Sea ice extent/area

For over 30 years sea ice coverage has been determined based on satellite data. It is normally defined by the sea ice extent, sea ice area in square meters and sea ice concentration (more information here).

The data portal provides time series of the monthly mean of sea ice extent and area in the Arctic and Antarctica for January to December since 1979. Moreover, the anomalies of the monthly mean of the sea ice extent in relation to the long-term mean are available for January to December from 1981 to 2010.

Time series on sea-ice area must be recalculated!

After identifying and correcting an error in the processing routine used to calculate sea-ice extent, all time series from 1 May 2018 onwards were recalculated, checked again, and put back online from 11 September. Time series predating 1 May 2018 required no corrections.

In contrast, the time series on the ice-covered area (sea-ice area) have unfortunately not yet been recalculated and updated, since doing so requires the calibration and coordination of time series from various satellites, which have not yet been completed. Consequently, we suspended the daily updating of the sea-ice area graphics on 9 September 2020 and will immediately put the product back online as soon as the daily service is available. Our top priority is ensuring the outstanding quality of the products we offer; we apologize that we are temporarily unable to provide new data on the sea-ice area.

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For the use of, users are asked to include the following citation:

  1. Grosfeld, K.; Treffeisen, R.; Asseng, J.; Bartsch, A.; Bräuer, B.; Fritzsch, B.; Gerdes, R.; Hendricks, S.; Hiller, W.; Heygster, G.; Krumpen, T.; Lemke, P.; Melsheimer, C.; Nicolaus, M.; Ricker, R. and Weigelt, M. (2016), Online sea-ice knowledge and data platform <>, Polarforschung, Bremerhaven, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research & German Society of Polar Research, 85 (2), 143-155, doi:10.2312/polfor.2016.011 (PDF).

For the use of the specific data from the data portal of, users are asked to include the associated citations as indicated below.

For all sea ice concentration data, please

  1. include the following phrase into the acknowledgment: Sea ice concentration data from DATE to DATE were obtained from (grant: REKLIM-2013-04).
  2. refer to: Spreen, G.; Kaleschke, L. and Heygster, G. (2008), Sea ice remote sensing using AMSR-E 89 GHz channels J. Geophys. Res.,vol. 113, C02S03, doi:10.1029/2005JC003384.

In case of questions or any difficulties, please contact us at: Meereisportal Team.