Skip booklet index and go to page content

Manual of Ice (MANICE)

Chapter 4: Iceberg Messages

This chapter describes the iceberg information depicted on the observed ice chart as generated from either a ship or an aircraft in a message format.

Since Canada is in the northwestern quadrant of the globe, please note that all latitudes and longitudes are degrees North and West respectively. Also note that all times are in Coordinated Universal Time.

4.1 Iceberg Coding and Message Preparation

An iceberg reporting code has been developed by the Meteorological Service of Canada and International Ice Patrol, to allow for exchange of digital iceberg information and to enable computer-assisted manipulation of volumes of iceberg observations into one complete iceberg analysis. The iceberg code follows standard coding practices and iceberg nomenclature of the World Meteorological Organization and supplements codes that exist in World Meteorological Organization. It provides for the reporting of all iceberg parameters, the area of surveillance and the factors that influence both visual and radar iceberg detection.

Listed below is the basic format for the iceberg message, with the following sections describing each component. Notes referred to in the code descriptions appear in Section 4.3 (following the Iceberg Coding Tables section).

Iceberg Message:

IBXXN CCCC YYGGgg
PPPP PtNrNrNrNr YYMMJJ

00000
QcLaLaLaLaL a LoLoLoLoLo ZGGgg 1CsAAA 2VIVI 3RlRlRlRrRrRr 4DsDsHsHs

11111
(SSSS) (IdIdIdId) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo 01CiSiSh
(1ClLEN 2ClWID 3ClHEI 4ClDRA 5ClDIR 6ClSPE)

22222
(SSSS) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo NtNtDrr nnCiSiSh (nnCiSiSh)

33333
CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo nnnnD ( nnnnD)

44444
CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo (1mamamomo) 2NtNtNtD nnCiSiSh (nnCiSiSh)

55555
(SSSS) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo (1DvDvVvVv) (2NvNvrr)

Note:

Note

Groups 00000 to 55555 can be repeated as often as necessary.

4.1.1 Iceberg Message Header

Sample iceberg message header:

IBXXN CCCC YYGGgg
PPPP PtNrNrNrNr YYMMJJ

This section is mandatory for all iceberg messages.

Table 4.1: Iceberg Message Header

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
IBIndicator for an iceberg message 
XXNationality of iceberg messageNote 1
NFigure to indicate source of iceberg messageNote 2
CCCCInternational call sign for the location from which the iceberg message was transmittedNote 3
YYDay of month that the message was transmitted 
GGHour that the message was transmitted 
ggMinute that the message was transmitted 
PPPP4 figure or 4 letter platform identifierNote 4
Note 13
Note 26
PtPlatform typeTable 4.14
NrNrNrNrConsecutive iceberg message number from this platformNote 5
YYDay of the month that the message beginsNote 6
MMMonth of the year that the message beginsNote 6
JJLast digit of the year that the message beginsNote 6

4.1.2 Track Information

Sample track information message:

00000
QcLaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo ZGGgg 1CsAAA 2VIVI 3RlRlRlRrRrRr 4DsDsHsHs

This section is mandatory for icebreakers and aircraft. (Note 7, p. 4-13).

Table 4.2: Track Information

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
00000Indicator that track information follows 
QcQuadrant of the Globe (usually 7)Table 4.11
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude in degrees and minutes at the start of each legNote 8
Note 9
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude in degrees and minutes at the start of each legNote 8
Note 9
ZTime indicator 
GGTime in hours at the start of each leg 
ggTime in minutes at the start of each leg 
1Indicator for general sea ice and altitude group 
CsCode for general sea ice distributionTable 4.12
AAAAltitude of platform in hundreds of feet 
2Indicator for visibility group 
VIVIVisibility left of track in nautical milesNote 10
VrVrVisibility right of track in nautical milesNote 10
3Indicator for radar group 
RlRlRlRadar range to left of track in nautical milesNote 10
RrRrRrRadar range to right of track in nautical milesNote 10
4Indicator for wave or swell groupNote 11
DsDsDirection (to nearest 10 degrees) from which is generated the predominant wave or swell 
HsHsHeight of predominant wave or swell in half metres 

4.1.3 Individual Observations

Sample of individual observation message:

