07 Mar 2023
 | 07 Mar 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A Climate Data Record of Year-Round Global Sea Ice Drift from the EUMETSAT OSI SAF

Thomas Lavergne and Emily Down

Abstract. Sea ice in the polar regions can move several tens of kilometers per day under the actions of winds, ocean currents, and internal stresses. Long-term observations of the rate and patterns of this motion are needed to characterize the full response of the polar environment to climate change. Here, we introduce a new climate data record (CDR) of year-round, global, daily sea-ice drift vectors covering 1991–2020. The motion vectors are computed from series of passive microwave imagery in the winter months, and from a parametric free-drift model in the summer months. An evaluation against on-ice buoy trajectories reveals that the RMSEs of the sea-ice drift CDR are small and vary with hemisphere and seasons (2.1 km for Arctic winters, 2.6 km for Arctic summer, 3 to 4 km for the Antarctic sea ice). The CDR is un-biased for Arctic winter conditions. The bias is larger for Antarctic and for summer sea ice motion. The CDR consists of daily product files holding the dX and dY components of the drift vectors on an EASE2 grid with 75 km spacing, as well as associated uncertainties and flags. It is prepared in the context of the EUMETSAT Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility (OSI SAF) and is readily available as (EUMETSAT Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility, 2022).

Thomas Lavergne and Emily Down

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-40', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2023-40', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 May 2023
  • EC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-40', Ken Mankoff, 03 Jun 2023
  • AC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-40', Thomas Lavergne, 28 Jun 2023
    • EC2: 'Reply on AC1', Ken Mankoff, 08 Jul 2023

Thomas Lavergne and Emily Down

Data sets

Global Sea Ice Drift Climate Data Record Release v1.0 - Multimission OSI SAF

Model code and software

Figures and Tables for the manuscript introducing the OSI SAF Sea Ice Drift CDR v1 Emily Down and Thomas Lavergne

Thomas Lavergne and Emily Down


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Short summary
Sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic can move several tens of kilometers per day due to wind and ocean currents. By analysing thousands of satellite images, we measured how sea ice has been moving every single day over the past 30 years . We compare our data to how drifting buoys on the ice moved, and find that there is a good correspondance between the two. Other scientists will now use our data to better understand if climate change has modified the way sea ice moves, and in what way.