Observation by Sharon Naykpuk:
Our ocean ice went out and the sea is very rough.
Comments from LEO Editors:
Rick Thoman, Alaska Region Climate Science and Services Manager, shared a graphic showing departure from average winter temperatures around Alaska. The Seward Peninsula is experiencing a warm winter, with temperatures generally ranging 8 degrees, or more, above average. Two images from the National Snow and Ice Data Center are also pictured below, comparing sea ice coverage between February 22, 1990 and February 22, 2018. The sea ice extent has receded from the median sea ice edge (established between 1981-2010). Rick provides a closer look at ice coverage, in the NWS Daily Sea Ice Concentration image from February 23, 2018. The ocean area north of Shishmaref has between 40%-60% ice coverage.
This observation has been added to the LEO Sea Ice Project – This project includes observations related to sea ice change or unusual sea ice conditions. Unusual animal observations in relation to sea ice changes are also of interest.
Hajo Eicken, from the International Arctic Research Center writes:
"The winter of 2017/18 in Alaska’s Arctic coastal regions has been much warmer and had the latest appearance and earliest retreat of sea ice observed in recent decades. Lack of sea ice is due to in part to wind and storm patterns that bring warmer air and push ice to the North. In part, a warmer ocean also helps keep ice thin or greatly delays freeze-up. Keeping cause and effect apart is difficult in this case, since the lack of ice also keeps local air temperatures higher.
In recent days, winds and lower temperatures in the Chukchi Sea region have pushed some ice back into the region or allowed thinner new ice to form. However, we do not expect a shore fast ice cover to form at Shishmaref (and other communities that are currently without shore fast ice) because with spring conditions the ice pack as a whole will start retreating to the North very soon.
In the western Bering Sea, such as off Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, local observers and satellite data show a complete lack of ice all the way to the Russian coast. This is important for subsistence hunting of walrus as well, since walrus calves and mothers may lack a platform of sea ice on which to rest and nurse.
The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook is ramping up again this coming week and will provide ice information, and long-range weather forecasts for communities in the northern Bering and southern Chukchi Seas, with contributions by expert observers from a number of villages in the region.
In an earlier Jan. 2018 posted observation Dr. Hajo Eicken writes this year’s ice-over of the Chukchi Sea is the latest it's been since the start of the satellite record. Ice conditions have been milder in the Shishmaref region as a result as well, with little or no fast ice.
Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) – 2017: Post-Season Report, The Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) Post-Season Reports are a synthesis of the Arctic conditions that occurred during the recent forecast "season", namely the state of the Arctic in May and the evolution of the sea ice and climate through September. This winter and spring saw a continuation of record low sea ice extents until April when the sea ice extent tied with that in 2016. This represented 16 consecutive months with the sea ice extent falling more than 2 standard deviations (2σ) below the 1981-2010 long-term mean.