SITU | Sea Ice Tracking Utility



Ice motion vectors are based on buoy data and a pattern recognition algorithm applied to subsequent images of sea ice from microwave data:

Polar Pathfinder Daily 25 km EASE-Grid Sea Ice Motion Vectors, Version 4.

When a starting location and time are selected, the motion vector data are retrieved and applied to the parcel from the beginning to the end of the selected time interval. Time can be set to go forward or backward. The ice drifts are combined with ice concentration maps to distinguish between formation (or melting) of ice and existing ice drifting into (or out of) a location.

If the ice parcel back- or forward- trajectory ends in an open water pixel for 5 consecutive days, the track will end. If ice reappears in that pixel within 5 days, the track is continued and the restart is indicated by a blue dot on the plots. The raw data .csv file contains the restart data. The 5-day wait period minimizes mistakes at the ice edge, where small errors in the drift vectors can "advect" ice out of the ice pack even though it has not really melted.

How to Cite

G.G. Campbell, S. Pfirman, B. Tremblay, R. Newton, W. Meier, C. Fowler, P. DeRepentigny.
Sea Ice Tracking Utility (

Sample Refenences

Tschudi, M.A., W.N. Meier, and J.S. Stewart, 2020. An enhancement to sea ice motion and age products at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), The Cryosphere, 14, 1519-1536, doi:10.5194/tc-14-1519-2020.
Tooth, M., and M.A. Tschudi, 2018. Investigating Arctic Sea Ice Survivability in the Beaufort Sea, Remote Sensing, 10(2), 267, doi:10.3390/rs10020267.
DuVivier, A.K., P. DeRepentigny, M.M. Holland, M. Webster, J.E. Kay, and D. Perovich, 2020. Going with the floe: tracking CESM Large Ensemble sea ice in the Arctic provides context for ship-based observations, The Cryosphere, 14, 1259-1271, doi:10.5194/tc-14-1259-2020.

Other Data sources

NCEP Weather data


The CESM Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) is a 40-member ensemble that follow the historical forcing from 1920 to 2005 and the business-as-usual RCP8.5 future emissions scenario from 2006 to 2100.
The CESM Low Warming (CESM-LW) is a 11-member ensemble branched from the first 11 ensemble members of the CESM-LE in 2006, after which it follows an emissions scenario designed so that the multi-year global mean temperatures never exceed 2C above pre-industrial levels until 2100. This low warming scenario requires a negative emissions phase in order to stay below the 2C warming target, with combined fossil fuel and land use carbon emissions crossing net zero in 2078.