Historical Sea Ice Atlas

SNAP and collaborators have compiled sea ice data dating from the mid-1800s to present and designed an interactive website that lets users see what sea ice conditions looked like for a particular location at different points in time. Sea ice data are also available for download.

Key findings from a 2011 report on the need for spatial tools for Arctic mapping and planning indicate that:

Marine resource management decisions are often made through processes that are not based explicitly on resource data … important weaknesses in current decision-making processes involve two issues that spatial tools can help address: public participation and the availability of data and information.

The most pressing management decisions revolve around climate change and the associated changes in environmental conditions coupled with increasing industrial development and consequent human uses of the ocean and near shore environments.

For the first time, you can simultaneously view multiple sources of historical sea ice data from the oceans surrounding northern Alaska. Choose a region and time of interest and inspect a map of data collected between the mid-1800s and today, to discover how ice extent and concentration have changed over time.

If you are a resident of a coastal community, someone who hunts or fishes in a marine environment, a member of the shipping or oil + gas industries, in the US Coast guard, a scientist, or otherwise interested in Arctic sea ice data and climate change, this atlas is for you.

Data considerations

These data show “snapshots” in time, as well as historical trends in arctic sea ice cover and extent. They are not projections or predictions of future conditions. The atlas is not designed for forecasting or prediction, but can provide useful historical context for future planning efforts.