Diomede Island, middle of the Bering Strait
Pacific Gateway to the Arctic
ONR High Latitude
NOAA Arctic Research
Back to High Latitude Dynamics
Bering Strait Basic Facts
- WHY is the Bering Strait throughflow important?
- WHAT are we doing?
- WHAT are we learning?
2007-2009 International Polar Year in the Bering Strait
A Decade in the Bering Strait
Bering Strait Ice Flux
A Synthesis of Year-round Interdisciplinary Mooring Measurements in the Bering Strait (1990-2014) and the RUSALCA years (2004-2011) Woodgate, Stafford and Prahl, Oceanography, 2015
Observed increase in Bering Strait oceanic fluxes from the Pacific to the Arctic from 2001 to 2011 and their impact on the Arctic Ocean water column Woodgate et al, 2012
Quantifying Sea-Ice Volume Flux using Moored Instrumentation in the Bering Strait Travers 2012 MSc Thesis
A Synthesis of Exchanges Through The Main Oceanic Gateways to the Arctic Ocean Beszczynska-Moeller et al., Oceanography, 2011.
The 2007 Bering Strait Oceanic Heat Flux and anomalous Arctic Sea-ice Retreat Woodgate et al, GRL, 2010
Interannual changes in the Bering Strait Fluxes of Volume, Heat and Freshwater between 1991 and 2004 Woodgate, et al, GRL, 2006
Some Controls on Flow and Salinity in Bering Strait Aagaard, et al, GRL, 2006
Monthly Temperature, Salinity and Transport Variability of the Bering Strait Throughflow. Woodgate, et al, GRL, 2005
Revising the Bering Strait Freshwater Flux to the Arctic Ocean. Woodgate & Aagaard, GRL, 2005
Technical Report - Correction of Teledyne Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) Bottom-Track Range Measurements for Instrument Pitch and Roll, Woodgate and Holroyd, October 2011
Technical Report - Using A3 as a climate station for the Bering Strait Throughflow, Woodgate et al, August 2007
** Bering Strait 2015 Live Cruise BLOG**
Norseman II 2015 (July)
Norseman II 2014 (June/July)
Norseman II 2013 (July)
Khromov 2012 (July)
Khromov 2011 (July)
Khromov 2010 (July/August)
Khromov 2009 (Aug/Sept)
Lavrentiev 2008 (Oct)
Sever 2007 (Aug/Sept)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier 2006 (July)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier 2005 (July)
Alpha Helix 2004 (Aug/Sept)
Alpha Helix 2003 (July)
Alpha Helix 2002 (June)
Alpha Helix 2001 (Sept)
Alpha Helix 2000 (Aug/Sept)
GOTO DATA ARCHIVE
||BERING STRAIT BASICS
- The only ocean gateway between the Pacific and Arctic, and ~85km wide, ~55m deep
- Divided into 2 channels by the two Diomede Islands
- Covered by sea-ice from ~January to April
- ANNUAL mean flow northward, but can flow southward for a week or more
- Water speeds highly variable, from ~2.5 knots (120 cm/s) northward to ~1 knot (50 cm/s) southward depending on local wind
- flow driven (supposedly) by a pressure gradient between the Pacific and the Arctic oceans, opposed by the local winds
- Water surface temperature freezing in winter, max around 12 deg C in summer
- Annual mean flow ~0.8 Sv (800,000m3/s)
(Right is a schematic of the flows in the region from Danielson and Weingartner, click on the image to enlarge it)
|WHY IS THE BERING STRAIT
For the Chukchi Sea
- primary source of nutrients for the Chukchi (one of the most biologically productive regions of the world oceans)
- dominates the water properties of the Chukchi
For the Arctic
- primary source of nutrients for Arctic ecosystems
- melts back sea-ice in summer,
- provides cold waters in winter to stabilize the upper Arctic ocean (thus influencing ice thickness and upper ocean mixing)
- provides ~40% of the freshwater input to the Arctic
- water properties determine ventilation depth of the Arctic
For the World Ocean
- an important part of the global freshwater cycle
- believed to influence the Atlantic overturning circulation
Pacific waters can be traced through the Arctic and out through Fram Strait and the Canadian Archipelago
Sea-surface temperature for 26th August 2004 in the Bering Strait region. In the east, red indicates the warm Alaskan Coastal Current in the east. Black dots mark our mooring sites, A1, A2, A3 and A3' (black dots). White areas indicate clouds.
(MODIS/Aqua level 1 image courtesy of Ocean Color Data Processing Archive, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.)
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
- measuring the long-term variability of volume and water properties in the Bering Strait region
We measure temperature, salinity, water velocity and sometimes ice thickness and motion, nutrients, fluorescence, transmissivity with subsurface oceanographic moorings (similar to the picture on the left)
In summer/autumn, we take oceanographic sections in the Strait and the southern Chukchi Sea (see cruise reports)
Since 1990, moorings have been deployed with only a 1 year break.
