Sea Ice Resources Available on this Portal

Peter West / National Science Foundation


The International IPY Committee has scheduled a regular sequence of "International Polar Days" to raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions.  The first International Polar Day, on September 21st., 2007, will focus on sea ice.

The international Web site for the sea ice day is here

Sea ice is a thin layer of  floating ice that covers most of the Arctic Ocean and surrounds most of the Antarctic continent.

Sea ice spreads and retreats seasonally.  It drifts and packs under the influence of wind and currents.  It isolates the atmosphere from the ocean and produces the coldest saltiest ocean waters.  It restricts the movement of ships but supports the traverses of bears.  Sea ice contains unique organisms that sustain under-ice ecosystems. Poised where a few degrees of warming converts ice to water, sea ice has an exquisite sensitivity to climate.

The following links lead to resources funded or activities carried out by the federal government. They will help the general public and teachers to learn more about sea ice generally and the current status of sea ice conditions globally.

Image Collections and Multimedia


National Snow and Ice Data Center's sea ice Web site

Why We Care: Sea Ice Basics from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University

Following a Warming Trend to Its Possible Conclusions: Agencies Discuss Ramifications of an Ice-Free Arctic

Representatives of federal agencies charged with coping with changes in maritime and other policies caused by diminishing Arctic ice cover discussed these changes July 10-12 in Washington D.C. Many of the presentations are archived as .pdf files here.

SEDNA Scientists Brave Frigid Temperatures to Study Sea Ice

Two University of Delaware researchers were among a science party that lived in a frigid ice camp this spring as part of a $1.4 million NSF project they have dubbed SEDNA, for Sea-ice Experiment: Dynamic Nature of the Arctic.

For Teachers:

Oregon State University's Suitcase Lesson on Sea Ice Poses and Answers Basic Questions for K-6 Students
How do icebergs and sea ice form? Why is knowledge of sea ice important for navigation? This NSF-funded curriculum package helps teachers and students investigate these and related questions.

In the Field:

SIMBA Sets Sail to Survey Antarctic Sea Ice
Researchers with the Sea Ice Mass Balance in the Antarctic (SIMBA) research cruise are heading to Antarctica to measure sea ice--which floats on the ocean--to understand the response of sea ice to climate shifts.

University of Texas, San Antonio Researchers, Science Teacher Prepare for Antarctic Research Cruise To Study Sea Ice
For the first time in more than a century, scientists will visit Antarctica's Amundsen Sea this fall. Five UTSA researchers and a Texas high school science teacher will participate in the cruise.

News Releases:

September 2007

NOAA: Arctic Regional Sea Ice to Decline 40 Percent by 2050, Compared to 20-year Baseline
A new study by NOAA scientists shows that areal sea-ice coverage of the Arctic Ocean will decline by more than 40 percent before the summer of 2050, compared to a 1979-1999 base period.

USGS: Future Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice Will Lower Polar Bear Populations and Limit Their Distribution
Future reduction of Arctic sea ice could diminish the world's polar bear population by 60 percent within 50 years according to a series of studies released Sept. 7 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

August 2007

USGS Finds Polar Bear Denning Shifting From Sea Ice to Coastal Habitats in Northern Alaska
A 20-year study argues that recent changes in sea ice in northern Alaska likely explains a decrease in maternal polar bear denning on sea ice and an increase of denning on land.

National Snow and Ice Data Center: Arctic Sea Ice Extent Falls Below Record and is Still Melting
Arctic sea ice has surpassed the previous single-day record for the lowest extent ever measured by satellite. Sea ice extent has fallen below the 2005 record low absolute minimum and is still melting

April 2007

Arctic Sea Ice is Melting Faster than Predicted, Researchers Conclude
Arctic sea ice is melting at a significantly faster rate than projected by the most advanced computer models, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

NASA Finds Arctic Replenished Very Little Thick Sea Ice in 2005
A new NASA study has found that in 2005 the Arctic replaced very little of the thick sea ice it normally loses and replenishes each year. Replenishment of this thick, perennial sea ice each year is essential to the maintenance and stability of the Arctic summer ice cover.

March 2007

University of Alaska Fairbanks Scientist to Lead Arctic Sea-Ice Expedition
Arctic sea ice is in constant motion, riding on the ocean and absorbing energy from circumpolar weather systems. These dynamics may have an effect the thickness and durability of the arctic ice pack in the face of climate change. University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Jennifer Hutchings is chief scientist on an expedition that will spend two weeks at studying these complex relationships at an ice camp on the Beaufort Sea.