LISTEN: Bering Sea ice at lowest extent in at least 5,500 years, study says

Sea ice floats in the Bering Strait off Cape Prince of Wales. (UAF photo by Gay Sheffield)

There is less sea ice in the Bering Sea now than at any time in at least 5,500 years.

That’s the finding of a new study by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the U.S. Geological Survey in the journal Science Advances. Scientists looked at the chemical composition of a core sample from St. Matthew Island, about 250 miles west of mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea.

And while it’s notable that there’s less sea ice now than thousands of years in the past, study co-author Matthew Wooller from UAF says the research provides a deeper understanding of the context and mechanisms of change over those years.

Wooller, a professor in UAF’S Marine Biology Department and director of the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility, told Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove that a warmer climate is only part of the story.

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