IICWG Business

IICWG Efforts in Antarctic Waters

IICWG Letter to JCOMM Expert Team on Marine Safety Services (PDF 57 KB, posted Oct. 2013)

Satellite Observations for Ice Monitoring

Letter to the European Space Agency concerning continued operation of Envisat beyond 2013 (PDF 86 KB, posted Apr. 2012)

The IICWG works actively with the satellite community to ensure a continuing supply of observations for ice monitoring. Interaction with the community is a regular feature of the IICWG meetings and continues throughout the year. The IICWG has commissioned one report outlining requirements for ice monitoring, contributed to several others and made regular representations to the space agencies and satellite operators.


The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Polar and High Mountain Observations, Research, and Services activities promote and coordinate relevant programmes that are carried out in the Antarctic and Arctic regions by nations and by groups of nations. It interfaces with all WMO programmes, including the World Weather Watch and other related programmes throughout the world, meeting global needs and requirements for meteorological observations, research, and services in the polar regions. The activities are carried out under the auspices of the Executive Council Panel of Experts on Polar and High Mountain Observations, Research, and Services (EC-PHORS).

EC-PORS Update July 2011 (PDF 789 KB, posted 8/11)
Update on Key Outcomes and Initiatives of the WMO Polar Activities (PDF 2.9 MB, posted 4/11)

To foster cooperation with EC-PORS, the IICWG has submitted reports on its activities to each of the EC-PORS meetings:

Ice Logistics Portal

The Ice Logistics Portal was initiated as an IPY Project to provide a single website where users could get ice charts from all of the ice charting services in a convenient manner. The portal is located at http://www.bsis-ice.de/IcePortal/.

Several documents have been considered by the IICWG concerning the future of the portal:

IICWG Multi-Lateral MOUs

Several IICWG members have signed Memoranda of Agreement to formalize their cooperative working relationships:

Color Standard and Shapefile SIGRID-3 Format

The Color Standard and SIGRID-3 formats are now official World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards, and may be referenced as:

SIGRID-3: A Vector Archive Format for Sea Ice Charts. JCOMM Technical Report Series No. 23, 2004, WMO/TD-No. 1214.

Ice Chart Colour Code Standard. JCOMM Technical Report Series No. 24, 2004, WMO/TD-No. 1215.

These documents are available from the World Meteorological Organization - JCOMM Technical Report Series Web site, or contact John Falkingham for the Ice Chart Colour Code Standard and Florence Fetterer for the SIGRID-3 Standard.

Ice in Electronic Navigation Charts

Following work by the IICWG, the JCOMM Expert Team on Sea Ice (ETSI) approved a new revision to the Ice Objects Catalogue Version 5.0 at its meeting in March 2010. This revision implements a number of recommendations to harmonize the WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature, the SIGRID-3 code, and the ENC Ice Objects. Also, a number of new objects were added to support the work of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) and Transas. In February 2012, an updated draft of the Ice Objects Catalogue, Version 5.1, was released which harmonizes some terms with the WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature and the existing national practices draft. It is anticipated that version 5.1 will be formally approved later in 2012.

IICWG, together with ETSI, has been collaborating with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) to migrate the Ice Objects from S-57 to the new S-100 family of Electronic Chart Display & Information System (ECDIS) standards. Features, attributes, and enumerations from the Ice Objects Catalogue Version 5.0 have been encoded in the prototype IHO S-100 database as "Supplemental Geographic Information". Work remains to be done on the portrayal of ice features.

For a historical overview of ice information in electronic navigation charts see the presentation "Ice Information for Electronic Navigation Systems".

NIC Ice Training

The U.S. National Ice Center (NIC) has kindly contributed its Ice Analyst Workbook for reference by IICWG participants. While some sections of the Workbook are specific to NIC, many sections are generic and will be useful for ice analyst training anywhere.

