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

Near Saint Lawrence Island

Northerly winds have continued to push ice south of the Bering Strait and to the east of Saint Lawrence Island. This ice was also packing up over the eastern half of the island. There has been enough of an easterly component recently to allow for the sea ice to move westward around Saint Lawrence Island. As a result, ice concentrations northwest of Savoonga and north of Gambell are relatively low. Also, the general flow of ice has not been northward to the south and west of Saint Lawrence Island. Waters were somewhat open on the west side of Saint Lawrence Island out to at least 30 miles. South of the Island, the higher concentrations of sea ice are more than 60 miles away. However, a band of large floes were positioned about 30 miles south of Saint Lawrence Island.

Wales to Shishmaref

The landfast ice remained unchanged the last week, heavily fractured with many leads. Southwesterly winds may have opened up the waters just north of the landfast ice in recent days, but northerly winds the last day or so are beginning to push the ice back south again.

5 and 10 Day Outlook: May 12 to May 17

A relatively strong low pressure system will be moving eastward south of the Aleutians in the 5 to 10 day period. This will maintain at least normal if not slightly below normal temperatures. 20 mph northeast winds or stronger are expected on the 12th, which will slowly turn northerly or northwesterly into the 17th. As a result, sea ice will continue to flow generally southward near Wales and around Saint Lawrence Island. This will leave the polynya intact on the south and southwest side of the Island. Given that wind and temperature conditions are not expected to be much different than the last week, few changes in sea ice conditions are expected from Wales to Shishmaref as well as in the vicinity of Saint Lawrence Island.

Arrows show wind direction and wind speed in knots

St. Lawrence Island wind direction and speed
Map of 10-day outlook of wind conditions
Bering Strait wind direction and speed

St. Lawrence Island/Bering Strait
Remote sensing data closeup
Bering Sea/Southern Chukchi Sea
Remote sensing data overall

Remote Sensing Images

Remote sensing data closeup Remote sensing data overall