New WebGIS app for interactive sea ice maps at

29 November 2019

The sea-ice extent in the Arctic is broadly considered to be an important indicator for the on-going climate change. This year, the month of October, in which the freezing season begins and new ice is formed, was characterised by a historically low sea-ice extent (see the News at Allowing users to view and compare the ice concentration and extent for different days, months and years, offers a broad range of maps and individual options. Here, e.g. the comparison maps available at the data portal allow users to compare the mean monthly extent in different years, or in relation to the long-term average (2003 – 2014). But also individual maps of the ice concentration for specific dates or monthly means can be found, as well as detailed maps on sea-ice-related buoys. All of these products can be extremely helpful when users are seeking highly specific information. “The new WebGIS application allows us to share the diverse range of data at with users in an easily accessible format, and to present the wealth of information in a different way,” explains Dr Annekathrin Jäkel, the data expert responsible for the app at 

When it comes to the use and interpretation of climate data, combining products is an important step, because doing so allows us to establish visual connections between diverse parameters or observational scales. And the WebGIS app recently added to the data portal at makes that possible. Based on the geo-information system ArcGIS (ESRI GIS Software ArcGIS 10.x) and centrally installed in the Alfred-Wegner Institute’s Computing and Data Centre at, the app has been specifically tailored to the requirements for sea-ice-related data. GIS systems allow spatial data to be jointly displayed in “layers”, which can subsequently be combined.  Accordingly, various types of geo-data can easily be displayed and analysed in a single app.

For the WebGIS app, the initial data made available included the ice concentration for the period 2012 to present, the monthly mean sea ice edge position, the currently active buoys, and the RV Polarstern’s current route (“trackline”). Users now have the freedom to select and interactively display various types of information, either individually or in combination. In addition, they can use sliders to quickly and easily change the years, months and days they wish to be displayed. 

Using the WebGIS app :

  • First, click to select the desired parameters (under “Data Layer”)
  • Then use the sliders to select the timeframe for the map information (under “Filter by Date/Time”).
  • If desired, click to include the mean sea ice edge position for a given month / year (under “Filter Sea Ice Monthly Median Edge”).
  • If desired, select specific ice buoys, which will appear as individual symbols on the map (under “Filter by Buoy Type”).

The WebGIS app was jointly developed with the AWI’s Computing and Data Centre and has been integrated in the AWI’s GIS map services. Thanks to the new app, users can quickly and easily conduct individual image-based analyses using sea-ice-related data on the Arctic and Antarctic, and the tentative plan is to successively expand the palette of datasets and parameters offered by the app at


Annekathrin Jäkel (AWI)
Andreas Walter (AWI)
Antonie Haas (AWI)
Renate Treffeisen (AWI)
Klaus Grosfeld (AWI)