Sea ice motion and deformation

Sea ice can be found in the Arctic and Antarctic, but also for example in the Gulf of Bothnia and Finland, is very dynamic. The drift velocities of individual ice floes or entire ice fields can vary between almost zero and several kilometers per hour. From time series of satellite images, preferably taken with high spatial resolution radar systems, the drift of the sea ice can be derived. Here, a pattern recognition algorithm is used to search for similar sea ice structures in the sequential satellite images. The resulting displacement of each structure corresponds to its drift in the interval between the image acquisitions (several hours to days).

Ice ridge formation

Gradients in the velocity field can cause deformation of the sea ice, leading to the development of ice ridges. These and other deformation features have a major impact on the interaction between the atmosphere, sea ice and ocean. They also pose dangers for ship traffic. Among other things, our work focuses on the improvement of the accuracy of the ice drift retrieval algorithms and on the quantification of the accuracy of the derived products.


Thomas Hollands
Stefanie Linow
Jakob Griebel

Related Topics

Polar Meteorology

Polar Meteorology

Earth Observing Systems

Remote sensing technology for the polar regions


Charting the Arctic Tundra


Observation of coastal polynias



Ice Shelves and Icebergs

Mass loss of the antarctic ice shield

Snow Accumulation


This project is funded in the framework of the Helmholtz Alliance “Remote Sensing and Earth System Dynamics”. A related study is supported by the AWI Strategy fund.