TEA Banner
TEA Navbar

To Be Salty Sea Ice Or Not To Be Salty Sea Ice
An Introduction To Sea Ice At The Polar Regions

data | hook | main | background & resources | student

An understanding of the role of polar sea ice in planetary systems is crucial to the understanding of those systems. The distillation of sea water by freezing and the release of heavy brines to the sub-ice ocean water creates the downward currents that initiate the movement of the oceanic conveyor, the worldwide generator of ocean currents.

Polar sea ice serves as a winter resting place and haven for algae and phytoplankton in the polar oceans that then bloom forth in the spring and serve as the base of the food chain for fish, birds, marine mammals and all of the creatures of the seas.

The relationship between the thickness and the extent of polar sea ice on a seasonal basis is fundamental to the heat budget of the earth. Sea ice extent and thickness is an indicator of short term and long-term climate trends on the earth. Polar sea ice extent influences the ability of the indigenous peoples of the north to engage in their traditional hunting which controls their livelihoods and which contributes to the maintenance of their cultural heritage.

To understand the many roles that polar sea ice plays in the systems that maintain our planet, the student needs to understand the process of the formation of ice in oceanic regimes. A simple inquiry based lab experience relating salt content to the ability of water to freeze begins this study.

Resources and Reference Materials
MANICE: MANUAL OF STANDARD POCEDURES FOR OBSERVING AND REPORTING ICE CONDITIONS, 8th edition, Director, Ice Services Branch Atmospheric Environment, April 1994. From Ice Centre Environment Canada, 373 Sussex Drive, LaSalle Academy, Block "E", Ottawa, Ontario, K1A OH3, ATTN: Ice Climatology Services (http://www.cis.ec.gc.ca/manice/title_pg.htm).

For interactions with the polar teachers:

  • ../../tea_meetteachers.html

    For polar resources:

  • ../../tea_sitesfront.html (Links to Arctic and Antarctic resources.)
  • http://www.marine.usf.edu/icestory2000/overview/overview.htm (Antarctic oceanography: general information and student activities.)
  • http://nsidc.org/seaice/index.html (National Snow and Ice Data Center summarizes characteristics of sea ice data sets, other data sources are linked, current sea ice concentration information is available.)

    Good for students and teachers:

  • http://www.antcrc.utas.edu.au/aspect/seaice.html ("What is Sea Ice?" Go to the Glossary and scroll for descriptions and photos of the types of sea ice.)
  • ../../ (Polar links and resources for student investigations and classroom use.)

    Good for students:

  • http://southport.jpl.nasa.gov/polar/iceinfo.html (“Everything you ever wanted to know about ICE but were afraid to ask.”)
  • http://www.antcrc.utas.edu.au/aspect/index.html (Antarctic sea ice processes and climate, sea ice observations.)
  • http://www.secretsoftheice.org (Antarctic ice core research, learning activities.)

    Return to top of page

    Back to: TEA Activities Page

    data | hook | main | background & resources | student