National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Projected future biophysical states of the Bering Sea

Hermann, A.J., G.A. Gibson, N.A. Bond, E.N. Curchitser, K. Hedstrom, W. Cheng, M. Wang, E.D. Cokelet, and P.J. Stabeno

Deep-Sea Res. II, 134, 30–47, doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.11.001, Understanding Ecosystem Processes in the Eastern Bering Sea IV (2016)

Three global climate simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment (AR4) were used as physical forcing to drive a regional model that includes both physical and biological elements of the Bering Sea. Although each downscaled projection indicates a warming of 1–2 °C between 2010 and 2040 on the Bering Sea shelf, the interannual and interdecadal details of this trend vary considerably among the three realizations. In each case, the magnitude of presently observed interannual variability of bottom temperatures and ice cover is found in the models to be maintained out to at least 2040, but with a steadily increasing probability of warm years with less ice on the southern shelf. The overall trends indicate warmer temperatures and the retreat of ice in the southeastern Bering Sea, but continued ice cover in the northeastern Bering Sea. Sensitivity analyses suggest both increasing air temperature and northward wind stress as primary drivers of higher water-column temperatures. Based on currently available models, changes in shortwave radiation are not likely to have a significant role in this warming. Warming trends on the outer shelf may lead to decreased production of large crustacean zooplankton at that location, but could increase such production on the inner shelf.

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