S2S Sea Ice Information

Improving communication to rural Alaska communities

Seasonal to subseasonal (S2S) forecasts offer significant potential to support risk-management decisions for subsistence, search and rescue, and transportation in Alaska coastal communities. In partnership with the Alaska Region National Weather Service (NWS), Arctic Testbed and Proving Ground, Alaska Environmental Science and Services Integration Center, and Alaska Arctic Observatory Knowledge Hub (AAOKH), this project seeks to improve NWS communication of S2S information on sea ice for coastal communities in Alaska. The project consists of two phases. First, we conduct a document analysis to assess previous engagement activities and S2S sea ice information needs. Second, conduct a series of community meetings in three regional hub communities (Nome, Kotzebue, Utqiaġvik) to develop a deeper understanding of decision contexts, preferences, and priorities as well as NWS capacities. This includes: (1) identifying important ice freezing, thaw, and intra-seasonal evolution that impact activities; (2) understanding locally-relevant environmental factors and time frames related to ice evolution; (3) identifying accessible means of communicating S2S information; (4) assessing understanding and use of S2S information; and (5) tolerances for uncertainty in S2S predictions.

The S2S project works with communities like Utqiagvik to seek local information and needs related to sea ice.

On May 12, 2023, sea ice radar images showed shorefast ice extending several miles offshore from Utqiagvik.

The open water season at Utqiagvik has lengthened over time from 1850 (bottom of graphic) to 2021 (top of graphic). The horizontal axis is the calendar month from January on the left to December on the right. This figure is from ACCAP’s Sea Ice Atlas.