Sea ice in the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic covers approximately seven percent of our planet, which is bigger than the total area of Europe. These seven percent have a relatively large impact on global climate. Sea ice is particularly driving heat and freshwater exchange of the polar oceans and therefore plays a key role in the earth's climate system. Structure, volume and spatial extent of sea ice are highly differentiated and variable. As a result of these physical characteristics, sea ice has great effects on the energy budget of the earth's surface. Sea ice is highly complex, but at the same time it is certainly one of the most interesting and influential materials on our planet. Additionally, sea ice is an especially fascinating habitat that is essential for the ecosystem of the polar regions.

Daily sea ice maps– now also available in English

Satellite observations of sea ice concentration in the Arctic and the Antarctic are the backbone of since its launch in April 2013. Since then, daily maps and data sets are published on the information and data portal. Time series and trends are updated daily, representing the status of the sea ice cover on hemispheres. According to the main objective of the portal, to provide an information and data platform in German language, this information was only provided in German. Following the increasing international interest in our portal and the provided data sets, we are happy to announce that this key element of the portal is now also available in English, providing all graphs with English labels and captions.

Beyond the original sea ice concentration data, this page also provides daily updates on sea ice extent and area for both hemispheres. These time series are frequently used to discuss the seasonality and inter-annual variability and trends of the sea ice cover. Illustrated commentaries of the actual sea ice conditions (see news on the German part of the portal) will only continue in German. For English news and background, we still recommend the NSIDC Sea Ice News. Note: due to the failure of the F17 satellite since 11 April 2016, this page and dataset is currently under revision.

The AMSR2 sea ice concentration data set

Surface brightness temperatures are retrieved from the AMSR2 sensor on the satellite 'Shizuku' (GCOM-W1), developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are routinely processed by the PHAROS group of the University of Bremen (UB), Institute of Environmental Physics, and then visualized and incorporated into the website. The data are available on a 6.25 km grid with daily resolution. Details on the algorithm and processing are described in Spreen et al. (2008). Our data portal contains all daily maps and monthly means since 2002, including re-processed measurements from the ASI and AMSR-E sensors. All data and figures can be found here.

Updates of sea ice thickness data

Besides the sea ice concentration dataset, our sea ice thickness data sets are also extended and updated:

1) CryoSat-2 freeboard and sea ice thickness (plus many additional related quantities) are now available for Arctic sea ice from November 2012 until winter 2015/16. The data set consists of monthly data sets from October to May each year. Antarctic data sets are still under development. Date and figures are available here.

2) SMOS sea ice thickness data are available for the Arctic and Antarctic since October 2010 with daily updates. It covers the period of freezing season from October to April in the Arctic. This data set focuses on thin sea ice (<0.5m). Date and figures are available here.

Autonomous measurements of sea ice properties

Buoys, or more generally speaking "ice tethered platforms" that perform autonomous measurements of physical properties of sea ice, snow, and the uppermost ocean are one of the main instruments to collect time-series data sets from the remote polar regions. Here we present data, metadata, and results from our buoys drifting on Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. Figures and data can be found here.

Current seaice maps

Real time course plot R.V. Polarstern
Where is Polarstern?

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