About the Northern Bering Sea: On Ice Dynamics

This fall [2009] ice was not late but ice came in early and it was very cold. But a few years ago, ice didn’t come until January. Old ice never comes around anymore…Even this year when it was real cold, no more old icebergs came.18 Elders (after group discussion in Yupik)—Savoonga

A lot of northeast winds in winter creates thin ice and open water (especially large polynyas in the lee of land such as St. Lawrence Island and parts of the mainland of Alaska and Chukotka), so in spring, the ice retreats quickly…Hunters know that winters with sustained NE winds will result in rapid ice retreat the following spring when a south wind blows.19 From “Notes from a Savoonga interview for the local & traditional knowledge component of the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP)”

If there’s a female winter there’s less ice and if it’s a male winter there’s more ice. Always the grass are thick, with the female, they’re tall. A male winter means there’s going to be plenty of snow. With warmer climate, there’ll be lots of mice, that’s a female winter. Elders used to see that if the grass is kind of thick, you could tell. Now, the grasses are tall.20 Steven Billy—Chefornak

When I was younger, usually it was real flat and smooth. No rough ice on the shore. Maybe just a little bit here and there. Thick ice you know. It seems like it is thinning out and thinning out every year, it’s not too thick. It’s mostly young ice…and not old ice.21 Herbert Milligrock—Diomede

More about the Northern Bering Sea:
On marine mammals and sea ice
On ice dynamics
On respect for ice and currents

Last Updated: 
Thu, 01/21/2016