Earth  ID: 4510

Weekly Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Age with Graph of Ice Age By Area: 1984 - 2016

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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 the area in millions of square kilometers covered by each age category of perennial sea ice. This graph also includes a memory bar - the green line that here represents the current maximum value seen thus far in the animation for the particular week displayed. For example, when showing the first week in September, the memory bar will show the maximum value seen for all prior years' first week of September since the beginning of the animation (January 1, 1984).

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.

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Visualization Credits

Cindy Starr (GST): Lead Visualizer
Walt Meier (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Nathan T. Kurtz (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Jefferson Beck (USRA): Producer
Joycelyn Thomson Jones (NASA/GSFC): Project Support
Leann Johnson (GST): Project Support
Laurence Schuler (ADNET): Technical Support
Ian Jones (ADNET): Technical Support
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.

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Data Used:
also referred to as: Weekly Sea Ice Age
Data Compilation - Weekly Sea Ice Age - 1984 - 2016
SSMI-SSMIS passive microwave data, augmented with buoys, AVHRR, AMSR-E, and winds
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.

SVS >> Presentation
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Hyperwall
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Oceans >> Sea Ice >> Sea Ice Age
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Sea Ice >> Sea Ice Age
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Oceans >> Sea Ice
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Sea Ice
SVS >> Sea Ice
DLESE >> Physical oceanography
DLESE >> Cryology

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version