FROM 2011-Return to Nome, Alaska, in Winter

Some questions

i wonder why it's so lumpy, how far you can walk out on it, what happens to the tides, how thick is the ice there, are there waves crashing against sea ice somewhere out on the edge of it, how far away the island is, how tall is that pressure ridge…?

It's lumpy because of the tidal effect and the movement caused by recent strong winds.

Sledge Island is about 21 nautical miles from the camera and about 4 miles out from the shore to the west of Nome. If you google earth Nome, AK and zoom out you can see it all, but in summer dress. I was messing around about 200 metres beyond the outer harbour mouth and the big pressure ridge surrounds the end of the western causeway.

You can walk out as far as it seems safe to do so – if it's moving or there are big cracks, beware. Snow shoes or skis are safer than just the boots I had, and I did not have a pole as a probe so I was very cautious. The ice is at least 4 feet thick, from the evidence of the big slabs in the pressure ridges but the thickness is not constant. I'll know more tomorrow when I go out to visit the gold diver. There are certainly waves out there somewhere – how far out depends on the season and the extent of the ice. We saw them in the distance in 2008 up near Wainwright.

This ice chart of the west Bering Sea shows roughly how far it goes at the moment.

Difficult to interpret but Nome is under the lower right corner of the box containing the number 89 top right of the chart. So the ice extends 340 miles SW of Nome, out past the Pribilof Islands. You can look at it in conjunction with google earth.

The big pressure ridge is about 25 ft tall at a guess – very difficult to judge.

Hoping to see the aurora tonight…

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