Climate Data

Sea Ice Concentration data from HadISST

Spanning 1871-present at monthly timesteps, HadISST provides the longest gridded sea ice data available for both the Arctic and Antarctic. It is a 1° x 1° spatially infilled data set that is It is intended as a consistent analyses for input into SST analyses or as boundary conditions for models. Version 1.1 is the currently available data set and is the one described here. HadISST combines data from historical ice charts from shipping, expeditions and other activities, passive microwave satellite retrievals (primarily the NASA Goddard NASA Team data set), and NCEP operational ice analyses (also based on NASA Team and NASA Team 2 algorithms). A major update of HadISST is planned and this page will be updated when pertinent information is available. The Climate Data Guide will have a separate page discussing the SST portion of HadISST.

Key Strengths:

  • Combines many data sources into a long-term, continuous and spatially complete gridded sea ice data set
  • updated regularly

Key Limitations:

  • The effect of the many data sources on the continuity of the timeseries is difficult to track and assess. Many obvious non-climatic breaks in the record exist, especially in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Shares weaknesses with source data, e.g. NASA Team, Chapman and Walsh NH sea ice, sparse SH pre-satellite observations
  • Higher resolution and more homogenous (single algorithm) data are available for the modern satellite period, 1979-present.

Years of Record

1870/01 to 2015/08
temporal metadataID:




Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended

Spatial Resolution

1° x 1°

Ocean or Land

Ocean Only

Missing Data Flag

spatially complete

Vertical Levels

Input Data

numerous sea ice charts, Walsh and Chapman sea ice (NH), adjusted passive microwave sea ice

Earth system components and main variables

Suggested Data Citation

Met Office, Hadley Centre. HadISST 1.1 - Global sea-Ice coverage and SST (1870-Present), [Internet]. NCAS British Atmospheric Data Centre, 2006, Date of citation,. Available from
NCAR RDA: "The data for this study are from the Research Data Archive (RDA) which is maintained by the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The original data are available from the RDA ( in dataset number ds277.3."
Rayner, N. A.; Parker, D. E.; Horton, E. B.; Folland, C. K.; Alexander, L. V.; Rowell, D. P.; Kent, E. C.; Kaplan, A. (2003) Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century, J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 108, No. D14, 4407 10.1029/2002JD002670

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



Climate Data Guide Image: HADISST ice concentrations Average Arctic sea ice concentration for March 2003-2007 from the HadISST data set. (Figure by D. Schneider, NCAR).
HadiSST Antarctic sea ice extent Annual Antarctic sea ice extent for 1871-2011 from the HadiSST 1.1 data set. 1871-1939 and 1947-1962 are covered by two climatologies. National Ice Center Charts were used for 1973-1978. Passive microwave satellite data begin in 1978. See Rayner et al (2003). Even during this period, there are discontinuities. In particular, SSMI degraded in early 2009 and NCEP switched to AMSR-E, resulting in spuriously high values for 2009-2011 (see Screen, 2011). (Figure by D. Schneider, NCAR).

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 10 Nov 2015. "The Climate Data Guide: Sea Ice Concentration data from HadISST." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.