Three-Year Average September Minimum Sea Ice Concentration 1979 - 2005

  • Released Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:55PM
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Sea ice is frozen seawater floating on the surface of the ocean. Some sea ice is permanent, persisting from year to year, and some is seasonal, melting and refreezing from season to season. Because the extent of the sea ice is important both for the Arctic marine ecology and for the role it plays in the Earth's climate, understanding the variation of this extent during the year and from year-to-year is vital. Each year, the minimum sea ice extent in the northern hemisphere occurs at the end of summer, in September. By comparing the extent of the sea ice in September over many successive years, long term trends in the polar climate can be assessed. This animation shows the three-year moving average September mean sea ice concentration in the northern hemisphere from 1979-1981 through 2003-2005. Since 1999, this minimum has shown an ice extent that is consistently 10% to 15% smaller than the average extent over the past 20 years.

This still image shows the September mean sea ice concentration computed from the years 2003 through 2005.

This still image shows the September mean sea ice concentration computed from the years 2003 through 2005.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).


Series

This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

  • DMSP

    ID: 11
    Collected with SSM/I September each year from 1979 through 2005

    Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Special Sensor Microwave Imager

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • NSIDC SSMI-derived September Minimum Sea Ice Concentration

    ID: 277
    Data Compilation NSIDC September each year from 1979 through 2005

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.