Chukchi Sea and its features
Between the West and the East, dividing the Old and New Worlds, lies the Chukchi Sea, washing the shores of two great powers - the United States of America and the Russian Federation.
The Chukchi Sea divides Alaska and Chukotka, is the border sea between the United States and the Russian Federation.
When you begin to study information about this sea, the question arises: to what ocean does the Chukchi Sea belong? It belongs to the Arctic Ocean, being its eastern border. On the western side of the border of the Chukchi Sea, they pass along Wrangel Island and the Long Strait, which separates it from the East Siberian Sea. In the east, through the strait, it is connected to the Beaufort Sea, and in the south, the border of the sea passes through the Bering Strait, which separates it from Pacific waters. The northern border runs along the line "Chukchi Sea-Ocean", quite conditionally separating them.
Considering the above, one can answer one more question describing the Chukchi Sea. What ocean does water exchange with it? It is mainly the Arctic Ocean, but the Pacific Ocean along the Bering Strait also participates in the sea water exchange.
The Chukchi Sea has one of the smallest areas among the northern seas: its area is 589.6 square kilometers. This sea can be called an example of ideal marginal seas, since almost the entire sea area lies on the continental shelf, while the northern part remains open to the ocean. The average depth is 40-50 meters, the deepest place (about 1256 meters) is outside the continental slope. The shores are mountainous, steeply steep in the sea. On the Russian coast, sandy spits separate lagoons from the sea. The coastline is poorly indented, there are only three large gulfs: Kotzebue, Shishmareva Bay and Kolyuchinskaya Bay. The rivers flowing into the sea are shallow and few, the largest being Amguema (Chukotka) and Noatak (Alaska). A part of the Northern Sea Route passes through the Chukchi Sea.
The seabed is mostly flat, devoid of sharp elevations and depressions. This is due to the fact that the Chukchi Sea lies on the continental slope. The bottom is like a bowl going deep in the middle. The average depth is about 50 meters, sometimes there are shoals with a depth of 13-16 meters.
The bottom of the Chukchi Sea is cut by two canyons: Herald, whose maximum depth is 90 meters, and Barrow, whose maximum depth reaches 160 meters.The bottom is mostly covered with a thin layer of silt, gravel and sand, the layers are not separated due to constant mixing with moving ice and currents. The largest precipitation layer is in Kotzebue Bay, which, according to scientists, is a flooded river system.
About half of the Russian coast of the Chukchi Sea stretched a series of lagoons, separated by sandy spits, which go to the mountains and are seen far from the mainland shores. The lagoons start from Cape Yakan and reach the Kolyuchinskaya Bay, located on the south-east coast of the country.
The hydrological regime of the Chukchi Sea is determined by the factor of confluence through the Bering Strait of the cold Arctic waters of the Arctic Ocean with the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the regime is influenced by harsh polar climatic conditions and floating ice, which regularly swim from the north.
The main current of the Chukchi Sea is Alaska, which carries warm waters from the Pacific Ocean into it. In the middle of the sea, the current turns towards the American coast of the sea, the secondary stream is separated near the island of Lisbourne and carries water to the west.
In addition to Alaska, in the Chukchi Sea there is another current that runs along the Russian coast of the Chukotka Peninsula. Its beginning lies in the East Siberian Sea, from where it carries the icy Arctic waters to the Bering Strait.
In winter, the Chukchi Sea is under the influence of the Polar and Siberian anticyclones. At this time, the temperature drops to a minimum (on average -25-28 ° C), not strong (6-8 m / s) winds blow in different directions. By the end of winter, southern winds prevail, their speed weakening.
In summer, these anticyclones are destroyed; in the northern part of the sea, the winds get mostly westward, the air temperature warms up to + 2-8 degrees, and often there is precipitation in the form of rains and sleet.
For almost the entire year, the waters of the Chukchi Sea are covered with ice over two meters thick. In the summer of 2-2.5 months, the southern part of the Chukchi Sea is freed from the shackles of ice due to the warm waters brought by the Alaskan Current.
In the summer months, due to the warm Alaskan current, the water warms up to +12 degrees off the southern shores of the Chukchi Sea, but as you move northwards, the temperature drops, and at the extreme northern edges, lying within the boundaries of the eternal ice, it does not rise above -1.7 degrees even on the warmest days.The average sea temperature in summer varies in the range of +4 - +12 degrees, and in winter it drops to -2 ° С on the surface. From late October to early June, the Chukchi Sea is covered with ice.
