National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Climate warming and the loss of sea ice: the impact of sea ice variability on the southeastern Bering Sea pelagic ecosystem

Hunt, Jr., G.L., E.M. Yasumiishi, L.B. Eisner, P.J. Stabeno, and M.B. Decker

ICES J. Mar. Sci., fsaa206, doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsaa206, View online (2020)

We investigated relationships among three metrics of sea-ice cover in eight regions of the eastern Bering Sea and the abundance of Calanus copepods, jellyfish medusae, and year-class strength of walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus). In summer, Calanus spp. were more abundant over the middle shelf when sea ice lingered late into spring, and, to a lesser extent, when February sea-ice cover was heavy. Between 1982 and 1999, there were no significant (p ≤ 0.05) relationships between the amount or timing of sea-ice cover and pollock recruitment. However, between 2000 and 2015, pollock year-class strength was positively correlated with sea ice in the outer and middle shelves, with 17 of 24 regressions significant. Pollock year-class strength was best predicted by days with sea-ice cover after February. Pollock recruitment was positively influenced by copepod numbers, particularly in the middle shelf, with r2 values from 0.36 to 0.47. We hypothesize that the Calanus spp. present in the southeastern Bering Sea are primarily Calanus glacialis that have been advected south in association with sea ice. None of our sea-ice metrics explained the variance in jellyfish biomass. Jellyfish biomass in our study area in the pollock age-0 year was not correlated with pollock recruitment 3 years later.

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