Near-record open water reported in Beaufort and Chukchi seas

As September ended, near-record expanses of ice-free open water existed in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, according to Alaska Sea Grant.

"The extent of open water from Nome to the sea ice edge in the Arctic is as much as 800 miles," wrote Sue Keller in a Sea Grant Alaska blog post published Thursday.

The open water is likely to last into October or November, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center's Walt Meier, quoted in the post.

The region could feel more severe impacts from fall storms and coastal erosion in the area because of the open water, according to Sea Grant.

Low ice conditions have been extreme in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer, with open water farther north in the Beaufort than any time in a satellite record that goes back to 1979. Scientists say this summer's conditions are due to "the cumulative loss of multiyear ice."

[With sea ice at a record low maximum, the Navy closed its Arctic Ocean camp early]

The Alaska Sea Grant is part of the University of Alaska's College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at