LEO Network

January 18, 2018

Arctic in January - No Sea Ice

Shishmaref, Alaska, United States

Residents use drones to show unusual sea ice conditions along the Chukchi coast.

Observation by Andrew Kakoona:

Dennis Davis has been trying out his drone lately and captured footage of the sea ice conditions along the eastern Chukchi Sea coastline in the Bering Strait Region of Alaska in Shishmaref.

Comments from LEO Editors:

This observation has been added to the LEO Sea Ice Project – This project includes observations related to sea ice change or unusual sea ice conditions. Unusual animal observations in relation to sea ice changes are also of interest. The picture below is an image from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, showing sea ice concentration for January 18th, 2018. The blue-white color scheme represents the sea ice concentration, or the amount of area covered by ice. Blue hues represent less ice coverage in the area, as compared to white areas which represent 100% ice coverage. Although the satellite image shows a relatively high percentage of ice coverage, the data are coarse compared to the local drone footage.

This observation has been shared with the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Hajo Eicken with the International Arctic Research Center:

I’m appending a plot from the National Weather Service (Chukchi Sea Autumn Ice-Over Date 1978-2017 - pictured below), that shows that this year’s ice-over of the Chukchi Sea (that is: when was the Chukchi Sea completely ice-covered for the first time) was the latest it’s been since the start of the satellite record. Ice conditions have been milder in the Shishmaref region as a result as well, with little or no fast ice in place as seen in the footage from Andrew Kakoona’s drone.

Source: IARC University of Alaska Fairbanks


Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN)2017: Post-Season Report, The Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) Post-Season Reports are a synthesis of the Arctic conditions that occurred during the recent forecast "season," namely the state of the Arctic in May and the evolution of the sea ice and climate through September. This winter and spring saw a continuation of record low sea ice extents until April when the sea ice extent tied with that in 2016. This represented 16 consecutive months with the sea ice extent falling more than 2 standard deviations (2σ) below the 1981-2010 long-term mean.

Additional resources can be found at:

Anchorage Daily News (2016-05-17), by Yereth Rosen - Arctic sea ice isn't only sparser; it's younger and thinner too – "Arctic sea ice, which already hit a record low for winter extent this year, is also younger and thinner now than at almost any time since the satellite record was begun in the late 1970s."

Anchorage Daily News (2017-12-26) by Alex DeMarban - Amid warm winter, scientists say Alaska sea ice conditions are ‘shockingly bad’ – "The amount of sea ice off western Alaska is jaw-droppingly low this winter — hurting hunters and coastal communities — thanks to an "abnormal" streak of Pacific Ocean storms and unusually stubborn warmth, experts say."

"Look how much ice we got."
Captured by Dennis Davis
Chukchi Sea Autumn Ice-Over Date 1978-2017
National Weather Service via International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks
Community of Shishmaref, Alaska, United States
Captured by Dennis Davis
Sea Ice Extent January 18, 2018
National Snow and Ice Data Center