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Climate Change Institute, University of Maine


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, Polar Regions, Maine

Daily Sea Ice Timeseries & Maps

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  • This interactive graph shows the size of Arctic and Antarctic ice cover every year going back to 1978. 
  • Users can turn on and off plot lines for individual years, making it easy to compare the differences in the amount of ice in different years. 
Teaching Tips


  • These graphs show how the extent of sea ice changes over a year due to the seasons and, more importantly, how the amount of sea ice, particularly in the Arctic, has decreased over time. 
  • Students can click on the data lines to select a specific date, and the map below the graph will provide a visual depiction of the extent of sea ice on that date.
  • Students can switch between Northern and Southern Hemispheres by clicking "switch hemispheres" in the top righthand corner of the screen.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The link to the NCEP Climate Forecast System does not work.
  • The different plot lines can be turned on and off by clicking the individual years below the graph.


  • Math or science classes could have students calculate the percentage of change in sea ice extent between the same date in two different years. 
  • Earth science classes could discuss what has caused the decrease in the amount of ice since the 1970s and what can be done to stop the damage.
  • Other resources on this topic include this Vox video on what melting sea ice means for the Arctic, this lesson on the difference between land ice and sea ice, and this NASA lesson on sea ice and global warming.
Scientist Notes
There is no contradiction in the resource. This resource is recommended.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-4 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
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