Study: Waves in Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and North Pacific’s Bering Sea Are Getting Bigger as Sea Ice Diminishes
Alaska Dispatch News
July 26, 2015
In this 2013 file photo, Chukchi Sea waves crash on the coast at Barrow. A new study found that waves are growing bigger in the Chukchi, as well as the neighboring Beaufort and Bering Seas, and those increases correlate with the loss of sea ice. Marc Lester / ADN
Waves grew bigger and spaced farther apart as ice cover diminished in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters off Alaska and western Canada, new research shows.
Since the 1970s, the biggest waves in the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering Seas have grown at a rate of 0.3 to 0.8 percent per year, according to a comprehensive study led by Environment Canada. The time it takes waves to cycle, a measurement known as period, has grown even more, by 3 to 4 percent per year, more than tripling since 1970, according to the study, published by the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.
The study tracks significant wave height, which is the height of the biggest third of the waves, and mean wave period, which is the average of time for wave crests and troughs to complete their cycles.