Credits and Links


Flags mark an ice thickness transect line across a multiyear ice floe at BGOS/JOIS Ice
Based Observatory #1, 78N, 140W in the Central Canada Basin, 5 August 2011.
(Photo: Alice Orlich)

Ice Watch is the result of the CliC Sea Ice Working Group addressing the need to standardize and archive shipborne sea ice observations in the Arctic.

Many thanks are due to the many tireless sea ice researchers who, in ad-hoc meetings over several years, found consensus for shipborne visual observations methodology and coding for the Arctic Shipborne Sea Ice Standardization Tool (ASSIST) software, which allows observers to record in situ sea ice, weather and sea state conditions, specific to the Arctic environment.

This observation method follows the WMO (1970) convention to be compatible with previous protocols (including Egg Code, ASPeCt, Canadian MANICE) with special attention to characterizing Arctic specific conditions, including surface melt conditions, sediment and ice algae.

This observation software was inspired by ASPeCt efforts to standardize shipborne visual sea ice observations in the Antarctic. ASSIST structure thus allows for backward compatibility with observations made with ASPeCt.

  • Software development for Ice Watch and ASSIST has been provided by the Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) through National Science Foundation (NSF) funding.
  • The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) funded software development and provided resources to facilitate the Ice Watch website near real-time data streaming, as well as data archiving and maintenance via the IARC Data Archive (IDA).
  • The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology (JAMSTEC) has supported Alice Orlich during her undergraduate and graduate Research Assistantships for collection, archiving and analysis of the sea ice field data since 2006.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) supported undergraduate student Tiffany Green, a data coordinator and analyst for the Ice Watch team.

Ice Watch and ASSIST software were developed by Scott MacfarlaneWill Fisher, Ross Spicer, Jennifer Delamere and Jason Grimes at the Geographic Information Network of Alaska. Source code is available on Github.

Learn more about sea ice

Narrow leads between snow covered rigged and hummocked old ice floes filled with
nilas at the start of freeze-up. Southern Beaufort Sea. Photo taken during helicopter
reconnaissance, 13 October 2010. (Heidi Isernhagen)

Antarctic Sea Ice Processes & Climate (ASPeCt)

Expert group on multi-disciplinary Antarctic sea ice zone research. Improves understanding of the Antarctic sea ice zone through field programs, remote sensing, and numerical modeling, and data rescue of valuable historical sea ice zone information. Visit site

Canadian Ice Survey (CIS)

Provides accurate and timely information about ice in Canada's navigable waters. Promotes safe and efficient maritime operations and helps protect Canada's environment. Visit site


A geoscience resource that includes a tutorial introduction to the basics of identifying various ice types and characteristics of sea ice. Note: you may be required to create an account and sign in. Visit site

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Supports research in snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground, and climate interactions. Manages and distributes scientific data, creates tools for data access, supports data users, performs scientific research, and educates the public about the cryosphere. Visit site

US National Ice Center (NIC)

Operated by the US Navy, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard. Provides high quality, timely, accurate, and relevant snow and ice products and services to meet the strategic, operational, and tactical requirements of US interests. Visit site

Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)

International and interdisciplinary organization for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, early faculty members, educators and others with interests in Polar Regions and the wider cryosphere. Stimulates research collaborations and develops effective future leaders in polar research, education and outreach by:

  • Facilitating international and interdisciplinary networking to share ideas and experiences and to develop new research directions and collaborations;
  • Providing opportunities for professional career development; and
  • Promoting education and outreach as an integral component of polar research and to stimulate future generations of polar researchers. 
  • Visit site