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

Near St. Lawrence Island

Ice-free waters currently stretch from near Gambell around the western and southern coastlines of St. Lawrence Island to near Kialegak Point. Very minimal coastal sea ice remains in isolated areas along the northern coast of the island. Very open to open pack ice lies just offshore from the northern coastline, and the remaining first year sea ice floes are rapidly melting. A belt of ice currently stretches from east of Little Diomede Island to offshore from the east coast of St. Lawrence Island and is drifting due to wind and current forcing. This belt of ice is rapidly deteriorating.

Wales to Shishmaref

Close pack ice consisting of first year ice floes is currently drifting in the current between Wales and Little Diomede Island. The western half of the Bering Strait has open water to very open pack ice at this time. Shorefast ice along the coastline from Wales to Shishmaref continues to deteriorate at this time. Within the lagoon areas coastal ice is beginning to melt and surface ponds are occurring. Coastal ice beyond the lagoons stretches up to 9 nm offshore. Beyond the coastal ice from Wales to Shishmaref lies a region of open water to very open pack ice conditions consisting of first year ice floes. Beyond the coastal ice from Shishmaref to Espenberg lies a region of very open pack ice to close pack ice consisting of first year ice floes.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

For the St. Lawrence Island region we expect the remaining isolated areas of coastal ice along the northern shore to break off within the next week. We expect that the remaining ice pack off the north and east coast of the island will continue to deteriorate and melt out to open to very open pack ice within the next week.

For the Wales to Shishmaref region we expect the outer edges of the shorefast ice to continue to destabilize in the coming week. It is possible that large sections of the coastal ice could break off within the next week. Within the lagoons, coastal ice will continue to form melt ponds and slowly melt out. From offshore near Wales to Shishmaref we expect the ice pack to continue to deteriorate leaving very open to open pack ice conditions within the next week. From offshore Shishmaref to Espenberg we expect the ice pack to continue to spread and slowly melt, leaving open to close pack ice by next week.

Weather System/Wind Synopsis

High pressure will persist over the northern Chukchi Sea through June 3rd, while a transient high pressure system will move across the northern Bering Sea May 28 to 29. A weak low pressure system will move into Bristol Bay May 30th but will likely dissipate before moving reaching St. Lawrence Island. Winds will be prevailing northeast 5-15 mph (5-10 kt) through June 1st except for a period of light and variable winds May 28 and May 29. Winds June 2nd onward generally northeast 10 to 20 mph (10-15 kt) June 2nd.

Temperature Trend

Temperatures will be warmer than normal through June 10th, with highs in the 40s and lowers in the 30s. Nearshore Wales to Shishmaref some days could even see high temperatures touch 50 degrees and highs on the coast will frequently be in the 50s.

Marine forecast for the West Coast and Arctic Coast

Remote Sensing Images

Bering Strait St. Lawrence Island Wales to Shishmaref