11111
(SSSS) (IdIdIdId) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo 01CiSiSh
(1ClLEN 2ClWID 3ClHEI 4ClDRA 5ClDIR 6ClSPE
)

Table 4.3: Individual Observations

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
11111Indicator that iceberg observations by individual position followsNote 12
SSSSOptional group used by Ice Operations Centres and by the offshore industryNote 13
Note 26
IdIdIdIdOptional groups used by offshore industry to report consecutive iceberg numberNote 14
IOptional groups used by offshore industry to indicate iceberg mobilityNote 14
CIConfidence level/Method of observationTable 4.13
Note 15
GGTime in hours that observation was madeNote 16
ggTime in minutes that observation was made 
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude of the individual observation in degrees, minutes and tenths of a
minute
 
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude of the individual observation in degrees, minutes and tenths
of a minute
 
01Indicator for single iceberg report 
CiConcentration of sea ice immediately at the iceberg positionTable 4.10
Note 17
SiSize of icebergTable 4.8
Note 18
ShShape of icebergTable 4.9
Note 18
1ClLEN
2ClWID
3ClHEI
4ClDRA
5ClDIR
6ClSPE

Optional groups to report iceberg length (LEN), width (WID), height
(HEI) and draft (DRA), in whole metres, direction (DIR) of iceberg drift
(toward) in whole degrees and speed (SPE) of iceberg drift in knots and
tenths. The confidence level (Cl), indicates whether these parameters are
measured (4) or estimated (5)
Note 19

4.1.4 Cluster Observations

Sample of cluster observation message:

22222
(SSSS) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo NtNtDrr nnCiSiSh (nnCiSiSh
)

Table 4.4: Cluster Information

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
22222Indicator that iceberg observations by cluster followNote 12
Note 20
SSSSOptional group used by Ice Operations Centres and by the offshore industryNote 13
Note 26
CIConfidence level/Method of observationTable 4.13
Note 15
GGTime in hours that observation was madeNote 16
ggTime in minutes that observation was made 
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude of the centre of the cluster in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude of the centre of the cluster in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
NtNtTotal number of icebergs within the cluster, disregarding bergy bits and growlersNote 21
DDistribution of icebergs within the clusterTable 4.15
rrRadius of cluster in nautical miles 
nnNumber of icebergs of each size and shape in the clusterNote 21
CiAverage concentration of sea ice in the clusterTable 4.10
SiSize of icebergs reported in the clusterTable 4.8
Note 21
ShShape of icebergs reported in the clusterTable 4.9
Note 21
nnCiSiShSufficient 5 figure groups to describe the numbers of each size and shape within the clusterNote 21

4.1.5 Grid Observations

Sample of grid observation message:

33333
CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo nnnnD ( nnnnD
)

Table 4.5: Grid Observations

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
33333Indicator that iceberg observations by grid followNote 22
CIConfidence level/Method of observationTable 4.13
Note 12
GGTime in hours that observation was madeNote 16
ggTime in minutes that observation was made 
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude at the start point of the grid in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude at the start point of the grid in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude at the end point of the grid in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude at the end point of the grid in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
nnnnNumber of icebergs within the gridNote 23
DLocation of the gridTable 4.15
Note 22
nnnnDGroup required if both left and right of track grids reported 

4.1.6 Zone Observations

Sample of zone observation message:

44444
CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo (1mamamomo) 2NtNtNtD nnCiSiSh (nnCiSiSh
)

Table 4.6 Zone Observations

SymbolDescriptionCode Table
44444Indicator that iceberg observations by zone followNote 24
CIConfidence level/Method of observationTable 4.13
Note 15
GGTime in hours that observation was madeNote 16
ggTime in minutes that observation was made 
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude at the southwest corner of the zone in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude at the start point of the grid in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute 
1Indicator for optional group to specify non-standard zone 
mamaWhole minutes of latitude 
momoWhole minutes of longitude 
2Indicator for total number of icebergs group 
NtNtNtTotal number of icebergs disregarding bergy bits and growlersNote 21
DDistribution of icebergs within the zoneTable 4.15
nnNumber of icebergs of each size and shape in the zoneNote 21
CiAverage concentration of sea ice in the zoneTable 4.10
SiSize of icebergs reported in the zoneTable 4.8
Note 21
ShShape of icebergs reported in the zoneTable 4.9
Note 21
nnCiSiShSufficient 5 figure groups to describe the numbers of each size and shape within the zoneNote 21

