Antarctic Sea Ice Extent Animation 2016-2018

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 maps of sea ice, go to the NSIDC web site to:

© 2011 UCAR with portions adapted from Windows to the Universe (© 2009 NESTA)