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Sea ice is formed from ocean water that freezes, whether along coasts or to the sea floor (fast ice) or floating on the surface (drift ice) or packed together (pack ice). The most important areas of pack ice are the polar ice packs. Because of vast amounts of water added to or removed from the oceans and atmosphere, the behavior of polar ice packs have a significant impact on the global changes in climate.


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CryoSat maps ice shelf on the move

13 December 2019

It is now almost 10 years since ESA's CryoSat was launched. Throughout its decade in orbit, this novel satellite, which carries a radar altimeter to measure changes in the height of the world's ice, has returned a wealth of information about how ice sheets, sea ice and glaciers are responding to climate change. One of the most recent findings from this extraordinary mission shows how it can be used to map changes in the seaward edges of Antarctic ice shelves.

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Greenland ice loss much faster than expected

10 December 2019

The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to new research.

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Emerging cracks in the Pine Island Glacier

18 October 2019

The Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites have revealed new cracks, or rifts, in the Pine Island Glacier – one of the primary ice arteries in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The two large rifts were first spotted in early 2019 and have each rapidly grown to approximately 20 km in length.

New Ocean Monitoring Indicators provide key reference for climate change

21 March 2018

The Copernicus Marine Service has released a new ocean information product. The Ocean Monitoring Indicators (OMIs) are free downloadable datasets which cover the past 25 years of key variables used in monitoring oceanic trends in line with climate change, including ocean warming, sea level rise and melting of sea ice. This free and open ocean information allows users to track the vital health signs of the ocean over the past quarter of a century.

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Sentinel satellite captures birth of behemoth iceberg

12 July 2017

Over the last few months, a chunk of Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf has been hanging on precariously as a deep crack cut across the ice. Witnessed by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg has now broken off, spawning one of the largest icebergs on record and changing the outline of the Antarctic Peninsula forever.

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Giant iceberg in the making

05 July 2017

All eyes are on Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf as a deep crack continues to cut across the ice, leaving a huge chunk clinging on.

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To the Arctic for CryoSat and beyond

20 March 2017

After the relative quiet of the long dark winter months, the Arctic will be a tad busier over the coming weeks as numerous researchers descend on this harsh, yet fragile environment. Their aim is not to disturb its beauty, but to join forces in an all-out effort to measure ice on land and sea.

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Sentinels warn of dangerous ice crack

16 February 2017

Following the appearance of a large crack in the ice shelf close to the Halley VI research station in Antarctica, information from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites helped to decide to close the base temporarily.

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CryoSat reveals lake outbursts beneath Antarctic ice

08 February 2017

A novel way of using ESA's CryoSat mission has revealed how lakes beneath Thwaites Glacier drained into the Amundsen Sea - potentially the largest such outflow ever reported in this region of West Antarctica.

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Satellite cousins have ice covered

16 December 2016

Although not designed to deliver information on ice, ESA's Earth Explorer SMOS satellite can detect thin sea-ice. Since its cousin, CryoSat, is better at measuring thicker ice scientists have found a way of using these missions together to yield an even clearer picture of the changing Arctic.