‘Startling’ climate related changes in bering sea

TVNZ: Pace of Bering Sea changes startles scientists

In February, southwest winds brought warm air and turned thin sea ice into “snow cone ice” that melted or blew off. When a storm pounded Norton Sound, water on Feb. 12 surged up the Yukon River and into Kotlik, flooding low-lying homes. Lifelong resident Philomena Keyes, 37, awoke to knee-deep water outside her house.

“This is the first I experienced in my life, a flood that happened in the winter, in February,” Keyes said in a phone interview.
Winter storm surge flooding is the latest indication that something’s off-kilter around the Bering Strait, the gateway from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean.

Rapid, profound changes tied to high atmospheric temperatures, a direct result of climate change, may be reordering the region’s physical makeup. Ocean researchers are asking themselves if they’re witnessing the transformation of an ecosystem.

The Bering Sea last winter saw record-low sea ice. Climate models predicted less ice, but not this soon, said Seth Danielson, a physical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“The projections were saying we would’ve hit situations similar to what we saw last year, but not for another 40 or 50 years,” Danielson said.

The Bering Sea and the Bering Strait.

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Bering Sea and Strait

IFL Science:  Shocking Images Released By NOAA Show Just How Little Ice Is In The Bering Sea Right Now

Ice coverage between the Bering Strait and the coast of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in the most recent photo is, at best, scant. This, says NASA, could soon be the “new normal”.

Climate specialist Rick Thoman, from the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that this year’s maximum ice extent is the lowest on record. Lower, even, than 2018’s – which, at the time, was deemed “unprecedented”.

As IFLScience reported at the time, ice cover at the end of April 2018 was at a measly 10 percent of normal seasonal levels.

Inside Climate:  Global Warming Is Pushing Arctic Toward ‘Unprecedented State,’ Research Shows

Global warming is transforming the Arctic, and the changes have rippled so widely that the entire biophysical system is shifting toward an “unprecedented state,” an international team of researchers concludes in a new analysis of nearly 50 years of temperature readings and changes across the ecosystems.

Arctic forests are turning into bogs as permafrost melts beneath their roots. The icy surface that reflects the sun’s radiation back into space is darkeningand sea ice cover is declining. Warmth and moisture trapped by greenhouse gases are pumping up the water cycle, swelling rivers that carry more sediment and nutrients to the sea, which can change ocean chemistry and affect the coastal marine food chain. And those are just a few of the changes.

The researchers describe how warming in the Arctic, which is heating up 2.4 times faster than the Northern Hemisphere average, is triggering a cascade of changes in everything from when plants flower to where fish and other animal populations can be found.

Together, the changes documented in the study suggest the effects on the region are more profound than previously understood.

One of the risks with earlier climate predictions is that they could have easily under-predicted degree and rate of climate change effects as they could have over-predicted them.


Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th April 2019

    The most certain climate prediction is that newsworthy articles will always be “worse than we thought”.

  2. Griff.

     /  14th April 2019

    From what I have been reading It seems that the Bering Sea has changed from a stratified polar ocean to one that maintains an over turning circulation like most oceanic waters.
    What this change does to the arctic has yet to be discovered.
    One would expect it to result in more warm water entering the Arctic via the Bering straight reducing sea ice formation.
    Whatever happens the result of this change will effect the ecology of the Bering sea severely.
    Deadliness catch may be interesting for the next couple of years as they discover the results on their fishery.

  3. Duker

     /  14th April 2019

    Its not even the Arctic Ocean. Why is it even counted as part of the Arctic sea ice.
    The interesting thing about this area of Russia-Alaska known as Beringia wasnt covered with very thick ice like North America and Europe
    ‘During the ice ages, Beringia, like most of Siberia and all of North and Northeast China, was not glaciated because snowfall was very light.[4] It was a grassland steppe, including the land bridge, that stretched for hundreds of kilometres into the continents on either side.’

    This was this time last year view from NP showing the extent of the snow/ ice.
    Bering Sea like Norway Sea is mostly ice free

  4. Trevors_Elbow

     /  14th April 2019

    Climate is changing – so what! But does the change mean man is causing it and does it mean I should pay more tax?

    If you’re a leftie the answers to my questions are Yes and DAMN YES!

    The Earths climate has always change and changed dramatically in the past – hell six thousand years ago things were quite different… the Sahara was what? Yip it was a verdant green savanah!

    So things shift radical and mother nature does what she does.

    The case for man being the Prime cause of global climate change is unproven and frankly is quite wildly stated… how many of the IPCC predictions from 1990 have proven accurate?

    The climate will change – we should do what our ancestors did – adapt and thrive….

    {Yes I want to trigger Griff and one of his patented rants – I find them amusing!]

    • Griff.

       /  14th April 2019

      Not as amusing as I find people who deny reality because it upsets their ideology .
      It is us… we have increased CO2 A green house gas by 40% in the atmosphere.
      If you think other wise you are as idiotic as a flat earther .

      As to your silly logic fail .
      Its same as shooting some one then claiming it was not you because people die all the time from natural causes.
      Sounds too dumb to try as a defense in court ,,,,EH.
      Just as dumb as you read to me.

      What could happen?
      The earths great extinction events were caused by rising levels of CO2.
      I doupt we will get that far because old ignorant right wing whacks will all die off long before then.

    • Griff.

       /  14th April 2019

      And Trev
      yip The IPCC from 1990 did not do to well in its projections.

      They did nail the temperatures .


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