We analyze sea-ice conditions along seven segments of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) over four time periods. We researched sea ice by segment, using data from the satellite microwave sensors SMMR, SSM/I and AMSR-E. The four analysis periods (periods I–IV: 1980–88, 1989–2001, 2002–06 and 2007–11, respectively) were determined based on changes in the extent of minimum sea ice throughout the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice showed a decreasing tendency from period I to period IV. For example, sea-ice area in period IV decreased compared to previous periods in the eastern East Siberian Sea and around Severnaya Zemlya, areas that had very high sea-ice concentrations in period I. Sea-ice area in the eastern East Siberian Sea decreased sharply during period III, whereas the Severnaya Zemlya area maintained a high ice concentration. In period IV, sea-ice coverage around Severnaya Zemlya was low, although it remained at 25% in the area east of Severnaya Zemlya, which is a key area for navigation. The proportion of multi-year (MY) ice drastically decreased after winter 2002, and only a small amount of MY ice existed in the winters of 2003–06. MY ice disappeared from the eastern East Siberian Sea after 2007. On the other hand, around Severnaya Zemlya the proportion of MY ice showed cyclic ups and downs between 1997 and 2008. Thus, the persistence of various types of sea ice varies according to region. The persistence of various types of sea ice around Severnaya Zemlya also varied each year.