2018 Status of the Eastern Bering Sea Ecosystem Brief
The eastern Bering Sea was characterized by anomalously warm conditions in 2018. Over the northern shelf, an unprecedented near-complete lack of sea ice occurred; the southeastern shelf had no sea ice and no cold pool (footprint of winter sea ice persisting as cold bottom water the following summer, less than <2°C).
Unusual and unexpected weather events during the winter of 2017/2018 resulted in the lowest ice year on record for the eastern Bering Sea. First, residual heat in the ocean delayed freeze-up. Then, a large and persistent high-pressure system centered over the Aleutian Islands and shifted the position of the Aleutian Low Pressure System to the northwest. Lastly, highly unusual winds from the southwest brought warm air over the Bering Sea and prevented sea ice from forming until March.