2015 Antarctic sea ice

Antarctica sea ice maximum in 2015. For the past three years, sea ice at maximum set records. In 2015 that didn’t happen. Scientist called it “a return toward normalcy.”

Sea ice atop the Southern Ocean around Antarctica reached its annual maximum extent on October 6, 2015. The extent was less than the previous three years, which brought consecutive years of new record highs.



Above: Yellow outline shows median sea ice extent observed in September from 1981 through 2010. Image created via data from Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) sensor on Japan’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st–Water (GCOM-W1) satellite.

2015 Antarctic sea ice return toward normalcy (

Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said:

“After three record-high extent years, this year marks a return toward normalcy for Antarctic sea ice.”



Data for the maps above were acquired by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) sensor on Japan’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st–Water (GCOM-W1) satellite. The yellow outline shows the median sea ice extent observed in September from 1981 through 2010. Extent is calculated by considering the area spanned only by pixels that are at least 15 percent covered with ice.

The top map shows sea ice at its annual maximum extent on October 6, 2015. The extent was the sixteenth highest in the 35-year record, measuring 18.83 million square kilometers (7.27 million square miles). The second image shows the annual maximum on September 20, 2014, a record-high extent of 20.14 million square kilometers (7.78 million square miles). Turn on the image comparison tool to see how the extent and location of ice varied between the two years.

source earthobservatory