Community-based observations of changes in the seasonal cycle in Alaska's Arctic

Data Sources

Local observations

Observers in Kaktovik, Wainwright, Point Lay, Point Hope, Kotzebue, Utqiagvik, and Wales observe and record sea ice, weather, wildlife, and subsistence activities throughout the year, particularly in relation to the seasonal cycle.

Community observations are added to the Seasonal Ice Zone Observing Network (SIZONet) and Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) databases. Go to database

Sea ice extent

Produced by the National Ice Center and updated daily, this layer shows the sea ice edge and delineates the marginal ice zone from fast ice. Fast ice or shorefast ice is anchored to land and relatively stable. The marginal ice zone is the transition between fast ice and the open ocean. It can consist of drifting ice floes, or compact floes at the head of fast ice, but is subject to deformation from ocean processes. This portion of the ice cover is the most biologically diverse and is an essential habitat for marine mammals, fish, and birds.

Sea ice extent data come from the National Ice Center and Polar View.

Sentinel-1 SAR image

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image from Sentinel-1 satellite acquired on May 1, 2017. Go to data source

Spring 2017 whaling trails

Trails built by Utqiagvik whaling crews for the 2017 spring whaling season were mapped by Matthew Druckenmiller (National Snow and Ice Data Center) and Josh Jones (UAF Geophysical Institute) in late April 2017.

Utqiagvik (Barrow) coastal water profile data

CTD stands for Conductivity-Temperature-Depth. CTD data can provide profiles of chemical and physical variables through the entire water column. By analyzing these variables, scientists can make inferences about the occurrence of biological processes such as the growth of algae. Sudden changes, or “anomalies,” in one or more of the properties being measured, may alert scientists to an unusual occurrence. Go to data source or view current plots

Utqiagvik (Barrow) marine radar

The marine radar is mounted on top of the 4-story bank building in downtown Utqiagvik. It detects sea ice up to 6 miles offshore and acquires a new image every 5 minutes for near real-time results. Ice appears white in the image due to the radar signals reflecting off it. Ridges in the sea ice also appear as bright linear objects, but buildings, fences, and cars on the land can also return strong signals. Darker regions in the image can indicate open water, smooth ice, or shadows. Go to data source

Northern Alaska Sea Ice Project JukeBox

This project includes oral history recordings of residents of northern Alaska talking about sea ice conditions, observations over time, and changes that are occurring. Go to project

Sea ice extent.
Sea ice extent.
SAR imagery of Alaska's north coast.
SAR imagery of Alaska's north coast.
Whaling trails.
Whaling trails.
Marine radar.
Marine radar.