The Bering Strait is a narrow ocean passage separating the North American and Asian continents.With Cape Prince of Wales on the Seward Peninsula of Alaska to the east, and Cape Dezhnyov, Chukotskiy Poluostrovof, Siberia to the west, the Bering Strait separates the USA and the Russia by only 90 kilometers. This strait connects the Bering Sea to the south with the Chukchi Sea to the north. The Arctic Circle is just north of the Strai
During the last ice age, the locking up of significant amounts of water in ice sheets and glaciers lowered seas levels sufficiently to create a land bridge where the Bering Strait now exists. At some time approximately 13,000 to 15,000 years before present one of the great human migrations began with Siberian peoples crossing an ice bridge at the location of the Bering Strait, to explore, settle and populate North America for the first time.
Animation of Bering Land Bridge. Source: NASA
The narrow strait is named for Danish explorer Vitus Bering, who passed through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean in August 1728 leading an expedition of Russian sailors. During this passage the coast of North America was not sighted but Bering was able to conclude that there was no land bridge between the two continents.
A later expedition in 1741, mapping the Arctic coast of Siberia, resulted in Bering and Aleksey Chirikov (commanding a second ship) exploring the North American side of the Bering Sea, discovering the Aleution Islands and Gulf of Alaska.
In 1736, an earlier passage through the Bering Strait by Semyon Dezhnyov in 1648, 80 years before Bering, became widely known. Dezhnyov reported discovering two islands where the natives had bone lip ornaments. IHowever, it is not clear whether the islands, Dezhnyov reported were in fact the Diomedes.
The boundary between the USA and Russia lies between Big and Little Diomede Islands, which are visible in the middle of the Bering Strait. The boundary was defined in the 1867 sale of Alaska by Russia to the United States.
The transport of water through this passage, estimated at about 0.6 Sv of northward flowing low salinity water largely supplied by the Anadyr Current, contributes little to the global budgets of any ocean properties. Its principal role in large-scale circulation is apparently its contribution to the stratification of the Arctic Ocean.
US NOAA nautical chart of Bering Strait
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