There are many different types of ice charts intended for varying uses. Climatological, or historical, ice charts depict “normal” ice conditions mainly for advance planning of maritime operations. Ice analysis charts show current ice conditions in a given area and are the basic information aimed at enhancing marine safety for mariners in ice-frequented waters. Depending on need and resources, these are generally produced daily or a few times a week. Finally, concise ice information (commonly ice edge and iceberg positions), along with weather information, is provided to mariners worldwide at least daily by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) for the regions of the Arctic METAREAs XVII-XXI and adjacent areas of METAREAS I, IV and XII. Ice analysis charts are based primarily on satellite imagery received in near real-time at the ice services. Expert ice analysts at the ice services analyze the images, calibrate them with other data such as all-important ship reports, extrapolate to fill gaps in the satellite coverage and make adjustments for time differences between images to prepare the ice analysis charts. To supplement ice analysis charts, some ice services produce forecast ice charts showing the ice conditions expected in a few days. The IICWG is actively promoting the use of POLARIS, a risk assessment tool for Polar mariners, by ensuring that ice charts include the information needed for its application as well as assessing its applicability to the Southern Ocean. The IICWG member services have worked with the Nautical Institute to help define training requirements as well as providing curricula and training materials related to ice navigation.
- The Ice Logistics Portal: Operated by the German Hydrographic Service, this site provides convenient access to current ice charts produced by all of the national ice services as well as background information.
- The Polar View data page: Operated by the British Antarctic Survey, this site provides freely available satellite data and automated ice information products
- IICWG website: Operated by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this site provides contact information for the national ice services as well as general information about ice information
- JCOMM website: Provides standards and information publications on sea ice.