The average salinity of water is about 32 ppm, at great depths it can increase. The waters of the eastern part of the sea are saltier than the western ones (salinity gradually increases from 28 to 33 ppm), and the mouths of the flowing rivers are heavily diluted with fresh water. The salinity of sea water in these areas is in the range of 3-5 ppm.
Polar bears live on the ice floes of the Chukchi Sea and belong to one of the 5 populations of this species. Also on the coast and the islands are large rookeries of seals and walrus. The waters are inhabited by whales, Far Eastern navaga, arctic char, grayling and polar cod. In summer, the islands are covered with numerous bird markets, the most common are geese, ducks and seagulls.
Oil reserves were discovered on the continental shelf where the Chukchi Sea is located. The size of a natural storage tank is estimated at about 30 billion barrels. Oil and gas are being mined on the American coast, and exploration is still under way in Russia.In addition to oil and gas, there are industrial reserves of placer gold and tin, small amounts of polymetallic ores, mercury, marble and coal, but the difficult climatic conditions and lack of transport infrastructure make the extraction of these minerals economically impractical.
Islands of the Chukchi Sea
The largest islands of the Chukchi Sea are Wrangel, Kolyuchin and Herald. All three islands belong to the Russian Federation.
Wrangel Island is located about 200 kilometers from the mainland coast, but on some particularly clear days its high, mountain-covered mountain peaks are visible from the mainland. Previously, poachers who hunted walruses and whales ruled the island with impunity, but now the island has become a state reserve. Here are the breeding sites of a large number of bird species, many of which are listed in the Red Book of the world. Also on the island is the largest walrus rookery in Russia.
East of Wrangel Island is Kolyuchin Island. There are no places suitable for disembarkation on this rocky island. Its only inhabitants are birds, whose number reaches several tens of thousands.
Herald Island is located 70 kilometers east of about. Wrangel.This rocky island is an arctic desert. Here are the breeding grounds of polar bears and some species of birds. Herald is part of the reserve "Wrangel Island".
Natural attractions of Alaska (USA): Cape Barrow - one of the extreme points of the country, the Arctic Bay, Lake Clark, Glacier Bay, Katmay, Dinari, Kenai Fjords.
Natural Attractions of Chukotka (Russian Federation): Wrangel Island (state reserve); “Beringia” is a natural-ethnic park, the territory of which lies practically on the entire area of the Chukchi Sea; Lake Elgygytgyn; the reserves Swan, Chaun Bay, Tumansky, Avtotkul, Tundrovy, Omolonsky and Teyukuul, created to preserve local flora and fauna, as well as to maintain the biological diversity of the region.
The cultural and historical sights of the Chukchi Sea include the American city of Barrow and the Russian village of Whalen.
Few will dare to go on an excursion to the Chukchi Sea, especially the climate and difficulties with obtaining a special permit (becauseon the Chukchi Sea there passes the border of two states) which is stopped by many travelers from traveling to this region. However, those who decide to come here can be sure that they will receive a lot of unforgettable impressions.
Extreme tours to this region in their program include boat trips, visits to attractions, familiarity with the life and culture of local residents. If you're lucky, you can take part in the festival of a whale or stingray, try a snack made from whale meat (the main source of protein and vitamins in the region), jump on a stretch - a trampoline made from sealskin. In general, impressions and emotions will be more than enough.
The American city of Barrow (Alaska) is located in the permafrost zone. In some places, the soil here freezes to a depth of about 400 meters. This city is built on the site of the Eskimo village Ukleagvik, which has more than a thousand years of history. The name of this village is translated as "the place where the polar owl is hunted."
In 2012, American scientists discovered a huge “blot” of phytoplankton in the Chukchi Sea.It is noteworthy that earlier it was believed that the formation of such a cluster of this type of algae is possible only as a result of melting of the glacier, but the “Chukchi blot” was found at a depth of several meters below the ice crust.
Chukchi Lake Elgygytgyn has almost perfect round shape. Its age is about 3-4.5 million years old, its diameter is about 14 km, and its depth reaches 175 meters (much deeper than most of the water area of the Chukchi Sea). Presumably the lake is a crater of an ancient volcano or funnel, formed as a result of the fall of a large meteorite.
The most eastern and smallest of the northern seas, covered with eternal ice and shrouded in severe Arctic cold, is the Chukchi Sea, beautiful in its originality and uniqueness.