Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)


Status: The 2021 SIWO began on Friday, 26 March and ended on Friday, 18 June. SIWO will begin again in spring 2022. Follow us on Facebook at for more discussion. An evaluation of the SIWO will be conducted in mid to late 2021—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], use our reporting form on the is webpage, or join the conversation on the SIWO Facebook page:


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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 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.

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

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

18 June 2021 - Current Conditions:

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

Synopsis – High pressure remains over the Arctic while weak low pressure stays over the mainland. Some stronger northerly wind will develop through the Bering Strait over the weekend.

Near St. Lawrence Island

Please note that the most recent imagery we have for this area is the afternoon of June 15th. There is shorefast ice along the north side of St. Lawrence Island between Camp Iveetok and Camp Kulowiyi extending 1 to 3 miles offshore. Beyond the shorefast ice on the north side of the island is open water to very open pack ice that consists of brash ice up to small floes. Confidence is lower for concentration in this area. Close pack ice existed around 7 miles offshore, comprised of brash ice up to medium floes. That area extends northward through the Bering Strait. Offshore of Gambell and the western island hasn't been seen since the 14th. At that time, there was an area of close pack ice consisting of brash ice immediately off the coast. Imagery since then, while not definitive, suggested this ice was rapidly melting. Very low confidence analysis/forecast for this ice. South and east of the island is sea ice free water. Between Gambell and Savoonga an area of open water exists, followed by an area of close pack ice, all brash, generally around 10 miles offshore, closer to Gambell and Savoonga.


The outlook is finished for the season for this area.

Brevig Mission/Port Clarence Area

The outlook is finished for the season for this area.

Wales to Shishmaref

Previously shorefast ice extends up to 2.5 miles from the coast, mainly north of Ikpek. This ice continues to melt in place, so it is now considered compact pack ice although much of it is likely still fast to the shore/ocean floor. Beyond the shorefast ice is open water. There is some close pack ice comprised of brash to small floes coming through the Bering Strait 8 miles off the coast from Wales through Ikpek. The remainder of very close pack ice is just outside of Kotzebue Sound between Espenberg and Cape Krusenstern consisting of small to medium floes.


The outlook is finished for the season for this area.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

The remaining pack ice between Savoonga and Wales will continue to melt from the edges, reducing in areal coverage. Northerly winds over the weekend will bring it back southward toward St. Lawrence Island. By the end of next week only small areas of pack ice will remain with most of the area remaining being marginal concentration.

Some of the ice that's recently come through the Bering Strait could still be in the area on Friday, but will be pushed back southward over the weekend by northerly winds. Any remaining previously shorefast ice will likely melt during this time. Some of the remaining pack ice outside of Kotzebue Sound could begin to drift southward, but it is more likely that it will continue to melt as well as get compacted against the coast between Shishmaref and Espenberg.

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

NWS Sea Ice Stage AnalysisNWS Sea Ice Stage Analysis

Wind Synopsis

Friday, June 18th southwest wind 10 to 15 Kts (12 to 17 mph) wind shift to the north on Saturday, June 19th during the afternoon. North wind increases to 15 to 25 Kts (17 to 29 mph) Sunday afternoon. Tuesday, June 22nd wind diminishes to northeast 10 to 15 Kts (12 to 17 mph) early in the morning. Wednesday, June 23rd during the late morning wind shifts north and increases significantly to 30 to 40 Kts (35 to 46 mph) lasting until Thursday, June 24th night when it slowly relaxes to north 10 to 15 Kts (12 to 17 mph) by Friday, June 25th in the afternoon.

Friday, June 18th southwest wind 5 to 10 Kts (6 to 12 mph) increasing and shifting to northwest 10 to 20 Kts (12 to 23 mph) early Saturday, June 19th. Northwest wind increases to 20 to 30 Kts (23 to 35 mph) early Sunday, June 20th shifting and diminishing to west 10 to 20 Kts (12 to 23 mph) early Tuesday, June 22nd morning. Wind shifts northwest and increases rapidly on Wednesday, June 23rd in afternoon to 25 to 35 Kts (29 to 40 mph) then the wind starts to relax to northwest 10 to 15 Kts (12 to 17 mph) on Friday, June 25th.

Temperature Trend

Maximum temperatures in the 40s. Minimum temperatures in the mid 30s to near 40.

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:

Higher resolution satellite images and wind maps (wind updated daily) 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

    Monday, 14June 2021 – Curtis Nayokpuk

    All hunters boats back on beach. Drizzle, rain, mist and fog conditions a concern as shore fast ice melting/rotting fast. I'll send some pictures later for the last week on SIWO report from Shishmaref. Looks like we will be waiting for break up and open leads to hunt with boats, hopefully within a few days w/ FC southerly winds.

    This is the first time I've seen sea ice (loose pack outer waters) melt before our still solid lagoon! We can't boat to traditional egg hunting areas yet as lagoon areas blocked with ice."

    Shishmaref beach - view 1.Shishmaref beach - view 1.

    Shishmaref beach - view 2.Shishmaref beach - view 2.

    Shishmaref - "Get the boats."Shishmaref - "Get the boats."

    Shishmaref - "Good thru here."Shishmaref - "Good thru here."

    Shishmaref - "Last haul."Shishmaref - "Last haul."

    Shishmaref - "Made it."Shishmaref - "Made it."

    Shishmaref - "Moving to beach."Shishmaref - "Moving to beach."

    Shishmaref area sea ice - view 1.Shishmaref area sea ice - view 1.

    Shishmaref area sea ice - view 2.Shishmaref area sea ice - view 2.

    Shishmaref area sea ice - view 3.Shishmaref area sea ice - view 3.

    Shishmaref area sea ice - view 4.Shishmaref area sea ice - view 4.

    Shishmaref area sea ice - view 5.Shishmaref area sea ice - view 5.

    Thursday, 17 June 2021 – Curtis Nayokpuk

    Mist, fog this AM. Few boats venturing 20-30 miles "up the coast" (east) along lagoon to access open channels to ocean. Travel hampered by shallow lagoon and hunters have to plan trips for high tides. Overall very poor season for community and hopefully when access to open sea permits hunters will be up the coast hunting in remaining pack ice in Kotzebue Sound area.

  • Observations from Savoonga

    Thursday, 17 June 2021 – Aqef Waghiyi

    14 miles north of Savoonga.

    Walrus north of Savoonga - view 1.Walrus north of Savoonga - view 1.

    Walrus north of Savoonga - view 2.Walrus north of Savoonga - view 2.

    Walrus north of Savoonga - view 3.Walrus north of Savoonga - view 3.

Remote Sensing Data

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

Additional resources for satellite imagery and weather are available here.