Weekly Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Age with Graph of Ice Age by Percent of Total: 1984 - 2016
One significant change in the Arctic region in recent years has been the rapid decline in perennial sea ice. Perennial sea ice, also known as multi-year ice, is the portion of the sea ice that survives the summer melt season. Perennial ice may have a life-span of nine years or more and represents the thickest component of the sea ice; perennial ice can grow up to four meters thick. By contrast, first year ice that grows during a single winter is generally at most two meters thick.
Below is an animation of the weekly sea ice age between 1984 and 2016. The animation shows the seasonal variability of the ice, growing in the Arctic winter and melting in the summer. In addition, this also shows the changes from year to year, depicting the age of the sea ice in different colors. Younger sea ice, or first-year ice, is shown in a dark shade of blue while the ice that is four years old or older is shown as white. A color scale identifies the age of the intermediary years.
A graph in the lower, right corner the quantifies the change over time by showing each age category of sea ice as a percent of total ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. The lavender outline on the map indicates the spatial region covered by the Arctic Ocean and thus included in the graph.
Correction: The original release on 10/28/2016 incorrectly labeled the oldest category on the graph as "5+". This was corrected to read "4+" on 10/30/2016.
This visualization shows the age of the sea ice between 1984 and 2016. Younger sea ice, or first-year ice, is shown in a dark shade of blue while the ice that is four years old or older is shown as white. A bar graph displayed in the lower right corner quantifies the percent of total sea ice in each age category.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
Special thanks to:
Mark Tschudi, Univ. of Colorado, for providing the data. For more information, click here.
Datasets used in this visualization
Weekly Sea Ice Age
SSMI-SSMIS passive microwave data, augmented with buoys, AVHRR, AMSR-E, and windsSee more visualizations using this data set
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.