Melted Alaska sea ice alarms coast residents, scientists

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Northern Alaska coastal communities and climate scientists say sea ice disappeared far earlier than normal this spring and it’s affecting wildlife.

The Anchorage Daily News reports ice melted because of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures.

Janet Mitchell of Kivalina says hunters used to be able to find bearded seals on sea ice just outside the village.

This year, family hunters in early June traveled more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) by boat to find bearded seals.

The hunters ran out of gas on their way back and had to call other residents to bring them more fuel.

University of Alaska Fairbanks climatologist Rick Thoman says sea surface temperatures last week in the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas were as high as 9 degrees (5 Celsius) above the 1981-2010 average.