Sea ice overview

There's Ice at Sea?

People are sometimes surprised to learn that ice also forms at sea, or even that sea water freezes at all! Well, it does, and there is such a thing as sea ice. It's a fascinating phenomenon, and this section will tell you what you need to know about sea ice.

What Is Sea Ice?

Simply put, sea ice is any form of ice that is found at sea and has originated from the freezing of sea water.

There are notable differences between sea ice and fresh-water ice. One of the most important is that sea ice is much less dense than fresh-water ice. This has significant impacts on marine transportation and navigation.

Why Study Sea Ice?

Interest in snow and ice masses has increased greatly over the past decades for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • navigation in Canadian waters,
  • transportation of petroleum,
  • the exploitation of mineral deposits in the Arctic, and
  • the use of icebergs as a source of fresh water.

Understanding the nature of sea ice and how it impacts Canada's navigable waters is a major concern of the Canadian Ice Service. The rest of this section will deal with the sea-ice cycle, its types and forms, ice dynamics, and other topics of interest.

The information contained in this section is taken from various documents produced by the Canadian Ice Service, including the Manual of Standard Procedures for Observing and Reporting Ice Conditions (MANICE). This is the authoritative document for observing all forms of sea, lake and river ice, and ice of land origin (icebergs).

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