An ice information app for navigation in polar regions

IcySea is a map-based application designed to display and deliver ice relevant information for operational purposes in the polar regions. It is addressed to national and local authorities, as well as to commercial and non-commercial users (for example: tourism, fisheries, research, offshore, and surveying vessels).

The IcySea-backend structure merges high resolution satellite imagery and optimized bias corrected ice drift modeled data in an automated fashion. Data transmission to the IcySea-frontend client software occurs in near real time and is optimized for low bandwidth connections (tested and proven with an Iridium connection). The graphical user interface is designed to smoothly integrate with the work processes on board a ship and to enable quick navigational decision making. IcySea enables the user in the ice to capture the present and future dynamics of sea-ice whilst using high resolution Sentinel-1 radar satellite images for routing decisions. The service is available Arctic and Antarctic wide.

Covered regions

IcySea provides sea ice data for multiple regions in the Arctic and Antarctic. Which areas are covered depends on the season and the needs of our customers. The map on the right shows the areas that are available right now. If your region of interest isn't covered please contact for a quotation.

Sentinel 1 data (high and low resolution) is provided for all areas. For some areas an ice drift forecast is provided as well. Sea ice concentration is provided for the whole polar region and isn't limited to the specified areas. Find more information on the data products below.

Because of the polar orbit of the Sentinel 1 satellite it depends on the latitude how frequently a region is updated. Regions close to the poles receive more updates then regions close to the equator.

Added value and data information

Despite the increasing accuracy of weather forecasts, still marine masters report significant differences between e.g. ice drift forecast and reality in polar regions. IcySea will help those professionals by providing among others, improved sea-ice drift forecasts.

IcySea v1.1 screenshot
Screenshot of the IcySea app. The coloured background shows sea-ice concentration, grey images are Sentinel-1 radar satellite scenes and the red dots are improved sea-ice drift forecast trajectories.

The forecasts range 10 days into the future and cover the area around the Svalbard archipelago with a spatial resolution of 12.5 km . In the IcySea app the forecasts will be visualized with points anticipating the future location of ice patches. The IcySea sea-ice forecasts are improved by means of machine learning techniques developed at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Comparisons between the Arctic Ocean Physics Analysis and Forecast data product and our optimized forecasts against real observations showed the error for the ice drift speed is reduced from roughly 3500 m/day to 3100 m/day (11.5 %), whilst the error for the drift direction is reduced from on average 45° to 41° (5%).

IcySea is meant to be an actionable application and as such it makes the data available to the user in Near Real Time. In particular:

Sea Ice Concentration:
Near Real Time, up to 8 updates in a day
Optimized Drift:
Daily updates
Sentinel-1 images:
Near Real Time, 2-3 updates in a day for a given area

Approximate data usage information

When using a satellite data connection it is important to know how much data is transferred when installing and using the IcySea application. Below is a list of approximate data usage amounts for various aspects of the application:

Information to downloadData transfer size
Application installation (landmask only) ~5.7 MB
Sea-ice concentration ~136 kB
Ice drift forecast ~176 kB
Sentinel-1 low resolution tile ~28 kB
Sentinel-1 high resolution tile ~1.7 MB
Tile age information 0 kB (information is computed in app)
Classified Sentinel-3 optical image <2.5 MB

Introductory video

Video tutorials

Conditions of use

Radar images in the Svalbard area and sea-ice concentration data for both the Arctic and Antarctic are free to use. High resolution information in other regions requires premium access. Please contact if you're interested in premium access to IcySea. In either case, the user will be asked to register to use the system and acquire a valid account.

Sea-ice data interpretation guidelines

Interpreting sea-ice data from satellite images can be tricky, which is why combining multiple sea-ice data sources is important to get a clear picture of the ice situation. To help you interpret the sea-ice information presented in IcySea, we've created some guidelines for interpreting the various data sources:

IcySea is supported by

Generated using E.U. Copernicus Marine Service Information