National Ice Center: Ice Analyst Workbook (posted Nov. 2011):

Ice Forecasting Models

An Inventory and Description of Ice Forecasting Models at Ice Centers (PDF 1 MB)
This document contains information on models at several national ice centers. (Updated October 2011)

Ice Chart Data Attributes

This table was updated in August, 2005, by F. Fetterer, using information gathered at the IICWG V meeting, Hamburg, Germany, and in October 2005.

Ice Service Analysis chart frequency Analysis or GIS system used Operational product format
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Russia Weekly, bi-weekly, and daily regional Arctic charts. Antarctic charts are available at various frequencies while supporting the AARI R/V. Analysis: ERDAS, ESRI ARCInfo. Chart production: ArcInfo, ARCView  Shapefile, SIGRID, GIF, national vector CONTOUR-2
Argentine Navy Hydrographic Service
Canadian Ice Service CIS produces three types of charts:
  1. Daily analysis ice charts at scale of 1:2M are produced for southern regions in the winter and northern regions in the summer to support shipping activities, for each satellite image.
  2. Image analysis ice charts are produced for the same regions and time of year as daily ice charts.
  3. Weekly regional ice charts at scale of 1:4M are produced covering all Canadian ice-encumbered waters.
All charts are produced with a custom ISIS system based on ArcInfo for charts and Imagine for imagery. All charts are produced in .E00, pdf and GIF format; and are available freely on the CIS Web site
China, State Oceanic Administration
Danish Meteorological Institute  Weekly chart covers all Greenland waters. Navigational charts are produced depending on season and users requirements. Analysis: ERDAS Imagine
Chart production: ESRI ArcView (Polygons with SIGRID attributes)
ESRI coverage format files
Finnish Ice Service Daily during the Baltic Sea ice season (October-May). SST twice a week. On Mondays simplified ice and SST chart at http://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/ice-conditions. Analysis: Icemap Charts are saved in *.postscript format
Charts send to icebreakers, ships, and other platforms are in *.ice, *.pdf, or *.tif format
Germany, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), Ice Service Baltic: 2 times a week
Western Baltic - North Sea: 3 times a week
SQL data base. Point obs since1940. Grid of Western Baltic since 1963. Adobe PDF files
Icelandic Meteorological Office Variable (charts from Icelandic Coast Guard)
Japan Meteorological Agency Daily bulletin
Charts every 5 days?
Norwegian Meteorological Institute Every weekday: covering eastern Greenland to east Barents Sea. ~1 a week: High resolution chart covering Svalbard. Every weekday: SST analysis. PCI,IDL
ESRI ArcView
Encapsulated PostScript (eps) format chart
TIFF format chart, and PDF
Sweden (SMHI) Daily ice charts for the period (approx) 25 Nov - 25 May, otherwise SST charts twice a week. Icemap software (developed by VTT, Finland)
Joint system BSH-FIMR-SMHI
TIFF, Postscript, Icemap GRID
Poland (IMGW) Polish coast and Baltic Sea 2-3 times a week
U.S. National Ice Center: Analysis Products (updated Oct 2005 per P. Seymour)
