishmaref Area Satellite Image Wales to Shishmaref Area Satellite Image
St. Lawrence Island Area Satellite Image St. Lawrence Island Area Satellite Image

Additional resources for satellite imagery and weather are available here.