Screen capture from Atlas of the Cryosphere

Atlas of the Cryosphere

Access historical through near real-time graphics representing snow cover, sea ice extent and concentration, glaciers, ice sheets, and permafrost in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. Graphics are also available as web services.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center's Atlas of the Cryosphere gives visitors a way to explore and dynamically map Earth's frozen regions. When scientists talk about the cryosphere, they mean the places where water is in its solid form, frozen into ice or snow.

Viewed from a polar perspective, the available data sources include snow cover, sea ice extent and concentration, glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, and other critical components of the Earth's cryosphere. Users can zoom in to a specific region on the Earth as well as overlay country borders, major cities, and other geographic information. This site can serve as a useful tool in science and education efforts by providing a geographic tool to consult the extent of snow and ice on the planet.

In addition to providing an interactive web interface, maps and source data contained in the Atlas of the Cryosphere are accessible via the Open Geospatial Consortium Services website, where maps and source data are enabled via international specifications. These specifications provide a framework for sharing maps and geospatial data over the internet.


  • Dynamically visualize Earth's snow and ice
  • Explore the planet from a polar perspective for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres
  • Customize maps by zooming in and out and selecting from a variety of base maps and overlays
  • Save custom maps as images for use in other documents
  • Save underlying source data for use in geographic information systems (GIS) and image analysis software
  • View monthly climatologies of snow and sea ice to see how and where the cryosphere shrinks and grows over the course of a year
  • Look up definitions for unfamiliar cryospheric terms
  • Access maps and source data through Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), and Web Coverage Service (WCS)
Last modified
26 January 2018 - 12:00pm