  1. Twice per month ice analysis charts of the Arctic and Antarctic. The Arctic analysis is done on the weeks during which the 1st and the 15th of the month fall. If there are two weeks between the 1st and 15th, then the Arctic analysis will be completed three times during that month. Each analysis is produced as both a black and white and color version. The black and white version depicts ice conditions using the WMO egg code. The color version is based on total concentration and also depicts WMO code eggs. The JPEG charts can encompass a whole sea (e.g.. Beaufort Sea) or part of a sea (e.g. North Greenland). The .e00 coverage is based on nominal geographic boundaries of seas. The coverages that correspond to the individual JPEG charts (e.g. Bering West, Bering East and Kamchatka) are joined together into a complete sea (e.g. Bering Sea). An ASCII text metadata file describing the imagery used in the analyses is included for the East Arctic and the West Arctic.
  2. Each week (beginning Summer 2001) a Northern Hemisphere .e00 Analysis or Southern Hemisphere .e00 analysis will be placed on the WWW site.
  3. The Alaskan regional analysis (Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering Seas, Cook Inlet and the High Arctic West 1 and 2 areas) is completed at least once a week all year. The Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the Cook Inlet are analyzed twice per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays when there is an ice edge present. The Tuesday chart which falls on the 1st and 15th of the month will be part of the hemispheric coverage for that week.
  4. Once per week ice analysis of the Great Lakes. This is produced on Thursdays. The NIC hosts the Great Lakes .gif chart and the .e00 coverage produced by the Canadian Ice Service on Mondays.
  5. Ice analyses of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay region are produced at least weekly when there is ice present.
  6. Ice analyses of the Ross Sea are produced at least every other week but are done weekly during the austral summer navigation season.
JPEG Graphic Format and .e00 ESRI Format
Each week (beginning Summer 2001) a Northern Hemisphere Analysis or a Southern Hemispheric Analysis in Shapefile (SIGRID 3 Archive) format will be placed on the WWW site by the end of the week SHAPE Format
Daily ice edges of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are produced in ASCII format. ASCII Text Messages
Weekly Iceberg List. This is comprised of the iceberg name, date of last sighting, latitude and longitude of last sighting, current size and the imagery source type used for the last sighting. This list encompasses the icebergs currently being tracked. Microsoft Word Format
Spreadsheet of all icebergs tracked by the National Ice Center. The spreadsheets are divided by the quadrant of the Southern hemisphere where the iceberg originated and then by individual iceberg. Microsoft Excel Format
U.S. National Ice Center: Forecast Products
  1. 30 Day Forecasts for the Arctic. Issued Monthly on or about the 1st of the month and valid the 1st of the following month.
  2. 30 Day Forecasts for the North American Arctic area is issued for the period July through December unless the ice cover does not require the forecasts. These forecasts are comprised of jpeg format graphics and a text section. They are produced as North American Ice Service products jointly by the NIC and the CIS.
  3. 30 Day Forecasts for the Great Lakes are issued near the 1st of December through March.
  4. A Long Range Outlook for the Great Lakes is issued near the 1st of December.
GIF Format
  1. Seasonal Outlooks for the East and West Arctic. Issued during the last week in May as a North American Ice Service product. Produced jointly by the CIS and the NIC.
  2. Seasonal Outlook for the Ross Sea and McMurdo Sound. Issued in late October in support of the re-supply of McMurdo station.
Microsoft Word Format

