Arctic sea ice waxes and wanes throughout the year, and conditions fluctuate each season and year”including conditions in the Bering Sea. Although sea ice extent in mid-January 2012 was not at a record high, it was the highest ice extent in several years, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
North of the area in this image, in Nome, Alaska, harsh weather conditions hampered the delivery of much-needed winter fuel. A strong storm in November 2011 prevented the customary prewinter fuel delivery, and thick sea ice hampered efforts to reach the area during the first half of January. A Russian tanker finally succeeded in delivering fuel to Nome by Jan. 16.
Overall, Arctic sea ice typically grows throughout the month of January, reaching its peak in late February or March. For animations of Arctic sea ice minimum and maximum extents, see NASA's World of Change feature on Arctic sea ice.