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Seasonal changes in sea ice concentration in Antarctica





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Published on Sep 17, 2012

This animation was created by the CCAMLR Secretariat and shows seasonal changes in sea ice concentration in Antarctica.

The amount of sea ice in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica varies on a seasonal basis and partly depends on the amount of sunlight reaching the region. The area covered by sea ice in the Southern Ocean varies with the seasons, from approximately 3 million km² in February (at the end of the Austral summer), to approximately 20 million km² in October. The areas marked in red indicate the management areas used by CCAMLR in managing Antarctic fisheries.

The GEBCO bathymetry ( was subsampled to a 20th of its original resolution, and is shown here with exaggerated depths. Monthly satellite-derived sea ice concentrations from NSIDC ( from January 1980 to December 2010 are overlayed sequentially (% values were directly converted to thicknesses in meters). The hourly Sun coordinates of the 15th of each month of 2012, at the latitude of 65°S, were used to draw a symbolic Sun ellipse (scaled to fit the screen) and were obtained online ( Finally, the CCAMLR Small Scale Research Units (SSRU) limits were added as red polygons. This animation was made with a freely available software (R, with the 3D rgl library; used to visualize freely available data (bathymetry, ice and solar coordinates).


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