Ice Service Climatological Products

The table below gives a quick overview of products that may be useful in evaluating climatological trends in sea ice cover. Contact the ice services directly for more information.

Ice Service Climatological products produced by the ice service Contributions to the Global Digital Sea Ice Data Bank? (Note - may not include holdings at AARI)
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Numerous, though not always available as digital databases. For example, probability of ice formation for Black, Caspian, and Azov Seas.
Mean (and many other statistics) total concentration by decade, 1950-1990, on AARI GDSIDB Web page.
1950-1993 in SIGRID (at AARI)
1953-1990 in EASE-Grid (at NSIDC or AARI)
Chart every 10 days
Argentine Navy Hydrographic Service Data base of point observations back to the1970s or earlier 1998-2000, point observations in NIC-code in .db format (like the attribute table for a shape file?)
Ongoing contributions planned.
Austrialia (ASPeCt Project) Not now, but data for 1980-1997 planned. In ASPeCt data base format.
Canadian Ice Service Climatic Ice Atlases showing 30-year median of ice concentration (1968-1998) for Hudson Bay, East Arctic, West Arctic and Canadian east coast in GIF format. Other statistical products have been produced for some regions and are not available on our Web site yet; they include:
Climate charts products
  1. 30 year median of predominant ice type (1971-2000)
  2. 30 year frequency of presence of sea ice (1971-2000)
  3. 30 year frequency of presence of old ice (1971-2000)
  4. same types as above but for 10 year periods
  5. dates of freeze-up and break-up
  6. prototype anomaly charts showing departures from normal conditions for concentration and ice type; also used for interdecadal comparisons
Bar graphs and trends
  1. weekly extents and coverages (weekly coverage can be used as chart severity index)
  2. total accumulated coverages for a season (used to compare severity of ice seasons from 1968 to 2000); a variant is total accumulated old ice
  3. length of seasons for all years (start of season defined as when ice reaches a threshold value)
  4. minimum and maximum ice coverages
Several publications on sea ice climatology in Canadian waters have been produced; our latest publication is Sea Ice Climatic Atlas - East Coast of Canada - 1971-2000.
1968-1998 in SIGRID.
Some earlier data in SIGRID. 1968-1998 in ESRI .e00 format files as well, with SIGRID attributes (15' resolution).
Ongoing contributions planned.
China, State Oceanic Administration Maximum annual extent for the Bohai Sea, 1952-present. (To be submitted before 2001 mtg) Total and partial concentrations, stages of development on 0.1 degree grid, 1968 to present.
Danish Meteorological Institute Sample chart from 1990 in original (?) gridded format, available from AARI.
Ongoing contributions (starting with 1999) planned.
Finland Institute of Marine Research, Finnish Ice Service Many climatologies, atlases, and statistics on Baltic sea ice dating back to 1719 are available from the Baltic Sea Now site. One example: image showing classification of maximum extent of ice in Baltic Sea 1720-1995, characterized as extremely mild to extremely severe. See Note 1.
Digital ice charts from 1994 on.
On-line narrative summary characterizing winter conditions, with graphic of maximum ice extent (Hard copies back to 1915)
Baltic sea ice meeting country - charts contributed as a group.
SIGRID format (twice a week) 1960-1986.
Postcript format charts 1994 on.
EASE-Grid available from AARI.
Ongoing contributions planned.
Germany, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), Ice Service On-line narrative summary of ice winter on German coast and in Baltic Sea area (from 98/99) with images of maximum extent charts.
Ice observations at the German coast between Ems and Oder since 1955.
Baltic sea ice meeting country - charts contributed as a group. (See Finland entry for more information).
Icelandic Meteorological Office Not now, but would like to per T. Jakobsson, 10/99
Japan Meteorological Agency SIGRID format charts 1971-1993.
SIGRID-2 format charts 1994-1999 (Every 5 days).
EASE-Grid available from AARI.
Norwegian Meteorological Institute Monthly charts of the ice edge. The charts are based on weekly ice edge data and indicate max, mean, and min ice extent for a month. Plan to contribute SIGRID-3 format charts.
Sweden (SMHI) Ice statistics for fairway sections from 1870.
Ice atlas for entire Baltic covering period 1960-1979 (joint SMHI-FIMR),
Also available in digital format (BASIS and SIGRID).
Icemap GRID for entire Baltic (twice a week) available from Feb 1998.
Baltic sea ice meeting country - charts contributed as a group.
Planned contributions:
  • Delivery of Icemap GRID data period 1998-1999 to AARI for conversion into SIGRID format (Oct 2000).
  • Delivery of Icemap GRID data remaining period 1980-1997 (autumn 2002).
Poland (IMGW) Summary of ice winter on Polish coast (from 1984/85) with maximum extent charts.
Data Bank of daily ice and meteorological observations along the Polish coast since 1955, seasonal data on winter ice conditions from 1896/97Baltic Sea Ice Meeting
Baltic Sea Ice Meeting
U.S. National Ice Center Average coverage and extent in sq. kilometers, by week of the year, for 1972-1994, 1998, and 1999, for regions of Arctic, and Antarctic.
Archive of all chart products and climatology in ArcInfo, SIGRID, and EASE-Grid formats on the Environmental Working Group Joint U.S.-Russian Arctic Sea Ice Atlas at http://nsidc.org/data/g01962
1972-1994 in SIGRID, EASE-Grid on EWG CD-ROM Atlas
Ongoing contributions planned, format TBD. Current data are available as ESRI e00 and gif files.

Interesting History

April 1, 2010 commemorates the 50 year anniversary of the first television image of Earth from space taken with the TIROS-1 weather satellite on April 1, 1960. Read the article and see the image: 50th Anniversary of First Image from TIROS-1 (PDF, 188 KB).