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This is the Bering Sea today...

enter image description here

...and this was the Bering Sea as recently as 25,000 years ago.

enter image description here

Truth of the matter is, the Bering had been shifting back and forth from land to sea for 100 million years.

Here is Beringia in an alternate Earth:

enter image description here

In this alternate scenario, the Bering Land Bridge had been open for permanent business for 250 million years from the moment North America collided with Asia. This is set in the same alternate Earth in which the Atlantic is wider than ours by 1350 miles, turning the Russian urban locality of Egvekinot (66.3205 degrees North and 179.1184 degrees West) into the next-door neighbor of Teller, Alaska.

Fast-forward to the 21st century AD, and the question is: Would the permanent presence of this bridge affect the climate of the North Pacific and Arctic coastlines?

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  • $\begingroup$ This question seems specific enough to me. Not sure that most have the knowledge base to answer it but its a perfectly acceptable alternate reality climate question. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 12 '16 at 18:20
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Yes - The Weather Would Be Different

Before we begin, let's go over what jumped out at me here is that you stated that your world has:

  1. Expanded the Atlantic ocean by 1,350 miles
  2. Contracted the Pacific ocean by 1,350 miles
  3. (by #1 and #2) Blocked all or most interactions from the Arctic and Pacific oceans
  4. Been in this state for 250,000,000 years

The long/short is that you have obviously disrupted the flow of arctic water in this world and have pushed continents very far in two directions - and it has been that way for a very long time. The idea that this would NOT create a change is unthinkable.

What Would Change

Here is some work about what occurred when the Bering Strait closed. It's an interesting read, but here are two key points from the article:

  • With the flow of relatively fresh water from the Pacific to the Atlantic choked off, the Atlantic grew more saline. The saltier and heavier water led to an intensification of the Atlantic's meridional overturning circulation, a current of rising and sinking water that, like a conveyor belt, pumps warmer water northward from the tropics.

  • This circulation warmed Greenland and parts of North America by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius)-enough to reverse the advance of ice sheets in those regions and reduce their height by almost 400 feet (112 meters) every thousand years. Although the Pacific cooled by an equivalent amount, it did not have vast ice sheets that could be affected by the change in climate.

It should be noted however that the article discusses this event in context of a global ice age (which caused the straight to "close"). In your world however, it has simply always been that way. So you should expect some permanent warming the the Atlantic, permanent cooling in the Pacific (due to the larger "hole" between the arctic and Pacific ocean pumping more fresh water down that way).

Another Major Caveat

That said, I actually expect that moving continents that much would have a larger impact on global climates by either allowing more area for new crosswinds to develop between continents or reducing opportunities. However there is no research available on such a fictional world, so I cannot supply a guess as to the impact while the "hard science" tag is in use.

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  • $\begingroup$ How would there be a hole between the Arctic and the Pacific when there is really an above-sea-level bridge? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Sep 12 '16 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey - Can you clarify? There is no bridge between Russia/Alaska now - sea water most certainly flows through it. When it was more solidified (but probably not all the way down) during the ice age the amount of water that was stopped changed global temperatures. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 12 '16 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ You spoke of a larger "hole" between the Arctic and the Pacific pumping up more fresh water. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Sep 12 '16 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I had that backwards, sorry. Very little sleep last night (new baby). The increased gap between the Atlantic and Arctic (and lessened Pacific-Arcitic interaction) would increase the flow of warm water north and cold water south through the Atlantic/Arctic gap. I can't say within the bounds of hard science whether this would hit a limit before or after the northern ice flows melted. That would probably also increase travel over the land bridge for early people (if they evolved at all) due to the warmer climate making the trek more hospitable. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 12 '16 at 20:21

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