We place moorings to monitor flow through the western (A1) and eastern (A2) channels of Bering Strait. The western channel is in the Russian EEZ, an area to which we have only had occasional access. In other years the western channel has been monitored by a proxy site at A3.
Left: Schematic of a typical mooring.
ULS = Upward-looking sonar to measure ice thickness
Steel Float and Trifloat = for buoyancy
RCM9=Aanderaa Acoustic Current meter to measure water velocity and temperature
SBE=Seabird sensor measuring temperature, salinity, fluorescence, transmissivity NAS=nutrient measuring instrument
RT=Acoustic releases for recovering mooring
Strait flows vary from year to year .. and that the
2004 heat flux is the highest recorded since 1990.
Changes in the Bering Strait Fluxes of Volume, Heat and Freshwater between 1991 and 2004 Woodgate, et al, submitted GRL, 2006
That Bering Strait provides ~40% of the freshwater input to the Arctic Ocean.
Revising the Bering Strait Freshwater Flux to the Arctic Ocean. Woodgate & Aagaard, GRL, 2005
Quantifying the seasonal variability of the Bering Strait throughflow, with implications for significant seasonal variation in how the Pacific waters ventilate the Arctic.
Monthly Temperature, Salinity and Transport Variability of the Bering Strait Throughflow. Woodgate, Aagaard, Weingartner, GRL, 2005
A DECADE IN THE BERING STRAIT
(for data to 2003, click here)
A combination of ice thickness data (e.g. from Upward Looking Sonars) and ice motion (e.g. from Acoustic Doppler Current Meters) can yield estimates of ice flux.
For 1990 to 1991, these data suggest a mean annual northward ice flux, even though the ice flux at the start of the season is southward.
a) Time series of the northward velocity of water at 25m depth (red) and ice (blue) show a very strong correlation between the ice and the water motion.
b) Timeseries of ice thickness (assuming thickness = 1.13 x keel depth) shows
- the thickening of ice over the winter
- that in the early winter (i.e. before day 352) northflowing water carries no ice.
c) From this, we can estimate the northward transport of water (red) in 106 m3/s and ice (blue) in 105 m3/s, (assuming the strait has a width of 65km and a triangular cross-section of maximum depth 55m).
d) Cumulative transports of water (red) in 2x1012 m3 and ice (blue) in 1011 m3 show that the cumulative ice transport is southward for the first part of the winter, even though the cumulative water transport is always northward.
Bering Strait 2000 - RV Alpha Helix - HX235
Bering Strait 2001 - RV Alpha Helix - HX250
Bering Strait 2002 - RV Alpha Helix - HX260
Bering Strait 2003 - RV Alpha Helix - HX274
Bering Strait 2004 - RV Alpha Helix - HX290
Bering Strait 2005 - CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier - SWL2005
(back to top)
Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, and T.J. Weingartner, Monthly temperature, salinity, and transport variability of the Bering Strait throughflow. Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 32, No. 4, L04601 10.1029/2004GL021880, 2005
Woodgate, R. A.,
and K. Aagaard, Revising the Bering Strait freshwater flux
into the Arctic Ocean, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L02602,
Walsh, J.J., D.A. Dieterle, F.E. Muller-Karger, K. Aagaard, A.T. Roach, T.E. Whitledge, and D. Stockwell, CO2 cycling in the coastal ocean. II. Seasonal organic loading of the Arctic Ocean from source waters in the Bering Sea, Continental Shelf Res., 17,1-36, 1997.
Roach, A.T., K.
Aagaard, C. H. Pease, S.A. Salo, T. Weingartner, V. Pavlov,
and M. Kulakov, Direct measurements of transport and water
properties through Bering Strait, J. Geophys. Res., 100,
and K. Aagaard, Transports through Bering Strait: Annual and
interannual variability, J. Geophys. Res., 93, 15535-15539,
A.T. Roach, and J.D. Schumacher, On the wind-driven
variability of the flow through Bering Strait, J. Geophys.
Res., 90, 7213-7221, 1985.
J.D., K. Aagaard, C.H. Pease, and R.B. Tripp, Effects of a
shelf polynya on flow and water properties in the
northern Bering Sea, J. Geophys. Res., 88, 2723-2732, 1983.
and K. Aagaard, Re-evaluation of water transports in the
vicinity of Bering Strait, in The Eastern Bering Sea Shelf:
Oceanography and Resources, vol. 1, edited by D.W. Hood and
J.A. Calder, pp. 95-110, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, Washington, D.C., 1981.
K. Aagaard, and R.B. Tripp, Bering Strait: The Regional
Physical Oceanography, 172 pp., University of Washington
Press, Seattle, 1975.
and K. Aagaard, On the water exchange through Bering Strait,
Limnol. Oceanogr., 11, 44-59, 1966.
any of these figures, please contact Rebecca
© Polar Science Center, University of Washington, 2004
acknowledge financial support for this work from the
Office of Naval Research (ONR),
High Latitude Dynamics
program, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Back to High Latitude Dynamics Homepage