During winter 2018 the sea ice in the Bering Sea reached record-low levels thanks to persistent warm southerly winds.
During winter 2018 the sea ice in the Bering Sea reached record-low levels thanks to persistent warm southerly winds. These conditions caused the ice to retreat to the northern reaches of the 800,000 square mile body of water.
Scientists were amazed, “It was about half of what we usually have in winter,” said NOAA oceanographer Phyllis Stabeno, lead author of a new paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters offsite linkanalyzing the event. “To be blunt, all of us were shocked. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work.”
At the end of April, 2018 Bering Sea ice covered 61,704 square kilometers. By contrast, sea ice extent on April 29, 2013, was 679,606 square kilometers, closer to the 1981 to 2010 average. By the end of April 2018, sea ice was about 10 percent of normal.
And then, much to the scientists’ surprise, 2019 just missed eclipsing the record set in 2018.
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Image via NOAA.