Extreme weather risks to Arctic shipping

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The Arctic Extreme Events web application is now avaialble in its demo version: https://maps.dnvgl.com/labs/blueaction

Guidelines on how to use the demo are available in Zenodo



Polar lows are a special weather phenomenon occurring in polar regions. They are much like tropical hurricanes, only they appear where cold winds draw across relatively warm ocean waters. With a melting ice cap, and a more unstable and volatile atmosphere, severe and extreme weather formations tend to become more common, especially in some regions. As the face of these storms can exert a high risk to operations, the risks involved need to be managed. 

Our priorities have been getting to better understand true industry needs, and looking into the feasibility and viability of predicting extreme events. Recently, our focus has been on tailoring use of a MCAO index (Marine Cold-Air Outbreak index) towards applying forecasts in an operational setting.

This case study seeks to understand how polar lows develop and deliver predictions on a sub-seasonal scale. The IMO Polar Code identifies specific hazards which must be addressed in voyage preparation and planning, which means ships sailing in Arctic waters need to be aware of the environmental conditions they face. Through investigating links to marine cold-air outbreaks and other large-scale features, the project investigates a set of precursors to describe the environment in which they form, helping the industry be aware and improve resilience towards polar lows.

Through collaboration with industry stakeholders, Blue-Action has developped tailored climate service to communicate risks towards severe and extreme weather conditions. The service specifically address sea-ice, marine icing, water temperature, precipitation, and winds. Industry requirements for risk management and maritime operational planning are guiding development of this service, for immediate implementation by industries affected by polar lows in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The aim is to facilitate efficient knowledge exchange of Arctic conditions, and to deliver consistent and accurate risk-informed decision support to maritime and offshore operations.


Øivin Aarnes (DNV GL) – oivin.aarnes@we dont want spamdnvgl.com

For more information:

Requirements specifications report, available in Zenodo

Arctic Extreme Weather Risk web application: A climate service to harness extreme weather risk (Factsheet), available in Zenodo

The Arctic Extreme Weather Risk web app: how to use it, available in Zenodo

Evaluation of the polar lows forecast system, available in Zenodo

Selected baseline prediction data

Baseline data selected by this case study

Version April 2020: data souces used and data sets created

Version March 2019 (outdated)

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