Ice Conditions

Back to Map

Gambell is located on the northwest cape of St. Lawrence Island, approximately 200 miles southwest of Nome, in the Bering Sea. The village is 36 miles from the Chukotsk Peninsula, Siberia. Sivuqaq is the Yup'ik name for the village and also for the Island. The village was renamed for Mr. and Mrs. Vene C. Gambell.

Gambell has a maritime climate; winds and fog are common, and precipitation occurs 300 days per year. Average annual precipitation is 15 inches and includes 80 inches of snowfall. The Bering Sea freezes during mid-November and breakup occurs at the end of May. Average summer temperatures range from 34 to 48 °F, while average winter temperatures range from -2 to 10 °F.

St. Lawrence Island has been inhabited intermittently for the past 2,000 years by both Alaskan and Siberian Yup'ik Eskimos. During the 1930s, some residents moved to Savoonga to establish a permanent settlement there. The Island is jointly owned by Gambell and Savoonga. Alaska Natives comprise more than 96% of the population. The isolation of Gambell has helped to maintain their traditional Siberian Yup'ik Eskimo culture, language, and their subsistence lifestyle based upon marine mammals.

The economy in Gambell is largely based upon subsistence harvests from the sea: seal, walrus, fish and whales. Whaling occurs in Gambell during the spring as the ice begins to break up. Bowheads and sometimes gray whales and are hunted. Some reindeer roam free on the island, but most harvesting occurs in Savoonga. Ivory carving is popular in Gamble and provides a supplementary source of income.

Braund, Stephen R. 1988. The Skin Boats of Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Dumond, Don E., Collins, Henry Bascom, and Giddings, J. Louis(James Louis). 1998. The Hillside Site, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska: an Examination of Collections from the 1930s. Eugene, OR: Oregon State Museum of Anthropology and Dept. of Anthropology, University of Oregon.

Elder, Sarah and Kamerling, Leonard. 1974. At the Time of Whaling Aghueghniighmi. Fairbanks, AK : The Project. 1 videocassette (VHS) (38 min.)

Ellanna, Linda J. and Sherrod, George K. 1984. The Role of Kinship Linkages in Subsistence Production: Some Implications for Community Organization. Juneau, AK: Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence.

U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Southern Plains Indian Museum and Crafts Center. 1982. Alaskan Eskimo Carvers of Gambell.

Hughes, Charles C. 1960. An Eskimo Village in the Modern World. Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press.

Jolles, Carol Zane. 2002. Faith, Food, and Family in a Yupik Whaling Community. Seattle,WA: University of Washington Press.

Mobley, Charles M. 2001. Archaeological Monitoring of Military Debris Removal from Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Anchorage, AK: Charles M. Mobley & Associates.

Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings. 1990 1999. Eskimo Songs from Alaska. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. 1 sound disc (43 min., 50 sec.) Language: Yupik languages; Sung in Eskimo. Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings; FE 4069.

United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Planning Support Group. 1977. Gambell, Its History, Population, and Economy. Billings, MT: The Group.

From the weather underground

Forecasted weather
From the weather underground
Summary Climate data for Gambell

Sea Ice:
Sea Ice conditions for AK, images from the last 14 days
Sea ice map from NOAA
Sea Ice forecast models for AK - 1 through 6 day forecasts

From AK Dept. of Community and economic Development
History of the Presbyterian Church on St. Lawrence Island
Gambell community site from Kawarek, Inc.
Susie Silook article
Description of Gambell from