DOI: 10.1029/2023gl104697 ISSN: 0094-8276

Arctic and Sub‐Arctic Mechanisms Explaining Observed Increasing Northward Flow Through the Bering Strait and Why Models May Be Getting It Wrong

Cecilia Peralta‐Ferriz, Rebecca A. Woodgate
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Geophysics


The Pacific oceanic input to the Arctic via the Bering Strait (important for western Arctic ice retreat, water properties, and nutrient supply) has been increasing for three decades. Using satellite Ocean Bottom Pressure (OBP) and Dynamic Ocean Topography (DOT) data, we show that long‐term trends in mooring data for a well‐sampled sub‐period (2003–2014) relate to summer OBP and DOT drop in the Arctic's East Siberian Sea (ESS), in turn caused by stronger westward ESS winds, and increased fall westward winds in the Bering Sea. OBP/DOT differences imply strong (0.17 psu/year) ESS salinization, likely caused by hitherto unappreciated increased Pacific inflow to that region. We find ESS OBP trends are (erroneously) reversed in older data versions, and estimate that ESS salinization may significantly mediate Bering Strait flow increase. These facts may explain why models assimilating older OBP data, or with erroneous Bering Strait salinities, fail to simulate observed Bering Strait flow increase.

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