One of the things that has amazed me the most about the Antarctic Ocean is the way ice forms. The Inuit have 50 different names for ice and snow and I can now truly understand why. Ocean water behaves differently than fresh water because of the sodium chloride (salt) and other chlorides in ocean water. It does not freeze at 0 degrees Celsius (or 32 degrees Fahrenheit). Let's start small, really, really small – single crystallizations called frazil ice form first. These small individual particles then coalesce to form what is called grease ice; which I found out is the most dangerous type of ice to the LMG.

    Grease ice
    Grease ice starting to form on the ocean.

    Grease ice looks exactly like it namesake, small pools of grease on the top of the ocean. These then coalesce to become what is called pancake ice, large relatively thin pieces of ice that can often collect snow and be used by the local fauna as a place to rest.

    Grease ice
    Grease ice coalescing to form pancake ice.

    As pancake ice begins to come together they can fuse at their edges and completely solidify into one uniform piece of sea ice.

    Pancake ice
    Pancake ice and brash ice.

    Mixed in with this can be brash ice, they are sort of the junk pile of ice, discards from glaciers or icebergs.

    Icebergs can range in shape, size and color.

    Glaciers and the icebergs they calve off are just magnificent in their grandeur. I spend a lot of time just staring at these elderly figures of Antarctica and wondering how sad it will be if future generations can't enjoy them because they have all melted away.


    Judy Fahnestock

    Great journal Keith - nice job explaining different types of ice and great example photos.