The maps below show the extent of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere around Antarctica. Select a month and year from the popup menus to compare two maps side-by-side.
- compare the sea ice in February and September for the same year
- compare the sea ice in February for two different years
- compare the sea ice in September for two different years
- explore sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere (around the North Pole)
In the Southern Hemisphere (around the South Pole and Antarctica) the sea ice reaches its maximum extent in early spring, at the end of the long, cold winter. September is usually the month with the most sea ice.
The ice pack melts and breaks up over the summer. February is usually the month with the least amount of sea ice (in the Southern Hemisphere).
The pink line in the images shows the average (from 1981 to 2010) edge of the ice pack for a particular month.
To extend your learning:
- View three years (2016-2018) of the annual cycle of sea ice extent in the Southern Hemisphere as an animation.
- Go to the NSIDC web site to: