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The accumulation of ice this season has largely been fueled by persistent northerly winds blowing from the Arctic Ocean across the Bering Strait. The local winter weather has been dominated by low-pressure systems—with their counterclockwise circulation—that have brought extensive moisture up from the south to coastal and interior Alaska, while sending cold winds down across the sea to the west.
Those winds pushed Arctic sea ice toward the narrow, shallow strait, where it piled up and formed an ice arch that blocked the flow. As arches fail because of wind stress, large floes of sea ice can move south into the Bering Sea. Ice also has piled up on the north side of St. Lawrence Island, near the mouth of the strait.
The Bering Sea stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Arctic ice cap, where sea ice extent was below average in both January and February. Ice cover was down drastically on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Arctic, including the Kara, Barents, and Laptev Seas, where air temperatures were 4 to 8 degrees Celsius (7 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) above the norm.
Low-level regions of high wind speed known as tip jets have been identified near Cape Farewell, Greenland's southernmost point. These wind systems contribute to this area being the windiest location on the ocean's surface and play an important role in the regional weather and climate
. Here we present the first analysis of the wind systems that make the Siberian coast of the northern Bering Sea the windiest location in the North Pacific Ocean during the boreal winter.
In particular we show that tips jets characterized by enhanced northeasterly winds occur in the vicinity of the two prominent headlands along the coast, Cape Navarin and Cape Olyutorsky. The advance of sea ice in the region is shown to impact the frequency and location of the high speed winds in the vicinity of these two capes.