Abstract

This paper characterizes the processes that presently occur during freeze-upin the Alaskan Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, based on joint-industryinvestigations conducted in 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011–12. The studies weredesigned to address five specific objectives:

  1. describe the ice conditionsthat evolve during the freeze-up and early winter seasons;

  2. locate and mapfeatures of potential importance for offshore exploration and productionactivities, including ice movement lines, leads, polynyas, first-year ridgesand rubble fields, and multi-year floes;

  3. locate and quantify ice pile-upson natural shorelines and man-made structures;

  4. correlate significantchanges in the ice cover with the corresponding meteorological conditions; and

  5. compare present-day freeze-up processes with those that occurred in the1980s.

Each study included an analysis of meteorological data, ice charts, andsatellite imagery in concert with a series of aerial reconnaissance missions. The study findings are presented in seven categories:

  1. air temperatures,

  2. first-year ice growth,

  3. the timing of freeze-up,

  4. landfast ice,

  5. multi-year ice,

  6. ice pile-ups, and

  7. extraordinary ice features discoveredoff the Chukchi Sea coast.

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