3-D animation of the changing Antarctic ice sheet

September 27, 2012

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Last month we shared an visualization showing the changing extent of Arctic sea-ice. This visualization by the multinational Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) switches the view to the Southern pole and takes the visualization to a whole new level, by animating it in 3-D:

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 animation was created in R using the rgl package, which uses OpenGL for the 3-D rendering. Note the depiction of undersea mountains (based on GEBCO bathymetry data) which can hold sea ice in place, and the monthly ice extents (drawn from satellite-derived sea ice concentrations from NSIDC).

CCAMLR: Monthly ice concentration in Antarctica (with thanks to reader DM for the tip)

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