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The Bering Sea

During winter, the Bering Sea is ice-covered by not more than 30 percent. (Photo NASA, SeaWIFS)
The Bering Strait seperates America (to the right) from Asia (Fotografía: NASA, SeaWiFS)

The Bering Sea is the northernmost marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean and belongs to the ten largest seas worldwide. Southern boundary of the Bering Sea: the Aleutian Islands; western boundary: Kamtchatka Peninsula; eastern boundary: the Alaskan coast. Far up to the north, the Bering Sea is connected via Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean.


The northeastern part of the Bering Sea is extremely shallow while to the southwest the shelf-sea steeply slopes towards the deep-sea plateau of the Aleutian Basin. Nearly the entire water body of the Bering Sea consists of Pacific water masses. Strong southerly currents transport water through the narrows between the Aleutian Islands up to the north. Reaching the Bering Sea, the flow direction of the water masses will be changed towards a counter-clockwise oceanic current.


During winter, the Bering Sea is ice-covered by not more than 30 percent. In summer, the shelf-sea is completely ice-free for a period of roughly 4 months. Remarkably, the summer ice decay proceeds much faster than the previous fall ice formation.


Prevailing northerly and northeasterly winds dominate the Bering Sea meteorological conditions during winter. Additionally, the southern Bering Sea is influenced by strong low-pressure systems – the so-called cyclons. These hurricanes track along the Aleutian island arc, enter the Bering Sea and transport warm and moist air masses up to the north.