Average September Arctic Sea Ice Comparison: 1979 vs 2013

  • Released Thursday, September 18th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:50PM
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This visualization compares the difference in the area, volume and depth of the average September Arctic sea ice between 1979, shown in blue, and 2013, shown in orange. The data from these two years has been projected onto a circle to provide for easy visual comparison without altering its area or volume. The depth is shown as a histogram that is uniform rotationally around the central axis. Each grid cell of the ground plane is 1,000 kilometers in width, or one million square kilometers per cell. The depth of the sea ice is measured in meters.

This data comes from the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). This system combines real observations of the Arctic sea ice from 1979 through the present with data of the ocean and atmosphere to produce a complete picture of the changes in Arctic Sea ice area, thickness, and volume. The sharp spike at the center of the visualization represents the very real phenomenon of thick ice ridges formed by ice dynamics. PIOMAS is more completely described here.

A high resolution image showing the difference in the area covered by the average September sea ice in 1979 (blue) vs 2013 (orange).  The lower left  corner of the grid shows the size of a 1,000 by 1,000 kilometer grid cell.

A high resolution image showing the difference in the area covered by the average September sea ice in 1979 (blue) vs 2013 (orange). The lower left corner of the grid shows the size of a 1,000 by 1,000 kilometer grid cell.

This high resolution image shows the difference between the average September Arctic sea ice depth in 1979 (blue) vs. 2013 (orange).  The depth of the sea ice measured in meters is shown on the central axis.

This high resolution image shows the difference between the average September Arctic sea ice depth in 1979 (blue) vs. 2013 (orange). The depth of the sea ice measured in meters is shown on the central axis.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio


Papers used in this visualization

Schweiger, A., R. Lindsay, J. Zhang, M. Steele, H. Stern, Uncertainty in modeled arctic sea ice volume, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2011JC007084, 2011

Zhang, J.L. and D.A. Rothrock, Modeling global sea ice with a thickness and enthalpy distribution model in generalized curvilinear coordinates, Mon. Weather Rev., 131, 845-861, 2003


Datasets used in this visualization

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.