Monday, November 25, 2019

Chukchi Partial Freeze-Up

Arctic waters in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, have finally begun to succumb to the seasonal chill, with Chukchi sea ice extent approximately tripling in just the last 10 days, according to NSIDC daily data.  As of Saturday the basin-wide extent is no longer the lowest on record for the date, as 2019 is now slightly ahead of 2017.  However, with a powerful storm currently moving up the west side of the Bering Sea, and strong southerly winds pushing up into the Arctic ahead of the storm, the situation looks tenuous.

The two maps below show the sea ice analyses from two weeks ago and from today, courtesy of the NWS.  Interestingly the Bering Sea is doing a bit better than in recent years (with some ice along the Alaskan west coast), although it is still behind the 1981-2010 median for the date.  And of course essentially the entire open area to the north of the Bering Strait is anomalous in comparison to that earlier climate normal.

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