By the end of the 19th century, the national ice services of several countries bordering the North and Baltic Seas had introduced routine ice observing and reporting systems. The search for a suitable ice reporting code began very early because a quick and convenient way of transmitting the ice observations to a central body and making them available to users was urgently needed. Shipping traditionally has a large variety of terms designating the different ice phenomena, taking into account regional differences that are attributable to different natural environments.
Today, the following systems have become established:
- Baltic Sea Ice Code as of 1980
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 416/2007 of 22 March 2007 concerning the technical specifications for Notices to Skippers referred to in Article 5 of Directive 2005/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on harmonised river information services (RIS) on inland waterways in the Community
- World Meteorological Organization Sea Ice Nomenclature (WMO No. 259)