Is Ice Just Ice?

Pablo Clemente-Colon (Chief Scientist of the National Ice Center) gave us a science talk the other night and told us some interesting facts about ice. You may think that “ice is just ice”- but actually there are specific designations for the ice depending on its age. First year ice, as its name implies, is ice that is less than one year old. If you melt it and taste it, it is salty. “Old” ice is second year and multiyear ice and tends to be thicker and less salty than the first year ice.  In fact, if you melt 4 year old ice, it is so fresh you could drink it!  In the Arctic Ocean, where we are right now, more than 5 years ago multiyear ice would have dominated the ice pack.  Now there are vast areas of open water with first year ice and multiyear icefloes that are melting.  In terms of the study of ocean acidification, as the ice melts, more ocean is exposed to the atmosphere and in turn, allows more uptake of carbon dioxide.

Dirty Ice

First year ice in the fore ground and multiyear ice behind. Algae can grow under, through, and on top of sea ice floes making the ice look "dirty."


Ice team on the deck of the Healy.

Pablo Clemente-Colon and Steve Lilgreen (National Ice Center Analyst) stand on deck with first year ice and multiyear ice behind them.

Scientists on deck with ice in the background.

Pablo Clemente-Colon and Steve Lilgreen on the deck of the Healy.



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