Arctic Sea Ice Extent Animation 2002-2008

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Animation 2002-2008

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Animated map showing annual variation of sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean on a monthly basis from January 2002 through December 2008.

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 Northern Hemisphere. Throughout the winter the cold temperatures freeze more and more of the water in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding bodies of water, 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 March.

As warmer temperatures arrive in the Arctic in the springtime, the ice begins to melt and much of the ice pack breaks up. This continues throughout the summer, so the extent of the ice pack is usually at its minimum around September. Thereafter it begins growing again, repeating the annual cycle.

This animation shows seven years of this cycle, from January 2002 through December 2008.

The maps used in this video are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). If you want to see more videos and pictures of sea ice, go to the NSIDC web site to:

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