ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - According to local climate scientists, there has been more sea ice coverage this year compared to previous winters.
According to Brian Brettschneider, a climate researcher with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' International Arctic Research Center, cold temperatures have allowed sea ice to replenish.
“It’s a really good sign,” he said. “The amount of ice that's been in the Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm, Knik Arm, this had been the most significant sea ice coverage in 6 or 7 years.”
According to Rick Thoman a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, the Bering Sea ice extent is at its highest since February 2012.
Brettschneider said that the cold winter weather was desperately needed.
“It’s going to extend the date we melt out in the spring,” he said. “So it’s an important part of the regulation of our temps here locally.”
Adelaine Ahmasuk grew up in Nome, and her family hunted on the ice.
Ahmasuk said her family relies heavily on the meat of seals and walrus, but have had to adapt their practices as ice has been sparse the past years.
"That's one of the things we got excited for,” Ahmasuk said. “It's a lot colder compared to last year. We will have a lot more opportunity to find seals, walrus and more sitting on top of sea ice. "
Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea is close to the long-term average, but Brettschneider said the cold year has only delayed the inevitable when it comes to climate change.
“We need this cold and snow,” Brettschneider said. “We need these cold days for Alaska to stay the way it's always been and to keep it the way that we love it.”