Even in the depths of winter, ice in the Bering Sea has been melting at a record rate, and scientists say the amount of ice that has disappeared this winter has been “extreme.”
Ice covering the Bering Sea is the lowest on record at this time of year. Indeed, this winter the amount of ice lost is about the size of Montana. It was the second straight year that ice retreated drastically. Now, low ice levels affect local communities who traditionally hunt for walrus and other wildlife during the winter; it also will change the feeding habits of Arctic animals.
The major cause of the record ice melt was low pressure over the Bering Sea and high pressure over northwestern Canada. Strong winds between these areas drew warm air into the region from the south. Ice melted as a result of warmer ocean temperatures and severe storms in the area.
In the Arctic, sea ice during February was at the seventh lowest on record. “Every month of the year is tracking below average right now,” Julienne Stroeve, professor of Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London, told Bloomberg. “The decline in the Bering Sea is quite precipitous. We haven’t seen this before.” Read more: