13. Feb 2023 | Nature

Hokkaido Trivia – Words Related to the Drift Ice

North eastern Hokkaido is now livened up with the arrival of the drift ice.

Here’s the timings of the drift ice that are not only meteorologically referred to but also mentioned in daily conversations by the Hokkaido locals. 

First day of the drift ice (流氷初日)
It’s the magic word that livens everybody up!  Meaning the first day the local meteorological observatories were able to catch the sight of the drift ice on the horizon from the observatories.  It’s about 20-25km away from shore. (2022: Jan 24/2023: Feb 2)

First day at shore (流氷接岸)
It’s usually a couple of days after the “First day of the drift ice” or maybe a week later.  It all depends on the north wind.  (2022: Feb 3/2023: Feb 10)

Opening of the ocean (海明け)
When the south wind starts to blow and temperature gets warm in March, and the ice decreases to half the amount – that’s when fishing boats can go out into the ocean. This announcement is made by the local observatories that the ocean is opened again and spring has come to the Okhotsk Sea! (2022: Mar 15)

In 1994 the Meteorological Agency announced that if the global temperature continues to rise as it does today, the drift ice will not make it to Hokkaido in 50 years.  We only have 20 more years to that day.  Let’s pray that each of us learn from the past and be more active towards nature conservation!

rf: Japan Meteorological Agency website