THE CEOS DATABASE : Missions, Instruments and Measurements
DomainOceanicDescriptionSea ice is most often thought of as a sensitive indicator to changes in the energy absorbed by the ice. It also greatly influences the surface albedo and air/sea exchanges of energy, moisture and carbon. The sea-ice distribution, including polynyas and margins also has an important influence on marine ecosystems. Changes in the distribution of sea ice affect these ecosystems and a number of activities such as shipping, logistic and tourist operations. [GCOS-195 5.3.5]
Full NameSea ice
Satellite Signficant ContributionYes
GCOS Actions
DescriptionWhoTime FramePerformance IndicatorCost Implications
Plan, establish and sustain systematic in situ observations from sea-ice buoys, visual surveys (SOOP and Aircraft), and ULS in the Arctic and Antarctic.Arctic Party research agencies, supported by the Arctic Council; Party research agencies, supported by CLIVAR Southern Ocean Panel; JCOMM, working with CliC and OOPC.Internationally-agreed plans published by end 2010, implementation build-up through 2014Publication of internationally-agreed plans, establishment of agreements/frameworksPlan and agreement of frameworks: <1M US$; Implementation: 10-30M US$ (Mainly Annex-I Parties).
Ensure sustained satellite-based (microwave, SAR, visible and IR) sea-ice products.Parties’ national services, research programmes and space agencies, coordinated through the WMO Space Programme and Global Cryosphere Watch, CGMS, and CEOS; National services for in situ systems, coordinated through WCRP CliC and JCOMM.ContinuingSea-ice data in International Data Centres.1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
Document the status of global sea-ice analysis and reanalysis product uncertainty (via a quantitative summary comparison of sea-ice products) and to prepare a plan to improve the products.Parties’ national agencies, supported by WCRP CliC and JCOMM Expert Team on Sea Ice (ETSI).By end of 2011.Peer-reviewed articles on state of sea-ice analysis uncertainty; Publication of internationally-agreed strategy to reduce uncertainty.<1M US$ (Mainly Annex-I Parties).
*GCOS-195 Status Categories: Category A: Action completed, perhaps exceeding reasonable expectations. Very good progress on ongoing tasks. Category B: Action largely completed according to expectation. Good progress on ongoing tasks. Category C: Moderate progress overall, although progress may be good for some part of the action. Category D: Limited progress overall, although progress may be moderate or good for some part of the action. Category E: Very little or no progress, or deterioration rather than progress.
GCOS Products
Related Measurements/
from CEOS DB
O.5Sea-ice concentration/extent/edge, supported by Sea-ice thickness and sea-ice driftSI Concentration
SI Extent/edge
SI Thickness
SI Drift
Sea-ice cover
Sea-ice type
Sea-ice surface temperature
Sea-ice sheet topography
Sea-ice thickness
Sea-ice Concentration
Sea-ice motion
CEOS Response[O19 (O.5)]

2015 Update: The Sea Ice CCI project has developed and processed the following consistent multi-mission merged sea-ice ECV products:
  • Sea ice concentration based on SSM/I (F10, F11, F13, F14, F15) (1992-2008) and AMSR-E (2002-2011);
  • Winter Arctic sea ice thickness and freeboard from Envisat RA-2 (2002-2012) and Antarctic freeboard for Envisat RA-2 (2002-2012)
This is being complemented by:
  • Sea ice concentration based on AMSR-E (2002-2011) and AMSR-2 (2013-2015);
  • Arctic sea ice thickness and freeboard and Antarctic freeboard from ERS-1 RA (1993-2000), ERS-2 RA (1995-2003), Envisat RA-2 (2002-2012), Cryosat-2 SIRAL2 (2010 ->) and Arctic thin ice sea ice thickness from SMOS (2009 ->)
  • Sea ice drift: algorithm inter-comparison and product specifications for a new sea ice ECV.
The data are available at the Integrated Climate Data Center (ICDC) in Hamburg:

Note: The Sea Ice Concentration products are developed in collaboration with EUMETSAT OSISAF.


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