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Sea Ice Index--Sea Ice Animation Tool

National Snow and Ice Data Center

This visualization tool shows sea ice data from 1978 to the present. Selected data can be animated to show changes in sea ice extent over time. Data is added by the National Snow and Ice Data Center as it becomes available.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Content

  • The changes in sea ice extent in the northern and southern hemispheres allow students to observe trends and compare patterns in the two polar regions.
  • Shows an important and fast-changing component of the system (Arctic sea ice). Data begins in 1979 and continues to the present. New data is added to the tool, so relevant as a 'reality' component in a curriculum.
  • Detailed documentation shows how to use the tool for comparing anomalies and trends. Individual images and data can also be downloaded.
  • Comment from expert scientist: Science is state-of-the-art as it stands. However, the interface is kind of clunky, and the documentation is definitely too technical and dense (for a non-scientist teenager for example). However, it definitely has all the capabilities necessary for thoughtful, patient people who don't mind a 'clunky' interface, to nicely explore sea ice variability.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students interact with this animation to select the timeframe and location of sea ice extent (northern and southern hemisphere, month and year), and compare that to the median ice edge shown as a pink/purple line.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Students and teachers can interact in a variety of ways to learn about the changes in sea ice over time.
  • Visualization could be improved by providing more instructions on how to use this tool.
Entered the Collection: April 2013 Last Reviewed: October 2016

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