Polar Code Service

Arctic & Antarctic



The Polar Code Service provides situational information to ships travelling in Arctic waters. Ships operate in the Arctic for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Supporting scientific research
  • Supporting oil and gas exploration
  • Fishing
  • Supplying northern communities
  • Transiting the Northwest and Northeast passages
  • Transporting production from northern resource extraction operations
  • Tourism

The service aggregates the information required under the Polar Code, makes it accessible over low-bandwidth connections, and enables users, who may have limited experience in assessing ice and related information, to visualize the information and undertake the risk analysis and operational activities required by the Code. Data from a variety of sources, such as Copernicus Marine Service and the international ice charting services, are integrated and made available in a manner that allows ships to decide which data they want to download given their current Internet connection capability.

Information is available for three time frames: historical, current, and future.

Polar Code region in the Arctic
Polar Code region in the Antarctic
Historical Data: Historical data is an average over time. A time slider allows choice of the relevant time period. Data is displayed either as a choropleth or vector. Data is obtained from CMEMS. This image shows historical ice concentration and drift.
Current Data – Sentinel 1: Current S1 Mosaics are available for the area of interest.
Current Data – Ice Charts: Current ice charts are available from the national ice services. Two attributes can be displayed graphically: total concentration and stage of development of the thickest ice.
Risk Analysis: The POLARIS risk analysis algorithm can be applied to the ice charts. The algorithm considers:
Vessel ice class, Icebreaker support, and Decaying ice conditions. Results are displayed graphically as: Normal operations, Caution operations, Restricted operations.
Future Data: Data is available for different times in the future. A time slider allows choice of the relevant time period. Data is displayed either as a choropleth or vector. Data is obtained from CMEMS. This image shows sea ice concentration and ice drift 10 hours in the future.

Copernicus Marine Service Products used in the Polar Code Service

Copernicus Marine Service Name Variable
Global Ocean 1/12° Physics Analysis and Forecast updated Daily– Horizontal water velocity (eastward and northward components)
– Sea ice concentration
– Sea ice velocity (eastward and northward components)
– Sea ice thickness
Global Ocean OSTIA Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis– Sea ice area fraction
– Sea surface temperature
Global Ocean Waves Analysis and Forecast updated Daily– Sea surface wave significant height
Global Ocean Wind L4 Near Real Time 6 Hourly Observations– Eastward wind
– Northward wind

Use of Copernicus Marine Service Products

CMEMS data is integrated into the Polar Code Service in two ways:

  • Quasi-static data – Historical data is reanalyzed by week over the past five years.  Mean and +-80 percentile values are provided.  The variables include sea ice area fraction, sea ice thickness, sea ice drift, sea current, sea temperature, wave height, and wind speed.  This assists a ship in planning a voyage by indicating what conditions might be expected, given previous experience, on its route.  This data is only updated occasionally and is downloaded when the ship is in port and can access a high speed Internet connection.
  • Dynamic current and forecast data – current and forecast data is made available to the ship as it becomes available, and the ship decides when and which data it wants to download.  The Polar Code Service checks available data from the Copernicus Marine Service regularly and new data is downloaded automatically when it is available. Only the latest data is kept in the Polar Code Service.

Utility of the Copernicus Marine Service information

Marine Vessels travelling in the polar regions will have access to vital information, as required by IMO regulations, that they would not otherwise be able to access in a timely and efficient manner. This will increase safety of life and property, while helping to protect the environment from marine activities.

Polar Code Service Architecture

The Polar Code Service can be accessed using any Web browser from the Cloud or installed locally on a laptop.

Data is available from a variety of sources, including the Copernicus Marine Service. The user controls the type and amount of data that is downloaded.

Service Access

Access to the Polar Code Service requires registration and a small service charge.

Click here to access the Polar Code Service

The Polar Code Service being tested in the Weddell Sea
The Polar Code Service Historical Information
The Polar Code Service Current Sentinel 1 Image
The Polar Code Service Current Ice Chart
The Polar Code Service Risk Analysis
The Polar Code Service Forecast Information
A voyage through the Weddell Sea

Development of the Polar Code Service began in May 2019 with the support of the Copernicus Marine Service.

The Polar Code Service will be used to implement the polar use case of the Horizon 2020 ExtremeEarth project.

Development is scheduled to be completed by November 2020.

For more information about the Polar Code Service

David Arthurs
Managing Director

Polar View ApS
Phone (Denmark): +45 7 872 4505 x1
Phone (Canada): +1 613 680 2282 x1
Email: david.arthurs@polarview.org
Web: www.polarview.org

For more information about the Copernicus Marine Service

Copernicus Marine Service Website: marine.copernicus.eu

Copernicus Marine Service Desk Email: servicedesk.cmems@mercator-ocean.eu