Recent variability in sea ice cover, age, and thickness in the pacific arctic region

Document Type

Book Chapter


Over the past several decades, there has been a fundamental shift in sea ice cover, age, and thickness across the Pacifi c Arctic Region (PAR). Satellite data reveal that trends in sea ice cover have been spatially heterogeneous, with signifi cant declines in the Chukchi Sea, slight declines in the Bering Strait region, yet increases in the northern Bering Sea south of St. Lawrence Island. Declines in the annual persistence of seasonal sea ice cover in the Chukchi Sea and Bering Strait region are due to both earlier sea ice breakup and later sea ice formation. However, increases in the persistence of seasonal sea ice cover south of St. Lawrence Island occur primarily owing to earlier sea ice formation during winter months. Satellite- based observations of sea ice age along with modeled sea ice thickness provide further insight into recent sea ice variability throughout the PAR, with widespread transitions towards younger, thinner ice. Investigation of sea ice cover, age, and thickness in concert provides critical insight into ongoing changes in the total volume of ice and therefore the future trajectory of sea ice throughout the PAR, as well as its likely impacts on ecosystem productivity across all trophic levels.

Publication Title

The Pacific Arctic Region: Ecosystem Status and Trends in a Rapidly Changing Environment

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Bering sea, Chukchi sea, satellite data, sea ice thickness, sea ice, sea ice age