The Baltic Sea Ice Services


News and dates

Ice Information

BSIC

The purpose of the Baltic Sea Ice Services (BSIS) is to create a harmonised range of ice information products and services for the Baltic Sea and adjacent waters which will be tailored to the needs of users and will provide a better basis for decision making, thus contributing to the safety of navigation. The integrated service will combine the strengths of the existing ice services and, through synergy effects and improved efficiency, will result in a seamless range of high-quality products.

History

By the end of the 19th century, the national ice services of several countries bordering the North and Baltic Seas had introduced routine ice observing and reporting systems.

The search for a suitable ice reporting code began very early because a quick and convenient way of transmitting the ice observations to a central body and making them available to users was urgently needed. Shipping traditionally has a large variety of terms designating the different ice phenomena, taking into account regional differences that are attributable to different natural environments. Although today an essential criterion in the assessment of ice conditions still is the extent to which they hinder navigation, additional features describing the ice extent had to be introduced within the framework of the international exchange of ice information required in the wake of World War I.

Requests for more and better ice information on the part of industry and shipping, efforts within the World Meteorological Organization to develop a uniform terminology, the transition to a prolonged shipping season lasting throughout winter in the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland as well as increasing activities in the coastal areas forced the ice services to continually improve the technology and contents of their information exchange.

The roots of the Baltic Sea Ice Meetings (BSIM) 1925-1938

No/Date Place/Participant Main Topics
01
July 1925 07 - 08
Hamburg
very likely most countries
Expert Meeting (Ice Services) - Baltic Sea Ice Code - Exchange of Ice Observation
May 1926 26 - 28 Riga
EST, LT, LV, PL
1st Hydrological Conference of the Baltic States Co-Operation of the Baltic States in hydrological research, standardizing in data handling and presentation
02
Aug 1927 25 - 27
Tallinn
most countries
Expert Meeting (Ice Services)
  • Baltic Sea Ice Code
  • Exchange of Ice Observation
03
June 1928 17 - 22
Tallinn
D, EST, Fi, LT, LV, PL, S, USSR
2nd Hydrological and Hydrometric Conference of the Baltic States
04
May 1930 15 - 18
Warzawa
all countries beside N
3rd Hydrological Conference of the Baltic States
05
Sep 1933 05 - 09
Leningrad
all countries beside N
4th Hydrological Conference of the Baltic States -
06
June 1936
Helsinki
all countries beside N
5th Hydrological Conference of the Baltic States
  • Organization of the national ice services
  • Status reports
  • Data exchange
  • Terminology
  • Baltic Ice Code
07
Aug 1938 15 - 20
Berlin/Lübeck
all countries
6th Hydrological Conference of the Baltic States

BALTIC SEA ICE MEETINGS (BSIM) since 1954

No/Date Location/Participants Main Topics
08
1.-3.9.1954
Helsinki
D, DK, FI, N, S
- International Ice Nomenclature (WMO)
- Revision of Baltic Sea Ice Code
09
22.-24.9.1956
Hamburg
DK, FI, FRG, N, NL, S
- Co-Operation of Ice Services (exchange of experience and data)
- Symbology for Baltic Sea Ice charts
10
17.-18.6.1968
Helsinki
D, DDR, DK, FI, N, NL, S
- Transfer of WMO ice terminology and symbology towards Baltic requirements
11
3.-6.10.1977
Norrkping
DK, FI, FRG, N, NL, S, USSR, WMO
- Revision of Baltic Sea Ice Code
- Revision of Ice Symbols
12
28.-31.5.1979
Gdansk
DK, FI, FRG, GDR, NL, PL, S, USSR, WMO
- Adoption of the New Baltic Sea Ice Code
- Discussion of the proposed Inter'l Symbology
- Use of Remote Sensing
13
7.-9.4.1981
Oulu/
IB "SISU"
DK, FI, FRG, N, NL, PL, S, USSR, WMO
- Draft Booklet on the NewBaltic Sea Ice Code
- Implementation of the WMO Ice Symbology
- Multilingual Vocabulary of Sea Ice Terms
- Sea Ice Data Bank for the Baltic
14
24.-27.5.1983
Copenhagen
DK, FI, FRG, GDR, N, NL, S, USSR
- Adoption of the Baltic Multilingual List of Sea Ice Terms
- Sea Ice Data Bank for the Baltic and SIGRID
15
21.-25.10.1985
Leningrad
DK, FI, FRG, GDR, N, NL, PL, (S), USSR, WMO
- Digitizing of Ice Charts (SIGRID)
- Sea Ice Forecasting Models
- Optional Sea Ice Symbols for the Baltic Sea
16
31.10-4.11.1988
Hamburg
CDA, DK, FI, FRG, GDR, N, S , USSR, WMO
- Data Exchange Procedures (use of Telefax)
- BEPERS-88 (The Bothnian Experiment for the use of Satellite SAR data)
17
18.-21.5.1992
Norrkping
D, DK, EST, FI, N, NL, PL, S ,USSR
- Consequences of the new political situation
- Digitizing of Operational Ice Charts
18
18.-22.9.1995
Gdynia
D, DK, EST, FI, LI, N, NL, PL, S , USSR, WMO
- Baltic Sea Ice Code - New Fairway Sections for Russia and the Baltic Countries
- ICEMAP A New Tool for Digitizing Operational Ice Charts
- Use of Satellite SAR data
19
25.-29.5.1998
Lelystad, NL
D, DK, EST, FI, LV, N, NL, PL, RUS, S, WMO
- Use of Satellite SAR data (RadarSat)
- Harmonization of Products and Activities
- International Activities (GDSIDB)
20
25.-29.9.2000
Riga, LV
D, DK, FI, LV, NL, PL, RUS, S, WMO
- Harmonization of Products and Joint Activities, New Products, Data Exchange
21
2003?
?
22
3.-7.10.2005
Tallin
23
2007
St.Petersburg
24
14.-16.9.2010
Rostock
DE, SE, PL, EE, FI
25
25.-27.9.2013
Gdynia
26
19.-21.9.2016
Norrkping
SE, FI, LV, PL, DE, DK
27
10.-13.9.2018
Riga
28
13.-15.9.2023
Tallin

