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

Near St. Lawrence Island

The coastline of St. Lawrence Island is now sea ice free, with large areas of open water surrounding the island in the northern Bering Sea. A strip of sea ice is located to the west of the island and is continuing to melt. There are also a few strips of sea ice remaining northwest of the island that are rapidly melting.

Wales to Shishmaref

The seasonal melt in the southern Chukchi Sea has continued this past week. The Bering Strait and southern Chukchi Sea up to roughly 68.5 degrees north are mainly open water with very open to open pack ice stretching up to 69.5 degrees north. Shorefast ice is still present along part of the coastline with the ice extent varying from 13 miles off Ikpek to 6 miles off Mugisitokiwik. In the bays, melting is in full swing with 3 to 8 tenths ice concentration melting rapidly and open water forming near Ikpek and Shishmaref. Beyond the coast from Shishmaref up to Kotzebue Sound lies an area of open pack ice up to 19 miles off the coast, with very open pack ice stretching up to 20 miles beyond that edge.

5 to 10 Day Forecast

A large low-pressure system over the Western Aleutian Chain will bring south winds of 15 to 25 mph (10 to 20 knots) on Friday. On Saturday, the low moves to the Eastern Aleutians with winds switching to the east and northeast at 15 to 25 mph (10 to 20 knots). During this period of time large pieces of shorefast ice may break off of the coast from Wales to Shishmaref, and strips of ice may flow into the northern Bering Sea. By Sunday the 23rd, the low will move into the Gulf of Alaska and winds will become light (<15 mph or <10 knots) from the north. The northerly flow will remain through Tuesday, 25 June, with a range of 10 to 25 mph (5 to 20 knots). Sea ice will continue to shift along the coast from Wales to Shishmaref with the remaining shorefast ice becoming more unstable. A weak low pressure will move over eastern Russia Wednesday the 26th with southwest flow of 10 to 20 mph (5 to 15 knots). The flow (<15 mph or < 10 knots) will be variable between systems on Thursday, 27 June. Another low-pressure system will move through the Bering Sea Friday and into Eastern Russia Sunday, 30 June. The winds will be from the Southeast on Friday to Southwest on Sunday during this period at 15 to 25 mph (10 to 20 knots). Winds will become light (<15 mph or < 10 knots) and westerly on Monday, 1 July. Overall sea ice concentrations will continue to decrease with the melt season progressing and shorefast ice will become more unstable with waters in local inlets and bays becoming ice free.

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

Remote Sensing Images

Bering Strait St. Lawrence Island Wales to Shishmaref

Observations and Comments

Observations of Sea Ice Development

Comments from Shishmaref

19 June 2013 - Curtis Nayokpuk

Shorefast ice breaking up in front of Shishmaref allowing access to open sea. Hunters are venturing out and successful with bearded seals and some walrus. Although late into the spring hunt it will be a good season for Shishmaref hunters.