In Polar View FMI provides forecasts of the total sea ice concentration, undeformed ice thickness, deformed ice mean thickness and concentration, ridge thickness, ice velocity and ice compression.
Initial conditions for sea-ice thickness, concentration and sea surface temperature are obtained from the digitized ice charts. The ice charts include all available EO-data (including Radarsat-1 and Envisat ASAR) and in situ observations. Sea ice model is forced by the HIRLAM atmospheric forecast and sea ice forecasts for next 54 hours are published once a day.
At the moment we are providing ice forecasts in the Baltic Sea north of latitude 57 deg., where sea ice mostly exists. Current users are Finnish and Swedish icebreakers, Finstaship Ltd and Ice Advisors Ltd, and a large number of web users.
With Polar View services we are aiming at safer ship routing and shipping during the Baltic Sea ice season.
Timely and variable information on sea ice conditions are essential for all operations in ice-covered areas. The safety and efficiency of sea transportation, off-shore operations, fisheries and other activities in regions covered by sea ice have been the motive for establishing operational sea ice monitoring and forecasting services in many countries.
Although national ice services are providing ice information on daily basis, there is a need for high-resolution ice information and ice forecasts. Polar View provides to the Baltic Sea ice thickness charts almost in ships resolution, and ice forecasts, including ice drift and ridging, heading from hours to many days.
The Baltic Sea annual marine transportation is about 700 million tons, 40% of which is transported in winter months. It has the largest marine transportation in the World's ice covered seas.
At any given time there are more than 2000 large vessels sailing in the Baltic Sea.
During last ten years the marine traffic has increased by 34%, and the trend is expected to continue. In the same perioid, however, the number of icebreakers has not increased. The smoothness of traffic has been possible due to better ice monitoring, where use of satellite data has become more and more important. Icebreakers need detailed ice information for route planning.