4.1.7 Ship Locations

Sample of ship location message:

55555
(SSSS) CIGGgg LaLaLaLaLa LoLoLoLoLo (1DvDvVvVv) (2NvNvrr
)

Table 4.7 Ship Locations

SymbolDescription
55555Indicator that ship position follow
SSSSOptional ship identifier
CIConfidence level/Method of observation (Code Table 4.13)
GGTime in hours of reported ship location
ggTime in minutes of reported ship location
LaLaLaLaLaLatitude of reported ship/cluster centre location in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute
LoLoLoLoLoLongitude of reported ship/cluster centre location in degrees, minutes and tenths of a minute
1Indicator for first optional group to specify ship speed and direction
DvDvOptional ship direction (01-36) in tens of degrees
VvVvOptional ship speed in knots
2Indicator for second optional group to specify a cluster of ships
NvNvTotal number of ships within the cluster
rrRadius of cluster in nautical miles

4.1.8 Plain Language Remarks

REMARKS (Note 15, p. 4-15)

END (*Mandatory end of message)

4.2 Iceberg Coding Tables

Table 4.8: Size of Iceberg (Si)

DescriptionHeightLengthCode
Growler< 1 metre< 5 metres1
Bergy Bit1- < 5 metres5- < 15 metres2
Small Iceberg5- 15 metres15-60 metres3
Medium Iceberg16- 45 metres61- 120 metres4
Large Iceberg46- 75 metres121-200 metres5
Very Large Iceberg> 75 metres>200 metres6
Not Specified--7
Radar Target--X

 

Table 4.9: Shape of Iceberg (Sh)

DescriptionCode
Tabular1
Non-Tabular2
Domed3
Pinnacled4
Wedged5
Drydocked6
Blocky7
Ice Island8
Not Specified0
Undetermined (Radar)X

 

Table 4.10: Concentration of Sea Ice (Ci)

DescriptionCode
No Sea Ice0
Trace of Sea Ice/
1/101
2/102
3/103
4/104
5/105
6/106
7/107
8/108
9/10,9+/10 or 10/109
UndeterminedX

 

Table 4.11: Quadrant of the Globe (Qc)

LatitudeLongitudeCode
NorthEast1
SouthEast3
SouthWest5
NorthWest7

 

Table 4.12: Distribution of Sea Ice (Cs)

DescriptionCode
No Sea Ice0
Trace of Sea Ice/
Very Open Drift1
Very Open Drift in strips and patches2
Open Drift3
Open Drift in strips and patches4
Close Drift/Pack5
Very Close Drift/Pack6
Consolidated7
UnderterminedX

 

Table 4.13:Confidence Level/Method of Observation (Cl)

DescriptionCode
Radar position with visual confirmation1
Radar (Side-Looking Airborne Radar/Forward-Looking Airborne Radar) only2
Visual only3
Measured (only used in iceberg dimension)4
Estimated (only used in iceberg dimension)5
Satellite - High Confidence6
Satellite - Medium Confidence7
Satellite - Low Confidence8

Note:

A "Z" found in the Ship Location section of older messages is treated as code 3.

 

Table 4.14: Platform Type (Pt)

DescriptionCode
Fixed wing aircraft1
Helicopter2
Icebreaker including helicopter3
Other ship4
Oil rig5
Shore station6
Satellite7

 

Table 4.15: Iceberg Distribution (D)

DescriptionCode
Evenly (both sides of track)1
Left of track2
Right of track3

 

Table 4.16: Source of Iceberg Message (N)

DescriptionCode
Meteorological Service of Canada/International Ice Patrol1
Icebreaker2
Ice Operation Centre3
Offshore Industry4
Canadian Ice Service / International Ice Patrol5

