• Spring Ice Trails 2013 - Barrow, Alaska

      Dammann, Dyre O.; Druckenmiller, Matt; Donovan, Michael; George, Craig (2013-06-17)
      Unusual sea ice conditions for the hunters of Barrow Alaska Following a record Arctic summer sea ice minimum in September 2012, this winter had an unusually low sea ice maximum extent. Although this winter maximum was only the fifth lowest on satellite records, this year’s winter sea ice proved to be different and challenging for the hunters of northern Alaska. The unusual season started with persistent storms from the west keeping temperatures high and prevented ice formation until early November. The shorefast ice following remained unusually smooth and undeformed. With very few ridges reaching the sea floor the stability of the shorefast ice was lower than usual and resulted in multiple break out events during spring. The unstable ice in combination with few open leads has resulted in a so far unsuccessful hunting season. Also notable this year is what appears to be a complete lack of multiyear ice in the region. The local population refers to this ice as piqaluyak, which is used for drinking water during long periods on the ice. Although not critical as a water source, the multiyear ice may play a significant role in creating stable safe ice for hunting. Whether this year will be remembered as an anomaly or as the new normal remains an open question.