Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Maps
Arctic sea ice thickness processed at UCL from CryoSat's SAR mode data:
Latest from Near Real Time Data
Final Precise Data
NRT Service only operates during the Arctic winter season (Oct-May). During summer CryoSat's radar can not measure thickness
effectively due to the formation of melt ponds in the sea ice.
17-Oct-16: NRT Sea Ice thickness service restarted for the Winter season.
Latest 5km Grid of 28-day Thickness : 26/9/16 - 23/10/16
Click in map for
local and basin thickness time series
How is Sea Ice Thickness derived from CryoSat?
CryoSat uses a synthetic aperture radar to sample a much smaller footprint than previous satellite radar altimeters. This allows us to discriminate between sea ice floes and ocean leads with confidence which, in turn, means we can measure their shape.
From this, we can compute sea ice thickness and volume using independent measurements of the ice age, density, and snow loading.
This measurement technique works in autumn, winter and spring. In summer, melt ponds prevent us from estimating sea ice thickness
Arctic Sea Ice Time Series
Please Note that time series data shown below currently stops in February 2015 to avoid mixing
differently calibrated and processed CryoSat data. NRT data (shown to the left) always uses the latest product calibration and is not affected.
The time series will be updated to include the latest 2016 data shortly after ESA
release their complete archive of CryoSat Baseline-C reprocessed
products (in April 2016).
Display the change over time in sea ice thickness or volume over the whole Arctic, an ocean basin, or thickness at a point location:
The plot below shows the timeseries of Monthly mean sea ice thickness calculated from CryoSat precise
and near real time (NRT) data over the whole Arctic area of sea ice extent.
A timeseries at a single location and Arctic basin can also be displayed by clicking on the sea ice thickness maps on the left or by entering
a latitude and longitude location and choosing Select by Point in the panel above.
CPOM Sea Ice Report
Report Date: 26-Oct-2015
Maps of Arctic sea ice thickness are again available in near real time from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, based on measurements acquired by the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite mission. This operational dataset, which aids maritime activities in ice infested waters and improves scientific understanding of the Polar Regions, has been paused since May because melt ponds on sea ice hamper the detection of sea ice thickness during summer.
Measurements of sea ice thickness are now available for the first two weeks of October 2015, and a snap estimate puts the volume of Arctic sea ice at approximately 6200 km3 in the wake of this year’s melting season. This latest reading suggests that there has been a progressive decline in autumn Arctic sea ice volume following the sharp increase that occurred in 2013, and conditions are now similar to those observed back in 2010. A complete picture will be available in the coming weeks once CryoSat-2 has been able to survey the entire Arctic.
The volume of Arctic sea ice at the end of this summer is the fourth lowest recorded by CryoSat-2 during its 6-year mission
This is consistent with the minimum extent reported in September by a
National Snow and Ice Data Centre report,
which at 4.41 million km2 was also the fourth lowest of the last 6 years, and in fact since 1979 when records began.
Changes in sea ice volume and extent don't always go hand in hand. However, this year they have, and it is likely that above average air temperatures
in the Arctic this summer have driven changes in Arctic sea ice volume and extent.