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Reconstructing the paleo-latitudinal extent of sea ice in the Southern Ocean over time can be accomplished using modern diatom data. However, it is more difficult to extend the utility of diatom proxies farther back in time, to time periods characterized by species that are now extinct, since we are uncertain of the paleoenvironmental affiliation of those species we can’t observe in modern assemblages. We propose several research strategies to strengthen our ability to use diatom data to reconstruct sea ice history. These tactics include the evaluation of specific morphologic characteristics and distinct taxa, as well as the identification of specific adaptations that may have evolved following the initiation of sea ice in the Southern Ocean.