The Arctic Region covers 30 million square kilometers, counts 4 million inhabitants and last not least 25,000 polar bears. During Arctic summer the sun shines around the clock at the North Pole. Actually, the length of an Arctic day (sunrise to sunset) of a given place is a function of latitude and time of year. Current sunlight conditions of the northern hemisphere are displayed in real time on the left (click to zoom / credit: fourmilab.ch).
Most observations and scientific data stem from remote sensing, weather stations, submarines and buoys. A tiny fleet of polar orbiting satellites captures electro-magnetic echos of different wave-lengths every day. Most accurate data is expected from the European CryoSat 2 mission. With a SAR Interferometric Radar Altimeter on board the satellite measures and calculates ice thickness down to a centimeter scale. In June 2011 ESA published first results (click to zoom / credit: UCL, CPOM, ESA).
The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) maintains the longest available sea ice extent dataset. Since the late '60 sea ice is on decline and shows a greater variability after the beginning of this century. (click to zoom / credit: NSIDC) During the first week of each month the NSIDC provides News & Analysis on sea ice conditions in the northern hemisphere.
News: Last October the AMSR-E antenna onboard of NASA's AQUA satellite stopped spinning, most likely due to aging lubricant in the mechanism. AMSR-2 loaded onto Japan's GCOM-W1 spacecraft is planned to launch in May 2012. In the meantime the SSM/I sensor is used to measure sea ice concentration.
Check out more sensor data and deriving products below. Most charts are updated at least once per day. Also the weather page informs you about latest nd future conditions North of 60° Latitude.