Ice observations and their coding

The development of the Baltic Sea Ice Code of 1980; a code for reporting ice and navigational conditions

Overview

By the end of the 19th century, the national ice services of several countries bordering the North and Baltic Seas had introduced routine ice observing and reporting systems. The search for a suitable ice reporting code began very early because a quick and convenient way of transmitting the ice observations to a central body and making them available to users was urgently needed. Shipping traditionally has a large variety of terms designating the different ice phenomena, taking into account regional differences that are attributable to different natural environments. Although today an essential criterion in the assessment of ice conditions still is the extent to which they hinder navigation, additional features describing the ice extent had to be introduced within the framework of the international exchange of ice information required in the wake of World War I. Requests for more and better ice information on the part of industry and shipping, efforts within the World Meteorological Organization to develop a uniform terminology, the transition to a prolonged shipping season lasting throughout winter in the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland as well as increasing activities in the coastal areas forced the ice services to continually improve the technology and contents of their information exchange.

The chronological order (of Baltic Sea Ice Code, Ice Observing Stations and WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature / Ice Symbols) can be summarized as follows:

  • 1920/21 National ice code
    • 1st digit: ice conditions
    • 2nd digit: impact on navigation
  • 1928/29 1st Baltic Sea Ice Code
    • 1st digit: ice conditions
    • 2nd digit: navigation
  • 1952 1st WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature
  • 1954/55 2nd Baltic Sea Ice Code (revised in 1969, GTS use)
    • 1st digit: (i): ice conditions
    • 2nd digit (j): stage of ice development
    • 3rd digit (k): navigational conditions
  • 1968 2nd WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature
  • 1980 WMO Ice Symbols
  • 1981/82 3rd Baltic Sea Ice Code of 1980 (B = Baltic)
    • 1st digit (AB) = quantity and arrangement of ice
    • 2nd digit (SB) = stage of ice development
    • 3rd digit (TB) = topography and form of ice
    • 4th digit (KB) = navigational conditions
  • 1955/56, 1981/82, 1993/94 Change of German station numbers

Baltic Sea Ice Code of 1980

This code is still in use nowadays and describes the ice conditions in harbours, fairways, coastal areas, and marked navigation channels. Together with the ice charts and detailed written ice reports, it informs ships' officers of current ice and navigational conditions. The sea and navigation districts of each country are designated by letters: AA, BB, CC etc. Each district is subdivided into sections numbered from 1 to 9.

The single observations for the code elements
AB, SB, TB, KB thus are compiled and distributed in the following general code format:

AA   1AB, SB, TB, KB   2AB, SB, TB, KB   3AB, SB, TB, KB....   nAB, SB, TB, KB 
BB   1AB, SB, TB, KB   2AB, SB, TB, KB   3AB, SB, TB, KB....   nAB, SB, TB, KB 

The fairway districts (AA, BB, ...) in the individual countries are sorted regionally from north to south and east to west, and the fairway sections (1,... 2,...) from onshore (harbour) to offshore (sea). The code numbers AB, SB, TB, KB define the ice conditions in the respective section according to the code.