December should have sea ice development in Norton Sound. But no sign of ice yet this year. Several storms have moved northward across the western Bering Sea and brought strong winds and bouts of above freezing weather to the Teller area and all of the Bering Strait region.
Observation by Kendra Lee:
No ice, or partial ice in the Grantley Harbor in Teller, Alaska. Usually there is thick enough ice for ice fishing.
Comment from Rick Thoman:
Several storms have moved northward across the western Bering Sea and brought strong winds and bouts of above freezing weather to the Teller area and all of the Bering Strait region. While sea ice formed in eastern Norton Sound during November there was little to no ice north of Cape Rodney. This was especially pronounced in early December. Daily temperatures averaged almost 20F above normal for the week of Nov 30-Dec 06 and rain and southeast winds gusting to over 70 mph melted and moved out what ice had formed in Grantley Harbor.
Comment from Andrew Mahoney with the UAF Geophysical Institute:
I am cc'ing my grad student Kitrea Takata-Glushkoff as this might be part of emerging pattern we have started to see in northern Bering Sea communities. In the last 5 years, satellite data indicate that the winter sea ice season in communities a little further south than Teller (like Gambell, Savoonga, and Kotlik) is changing rapidly. In these communities, the period of reliable ice cover is not just getting shorter, but sometimes doesn't occur at all so that it is hard to tell when freeze-up ends and break-up begins. Kitrea will be traveling to Gambell early next year to better understand what we are seeing, but preliminary conversations with community members support the satellite observations and our interpretation of their significance. Also, if we look further south still to communities like Hooper Bay and Tooksook Bay, the satellite data suggest they went through this same change 10-20 years ago. I've attached a map illustrating this. As we were compiling this map it strongly indicated to me that communities just north of the light blue line (like Teller) would probably start to see their first winters without a "real" sea ice coverage soon.
Also, LEO members might be interested in the new Nome Sea Ice Radar, which we installed earlier this year. Ice showed up in Nome a couple of weeks ago, but has been highly mobile and no shorefast ice appears to have formed yet. We'd be very interested in learning what local sea ice experts think about the radar and what we're seeing in it.
Comment from Kitrea Takata-Glushkoff from UAF:
Along the lines of what Andy said, The Hotspots of Change figure shows that according to satellite-derived sea ice coverage data, communities highlighted in red demonstrate a transition away from reliable winter sea ice coverage over the past 5 years. Notably Lorino, Russia, just across the Bering Strait from Teller, has also demonstrated that transition. Kendra Lee's observation suggests that Teller is also just beginning that transition away from a reliably recurring winter sea ice regime --- this fits overall with the narrative of that figure.
The view from Teller
Sea Ice Extent Map
Average daily high temperature / Nov 1 - Dec 4 / nearby Nome Airport / current year shown in green
Sea Ice Shift Map
Takata-Glushkoff, K.P., Mahoney A.R., BurnSilver S., York, A., Monakhova, M. “Characterizing the St. Lawrence Island Sea Ice Environment Through Community Interviews and Remote Sensing Analysis,” Abstract OS42C-1205 presented at 2022 AGU Fall Meeting, 12-16 Dec. Courtesy Andy Mahoney