When thawing between USA and Russia is a bad thing

9th May, 2018

We normally welcome news of a thawing in the icy relationship between the USA and Russia but when it is a major thawing of the ice in the Bering Sea which divides the eastern most tip of Russia with the US state of Alaska it is a seriously worrying matter.

It has been reported that almost all the ice covering the Bering Sea has melted, throwing communities living around its shores into disarray. The region’s ice cover normally persists for at least another month but this year it has vanished earlier than any other year except 2017.

Located in the northern Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Russia, the Bering Sea is experiencing the brunt of climate change and has already drawn attention this year for unprecedented levels of winter melting.

The disappearance of ice off the coast of Alaska
In February, soaring Arctic temperatures led to around half the region’s ice disappearing in the space of two weeks. This trend has continued into spring and scientists confirmed that by the end of April just 10 per cent of normal ice levels remained.

A report released by the International Arctic Research Centre has outlined the real-world effects of these environmental changes on the communities that inhabit the Bering Sea region.

Not enough ice to harvest sea creatures
The low sea ice is thought to be impacting on the lives of people in the Alaska coastal communities by restricting their hunting and fishing, which are the mainstays of their economies. At times there has not been enough ice to harvest marine mammals, fish or crabs and travel between communities via boat or snow vehicles has become difficult due to thin, unstable sea ice.

Normally, the sea ice acts as a buttress against extreme weather events but because it has melted there has been an increase in open water resulting in storm surf flooding homes and pushing ice rubble onto shore. 

Rising temperatures preventing ice formation
The drivers behind the premature melting of the Bering Sea ice include both long-term global warming and an unfortunate confluence of weather events. Readings taken across the region have confirmed that both ocean and air temperatures were well above normal in the months leading up to and during the melting events of this year.

These high temperatures have been exacerbated by air currents over the Arctic guiding storms into the region and drawing warmer air from the tropics. The storms prevented ice from forming properly by breaking it up before it became stable.

In its report, the International Arctic Research Centre said that while not every year will be as bad as this one, ice formation is likely to remain low if the Bering Sea’s waters remain warm. 

Don’t let your premises be affected by melting ice and snow this winter
Melting snow and ice can cause havoc to pedestrians and vehicles alike. So, this winter make sure you are prepared for the worst the weather can throw at you. We routinely undertake an inspection of each site we manage before making a winter gritting plan that will ensure the smooth-running of your premises even in some of the most extreme snowy weather. Make sure that your winter maintenance is organised by calling us today on 01728 633900 for a quote tailored to your needs.

Ice in the Bering Sea has melted prematurely causing problems for the coastal communities of Alaska

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