Oliktok Point, Beaufort Sea

Oliktok Point, Beaufort Sea

by | Nov 25, 2022

Oliktok Point is the eastern point of the entrance to Harrison Bay on the Beaufort Sea, about 16 miles (26 km) west of Beechey Point, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Nuiqsut, and 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The Iñupiaq name was first reported by Lieutenant W.J.S. Pullen, of the Royal Navy, as “Olikto”, meaning “it shakes or trembles”.

A system of radar stations called the North Warning System is the joint United States and Canadian early warning network for the atmospheric air defense of North America. It provides surveillance of airspace from potential incursions or attacks from across North America’s polar region. It replaced the Distant Early Warning Line system in the late 1980s. There are now 11 stations in Canada and 4 in Alaska.

The Distant Early Warning site at Oliktok Point was built in 1957 and was operated by civilian contract workers. The radar station was upgraded in 1990 as part of the North Warning System. In 1998 Pacific Air Forces initiated “Operation Clean Sweep”, in which abandoned Cold War stations in Alaska were remediated and the land restored to its previous state. The Oliktok site remains active and is manned by civilian contractors for periodic maintenance, and accessed by road from Deadhorse. Read more here and here. Explore more of Oliktok Point here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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