4.3 Notes on Iceberg Coding Procedures

  1. Nationality of originator of iceberg message is indicated by CN for Canadian and US for American.
  2. To facilitate turn-around of iceberg data, messages are designated by source:
    • Aerial reconnaissance by Meteorological Service of Canada and International Ice Patrol
    • Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers
    • Commercial ships, land stations and miscellaneous reports input by Ice Operations Centres
    • Offshore industry
    • Miscellaneous iceberg reports input by the Canadian Ice Service
  3. When transmitted from or through a land station, CCCC is the four-letter identifier, but when transmitted directly from an icebreaker or an aircraft, CCCC becomes the four-letter or four-figure identifier of the ship or aircraft.
  4. Normally a reconnaissance is conducted from one platform and the PPPP code for the identifier is in brackets e.g., icebreaker Henry Larsen (CGHL), MSC Dash-7 (GCFR) and US Coast Guard C130 (1504). Messages from Ice Operations Centres may be comprised of reports from several commercial ships and PPPP becomes (SHIP) or if the message is an assortment of reports from shore stations PPPP becomes (LAND). Messages from the offshore industry will usually include reports from rigs and supply vessels and PPPP is coded as (RIGG).
  5. Consecutive iceberg message numbers shall commence January 1st each year.
  6. Since reconnaissance missions may extend through two days, YYMMJ refers to the date on which the mission began or in the case of a message from industry or Ice Operations Centres the date of the first sighting.
  7. A track is made up of one or more legs defined by position, time and parameters. There are as many legs (lines of code) as required to describe all turning points or any change of parameters, e.g., general sea-ice description, aircraft altitude, visibility, radar range and sea state. Although complete detail is required to reproduce a plot as if it was drawn by the observer, complicated tracks should be redrawn to give a simpler track with appropriate visibility and radar ranges to outline the area of coverage. Variable parameters could be averaged to keep the message to a reasonable length. The last track line must only contain the latitude, longitude and time parameters.
  8. If a mission starts or ends at a shorebase, the first and last position becomes the international call sign of the shorebase. An aerial mission may start or end at any position. For example, a mission from Iqaluit to observe icebergs in Hudson Strait and then sea ice in Hudson Bay, would end iceberg reporting in western Hudson Strait. In this same example, if the mission re-entered Hudson Strait to continue iceberg reporting, the endpoint of the first iceberg reconnaissance would be joined to this restart point by a straight line with all parameters coded as X's. Track legs over stretches of land may have all parameters coded as X.
  9. Each leg start position is, by default, the end position of any previous leg; consequently, the last line of the track is always position and time. For stationary icebreakers, these two positions are the same.
  10. For icebergs, visibility or radar limits are defined by the distance from the ship or aircraft that the observer feels confident that he/she can see or get a radar return for all small icebergs. This does not preclude the observation and reporting of icebergs beyond these limits. the radar visibility must have a minimum of 2 digits and a maximum of 3 digits on either side.
  11. Experienced Ice Services Specialist may estimate the wave or swell group visually or by radar from an aircraft or report XXXX for "undetermined". Icebreakers should report the group.
  12. The individual-position method of iceberg and target reporting should be used in areas near the iceberg limit, areas of offshore drilling activity, the approaches to the Strait of Belle Isle and in all other areas where icebergs are evenly distributed and their numbers permit. When numbers increase or when icebergs are concentrated in small areas, a combination of cluster and individual methods can be used. When numbers become unmanageable, zones and grids should be incorporated.
  13. Messages from the offshore industry and from Ice Operations Centres consist of iceberg reports from individual sources such as commercial ships, rig supply vessels, land stations, etc. If the iceberg message contains only one individual source, the message is coded with PPPP in the second line of the header information and is coded as the first four letters (or figures) of the call sign of the single source. However, if the iceberg message contains iceberg reports from more than one source, the optional group SSSS is used to indicate the call signs of the individual sources.
  14. The offshore industry usually tracks icebergs through their area of interest. Icebergs entering the area are assigned a consecutive number which is maintained until the iceberg exits from the area. The optional group IdIdIdIdI is used by the offshore industry to code the assigned number of the iceberg and to indicate if the iceberg is freely drifting (D), grounded (G) or is under tow (T).
  15. The degree of confidence in an iceberg's observed position and related parameters is expressed by CI. The highest confidence (Code 1) is a radar position with visual confirmation. There should be an attempt to consolidate visual and radar data to produce high confidence levels. Radar-only targets (Code 2) will not appear in areas visually searched, unless there is some doubt about the visual capability which should be expressed in the REMARKS section.
