Credit: UCAR Center for Science Education (Randy Russell) using maps and data from the NSIDC.
This animation shows the annual variation of sea ice extent in the Southern Hemisphere. Throughout the winter, the cold temperatures freeze more and more of the water in the Southern Ocean, gradually building up a layer of ice on the surface that covers millions of square kilometers. This ice pack generally reaches its maximum extent around September.
As warmer temperatures arrive in the Antarctic in the springtime, the ice begins to melt, and much of the ice pack breaks up. This melting continues throughout the summer, so the extent of the ice pack is usually at its minimum around February. After that it begins growing again, repeating the annual cycle.
This animation shows three years of this cycle, from January 2016 through December 2018.
The maps used in this movie are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). If you want to see more movies and pictures of sea ice, go to the NSIDC web site to:
- Look at pictures of sea ice extent and make movies.
- Look at more than one picture of sea ice at the same time so you can compare.