Environmental Working Group Joint U.S.-Russian Arctic Sea Ice Atlas


Note: The Russian chart component of this product has been replaced and updated by Sea Ice Charts of the Russian Arctic in Gridded Format, 1933-2006, and the U.S chart component by National Ice Center Arctic Sea Ice Charts and Climatologies in Gridded Format.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) was established in June 1995 under the framework of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. In January 1996, the EWG Arctic Climatology Group took on the task of compiling digital data on arctic regions to expand scientific understanding of the Arctic. This work resulted in a set of three atlases on CD-ROM. One for Arctic oceanography, one for sea ice (this atlas), and one for meteorology.

U.S. and Russian partners developed the EWG Joint U.S.-Russian Arctic Sea Ice Atlas. The U.S. Navy submarine and Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) community strongly supported this project. The U.S. Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the National Ice Center (NIC)/Naval Ice Center (NAVICE)--a joint agency supported by the U.S. Navy, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard--prepared the data. The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St. Petersburg contributed sea ice data and analyses. The Environmental Research Institute in Michigan designed and compiled the CD-ROM and served as managing editor of the project.

NSIDC prepared this overview of the Atlas based on the complete documentation available on the Atlas CD-ROM. Please refer to the User Notes and Frequently Asked Questions for important information on working with the atlas.

Citing These Data

Please cite this data product as follows:

Arctic Climatology Project. 2000. Environmental Working Group joint U.S.-Russian sea ice atlas. Edited by F. Tanis and V. Smolyanitsky. Ann Arbor, MI: Environmental Research Institute of Michigan in association with the National Snow and Ice Data Center. http://dx.doi.org/10.7265/N5C82766

Table of Contents


Fred Tanis
Environmental Research Institute of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Vasily Smolyanitsky
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
38 Bering St., St. Petersburg, 199397


The EWG project goals were to use all available data, including previously restricted information, to improve understanding of arctic climatology; to use this information to validate General Circulation Models (GCMs); and to improve predictions of ocean pollution transport at high latitudes.

The EWG Subgroup for Arctic Climatology worked to digitize and assemble a significant portion of the Russian hydrographic, sea ice, and meteorological data resources for the Arctic Basin and marginal seas; develop an atlas containing primary data and derived products; and to pursue scientific analysis of climatic forecasting and risk assessment.

The U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation initiated the EWG as part of a commitment in the U.S. and Russia to combine scientific strengths and previously restricted environmental data resources. A team of Russian and U.S. scientists, working together under the EWG, signed a protocol in St. Petersburg on 29 November 1995 to develop the oceanography, sea ice, and meteorology atlases. The EWG released oceanography atlases for winter and summer on 15 March 1997 and 15 March 1998, respectively. The EWG released this sea ice atlas and a meteorology atlas in October 2000 as a joint U.S.-Russian effort. The combined EWG Arctic Ocean data sets allow scientists to investigate many aspects of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible, particularly the heat balance and circulation of the complex arctic climate system. The sea ice atlas is based on individual observations collected from 1950 to 1994 from Russian satellite data, ice stations, ice breakers, and airborne ice surveys. Developers also used U.S. satellite observations, airborne surveys, and declassified U.S. Navy submarine Upward Looking Sonar (ULS) data in the construction of this atlas. Particular data sources included operational ice charts from the U.S. National Ice Center (NIC) and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI); ice drift products from the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP); and sea ice draft products from the U.S. Navy Arctic Submarine Laboratory.

Description of Atlas Data Contents

Please refer to the User Notes and Frequently Asked Questions for important information on working with the atlas.

The sea ice atlas provides a historical record of sea ice charts from both Russian and U.S. sources from 1950 to 1994. It provides coverage for all of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent regions poleward from 45 degrees north latitude. U.S. and Russian researchers developed a large database of historic thematic sea ice concentration charts. The Russian charts are based on a ten-day period of observation; the U.S. charts are based upon a seven-day period. The original charts are available in the atlas as both color maps and digital binary files. Monthly ice chart statistics are provided for each five-year period and the entire period of record. The atlas also contains a monthly sea ice climatology of median ice concentration and the number of years of occurrence. The latter climatology was derived from a combined set of unclassified seven-day sea ice charts and classified sea ice data from 1972 through 1990. Both nations digitized historical sea ice charts from paper records as part of the atlas effort. The atlas contains ice chart data in World Meteorological Organization (WMO) SIGRID format with detailed ice code descriptors for individual ice types and stages of ice development. Ice chart data are also available in the NSIDC EASE-Grid format with selected composite ice types and ice concentrations on a standardized grid and graphical chart.

The atlas also contains formerly classified ULS ice draft profile data collected by U.S. Navy submarines from 1977 to 1993. Developers processed these data to provide both track segments of detailed ice draft profiles and statistics, including probability density and cumulative distribution functions. The atlas provides over 200 individual track segments. See also the NSIDC data set, Submarine Upward Looking Sonar Ice Draft Profile Data and Statistics. Note that ice draft statistics on the EWG Atlas may differ from those in the aforementioned data set, due to differences in processing methods. See User Notes for more information.

Finally, the atlas contains monthly ice motion fields for a 45-year period from a combined Russian and U.S. ice drift data set assembled from ice station, ice buoy, and ice breaker data.

Atlas Sections

The first three sections are on Disc 1 of the CD-ROM set (or the Disc 1 directory on the FTP site). Section 4, "Sea Ice Data Sets," is divided between Disc 1 and Disc 2. See the "Atlas Site Map" for an overview of the directory structure on both CD-ROMs. See the help file and Frequently Asked Questions for important information on working with the atlas.

Section 1. Introduction:

Section 2. Descriptions of primary sea ice data sets and analysis methods:

Section 3. Graphical atlas section containing two-dimensional color coded ice charts and graphical products:

Section 4. "Sea Ice Data Sets" section (divided between Discs 1 and 2):

Data Access

You can dowload the entire CD-ROM via one zip file on FTP.

Data Sources

Data sources for this product include the following:

Contact Information

The EWG Joint U.S.-Russian Atlases of the Arctic Ocean are available on CD-ROM from NSIDC in Boulder, Colorado by completing the Data Order Form; and from AARI in St. Petersburg, Russia using the contact information below:

AARI contact:
Dr. Vasily Smolyanitsky
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
Head, Sea Ice Center
38 Bering St., St. Petersburg, 199397, Russia
Phone: 303-492-6199; fax: 303-492-2468
Fax: +7 (812) 352-2688
e-mail: vms@aari.nw.ru
Internet: http://www.aari.nw.ru

Please direct all inquiries about the data set to NSIDC User Services.

Document Information

Document Revision Date

16 May 2001

Document Review Date

10 May 2001

Document Curator

NSIDC Writers