Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Modeling of storm surges in the Bering Sea and Norton Sound


  • Walter R. Johnson,

  • Zygmunt Kowalik


Sea level, currents, and ice distribution are studied in the Bering Sea during storm events. The ice and ice edge are incorporated into storm surge model. The interaction of wind, ice, and water is expressed by the normal and tangential stresses. A numerical grid is established for the Bering Sea, and a second refined grid is constructed for Norton Sound. Construction of open boundary conditions for the water and ice motion and numerical questions related to the application of a large frictional coefficient for ice are also discussed. Storm events from February and March 1982 are analyzed and compared with observations of bottom pressure and ice motion made by NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in the Bering Sea and sea level observations at Stebbins, Alaska. The influence of the ice on the storm surge propagation is shown, particularly that of the fast ice in Norton Sound. The model reproduces several observed features of the ice distribution in the Bering Sea, including the “race track” region off Nome, the polynya south of Saint Lawrence Island, and the movement of the ice edge.