Movie of Yearly Changes in Sea Ice around Antarctica

Images courtesy the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Animation by Windows to the Universe staff (Randy Russell).

This movie shows how the sea ice around Antarctica and the South Pole changes from season to season throughout the year. During the winter the cold temperatures freeze more and more of the water in the Southern Ocean. The sea ice pack gets bigger and bigger. When is there the most sea ice? There is usually a lot of sea ice in early spring, right after winter ends, around September.

In late spring the weather gets warmer. The sea ice starts to melt. All through the summer more and more of the ice melts. When is there the least sea ice? Since a lot of ice melts in the summer, there is usually much less sea ice in early fall around February, right after the end of summer.

The freezing and melting of the sea ice happens year after year. It is one of the cycles that come with the changing seasons.

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

(Note: If you cannot see the movie you may need to download the latest QuickTime player.)

If you want to see more movies and pictures of sea ice, go to the NSIDC web site to:

Last modified February 23, 2009 by Randy Russell.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Sea Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic

Sea ice is frozen seawater. It can be several meters thick and it moves over time. Although the salts in the seawater do not freeze, pockets of concentrated salty water become trapped in the sea ice when...more

What Causes the Seasons?

Let's get rid of some common misconceptions about the seasons. The Earth's orbit is in the shape of an ellipse, so that sometimes the Earth is a little bit closer to the Sun than at other times. Is this...more

The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is a bit different. Many mapmakers do not even recognize it as an ocean. The Southern Ocean (sometimes known as the Antarctic Ocean or South Polar Ocean) surrounds Antarctica in the...more

North and South: Opposite Seasons

NASA recently started making images of the entire surface of the Earth every month. There are no clouds in the images. They combine many pictures taken at different times when the weather is clear in different...more

Polar Oceans

There are two oceans in Earth's polar regions. The Arctic Ocean is in the north polar region. The Southern Ocean is in the south polar region. The oceans that are in the polar regions are a bit different...more

Polar Games and Activities

Dive into one of our new polar activities or games! Animation showing Annual Variation of Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic Animation showing Annual Variation of Sea Ice Extent in the Antarctic Changing Planet:...more

Climate Change Teacher Resources

Many educators are now finding opportunities to teach about Earth's climate and climate change in their classrooms.  Windows to the Universe provides an interlinked learning ecosystem to a wealth of resources...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA