National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2001

Bering Sea shifts toward an earlier spring transition

Stabeno, P.J., and J.E. Overland

Eos Trans. AGU, 82(29), 317, 321, doi: 10.1029/01EO00185 (2001)

Major changes have occurred in the northern high latitudes in the last two decades. These changes range from decreases in marine mammal populations to stratospheric cooling and permafrost warmings. Over Alaska and northwestern Canada, there is an earlier transition from winter to spring. Alaskan natives who live along the coast of the northern Bering Sea have noted warmer spring temperatures, thinner sea ice, and earlier melting of snow and ice. While winters over the northern Bering Sea are cold and dark, the long hours of daylight during spring and summer, coupled with high concentrations of nutrients, make this region among the most productive in the world. Change in timing of the transition between winter and spring is affecting the ecosystem, which in turn will affect the fishermen and natives who use the Bering Sea's living resources.

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