The sea ice concentration or sea ice area fraction is the main parameter describing the sea ice cover. It is usually given in % and is the percentage fraction of a known area (e.g. a grid cell) covered by sea ice.
Sea ice concentration data offered by ICDC:
We note that ASI sea ice concentration data are merely based on data of the near 90 GHz channels of SSM/I, SSMIS, AMSR-E, and AMSR2. The finer spatial resolution achieved by doing so, occasionally comes at the expense of the accuracy of the product. One the one hand, spurious or unrealistically high sea ice concentrations could occur over the open water and in the marginal ice zone due to an uncorrected weather influence. On the other hand, over high ice concentration areas unrealistically low sea ice concentrations could occur. These could be caused by changes in the physical properties of the sea ice and the snow on top of the ice due to varying weather conditions.
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Between March and April 2016 sea ice concentration processing was switched from DMSP-f17 to DMSP-f18. Preliminary investigations show that Arctic sea ice area might be 1-2% lower, Antarctic sea ice area about 1% higher for DMSP-f18 than for DMSP-17.
Common parameters describing the sea ice cover are also the total sea ice extent and area (in km²) covered by sea ice. Examples or the actual development of these parameters are given at the top right of this web page and further down at the right hand side. The sea ice cover has been retrieved using satellite observations for over 30 years now. The actual development of the sea ice cover can be seen in the monthly sea-ice concentration anomalies relative to 1992-2016 in the top right based on ASI algorithm SSM/I - SSMIS sea ice concentration data.
Animations of the anomalies for the period 201201-201707 are shown here for the Arctic and the Antarctic. Note that we display NEGATIVE sea ice anomalies in red because these correspond to POSITIVE temperature anomalies and vice versa for positive sea ice anomalies which are given in blue. The black (grey) line denotes the actual (climatological) position of the 15% ice concentration isoline for the respective month for the reference period 1992-2016.
Professional animations can be found for Arctic & Antarctic (these are based on AMSR-E data; for animations of the SSM/I-SSMIS time series or general visualisation requests: felicia.brisc (at) uni-hamburg.de).
The Arctic System has changed during the last couple of years; please see the Arctic Report Card to get details.