  16. The time of observation is the time at which an individual iceberg, the centre of a cluster, the southwest corner of a zone or the start point of a grid becomes abeam of the track. Times may be rounded off to the nearest 15 minutes but they must be within the time frame of the track leg from which the observations were made.
  17. The concentration of sea ice is a factor which affects iceberg drift and which provides the user with some degree of confidence in iceberg detection, especially if the detection is made by radar. There shall be an attempt to describe the ice cover to the nearest tenth immediately adjacent to the iceberg. However, when the concentration varies from side to side, the recorded concentration will be an average of the conditions around the iceberg. Open water areas or trails caused by the iceberg will be disregarded.
  18. Sizes refer to the portion of the iceberg above water. If height and length of a berg in metres (m) fall into a different size classification, use the larger size. Dimensions (in kilometres) of a tabular berg or ice island may be indicated beneath the symbol. Iceberg size and shape parameters are important in the process of re-identification of icebergs and as inputs to iceberg deterioration and drift models. These parameters shall be reported along the limit of icebergs, in areas of offshore drilling activity, in the approaches to the Strait of Belle Isle and in all areas where the work load permits. When icebergs are more numerous, shape parameters should be simply tabular or non-tabular. When icebergs become too numerous, use code 7 for unspecified size and code 0 for unspecified shape. X's will only be used for radar information.
  19. The optional groups (1ClLEN 2ClWID 3ClHEI 4ClDRA 5ClDIR 6ClSPE) shall be used when any of the length, width, height, draft, direction and speed iceberg parameters are available. The confidence level in this group shall only be measured (Code 4) or (Code 5).
  20. Accurate determination of the positions and radii of clusters is essential so that the circles do not overlap other clusters, zones or grids, overlap land or extend beyond the applicable radar or visual limit. Normally observations by individual position will not be included inside a cluster. However a visually confirmed iceberg through a hole in the clouds could be included in a radar cluster and in this case the total number of icebergs reported in the cluster would not include the individual iceberg.
  21. If there are no bergy bits or growlers present, nn equals NtNt for clusters or NtNtNt for zones. Si is coded as 7 for not specified and Sh is coded as 0 for not specified. However, when the workload permits, the code allows specifying the numbers of different sizes and shapes within the grid or zone. For example, in a cluster free of sea ice which has 1 very large tabular iceberg, 3 medium icebergs, 5 small icebergs and 2 bergy bits which are all evenly distributed within a radius of 5 nautical miles,NtNtDrr nnCiSiShnnCi SiShnnCiSiShnnCiSiS hwould be coded as: 09110 01061 03040 05030 02020.
  22. Grids are defined by the confidence level (whether radar and visual, radar only or visual only), by two positions along the track, by the visibility or radar limits as coded in the track part of the message and by the iceberg distribution (left of track, right of track or both sides of track). A visual and radar or a visual-only grid extends from the track line to the visibility limit. A radar-only rid extends from the track to the radar limit or if there is a visible limit, the grid extends from the visibility limit to the radar limit. Two lines of code are required to encode both visual and radar grids with the same endpoints. Clusters will not be reported inside grids and normally individual icebergs should be excluded. However, individual icebergs which are considered significant because of ize, shape or other parameters which can assist in reidentification may be positioned inside of the grid. The time assigned to the grid associates it with the correct visibility and/or radar limits coded in the track leg, so it is essential that the time refers to the right leg. Grids will not extend beyond one track leg.
  23. An accurate count of iceberg numbers in grids, clusters and zones is desired. However, when numbers are too large, report an estimate and explain in the REMARKS section.
  24. Zones are areas usually one degree latitude by one degree longitude defined by the latitude and longitude of the southwest corner. The optional group 1mamamomo permits the use of nonstandard zones. Zones should not overlap other zones, grids or clusters, or extend beyond the appropriate visibility or radar limit. As with clusters and grids, individual icebergs should not normally appear in zones.
  25. Factors, such as turbulence, drift angle, precipitation and sea state, that can effect radar; and variable visibilities or breaks in the undercast that effect visual capabilities shall be included.
  26. The platform identifier group PPPP, found in the Iceberg Messae Header, and the optional ship identifier group (SSSS), coded in the observation reports can be extended to contain up to 7 alphanumeric characters.

4.4 Examples of Coded Iceberg Reports

Example of a chart from March 6, 2014 produced by the iceberg patrol. Chart identifies iceberg locations around the Northeast coast of Newfoundland.

Date modified: